women's rights

ISU Academy Programs Begin This Week

Illinois State University’s Academy of Seniors programs begin this week and continue through May, with sessions focusing on community building, women's rights, and immigration.

The classes are sponsored by the Senior Professionals organization and will be held at the ISU Alumni Center, 1101 N. Main St., Normal.

Academy classes are $35 for members and $45 for nonmembers for four sessions, and $15 for individual session walk-ins, where available. Mornings classes are $35 for members and $45 for nonmembers for five sessions, and $15 for individual sessions. Participants can preregister for full sessions or pay at the door for individual sessions.

To register, visit www.seniorprofessionals.illinoisstate.edu for online registration or printable registration form. Call 309-438-2818 for more information.

Academy classes include:

“Building our Community,” 1:30-3:30 p.m. March 6, 8, 13, 15; various topics and instructors; walk-in available.

“More than the Vote: Women’s Rights Activism in the United States”; 1:30-3:30 p.m. March 20, 22, 27, 29; Kyle Ciani, associate professor of history and core faculty for women’s & gender studies, ISU; no walk-ins.

“Immigration: Political, Legal, Moral and Human Implications”; 9:30-11:30 a.m. May 8, 10, 15, 17; various topics and instructors; walk-in available.

The Bookshelf: New Library Selections Address Modern Challenges, Historical Context

As local youth return to school, it may be the right time for a little adult homework, as well. The Normal Public Library's latest acquisitions offer a global perspective on the swirling issues that are shaping our society and the historical forces that have shaped our attitudes.

Divided We Stand: The Battle Over Women's Rights and Family Values That Polarized American Politics reveals how the battle between feminists and their conservative challengers divided the nation as Democrats continued to support women's rights and Republicans cast themselves as the party of family values. Meanwhile, The Glass Universe offers a prequel of sorts to Hidden Figures' story of Space Age racial and feminist empowerment. In the mid-nineteenth century, the Harvard College Observatory began employing women as calculators, or “human computers,” to interpret the observations their male counterparts made via telescope each night. At the outset this group included the wives, sisters, and daughters of the resident astronomers, but soon the female corps included graduates of the new women's colleges — Vassar, Wellesley, and Smith. As photography transformed the practice of astronomy, the ladies turned from computation to studying the stars captured nightly on glass photographic plates.

Immigration has become a focal point for U.S. debate, community division, and growing alarm. In Latino Heartland, Sujey Vega addresses the politics of immigration, showing us how increasingly diverse towns can work toward embracing their complexity by focusing on one Hoosier community's experience. The Book of Isaias: A Child of Hispanic Immigrants Seeks His Own America tells the story of 18-year-old high school senior Isaias Ramos, who plays in a punk rock group called Los Psychosis and is so bright that when his school’s quiz bowl goes on local TV, he acts as captain. School counselors want him to apply to Harvard. But Isaias isn’t so sure. He's thinking about going to work painting houses with his parents, who crossed the Arizona desert illegally from Mexico.

The horrors and triumphs of America's racial history come alive in a trio of new non-fiction selections. Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America revisits Forsyth County, Georgia, which at the turn of the twentieth century was home to a large African-American community that included ministers and teachers, farmers and field hands, tradesmen, servants, and children. Many black residents were poor sharecroppers, but others owned their own farms and the land on which they’d founded the county’s thriving black churches. Then, in September 1912, three young black laborers were accused of raping and murdering a white girl. One man was dragged from a jail cell and lynched on the town square, two teenagers were hung after a one-day trial, and soon bands of white “night riders” launched a coordinated campaign of arson and terror, driving all 1,098 black citizens out of the county. He Calls Me By Lightning: The Life of Caliph Washington and the forgotten Saga of Jim Crow, Southern Justice, and the Death Penalty offers another harrowing narrative: In 1957, Washington, a seventeen-year-old simply returning home after a double date, was swiftly arrested, put on trial, and sentenced to death by an all-white jury. The young man endured the horrors of a hellish prison system for thirteen years, a term that included various stints on death row fearing the "lightning" of the electric chair. Finally, The Black Panthers: Portraits from an Unfinished Revolution, focuses on the faces of protest and activism 50 years before Black Lives Matter became a cause. The book offers a reappraisal of the Panthers' history and legacy through portraits and interviews with surviving Panthers as well as illuminating essays by leading scholars.

The Thunder Before the Storm: The Autobiography of Clyde Bellecourt examines another aspect of American racism and social justice, through the eyes of the co-founder of the American Indian Movement. 

