Shake the Dust off Women’s History
Meet Helen Tawes and Dawn Lindsay
History months — whether February for Black History or March for Women’s History — strike me as being as much about the march into the future as the march from the past.
That’s my excuse for commemorating Women’s History Month in our pages as March 2014 marches into history.
I don’t know about you, but I find it easier to relate to the people of the here and now than people in the past. The great thing about my job is that it brings me into touch with so many real people. Each one has a story that opens a window on history, and I get to hear those stories. Sometimes I ask, for that’s my job, but just as often stories that want to be told come seeking me out. If I’ve heard your story, I remember it, and I cherish it.
For this Women’s History issue, I sought Dawn
Lindsay, president of Anne Arundel Community College. I hadn’t met her and was curious to, as I’d interviewed Lindsay’s predecessor, Martha Smith.
Part of the lure is that college president is not an accidental job. It’s a choice — as Lindsay will tell you in her own words, as you read our interview. Women of deliberate and notable achievement have prominence in Women’s History Month, whose point is the achievements we’ve made, often against the odds. The odds in their favor are why men, at least white men, don’t get a special history month: History was written about them.
Just as much, however, I wanted to talk to Lindsay because I liked the flash in her smile as I’d seen it in pictures. She looked friendly, as she indeed seemed in our hour and a half together, where her energy filled the room. She also looks pretty womanly for a college president, attractive, fashionable and a center of interest in the we-can-have-it-all style pioneered by Michelle Obama.
I had a serious subject, as well: jobs and living wages — the two big national issues of this decade, in my book — and the role community colleges play in helping people get there. That’s a story dear to my heart and one I know a bit of first-hand, as I began my career teaching writing in a community college.
Still, it was the person I wanted to meet. The stories of women in the here and now, like Lindsay, are the bridge that makes me able to travel back in time to appreciate the stories of women who’ve been making history all these centuries. Living women give those in history back their vitality, showing them as people beyond their causes.
Anne Arundel, our county namesake, became a wife at 13 and gave birth to nine children before her death at the age of 34. Her marriage to Cecil Calvert, our colony’s founder, made her name live on. The obligations of her short life make her story poignant, especially to women.
Helen Avalynne Gibson Tawes, who you’ll meet
in these pages, also earned her fame through marriage, hers to a governor of Maryland rather than a colony proprietor. But her abilities, including in the kitchen, where writer Emily Mitchell introduces her playing politics, make us wish we knew more of her.
My point is simple: Women stay women, complexly human, no matter what their achievements. That’s how I like to know them. Nowadays we’ve got a college president named Dawn. That’s quite an achievement.
Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; firstname.lastname@example.org