March 1st marks the start of Women’s History month. President Obama marked the start with a Presidential Proclamation. Part of his proclamation states that we must resolve to build on the progress won by the trailblazers of the past and must carry forward the work of the women who came before us. President Obama invites everyone to visit http://www.womenshistorymonth.gov to learn more about the generations of women who shaped the history of our country, exhibits, activities and events occurring throughout the month.
As I reflect on Women’s History month, one name stands out for me: my mother, Naomi Hines. She was raised in rural North Carolina, moved to Buffalo, NY and ultimately settled in Baltimore, MD. Naomi became a community activist on the local, state and federal level advocating for health care reforms and received many awards for her efforts. As a member of a public employees union, AFSCME, she fought for health reforms for all people, particularly in underserved areas. Her direct efforts helped to build a health center in Baltimore, MD. As a health care worker in a family planning public health clinic, she understood the importance of a woman’s right to choose. She further understood the need for counseling and education on contraceptives, family planning and sexually transmitted diseases in public health clinics. So, she would support Planned Parenthood funding. And she would rebuke the efforts of the Republican congress to deny funding for women.
And as an active member of her union, even in retirement, she knew the benefits of collective bargaining. She would support the Wisconsin public employees. But, to all women, she would say, never give up fighting on what you support and believe in.