We Hold These Truths to be Self-Evident…..


From Seneca Falls to Selma, to
2nd Inauguration of Pres. Obama
From the Jan. 21, 2013 Inaugural Address of President Obama: “We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth”.

Early each year through our dedicated history months – February for African-Americans and March for Women — we are reminded of the shared struggles and ongoing efforts for racial and gender equality. The course of these struggles and efforts has, on occasion intersected, but all too often run parallel and in opposition.

 Two mothers of America’s women’s rights movement came together in London in 1840 during the World Anti-Slavery Convention. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott were among the delegation but were denied the ability to participate because they were women. They returned to the United States determined to advance the rights of not only African Americans but women as well.

While African American men were granted to the legal right to vote nearly 50 years prior to women these rights were not fully realized until many decades later. The struggles for equality increase when race and gender meet – women of color experience inequities to an exponential degree. This year marked the 100th anniversary of Rosa Parks birth – a women who helped to propel the civil rights movement and illustrate a quiet, yet deafening courage.womens-history-month-3

But nearly 60 years since, Ms. Parks refused to give up her seat; women – especially women of color – have yet to gain full equality in the workforce. These inequities impact the health of countless individuals and families.

According to the Department of Labor statistics from 2010:

· Women comprised 46.8 percent of the total U.S. labor force and are projected to account for 46.9 percent of the labor force in 2018.

· Women are projected to account for 51.2 percent of the increase in total labor force growth between 2008 and 2018.

· 66 million women were employed in the U.S.—73 percent of employed women worked on full-time jobs, while 27 percent worked on a part-time basis.

· The largest percentage of employed Asian, white, and black women (46, 41, and 34 percent, respectively) worked in management, professional, and related occupations. For Hispanic women, it was sales and office occupations—33 percent.

· The median weekly earnings of women who were full-time wage and salary workers was $669, or 81 percent of men’s $824. When comparing the median weekly earnings of persons aged 16 to 24, young women earned 95 percent of what young men earned ($422 and $443, respectively).

· The unemployment rate for all women was 8.6 percent and 10.5 percent for men in 2010. For Asian women it was 7.1 percent; white women, 7.7 percent; Hispanic women, 12.3 percent; and black women, 13.8 percent.

Women still face a glass ceiling and inequitable wages.

· Women of color currently make up about 33 percent of the female workforce and are twice as likely as their white female counterparts to be employed in lower-wage sectors such as the service industry. (Center for American Progress)

· In communities of color the labor segmentation becomes even more apparent. In 2007 only 5.6 percent of black women and 4.8 percent of Latina women were in management positions. The service industry was the most common occupation for black and Latina women, at 27 percent and 30 percent, respectively. And the health care industry is the largest employer for Asian American and Pacific Islander women. (Center for American Progress)

The implication for women’s health is undeniable.

· While women of color represent 36.3 percent of the U.S. female population, they account for 53.2 percent of uninsured women, with Hispanics having the highest uninsured rates across all other racial and ethnic groups. (Center for American Progress)

· In 2010, 28 percent of African Americans relied on Medicaid compared to 11 percent of non-Hispanic whites. As many as 9 million low-income Latinos will gain health care coverage due to the expanded Medicaid eligibility under Obamacare. (Center for American Progress)

· Women of color have historically had substandard health care and education, which has often led to higher rates of unplanned pregnancies. Disparities in reproductive health have caused Latina women to experience unintended pregnancies at double the rate of white women, and African American women experience unintended pregnancies at three times the rate. (Center for American Progress)

We can learn so much for our collective past and apply those lessons to our collective future. At this time and in this era, we must try to come together to face our struggles as one. We must come together and fight rights and for equality for ourselves, for our friends, for our neighbors and for those strangers who we have never met.

Our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth

Only through this freedom we can attempt to achieve the goal of happiness and the right to good health.


Here is a brief timeline of the struggles and efforts to attain equality in the last 180 years.


American Anti-Slavery Society (AAS) (1833–1870) is founded by William Lloyd Garrison and Arthur Tappan. Frederick Douglass


The first women’s rights convention is held in Seneca Falls, New York.


The first National Women’s Rights Convention takes place in Worcester, Mass., attracting more than 1,000 participants.


14th amendment is added to the constitution – which defines citizenship of the United States and protects individual civil and political rights from being abridged or denied by any state.


15th amendment is added to the constitution – affording African American men the right to vote.


The National Association of Colored Women is formed.


The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) formed by W.E.B. Du Bois and other African American leaders and white proponents of racial equality.


The federal woman suffrage amendment, originally written bySusan B. Anthony and introduced in Congress in 1878, is passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate. It is then sent to the states for ratification


The 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote, is signed into law by Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby.


Mary McLeod Bethune organizes the National Council of Negro Women, a coalition of black women’s groups that lobbies against job discrimination, racism, and sexism.


The Supreme Court rules on the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kans., unanimously agreeing that segregation in public schools is unconstitutional.


NAACP member Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat at the front of the “colored section” of a bus to a white passenger.


Congress passes the Equal Pay Act, making it illegal for employers to pay a woman less than what a man would receive for the same job.


Title VII of the Civil Rights Act bars discrimination in employment on the basis of race and sex. At the same time it establishes theEqual Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to investigate complaints and impose penalties.
The 24th Amendment abolishes the poll tax, which originally had been instituted in 11 southern states after Reconstruction to make it difficult for poor blacks to vote.


Executive Order 11375 expands President Lyndon Johnson’saffirmative action policy of 1965 to cover discrimination based on gender. As a result, federal agencies and contractors must take active measures to ensure that women as well as minorities enjoy the same educational and employment opportunities as white males.


The EEOC rules that sex-segregated help wanted ads in newspapers are illegal. This ruling is upheld in 1973 by the Supreme Court, opening the way for women to apply for higher-paying jobs hitherto open only to men.


Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, the Supreme Court finds that sexual harassment is a form of illegal job discrimination.


In Jackson v. Birmingham Board of Education, the Supreme Court rules that Title IX, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, also inherently prohibits disciplining someone for complaining about sex-based discrimination. It further holds that this is the case even when the person complaining is not among those being discriminated against.


President Obama signed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, which allows victims of pay discrimination to file a complaint with the government against their employer within 180 days of their last paycheck. Previously, victims (most often women) were only allowed 180 days from the date of the first unfair paycheck. This Act is named after a former employee of Goodyear who alleged that she was paid 15–40% less than her male counterparts, which was later found to be accurate.

For more information on these issues:

Department of Labor: http://www.dol.gov/wb/factsheets/QS-womenwork2010.htm

Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being(March 2011), Prepared by the Economics and Statistics Administration and the Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget, for the White House Council on Women and Girlshttp://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/rss_viewer/Women_in_America.pdf

Women and the Economy 2010: 25 Years of Progress But Challenges Remain (August 2010) U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee http://op.bna.com/dlrcases.nsf/id/lswr-88nlnb/$File/Women%20Workers%20JEC.pdf

The State of Women of Color in the United States: Although They’ve Made Incredible Strides, Many Barriers Remain for This Growing Populationhttp://www.americanprogress.org/issues/race/report/2012/07/17/11923/the-state-of-women-of-color-in-the-united-states/
Article by Darci L. Graves, MA, MA, MPP
Health Power Editor on Spirituality, Culture and Health, and Aging; and Senior Health Education and Policy Specialist at SRA International, Inc.