Celebrating Women's History Month at the AFT

dark purples background with lighter purple and dark pink lines on each side with the text Women's History Month March 2024

Women’s History Month began as National Women’s History Week in 1980 when President Jimmy Carter issued a presidential proclamation that created it. This week was observed until 1987, when Congress officially designated March as Women’s History Month. The AFT is excited to celebrate Women’s History Month and the many contributions women have made to the United States since its inception.
When celebrating the history of women in the United States, there is often a focus on the 19th Amendment; and while it’s a landmark piece of legislation that allowed women the right to vote for the first time, it is imperative to note that this amendment did not guarantee that right for Asian, Black, Indigenous, Latina and other women of color. We also need to address the intersections of women’s identities, whether related to race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality or gender identity. The AFT has championed equality and challenged society to do the same since the very beginning, with women such as Margaret Haley leading that charge. Women's history is AFT's history.
The AFT provides many resources centered entirely around women, from AFT resolutions about women’s rights, to Share My Lesson resources, to the work and differences women are making in policy, in the classroom and in their communities.

Women working on policy

In addition to reviewing social studies and United States history textbooks with minimal historical text related to enslavement in the United States, Dana Thompson Dorsey has joined a group of educators, including several other United Faculty of Florida/AFT members, to file a lawsuit against House Bill 7, also known as the Stop WOKE Act.

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Christine Engelbrecht, the co-president of the Los Alamos (N.M.) Federation of School Employees, is determined to lift up the voices of teachers and school staff. She knows they are the people closest to students, with the clearest view of what’s needed most in public schools.

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Women making a difference

In AFT communities

AFT Executive Vice President Evelyn DeJesus embraces her own heritage as a Puerto Rican and a Taíno—a descendant of the Indigenous people of the island. Raised to be proud of this heritage, she shares stories about her family in this AFT Voices post, and describes her commitment to the AFT’s upcoming Native American and Indigenous Issues Task Force and its work making sure children everywhere can learn true history about themselves and their country.

Read about her work

AFT retiree Sheila H. Gill-Mebane was 11 years old when her parents took her to the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Sixty years later, she remembers that sunny day, the thrill of hearing Martin Luther King Jr. speak, and the joy of gathering with like-minded people determined to make a better world for themselves and their children. Gill-Mebane also reflects on how the march will be different this year, as thousands gather Aug. 26 to recommit to the fight for justice.

Read about her work
Women making a difference

In AFT classrooms

Union leader Jessica Tang remembers growing up with no teachers who looked like her, and no Asian American or Pacific Islander history lessons in her classrooms. She hears similar stories from young people today, but also takes heart in seeing more and more AAPI people who are educators and labor leaders, and she celebrates the many resources the AFT offers to support AAPI educators and students

Read her story here

When AFT member Tracy Lai was a little girl, she loved the warmth of family coming together during Chinese New Year—and the noodles and special foods were fun, too! Now Lai teaches Asian American history and believes that the more people understand cultures and traditions different from their own, the better place the world will be. In this AFT Voices post, she shares her memories of and reflections on the holiday and her hopes for the year to come.

Read Tracy's story

Trudy Christ, an interior design professor at Suffolk County Community College, says the hands-on learning experience she builds into her classes engages her students in a way worksheets and quizzes could never do. At the same time, she has helped her students connect to their community as they work to design warm and welcoming spaces in residences for survivors of domestic violence. “I am constantly seeking new opportunities for students to apply their skills in actual physical spaces — and to make a real difference in our communities,” she writes in this AFT Voices post.

Learn more from Trudy

AFT Publications

The AFT screened the new documentary, The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks, in Detroit on Feb. 4, with panel discussions, a book giveaway and the promise that the union will continue to support educators who want to teach honest history in their schools. The film dispels the myth that Rosa Parks’ powerful role in the civil rights movement was limited to one moment in time; speakers included film producer Soledad O’Brien; AFT member Jeanne Theoharis, author of the book that inspired the film; and Parks’ grandnephew. In addition to a six-city film tour, the AFT is offering several lesson plans related to the film and to Parks’ life on Share My Lesson.

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In this article from AFT Healthcare, Jamila K. Taylor discusses the intersection of race and medical care in the present and in the past.

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Women leading our Powerful Partnerships work

Powerful Partnerships Institute

The many women of Houston, Texas

Powerful Partnerships Institute

Amanda Curtis and Moffie Funk in Montana

Powerful Partnerships Institute

Arlyssa Heard in Detroit, Michigan

FAST (Faculty and Students Together) Fund

Liz Franczyk in Wisconsin

Native American Community Schools

Deanna Hron in Minnesota