The LGBTQ community continues as well to wage its battle for equality, respect, and recognition. 2Brides 2Be: A Same-Sex Guide for the Modern Bride is designed to help couples navigate the world of lesbian wedding planning with humor and advice from wedding professional on everything from the logistics of walking down the aisle to wording the invites. Born Both: An Intersex Life covers more somber ground -- the turbulent but ultimately triumphant life of Hida Viloria, who was raised as a girl but discovered at a young age that her body "looked different." She felt "scared and alone, especially given my attraction to girls," until at 26, she began to connect with the intersex community.

Women's Empowerment Wednesday Lecture at IWU

The lecture "Women's Empowerment is Smart Economics" will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Illinois Wesleyan University's Hansen Student Center.

Through a gift from President Eckley, IWU's Economics Department is able to invite a distinguished member from the economics profession to deliver a lecture every year at the university. This year, Professor Yana van der Meulen Rodgers of Women's and Gender Studies at Rutgers University will discuss women's empowerment in the labor market and the consequent benefits to their families and economies as a whole.

"In the era of smart phones and smart cars, empowering women can be a 'gender-smart' way to achieve economy-wide gains," Rodgers argues.

Rodgers earned her Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University, and her interests include the impact of public policy and labor laws on women's employment and wages; how ownership rights and access to resources for women can not only improve their children's welfare but also reduce their household poverty level; the consequence of international trade on gender wage gaps; and how gender disparity, growth, and development are all interconnected, just to name a few.

Much of her research has focused on East and South Asian Economies and she has consulted for the Asian Development Bank and The World Bank.

Karen: Local Women Affirm 'Common Pursuit of Peace and Prosperity'

Karen Fleming

The 20th Annual International Women’s Breakfast is March 5 at Eastland Suites in Bloomington. 

On this day in the Twin Cities, we affirm our support for women around the world in our common pursuit of peace and prosperity, and come together to learn from each other.”  Soroptimist International of Bloomington-Normal, League of Women Voters, and McLean County India Association co-sponsor this annual event that was started 20 years ago by the American Association of University Women.  Over the years, various women’s groups have participated in the planning and we welcome every women’s group in town to participate.  We are pleased to once again have corporate sponsorship from COUNTRY Insurance. 

What started as an opportunity for a small group of local women to learn about mission trips and programs that support women in other countries, has grown to over 200 women of all cultures coming together to learn about each other and discuss how issues that affect us individually usually affect women everywhere.  This year’s panelists include three local women – Senna Abjabeng of Mid Central Community Action’s Neville House; Hansa Jaggi, Realtor/Broker Coldwell Banker; and Stephanie Wong, Attorney at Law, Skelton and Wong. P.C., with Loretta Thirtyacre as moderator.

No matter where we are from, we are a community and try to make this event about finding common ground and common areas of interest through conversation.  For more information about IWDB, please call 309-454-2513 or email kfleming1973@gmail.com.  Tickets are $25 payable in advance – payable to SIBN and mailed to 1416 Godfrey Drive; Normal, IL61761.

Bloomington Labor Day Parade Sept. 7, Emphasizes Community Service

The theme for the 2015 Bloomington Labor Day Parade is "For more than ourselves," emphasizing community service and involvement.

The parade marches on Monday, September 7 at 10 a.m., line up at 9 a.m. on Front Street in Downtown Bloomington.  The parade will proceed west on Front Street to Lee Street, south on Lee Street to Wood Street, and then west on Wood Street to Miller Park.

"The parade theme reflects our close community ties," said Trades & Labor President Ronn Morehead.  "All of our unions, through donated labor, volunteering and donations, support local charities, and community organizations.  We want those community organizations to be the center of this year's parade, with Labor's contributions to them."

The parade features union marching units, high school bands, construction equipment, community organizations, antique cars, and elected officials and aspirants for political office. Not In Our Town: Bloomington/Normal is scheduled to participate.

The local labor community has been a key catalyst in driving diversity and cultural growth. World War II brought unexpected changes to the Twin Cities workplace -- women and African-Americans in the factory. Williams began hiring women as military draft depleting the workforce, Williams losing 383 employees to the armed forces. Williams initially hired 56 women in early 1943, using training films to acquaint them with plant processes.

The other group hired was African-American workers. Although the new female hires joined Machinists Lodge 1000, the African American workers were not allowed to participate in the union. They were kept segregated from the rest of the workforce, doing mainly hand filing and finishing work, and only worked on defense contracts.

