Prepared by Jean D’Addario for presentation to the AAUW Cape Fear (NC) branch
Dear AAUW Branch Members,
How important is our AAUW vote?
As AAUW members we’re being asked to give considerable thought to doing away with a last barrier to inviting all women to become AAUW members.
I want to introduce you to Isabella. She was a charismatic speaker. Among others, she met Fredrick Douglas and then gave speeches about the evils of slavery. She dictated her autobiography and survived on the sales of her book. She became know nationally. She befriended Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. She gave a lecture at a women’s conference in Akron, Ohio in which she challenged the prevailing notions of racial and gender inferiority. She eventually split with Douglas because he felt suffrage for men should come before women. Isabella thought it should happen at the same time. Who is this woman? Sojourner Truth, a slave who was bought and sold 4 times. She had five children. She couldn’t read or write but she continued speaking nationally and helped slaves escape to freedom. During the Civil War, she urged young men to join the Union cause and organized supplies for black troops. After the war she was honored with an invitation to the White House. She became involved in the Freedmen’s Bureau, helping freed slaves find jobs and build new lives. She lobbied against segregation and won a case in the mid 1860’s when a streetcar conductor tried to violently block her from riding. Have we done as much?
One more woman whom we know today…she had a high school degree. She went to work in a plant. Initially, she received the same pay as men, but year after year she received less and less pay than her male co-workers. Eventually she learned about it and sued. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court. Two years after the Supreme Court decided that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not allow employers to be sued for pay discrimination more than 180 days after an employee’s first paycheck, the US Congress passed a fair pay act in her name to remedy this issue, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. She has since become a women’s equality activist, public speaker, and author. In 2011, Lilly was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. Although Lilly did not have a college degree, she was given an Honorary Degree which did allow her to become a member of AAUW. Passage of the act did not result in her receiving a settlement from Goodyear (where she worked). In spite of this, she said, “I’ll be happy if the last thing they say about me after I die is that I made a difference.”
How about Eleanor Roosevelt? Did she make a difference? What do all three of these women have in common? They didn’t have a college degree! Do we value our college/university degrees? Of course, we do! We have moved into the 21st century, or have we? Let’s become who we say we are. Let’s break down the barrier we have to full participation in AAUW and really mean our mission and purpose. Are we really making a difference in our communities?
My hope is that you consider doing away with the last barrier to AAUW membership by voting affirmatively for the proposal. We can still value our degrees and AAUW still stands out from all other organizations as we are the world’s largest Graduate World Funder…a great explanation for why we have “university” in our name.
As AAUW members we are asked to vote to elect members to the national AAUW Board of Directors and vote on changes to the bylaws that would open membership and on changes to the Public Policy Priorities.
To vote, search for your personal email from Shannon Wolfe sent to you on April 7. Just click on the box that says VOTE. It is very simple! Or, if you can’t find that, go to www.aauw.org, then, search by clicking on the magnifying glass (to the left of DONATE) and write in National Election. Enter and then click on National Election. Scroll to the bottom to VOTE.
AAUW Cape Fear (NC)
AAUW Tar Heel (NC)
AAUW NC Past President