Women’s HERstory comes to life with interactive history

In celebration of International Women's Day, UT's Women's Coordinating Council hosted a living history event on Wednesday, March 8 where students could meet famous women and honor heroines in their own lives.

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Sophie Grosserode

The University of Tennessee Women’s Coordinating Council celebrated International Women’s Day with an interactive history display on Pedestrian Walkway.

The event, Women’s HERstory Lives, gave passing students the opportunity to meet and take photos with five women from history and honor inspiring women in their own lives.

Student actresses brought to life Saint Joan of Arc, activist Ida B Wells, scientist Rosalind Franklin, painter Frida Kahlo, and pirate Ching Shih.

“People are loving it,” said senior Anna Greer, a WCC member who helped orchestrate the event.

“We’re highlighting women’s HERstory in a way that is interactive and educational,” Greer said. “Virginia Woolf talks about the importance of women writing history, and I think this event is accomplishing that for students that might not be taking a women’s history class, or any history class that highlights women.”

Greer said the history of influential women is often restricted to textbook sidebars or fun facts. “So bringing that history to campus, highlighting it, is really important.”

Senior Kate Stamper, who spearheaded the event’s planning, said that the event brought narratives that had been erased into view. She gave the example of Rosalind Franklin.

“Rosalind Franklin made the actual discovery to figure out the structure of DNA, but had her work stolen and was never given credit while she was alive,” Stamper said. “For me, women’s history is science history. We’re trying to bring that to light today.”

Besides taking selfies with fierce women of history, students who stopped by could sign a banner in honor of modern heroines in their lives.

Junior Beverly Banks wrote down her mother’s name, because “she’s the one that’s shaped me into who I am. Sophomore Hannah Nelson chose to honor Kamala Harris, the second black woman and first Indian American person to be elected to the US Senate. Junior Benjamin Boyer wrote his grandmother’s name and drew a heart around it.

“She inspires me because she goes out of her way to do things for others,” Boyer said. “It inspires me to do the same.”

The event happened on International Women’s Day, which is celebrated around the world to honor great women of the past, present, and future. That message resonates with WCC president, senior Danielle Norment.

“It’s all about celebrating women for who they are individually,” Norment said. “A lot of times, we get grouped together by features we have, but that don’t define us. This day is all about the individual greatness that women share.”

Photos of the celebrated women posing with students will be on WCC’s facebook page this week, and the International Women’s Day celebration will continue tonight with a lecture hosted by WCC.

“Sister Suffragette: How Tennessee Passed the 19th Amendment” will be in HSS 71 at 7 p.m. tonight.

Edited by McKenzie Manning

Featured image by Barbara Gibson

Video by Sophie Grosserode

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