A. Phillip Randolph, Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters president, had successfully lobbied President Roosevelt in 1941 to end discriminatory hiring practices. Roosevelt issued an executive order against racial discrimination in war contracts. Ruth Waddell, who worked at Williams during the war, remembered that "some people had problems with us being there," but she and other African-American workers enjoyed the higher pay and an opportunity to do work usually denied to them. As soon as the war contract work ended, though, the African-American workers were laid off.


Bloomington Key In Illinois Women's Rights

August 26 marks the 95th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment, giving women the right to vote. After nearly a century, the image of the steadfast “suffragette” remains, but it’s only part of the picture that led to the historic amendment.

“Many people have a one-dimensional understanding of suffragettes, thinking of them only in terms of women who protested for the right to vote, and as only white, middle-class women,” said Associate Professor of History Kyle Ciani. “In reality, by the early 20th century, people concerned with women’s right to vote included African American, native-born white, and immigrant women from diverse economic classes.”

The stereotypical suffragette – or those who wanted the right for women to vote – is often depicted as a passionate woman in the early 1900s, who chained herself to carriages, or was loudly hauled away by police for demanding the vote. Though there were demonstrations and arrests, the movement dates back to the early 1800s, when women pushed for laws that didn’t strip them of their property and rights in marriage.

“This was a long, hard-fought battle. It didn’t happen overnight,” said Ciani. “It was an organized effort that took strategy, and time. No one woke up one morning and just decided they wanted the vote for women.”

By the 1830s and 40s, educated women with ties to the abolitionist movement led the charge for more rights, yet the battle for the vote began in earnest in the post-Civil War days. “The 1870s and 1880s is when women began to enter the political sphere,” said Ciani. When the 15th amendment passed, allowing all men to vote, “women cried foul,” she said, and the symbol of a national women’s vote crystalized.

Of course, women all over the U.S. were already involved in politics by this point. Prior to the 1920s, many states already allowed women to vote, either locally or in state and national elections. Illinois signed women’s suffrage into law in 1913. “Every state had different rules, but women have been active in politics since the 1870s,” said Ciani.

In fact, Bloomington was the first town in Illinois to hold an election where women could cast ballots. In April of 1892, women of Bloomington legally took part in an election for school board members. “Education was considered an extension of women’s roles as a caretaker,” said Associate Professor of History Monica Cousins Noraian, who wrote a book on Sarah Raymond-Fitzwilliam, the nation’s first female school superintendent, who served in Bloomington from 1874 to 1892.

Raymond-Fitzwilliam, a former Bloomington teacher and principal, and a graduate of what was then Illinois State Normal University (ISNU), had been appointed unanimously by school board members for more than 18 years. Yet the 1872 school board election became more about women’s suffrage than job performance. “There were two sets of candidates, who campaigned on a pro-female or anti-female platform,” said Noraian. “The anti-female candidates demanded that women be kicked out of leadership positions in schools, and ‘return things to men.’ It was a very contentious election.”

Raymond-Fitzwilliam was reappointed to her post, but she resigned shortly thereafter, fearing the controversy would limit any hopes of a harmoniously working school board. “She married, moved to Chicago and continued to work for women’s rights,” said Noraian. “So what people might think would be an election where a woman would have all this support, became anything but that.”

Noraian credits Raymond-Fitzwilliam’s upbringing in an abolitionist home, and her education at ISNU as a foundation for equality for women. “Men and women had classes together and conducted debates together,” she said. “Her early experiences helped shape her beliefs on reform.”

“Women in Illinois are historically leaders in social justice reform, and women having access to higher education is key in that,” said Ciani, adding that Sarah Hackett Stevenson, an ISNU graduate, was the first female physician inducted into the American Medical Association in 1876, a full 44 years before the U.S. Constitution gave women the right to vote.

The lack of a constitutional vote didn’t stop women from making a run for the top office in the nation. Victoria Woodhull ran for president in 1872 under the Equal Rights Party, as did Belva Lockwood in 1884 and 1888. Laura Clay was the first to have her name added to a potential roster of candidates for a major national party, the Democrats. “Hillary Clinton was not the first,” said Ciani.

Women’s rights and anti-lynching activist Ida B. Wells.

Part of Clay’s platform was actually to oppose national suffrage for women. From the South, Clay feared the passage would allow the federal government to interfere with states implementing (or refusing to implement) the 15th amendment.

