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The Women In Tomorrow's Textbooks

What women past and present should be in history textbooks?

Posted on March 16, 2018

This Women’s History Month, we asked members of the Vision 2020 Communications Committee which women they wished they had learned about in school and why, as well as the present-day women they hope to see in the history books of tomorrow. Here’s what they had to say.

1. What woman do you wish you would have learned about in school and why?

Karla Trotman: Oney "Ona" Judge, George Washington's runaway slave who was never caught. History tends to deify our founding fathers because it is told from their first-hand accounts. But there are powerful stories of women who are oftentimes relegated to a sentence or footnote. Ona Judge lived her life as a fugitive and died a free woman. George Washington used his powers as president to try and find her, but she outsmarted him. Her story deserves to be told.

Kim Landry: I wish I had learned about the role women played in science and technology; for example, the women portrayed in the movie Hidden Figures. Those seemed like such “boy” careers to me as a child/teen.

Kiersten Tomson: Mothers! As a mom, and since I’ve seen Hamilton with a great focus on his wife Elizabeth, I would have loved to have learned more about moms who made a difference even though they didn’t have a “profession”! Moms who raised great leaders, the first mom to start a PTA or advocate for school changes. I feel like so many moms are lost in history where they truly built the base for the future.

Theresa Sharkey: I wish we learned more about the women we studied in school. For example, Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks were brave leaders in life well beyond the events that made them famous. Ruth Bader Ginsburg chose a career at the ACLU prior to ascending to the highest courts. And we don’t know enough about every First Lady. Women are multidimensional, but that is not represented in education today.

2. Vision 2020’s national headquarters is in Philadelphia, and many of the Communications Committee members are based here. What present-day woman, local or national, do you hope is included in the history books of tomorrow?

Karla Trotman: Dr. Erica Armstrong Dunbar is a historian and professor who wrote the book Never Caught about Ona Judge. The book is being made into a movie. Armstrong Dunbar’s research has been highlighted throughout television and print. Without women like Erica, history would only highlight the stories of the oppressor and never the oppressed.

Kim Landry: Lynn Yeakel needs to be included in the history of Philadelphia, as well as all the other women who have challenged the nearly 100% male domination of politics in Philadelphia, statewide office and PA representation in Washington.

Kiersten Tomson: Lynn Abraham, the former District Attorney of Philadelphia. I’ve also been fascinated by her, her work and her rise to office. As Philadelphia’s first female DA, she broke barriers. But, still, she was called the “Queen of Death” or “Deadliest DA.” Was she too tough? Did she need to be that strict because she was a woman? Would a man in her position have been called those names or would he just being doing his job? I would love to learn more!

Theresa Sharkey: I cannot wait until my future children read about Linda Cliatt-Wayman in their history books. Not only are her work and passion unmatched, but her courage to follow her inner voice and fulfill her purpose here on Earth is admirable. She will move mountains in our education system; I am sure of it.