March 13, 2019 — “During Women’s History Month, we celebrate the countless women whose courage and resolve have contributed to the character and success of our nation and the entire world. The equal opportunity of women in every facet of daily life is an essential feature of a free and prosperous society. This month, we honor women who have fought for equality and against the status quo, and who have broken the bonds of discrimination, partiality and injustice for the benefit of all. These women created a legacy that continues to inspire generations of women to live with confidence, to have a positive impact on their communities, and to improve our Nation every single day.”
—Excerpt from Proclamation issued on March 1, 2019, by President Donald Trump in recognition of Women’s History Month
While the important contributions made by women to America’s history and culture have always been known, it wasn’t until 1980 that President Jimmy Carter officially recognized those achievements by declaring the week of March 8 as Women’s History Week.
In 1987, after considerable pressure was applied by the National Women’s History Project, Congress passed Public Law 100-9 designating the month as Woman’s History Month.
This designation changed the way in which women writers and women in general were perceived by many members of the American public.
Departments of Education in many states then began promoting the month as a way to promote equality of the sexes in the classroom and the effort to recognize and highlight this concept has continued to this day.
The current political climate has brought added attention to the increased number of women seeking political office and to the impact those women have had in the short time since the 2018 election.
There is also more consideration being given now than in the past to the thoughts and words of women.
This change in the way in which women writers and thinkers are accepted by the public has echoed throughout many other areas of American society. One way in which this added appreciation has manifested itself is in the increased number of female winners of the Pulitzer Prize.
In 2018, Stephanie McCrummen, Beth Reinhard and Alice Crites accepted the Pulitzer for the investigative reporting work done by the Washington Post in furthering the nation’s understanding of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
In addition, in 2018, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey received the award for their reporting on sexual predation in Hollywood, which helped spark the #MeToo movement.
Carol Marbin Miller and Audra D.S. Burch received the Pulitzer in 2018 for their coverage of the Alabama Senate race, which disclosed the past sexual harassment of teenage girls by Senate candidate Roy Moore.
These are just some of the examples of female Pulitzer prize winning authors adding to the national conversation on a whole host of issues.
The thoughts and observations from Pulitzer Prize winning writers continue with new releases by many past winners.
Many of these new books are available at the Siuslaw Public Library and Erin Gordenier, outreach librarian, is pleased with the increase in acceptance of female writers.
“It’s important to celebrate female winners, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if we didn’t have to qualify them as women writers, but just great writers? Like many other industries, publishing is still largely run by men and, historically, women have had to fight for equal recognition,” Gordenier said. “Men’s work is often thought of as more serious — Just look at school reading assignments and lists of classic novels. But there have always been amazing women writers, poets, historians and playwrights, and it’s important to see them getting accolades alongside their male colleagues.”
Some of the new releases from former winners include a new book of poetry and life observations from Alice Walker entitled, “Taking the arrow out of the heart.”
Walker, whose novel “The Color Purple,” has become an American classic since its release in 1985, has achieved rarefied status among many avid readers, including most notably Oprah Winfrey.
Walker’s new book intersperses recollections from her life with new poetry that speaks from the heart of the author to her readers.
Doris Kearns Goodwin, noted historian and frequent television commentator, has a new non-fiction release titled “Leadership in Turbulent Times” which examines difficult historical situations confronted by past presidents and the manner in which they dealt with those situations.
Kearns is not unfamiliar with controversy regarding her work, as she has been forced in the past to respond to allegations of plagiarism, which she insists are unfounded.
Fortunately, there are a number of releases by past winners that have not ignited a controversy which are available at the library.
These are just some of the many fiction and non-fiction titles that interested readers can find at the library.