Race was one of many schisms facing the women’s rights movement on the path to an amendment, noted Ciani. “There is no such thing as one, single movement. There is always a diversity of ideas and dissention within any group, and the women’s rights movement was no different,” she said. “But for every woman who believed—wrongly—that adding African American women to the suffrage push would nix the movement from a national conversation, you had women like journalist and anti-lynching activist Ida B. Wells, who refused to ‘ask’ permission to march in suffragette parades.”

Looking at the legacy of the women’s rights movement in politics, Ciani said the 19th amendment showed that a long-term strategy could work. “Activists have learned a lot from the highly organized strategies of this movement. I would liken it to the efforts to pass the Marriage Equality Act. It showed the victory could really be won through determination, consensus and compromise.”

The Bookshelf: Rights, Rites, Race, and Roles

The Normal Public Library continues to replenish its storehouse of cross-cultural reading, offering insights into the peoples who make up the U.S., the forces that drive them, and the issues that challenge all of us trying to live under a single flag.

The latest new non-fiction offerings look at the history of culture and conflict, the role of technology in both exposing hate and bullying those online, the roots and rituals of a key holiday, and the rights of immigrants, women, and tenants. Included are:

Considering Hate -- Over the centuries, American society has been plagued by brutality fueled by disregard for the humanity of others: systemic violence against Native peoples, black people, and immigrants. More recent examples include the Steubenville rape case and the murders of Matthew Shepard, Jennifer Daugherty, Marcelo Lucero, and Trayvon Martin. Most Americans see such acts as driven by hate. But is this right? Longtime activists and political theorists Kay Whitlock and Michael Bronski boldly assert that American society’s reliance on the framework of hate to explain these acts is wrongheaded, misleading, and ultimately harmful.

Who We Be remixes comic strips and contemporary art, campus protests and corporate marketing campaigns, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Trayvon Martin into a powerful, unusual, and timely cultural history of the idea of racial progress. In this follow-up to the award-winning classic Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation, Jeff Chang brings fresh energy, style, and sweep to the essential American story.

A War for the Soul of America illuminates the most contentious issues of the last half of the twentieth century. In lively, elegant prose, Andrew Hartman explains how and why the consensus that appeared to permeate the nation following World War II frayed and fractured so dramatically in the 1960s. With keen insight and analysis, he shows that the Culture Wars were not marginal distractions from the main issues of the day. Rather, they were profound struggles over the very foundation of what it meant to be an American.

Detained and Deported takes an intimate look at the people ensnared by the U.S. immigrant detention and deportation system, the largest in the world. Author Margaret Reagan examines how increasingly draconian detention and deportation policies have broadened police powers, while enriching a private prison industry whose profits are derived from human suffering, and documents the rise of resistance, profiling activists and young immigrant “Dreamers” who are fighting for the rights of the undocumented.

U.S. Immigration Made Easy meanwhile helps prospective immigrants navigate a complex legal system. Every Tenant's Legal Guide elaborates the rights and expectations of those trying to find housing in a potentially discriminatory environment.

So You've Been Publicly Shamed: For the past three years, Jon Ronson has travelled the world meeting recipients of high-profile public shamings. The shamed are people like us - people who, say, made a joke on social media that came out badly, or made a mistake at work. Once their transgression is revealed, collective outrage circles with the force of a hurricane and the next thing they know they're being torn apart by an angry mob, jeered at, demonized, sometimes even fired from their job. Ronson reviews modern cyberbullying and use of the social media as a "social control."

Hannukah In America: In New Orleans, Hanukkah means decorating your door with a menorah made of hominy grits. Latkes in Texas are seasoned with cilantro and cayenne pepper. Children in Cincinnati sing Hanukkah songs and eat oranges and ice cream. While each tradition springs from its own unique set of cultural references, what ties them together is that they all celebrate a holiday that is different in America than it is any place else. For the past two hundred years, American Jews have been transforming the ancient holiday of Hanukkah from a simple occasion into something grand. Each year, as they retell its story and enact its customs, they bring their ever-changing perspectives and desires to its celebration.

On Your Case: Television legal analyst and attorney Lisa Green offers something new: a witty, direct and empowering legal guide for women, filled with accessible information they can employ to understand and respond to common legal issues throughout their lives, from dating, marriage, and kids to jobs, retirement, aging parents, and wills.

Financial Aid for Asian Americans and Financial Aid for Hispanic Americans outline a wide range of options for minority families looking to fund higher education.