This past Wednesday, August 26 marked the 49th annual Women’s Equality Day, commemorating the 1920 adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment, which prohibits governments from denying citizens the right to vote on the basis of sex. The passage of this historic legislation was one of many topics covered in Georgina Wells’ ’04 Women in History class, which was offered as part of the first ever Open Grace Summer program.
Each week, Ms. Wells met with her class to discuss prominent women in politics, science, literature, sports and the arts, including Queen Lili’uokalani of Hawaii, Marie Curie, Maya Angelou, Billie Jean King and Frida Kahlo, among others, as well as the many unsung figures in women’s history. Short video clips and digital exhibitions kicked off lively discussions, and students were invited to suggest themes of particular interest to them, helping to drive the direction of the course.
When deciding what to teach this summer, the choice was an obvious one for Ms. Wells, a seasoned history teacher. “I wanted to offer this class because of the passion I see every year in my students to learn about women’s contributions to the history I teach,” she noted.
Ms. Wells also spoke with her students about intersectionality and examined the inherent relationship between women’s liberation and racial justice, acknowledging that the 1920 legislation, and those who fought to see it ratified, failed to recognize Black women. Ms. Wells pointed out, “Middle schoolers are quite attuned to who and what usually gets centered in the narratives, and they don’t want to be confined to that, just as I do not want to confine them to it. To that end, I also made sure to choose a diverse range of women for us to focus on this summer.”