The commemoration of Women’s History Month began as a local celebration in 1978 in Santa Rosa, California, during the 2nd week of March. It was created by the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women to coincide with International Women’s Day on March 8. As the celebration aimed momentum across the nation, the National Women’s History Alliance successfully petitioned President Jimmy Carter to issue a proclamation declaring a National Women’s History Week. Subsequent president continued the annual proclamations, before the entire month of March was designated in 1987 as Women’s History Month.
“Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength, and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men who names we know so well.”
- President Jimmy Carter’s Message designating March 2-8, 1980, as National Women’s History Week
The Kimmel Cultural Campus and Philadelphia Orchestra celebrate Women’s History Month all season long by featuring female talent both on and off the stage. To mark the month itself, we asked the women of our own Kimmel Cultural Campus community to honor a woman they admire from history, either past or present.
See below for each participant’s answer to the question — “If you could have a conversation with any woman from history, who would you choose and why?”
“If I could have a conversation with anybody, it would be Oprah Winfrey. I have always wanted to meet her. Her inspiration, tenacity, and drive for more is seen with all she has accomplished. After having a traumatic childhood, she never let anything get in her way of doing what she loved. And Oprah continues to be a giver, making generous contributions to institutions such Morehouse College, Harold Washington Library, and the United Negro College Fund to name a few. I would love to know what keeps her going every day. She has accomplished so much and still makes time to cook, garden, and host friends. I’m sure there were times that it was difficult. To be able to talk with her and find out how she stayed the course would be amazing. She gives hope to young women that they can and should follow their dreams. She is a class act.”
Hazel Mack, Payroll Manager
honoring Oprah Winfrey – Actress, Producer, Author, & Philanthropist
“Bette is both a legendary entertainer and dedicated environmental activist. She is the founder of the New York Restoration Project, a non-profit organization that plants trees, renovates gardens, restores parks, and transforms open space for communities throughout New York City’s five boroughs. Given the chance, I would love to hear about her journey to stardom. I'd share with her how her music and films bring me joy. Then it would be time to sing a song or two together- what a dream to sing a few bars with the Divine Miss M!”
Kathleen Moran, Membership Manager
honoring Bette Midler – Singer, Actress, Comedian, & Activist
“I would love to meet Mindy Kaling. As a woman of color, she is a true pioneer in TV and comedy. The characters she portrays and writes for the screen challenge the norms that our culture expects from women. She uses her platform as an actress to be a true role model for all women.”
Maya Jacobs, Assistant Director, Learning and Access
honoring Mindy Kaling – Actress, Comedian, Screenwriter, & Producer
“I would love to sit down with Evelyn Glennie and learn from her how to be a better percussionist, musician, and overall listener. She teaches on how to feel sound and listen with your whole body, not just your ears, which she has mastered after going deaf at age 12. She often performs barefoot, allowing her to feel the vibrations of the sounds through the floor. Evelyn was initially turned away from the Royal Academy of Music due to her deafness, but challenged that decision and was eventually accepted. Her taking a stance changed the way music institutions across the UK admitted students, so that no one would again be rejected due to disability. It is incredibly inspiring to watch her perform and to hear how she interprets music and sound.”
Erica Barry, Assistant Manager, Marketing
honoring Evelyn Glennie – Scottish percussionist
“I would love to talk with Joan of Arc! I just think she is so brave and resilient, especially for that time period when women were not allowed to be in positions of real power. Joan was even in place to advise the king, which is remarkable at her young age! She withstood all the men that were against her leadership and became a real icon for France.”
Linda Moy, Usher
honoring Joan of Arc – military leader and religious figure
“I would love to have a conversation with Cicely Tyson – award-winning and pioneering fashion model, film, TV, and stage actress whose career spanned seven decades. Tyson was a woman of veracity, seeking to only take roles that served a purpose and refused to engage in “blaxploitation.” In fact, she was quoted as saying, ‘Unless a piece really said something, I had no interest in it. I have got to know that I have served some purpose here.’ I cannot imagine how difficult it was for her, a Black woman, to take a stand and not waiver at that time. Her strength, courage and resolve are to be admired. Tyson gave back to her community in so many ways, notably by teaching at the Dance Theater of Harlem, a school she co-founded. I am so inspired by the way Cicely Tyson lived her life. Shortly before her death in 2021, when asked how she wanted to be remembered, Cicely responded, ‘I've done my best. That's all.’ I aspire to be able to say the same.”
Judia Jackson, Chief People & Culture Officer
honoring Cicely Tyson– award-winning actress
See answers from our past participants in 2019, 2020, and 2022, and join us as we celebrate and uplift female performers all season long at the Kimmel Cultural Campus and Philadelphia Orchestra.