Steve williams column oysters, dignity and women’s history month opinion southstrandnews.com shrimp fried rice recipe with egg

There’s an old joke about a little boy who overheard his mother making a condescending comment over the telephone about a coworker. A few days later the mother and the child bumped into the coworker in the mall. As the two ladies warmly conversed the little boy kept interrupting their conversation. After brushing him off three times, the mother finally stopped and asked him what was bothering him. The little boy blurted out — “mommy, you said she had two faces, but I don’t see but one.”

Likewise, history has two faces; it can be written or told. Either way, it depends on who’s telling it. After celebrating perhaps the most enriching black history month of my life, I am happy to celebrate march – women’s history month.They wanted read

As recently as the 1970s, women’s history was virtually an unknown topic in the K-12 curriculum or in general public consciousness.


The first steps toward success came in february of 1980 when president carter issued the first presidential proclamation declaring the week of march 8, 1980, as national women’s history week. As word spread rapidly across the nation, state departments of education encouraged celebrations of national women’s history week, and within a few years, thousands of schools and communities were celebrating national women’s history week.

In 1987, congress declared march as national women’s history month in perpetuity. Before this, all too often women were unsung, and their contributions went unnoticed.They wanted read in the antebellum south, black women were the glue that cemented our fractured families. Today, women of all races, colors, religions, and creeds put food on the table and pay the bills.

Even so, in certain industries and professions like teaching, healthcare, food service, customer service or retail industries their contributions are all too often devalued as “women’s work.” seldom are they compensated on par with their male counterparts; seldom are they treated with dignity and respect in the workplace.

So if you’re wondering why march is women’s history month, if you’re wondering why we take this opportunity to honor the many women who have fought for social and economic justice in the workplace, the answer is simple — they deserve it.They wanted

Women like mary harris “mother” jones, the grandmother of all agitators, who in the early 1900s made it her mission to stand up for the rights of children who worked in factories under horrible conditions. She battled corporate presidents and politicians and went to jail repeatedly for organizing women and minorities drawing public attention to their hardships and giving them a voice. When most women of her era led quiet lives devoted to their families, mother jones refused to relent. Her famous cry was, “pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.”

Considering the killings at a school in florida on valentine’s day, I believe we need more voices like hers. Voices like dolores huerta who in the 1950s quit her job as a grammar school teacher to champion the rights of children who were coming to school hungry without proper clothing.They wanted she became a labor organizer and later founded the agricultural workers association before organizing the united farm workers with cesar chavez in 1962.

Voices like septima clark who was dismissed from her job as a teacher with the charleston county school system in 1956 for not renouncing her membership in the NAACP. Afterwards, she traveled to tennessee to teach students (both white and black) to read by reciting the united states constitution. Her work there led to the creation of the “citizenship school” in south carolina. Along with bernice robinson and esau jenkins, she developed the concept and curriculum for the citizenship schools which specialized in teaching disenfranchised blacks in greater charleston how to read well enough to pass required literacy tests to vote.Women history

After discovering the charleston county school system was teaching 60-year-old adults to read with, “see jack jump” or “see sally sit” children books, she asked her adult students what they wanted to read. Their response was simple but profound – they wanted to read the bible, they wanted to read their insurance policies, they wanted to read their state constitution, so that they could vote. In other words, they wanted to read things meaningful to them. Septima’s citizenship schools were so successful that it was later adopted as a learning model for SCLC and CORE’s voting programs.

Let us never forget that long before the medical university of south carolina became the prestigious hospital system that it is today, it was a group of courageous women (mostly black) who convinced this venerable institution to treat its black and female workers with more dignity, respect, and decent wages.Women history in the mid-60s they were faced with low wages, long hours, and racial discrimination. As a result the women organized a strike which lasted nearly four months. Coretta scott king, the widow of the slain civil rights leader martin luther king jr., traveled to charleston to support them. On june 27, 1969, hospital administrators agreed to rehire them, increase their pay, and establish an acceptable grievance process.

Recently I learned a bit of oral history from esteemed professors, dr. J. Herman blake and his wife, dr. Emily moore, who visited bethel AME church in georgetown. Several decades ago a group of women on daufuskie island organized a work stoppage for higher pay and better treatment.Wanted read they were oyster harvesters.

Oyster harvesting was once the main industry on the island. Although small in scale, shrimp and oysters were important to the economy of the communities located along south carolina’s coast. These industries flourished in the first half of the 20th century. Most of the workers were gullah or descendants of freed slaves. In the 1920s, it is estimated that at least 3,500 people were employed in the oyster canning industry around the island. There were also estimated to be at least 15 canneries throughout south carolina, georgia, and florida. Nearly every operation of the canning industry was carried out by hand labor requiring lots of labor. For many blacks in the lowcountry, the canneries were the only means of livelihood.They wanted read but the gullah women knew how valuable they were to their employer if they stuck together. After several months the owners agreed to meet their demands for more pay and more respect.

The “golden age” of the oyster industry in south carolina has gone the way of indigo, cotton and rice. Despite its natural decline, some historians (probably oyster companies) believe it’s the result of two things. First, new laws that increased wages for cannery workers resulting in heavy labor cost to canneries. Secondly "government welfare programs paid workers as much for not working as factory wages paid their employees.” I’m not saying these multi-billion-dollar oyster companies are lying, but they’re sure making the truth nervous.They wanted read happy women’s history month!

Steve williams lives in georgetown. A former educator and school administrator, he is a poet, motivational speaker and author. His column is published regularly in the georgetown times.