I have been reading a book called "The Invention of Wings" by Sue Monk Kidd.
It based on the story of Sarah Grimke, and woman who was the daughter of a plantation owner in South Carolina, who grew up abhorring slavery and eventually speaking out against it, and being a proponent of women's rights.
I have read many books about slavery. They are never easy to read. But they do make me realize I take freedom for granted.
I am free to do many things. I have freedom. I live in a country that is home of the free. We have a Bill of Rights. We have a constitution. We have been given freedom.
Intellectually I know that slavery was a big part of our country in the early years, spiritually is saddens me. It saddens me to think that there was a time when people in this country treated others the way they did. And thought of them as property. As only part of a person.
As part of the book I'm reading, Grimke knew at a fairly early age that slavery was wrong, and was very conflicted about it her whole life.
It made me wonder how others (and I know there were others) who also thought slavery was wrong year owned slaves, dealt with the problem.
Grimke also spoke out for women's rights. This is another area where I feel like many women before me paved the way, and that I am allowed many of the privileges I have as a women because of the women who came before me.
But often I didn't realize how much had changed during my early lifetime.
Such as girls playing sports in school. When I was in junior high and high school, girls could play basketball, volleyball and run track. But Title IX just came into being in 1972. Title IX was part of the Educational Amendments of 1972, and it states, in part, that:
No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.
When my sister was in high school, the had GAA, Girls Athletic Association. It was not organized team sports. They did run track, but that was it. She graduated in 1973.
By the time I was in 7th grade at Kellogg Junior High School, in the fall of 1975, there was basketball, volleyball and track available for girls to participate in at KJHS. And I didn't realize it at the time, but this was due on large part to my high school P.E. teacher, Mary Jean Hinkemeyer, who had a large part in bringing about Title IX in the state of Idaho, and especially to Kellogg High School. I didn't realize this until she was a guest speaker on an Idaho Public Television program over 15 years ago, that interviewed her about the part she played in advancing Title IX in this area.
I look at my daughters, and the freedoms they have. Because of the women who have gone before her, by daughters had the choices to run cross country, play volleyball, soccer, basketball, track, softball and golf at Kellogg High School.
They can vote, which, again, hasn't always been the case for women in this country.
Recently my oldest daughter attended an event where Lily Ledbetter spoke. Ledbetter is who the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 is named after. This is a federal statute in the United States that was the first bill signed into law by President Barack Obama on January 29, 2009. The Act amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The new act states that the 180-day statute of limitations for filing an equal-pay lawsuit regarding pay discrimination resets with each new paycheck affected by that discriminatory action. The law directly addressed Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.,a U.S. Supreme Court decision that the statute of limitations for presenting an equal-pay lawsuit begins on the date that the employer makes the initial discriminatory wage decision, not at the date of the most recent paycheck.
When she was sharing with me about listening to this woman speak, she was amazed at the inequality that still exists with paying men and women different amounts of money for the same job.
Things are better.....but there is still lots of work to be done. And, fortunately, many of them are happening.
But we do need to be grateful for the freedoms we have, and not take them for granted.