Poetic Tongues/Fabu
Leading Women
Hello to all the courageous women who read the Capital City Hues. Welcome to another
Women’s History Month in March 2020.  This month’s celebration is even more special
because it is the 100th year recognition of passing the 19th amendment. The 19th amendment
granted women citizens the right to vote. With the vote, came political, economic and social
advantages, although we still struggle to receive equality in full measure.  

Wisconsin’s proud connection to the 19th amendment is that it was the first state, along with
Illinois and Michigan, to ratify the amendment on June 10, 1919.  This amendment was the
result of decades of hard activism to get the right for women to vote and its roots were in the
anti-slavery movement. Many of the women who became active in the struggle for the right for
women to vote, were first involved in the slavery abolition movement and the successful
dismantling of slavery in the United States.  Fredrick Douglass and Harriet Tubman were early
supporters of women’s suffrage. When slavery ended and African American men were given
the right to vote, no doubt women believed they too must have the same right to vote.

Like all of the evil twists and turns of racial history overlaying politics, both African American
men and women would not be able to safely and fully exercise their right to vote until the Voting
Rights Act of 1965. The South didn’t want African Americans to have political power and the rest
of the country accommodated their racial policies in exchange for their support. While we grieve
the betrayal, and realize that racial disparities still exist, we celebrate the activism that propelled
us forward.

Another example of activism that continues to propel us forward is the a cappella group, Sweet
Honey in the Rock, who sing us happy while reminding us of the strength and beauty of woman
power. Celebrating 45 years of combining music and ideals rooted in African and African
American culture, they appeared on February 29, the last day of Black History Month and a fine
way of ushering in Women’s History Month.  

Originally founded by Bernice Johnson Reagan in Washington, D.C., the group continues to re-
invent itself while singing a wide genre of songs in fantastic harmony.  They sing fiercely about
subjects that promote respect for people, justice for all, and true equality in the USA. You leave
inspired and deeply moved inside.

They added a new member, Romeir Mendez, who brought “the funk” on guitar and bass and
who only enhanced their performance. Many thanks to the Overture Center for presenting the
award winning Sweet Honey in the Rock. When they return, courageous women of Madison,
make sure you do not miss their performance and experience their modern day woman power.

There is another reason to thank Madison, former Madison Police Chief Nobel Wray and all the
people who worked to have the Madison School Board rename Glendale Elementary School in
honor of the late Virginia Henderson. Dr. Virginia Henderson worked at the school from 1976 to
1991, but even more importantly, both she and her husband, Dr. Perry Henderson worked long
and hard on behalf of children in Madison.  Dr. Perry Henderson helped bring babies into the
world and Dr. Virginia Henderson helped them thrive in school.  My only regret is that the school
was not named for her while she was alive, yet I believe that she always understood that she
was greatly loved and appreciated by our African American community.