Wednesday, December 7, 2022

5 friendships to know for Women’s History Month

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In “Girl Squads: 20 Female Friendships That Changed History,” Maggs recounts the tales of pal teams who helped change the world. “I think it’s important, especially as we look back on history, to see where women were able to fight back against the patriarchy,” she mentioned.

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Particularly during times of racial and gender inequality, Maggs believes there are key classes to study how ladies supported one another, as a result of “no one is successful on their own, and especially with women, the more we work together, the stronger we are.”

Kaila Story, an affiliate professor within the departments of Pan-African research and ladies’s, gender and sexuality research on the University of Louisville, provides: “If we’re trying to eradicate such monumental structural institutional things, we need our homegirls to hold our hand, to give us a hug and to see us and let us know that we’re not only capable, but that we’re more than capable.”

In recognition of Women’s History Month, we talked with authors and professors to spotlight 5 friendships between ladies leaders in politics, artwork, literature and activism.

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Eleanor Roosevelt and Pauli Murray

The unlikely friendship between Eleanor Roosevelt and activist and authorized scholar Pauli Murray started as a confrontation, mentioned Patricia Bell-Scott, who wrote in regards to the pair in her guide “The Firebrand and the First Lady.” In 1938, pissed off by the South’s racial segregation in larger schooling, Murray penned a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and first woman Eleanor Roosevelt. The first woman wrote again inside two weeks, Bell-Scott mentioned, “and that opened a conversation that continued for nearly three decades.”

Over time, they moved from disagreement to allyship, Bell-Scott mentioned. And following Franklin D. Roosevelt’s demise in 1945, their correspondence shifted from political points to real considerations about private household issues. “So it became one of mutual caring and friendship,” Bell-Scott mentioned. “They had very busy lives, but rarely were they out of touch for more than six months.”

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Roosevelt and Murray’s friendship demonstrates a willingness to have tough discussions and hear to different viewpoints, mentioned Bell-Scott, who was additionally a consulting producer for the 2021 documentary “My Name is Pauli Murray.” For occasion, in a single letter to Roosevelt, Murray defined how she was being threatened with eviction from a White neighborhood in California the place residents felt she didn’t belong.

“From that day in the ’40s through the end of her life, fair housing and housing discrimination remained a priority for Eleanor,” Bell-Scott mentioned, “because she had, through her friendship with Pauli, a vicarious sense of how painful that experience was — the denied opportunity on the basis of race.”

Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’Keeffe

When Mexican painter Frida Kahlo traveled to America in 1930, she was a 23-year-old budding artist attempting to work out her place because the spouse of well-known muralist Diego Rivera, mentioned Celia Stahr, an artwork historian and professor on the University of San Francisco. “She was really starting out,” Stahr mentioned. “And she meets a number of women artists who I think really inspired her and helped her with her first breakthrough.” Among them was modernist painter Georgia O’Keeffe.

They met the next 12 months in New York when O’Keeffe was 44 and on the top of her profession, Stahr mentioned. But whereas O’Keeffe was thriving professionally, she was falling aside emotionally over her husband’s infidelity. “In some ways, Diego Rivera wasn’t that different from [O’Keeffe’s husband] Alfred Stieglitz,” Stahr mentioned of the 2 male artists who have been each identified to have had affairs. “So I think that [Kahlo and O’Keeffe] must have bonded over that as well.”

In a male-dominated neighborhood, “women artists didn’t typically have a lot of support systems,” Stahr added.

While they each grappled with relationships and psychological well being of their lives, their transient time collectively in New York was marked with enjoyable recollections, too, together with one unforgettable tequila-filled night time, mentioned Stahr, who wrote a guide about Kahlo’s time spent in America.

“As far as I could find, I don’t think jack-in-the-pulpit really grow typically in the Mexican desert landscape,” mentioned Stahr, including that the portrait can also be one of many first occasions Kahlo is seen portray with flowers.

“I do think that’s directly connected to Georgia O’Keeffe,” Stahr mentioned.

Audre Lorde and Pat Parker

Audre Lorde and Pat Parker had rather a lot in frequent. Not solely have been they each Black lesbian poets, moms and activists, in addition they every battled most cancers, mentioned Story, the University of Louisville professor. In 1974, 5 years after they first met, they started exchanging letters frequently, discussing their writing and sharing intimate particulars about their private lives, in accordance to the guide “Sister Love: The Letters of Audre Lorde and Pat Parker 1974-1989.″

“These are letters being exchanged with two of the greatest poets of the 20th century,” Story mentioned. “And both of them used their lived experiences as these springboards for change.”

Lorde was central to many liberation actions, together with second-wave feminism, civil rights and Black cultural actions, in addition to struggles for LGBTQ equality, in accordance to the Audre Lorde Project. Her friendship with Parker served as inspiration for plenty of poems, however Parker additionally wielded affect of her personal as an unsung hero of the Black Arts Movement, Vice studies.

While Parker was primarily based in Oakland, Calif., Lorde cut up her time between New York and touring overseas. But they sustained their friendship by way of correspondence that lasted for 15 years, ending the 12 months earlier than Parker’s demise.

“They were both such incredible women who really formulated a lot of our current ideas around justice, transformative education, critical race theory,” Story mentioned. “All the things we’re grappling with now as a nation, these women were talking about in their letters to one another and in their work.”

Marilyn Monroe and Ella Fitzgerald

“Marilyn greatly admired Ella,” Mark mentioned. “So much so that Marilyn’s singing is kind of based on how [she] thought Ella sang things.” Eventually, Monroe started displaying up to totally different venues the place Fitzgerald was performing, he mentioned, “and they got to know one another.”

A key occasion of their friendship occurred in 1955 in Los Angeles. While Fitzgerald typically performed live performance halls with huge bands, she struggled to land nightclub gigs, mentioned Mark, who additionally hosts a radio present celebrating the singer’s music. One standard venue specifically, Mocambo, wouldn’t guide Fitzgerald. That’s when Monroe stepped in, reportedly telling the membership homeowners that in the event that they booked Fitzgerald for 10 days in a row, Monroe would present up each night time with celebrities.

“Ella got booked, and Marilyn was true to her word,” Mark mentioned. On opening night time, Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland have been reportedly among the many well-known associates who confirmed up. The membership was offered out for 10 days, Mark mentioned, and from then on, Fitzgerald by no means had a difficulty reserving nightclubs wherever.

“That’s, I think, a wonderful early example of women power — one woman helping another to achieve her goals,” Mark mentioned.

Coretta Scott King and Betty Shabazz

Both wives of slain civil rights leaders, Coretta Scott King and Betty Shabazz’s friendship was born out of tragedy following the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. And whereas the media typically forged them as “the widows,” the ladies have been activists and leaders in their very own proper, creator and minister Barbara Reynolds wrote in The Washington Post in 2013.

In 2013, Lifetime launched the movie “Betty and Coretta” to recount their achievements and the sisterhood they solid collectively. “Lifetime brings them out of the shadows for a renewed examination, appreciation and recognition of their leadership,” Reynolds wrote on the time, although members of each King and Shabazz’s households later flagged inaccuracies within the biopic.

“Nevertheless they were truly spiritual sisters,” Reynolds wrote. “That is one fact I’m sure of.”



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