Content warning: This article contains mention of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Gov. Roy Cooper signed a proclamation declaring March as Women’s History Month on Feb. 23.
The national theme for Women’s History Month is "Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories," and the proclamation encourages the North Carolina community to honor prominent women storytellers in North Carolina’s history.
It also includes a list of women who have made major contributions to the social, economic and cultural development of North Carolina. Many of these women have been important storytellers — including actors, authors, musicians and reporters.
According to the proclamation, during March, the North Carolina will celebrate women of every class, race and ethnicity who have impacted North Carolina’s history, both in told and untold ways.
Cooper's proclamation also highlighted the North Carolina Council for Women and Youth Involvement as it is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.
The council is an agency under the North Carolina Department of Administration that gives advice on issues impacting women to the legislature, governor and other state departments.
Danielle Carman, the executive director of the North Carolina Council for Women and Youth Involvement, said the organization focuses on granting funds to domestic violence and sexual assault agencies, administering Family Violence Prevention and Services Act funding and hosting programs dedicated to youth involvement and leadership.
Carmen said the goal of the proclamation is to pause and reflect on women's impact on North Carolina’s culture.
"I think it's important to look back across history and remember the contributions that have been made and the great diversity of the contributors," Carman said.
Sandra Ross, the communications and research specialist for the council, drafted the proclamation signed by Cooper.
“When I saw that the national theme was celebrating women who tell our stories, I just thought that was such an awesome thing because you can tell your story in so many different ways,” Ross said.
She has also drafted 31 social media posts for the NCDOA to share on their Twitter and Facebook over the month.
“When people see these, they will see women in every way that women can be,” Ross said.
She said she tried to represent all women in North Carolina in her posts, including different ethnicities and mediums through which women have told stories in the past.
“It’s fun for me because I get to learn a lot while I’m doing this job,” Ross said. “My hope is to spread that knowledge to other people.”
Shameka Fairbanks, Orange County's chief equity and human rights officer, said the county government will celebrate Women’s History Month in many ways, including hosting a movie viewing and book reading of "Hidden Figures" and two walking tours dedicated to women storytellers.
On March 13, Orange County's Office of Equity and Inclusion will be hosting a walking tour based on Pauli Murray, and will include stories about Black Civil War soldiers, the Freedmen's Schools movement and segregated travel in Durham.
A second walking tour on March 16 will center on Durham's Parrish Street, a center of Black progress in the 20th century.
“It’s really exciting to be able to share these stories about women,” Fairbanks said. “I just think it's great to be able to just say thank you and to be able to affirm that person and just let them know how much they're appreciated.”
Jillian Hinderliter, an associate professor of women's and gender studies at UNC, said the University is also observing Women’s History Month by hosting multiple talks from women on different aspects of women’s history.
The first talk will take place on March 6 and will be given by Elora Shehabuddin, a women's and gender studies professor at the University of California, Berkeley. The lecture will focus on the history of Muslim women and the global politics of feminism.
“This proclamation helps recognize and honor women past and present,” Hinderliter said.
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