“History is not in a big dusty book, it is in the heart of all of us.” Janine Fondon, Guest Curator
“We all have something to contribute and our story matters.” Dr. Lucie Lewis, Project Scholar
“We are raising up our foremothers and aunts—what they have done has led us to where we are now.” Dr. Demetria Shabazz, Project Scholar
The Republican recently wrote an editorial Black History Month: In a year for recognizing history, let’s get it right stating: “Creating heroes and icons is the fast path, but it’s misleading and very incomplete—and if we are to concurrently celebrate black history and women’s rights in 2020, it’s crucial we look at it as completely and objectively as possible.” The opinion piece holds up as an excellent example of re-visioned history Voices of Resilience: The Intersection of Women on the Move, an exhibit on view through April 26 at the Springfield Museums, guest curated by Bay Path University Professor Janine Fondon.
“History is not in a big dusty book, it is in the heart of all of us,” said Fondon, in an interview about the exhibit on WGBY’s Connecting Point. On the show (and with this exhibit) Fondon and her project scholars, Dr. Lucie Lewis and Dr. Demetria Shabazz, share a clear message: We all have a place in history—and many stories that have been overlooked or even hidden need to be brought to light because those stories can make all the difference to young people today.
Voices of Resilience: The Intersection of Women on the Move, open through April 26, showcases the stories of women throughout history who have made a positive impact on our world. Most of the women featured in the exhibit have some connection to local or regional history. There are a few women who teach us lessons from the national and global worldview.
“The women in this exhibit did not know they were making history when they were making history,” Fondon told a standing-room-only crowd 250 people strong on the opening day, February 15. “These women just did what they needed to do to move us all forward.”
In an interview with Vaya Con Muñoz, February 22, on WHMP, Muñoz asked what the criteria was used for choosing the women in the exhibit. (The featured picture above shows left to right, Muñoz, Fondon, Shabazz, and Lewis.)
Fondon said: “I set the criteria based on local stories with historical significance and the generational value of legacy. The criteria also included the theme highlighting the inclusive journey and intersectional nature of women and women of color.”
Dr. Lewis added: “We looked for people who were less visible, not as well-known, who had stories of relevance that could inspire younger people and help people understand that we all have a place in history. We all have something to contribute and our stories matter.”
When speaking of the origins of this exhibit, Fondon pays tribute to the late Lujuana Hood, the director of the Pan African Historical Museum USA. Together they created Women on the Move, a history of women of color who got out there to advance women, communities and families as they lived everyday life.
“We collected so many stories,” Fondon said. “Lujuana and I envisioned a next project, a history that honored all women, including white women,” Fondon said. “And so Voices of Resilience was born.”
This exhibit has a special place for women who worked together or were inclusive in their approaches to advancement and justice. Dr. Shabazz, for instance, highlights Lucy Stone, a suffragist and abolitionist, who refused to forsake black women during the fight for the right to vote. Susan B. Anthony, whose name people probably recognize more than Stone’s, prioritized the white woman’s vote.
“There are more women and women of color who should be highlighted,” said Fondon, “so we encourage visitors to leave the names on a special story board. With this, we salute every single person who contributed to making communities and the country a better place. These are stories of relationships, family and women of all levels and backgrounds.”
“These stories are hopeful, and they are helpful,” Dr. Lewis said. “We want young people to see that hope and take heart.”