Updated: Mar 18
It's Women's History Month and I honor the national theme of Providing Healing, Promoting Hope. This year I delivered my annual address at the Naval Information Forces Women's History Month Celebration, Suffolk, Va., as their Guest Speaker. I share my thoughts below.
Keeping in line with our National theme of PROVIDING HEALING, and PROMOTING HOPE, I am compelled as a NURSE to highlight the prowess of women, in particular, women who have moved the nation forward during one of the most pressing times in American history, the Covid-19 Pandemic.
And I might add, ironically, the first women to serve in the United States Navy were nurses, called the “Sacred Twenty” appointed after Congress established the Navy Nurse Corps in 1908. We now witness the pen of history writing WOMEN as the face of an entire pandemic response. Who is helping lead the effort? NURSES. The nursing profession is 85% women and I am proud to have served in the United States Naval Nurse Corps.
Frontline or Behind-the Scenes history reveals that whenever there was a call to action, fights for equality, or problems to be solved, women have always played an intricate part in the healing and promotion of their communities; locally, nationally and globally.
If we look back, The first fight for equality was our fundamental right to vote. Then the emphasis shifted to equity in the workplace and on the dollar. Now COVID-19 has changed the game of leadership; not only changed how women lead but it has changed how the world views women as leaders.
What I know for sure is that everyone has a story, and for the next few minutes I am going to share the stories of some of the most dynamic women of our movement, past and present. Women who have advanced and shaped our nation scientifically, medically, politically and culturally.
1. Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett-An African American Scientist, who helped develop the COVID 19 vaccine. As she recalled, ”the day the MRNA vaccine arrived in her lab, the day the first human was injected with the vaccine, she said, “Lives are about to be saved." Dr. Corbett was part of a team at the National Institutes of Health whose research helped lay the foundation for the design of the MRNA vaccine and during this unprecedented period in our history. Dr. Corbett was a beacon of hope and an inspiration for women scientists to come.
2. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson -Nominated on February 25, 2022 by President Joe Biden as the first Black Woman for the Supreme Court. Her nomination is confirmation that representation matters in the promotion of women of color to high ranking positions of leadership. Her nomination elevates hope on a stage that is not only supreme, but reeks of women on the rise. Her nomination has set the entire women’s movement into overdrive, nationally as well as globally.
3. Prime Minister Jacinda Arden- Prime Minister of New Zealand. Her leadership was a prime example of the success of countries led by women fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Known for her leadership style focused on empathy, she was able to reach people on an emotional level, when emotions were running havoc. Just as New Zealand prepared to go on lockdown she appeared on facebook LIVE in a sweatshirt to offer guidance to her people, paired with policies that resulted in world-leading results. Her ability to give hope through empathy set her in the history books as one of the most effective leaders of the pandemic.
4. Marjorie Tucker Reed. Born in Norfolk, Virginia and one of the legendary 300 Black Angels, heroes of the 1940’s tuberculosis pandemic. The Black Angels were African American Nurses who took care of patients with tuberculosis when there was no cure and others refused. A story hailed out of Seaview hospital in Staten Island ,New York, it gives insight to the cure being founded in 1951 by Dr. Edward Robitzek. The contributions of Marjorie and the Black Angels to medicine, research and science, give hope and healing for generations to come.
We are struggling for a uniting world, but the good news is that we have a uniting movement. I am inviting you to step forward, to be seen and to ask yourself: if not me, who? If not now, when?
Happy Women’s History Month
Denetra Hampton, Founder, FNBN Productions