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Overview:

Explore a cross-generational dialogue on the impact of Women's History Month, featuring Patrice B. Borders, JD, and her daughters Candace Layne Borders and Camille "Mimi" Alyce Borders. Reflect on their resilience and the importance of celebrating and remembering stories of women.

By Patrice B. Borders, JD, with daughters Candace Layne Borders, & Camille 鈥淢imi鈥 Alyce Borders

Patrice B. Borders, JD. Credit: Image used with permission of Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber

When the Cincinnati Regional Chamber reached out to me about writing something for Women鈥檚 History Month, I knew almost immediately that I wanted my daughters to be a part of it. Each of them has a heart for history and a passion for honoring those who came before us. I invited my daughters, Candace Layne Borders and Camille 鈥淢imi鈥 Alyce Borders, to join me in reflecting on the significance of Women鈥檚 History Month, and we engaged in a cross-generational conversation that left me inspired and hopeful about the impact of my work coaching leaders and organizations to lead with emotional intelligence.

Learning from women鈥檚 history is crucial in shaping a better future and building cultures of belonging. Taking time to reflect on the leaders of our past and understand both their successes and their shortcomings can inspire greater self-awareness and empathy today.

This month is so much more than a name. It is a call to action, a reminder of where we鈥檝e gone and where we want to go. And with Black History Month in our rearview mirror, we are called to reflect on the intersectionality of race and gender, and how we can build a future that will ensure belonging for all women. Let鈥檚 not just reflect on the resilience of women in the past, but work toward a future where such resilience isn鈥檛 necessary.

Here鈥檚 a recap of our conversation:

Patrice: It鈥檚 important to pause and understand that where we stand right now is on the shoulders of the people who are in the history books, and the people who will never make it to any page in any written history. Their perseverance, their resilience, and their form of activism enable us to be here to have this conversation now. And that should come with the acknowledgment of Black History Month transitioning into Women鈥檚 History Month so that we can examine the intersection of our race and our gender.

Mimi: I鈥檝e been focusing on this transition from Black History Month. As women living at the intersection of race and gender, that鈥檚 important.

There are many moments in history when there was division between so-called women鈥檚 movements and the goals of Black women organizers 鈥 the suffrage movement, the women鈥檚 liberation movement, and second-wave feminism. An example I always think about is Susan B. Anthony who disagreed with Black men getting the right to vote over women.

For me, I often view Women鈥檚 History Month as Black women鈥檚 History Month. There is no equality for women if some women are excluded from that vision of inclusion, that vision of full civil rights. And I think at this moment when there is increased violence against trans women, especially trans women of color and Black trans women, we also need to say that there is no equality for women if it does not include our trans sisters. When we think about Women鈥檚 History Month, we must include activists such as Marsha P. Johnson.

Candace: There鈥檚 something so powerful about learning about our history and knowing where we come from, and the women who have spoken up for women鈥檚 rights. Women like abolitionist and suffragist Sojourner Truth, or Anna Julia Cooper.

When you were talking about Susan B. Anthony, I was thinking about Sojourner Truth and her 鈥淎in鈥檛 I a Woman鈥 speech, which always sticks with me. She was speaking at the Women鈥檚 Convention in Akron, Ohio, in 1851 using the refrain 鈥渁in鈥檛 I a woman鈥 to advocate for the equal rights of Black women, centering Black women in the early women鈥檚 suffrage movement.

Cooper wrote about the intersection of race and gender as an early activist focused on ensuring girls had access to education. She laid the foundation for Kimberl茅 Crenshaw鈥檚 groundbreaking research that coined the term intersectionality.

Mimi: What does Women鈥檚 History Month mean to you, Mom?

Patrice: It is an opportunity to reflect on a past, to learn from it, and to shape a type of future that would honor women. I feel like resilience has been a form of activism. The fact that I continue to persevere and have ambition is, at its core, activism. I鈥檓 saying, I will continue to define my success. I will continue to echo back my affirmation. I will continue to proclaim my beauty, my brilliance, and the validity of my voice. I feel like that is what has been handed down from our ancestors.

While I embrace that as part of my DNA, I also want to free the next generation 鈥 you, your cousins, and your friends 鈥 of the necessity of it as well. That鈥檚 the work of creating spaces where there is greater belonging and greater emotional intelligence anchored in empathy curiosity and compassion.

Mimi: You, as our mother, have armed Candace and me with the tools to affirm ourselves in the face of a world that will not always tell us that we are beautiful smart, and capable. We must sometimes be the ones to tell ourselves. As a young Black woman, that teaching has been so important. In spaces where I鈥檓 not made to feel as if I belong, where I鈥檓 excluded by microaggressions or microaggressions, I鈥檓 able to hold steady in my deep sense of self, and in the confidence that has been instilled in me through generations. Confidence in my abilities, and also the strength to know when I鈥檝e made a mistake.

Like you said, the hope is that we are a part of a movement to widen the space so that we all have a seat at the table.

Candace: An important part of my dissertation research in American Studies and African American Studies is narrating those untold and often forgotten or silenced parts of history, especially for women or women of color. I think something so important about Women鈥檚 History Month is celebrating and remembering stories of women so that we don鈥檛 forget where we鈥檝e come from. We鈥檙e able to live the way that we live and dream the big dreams that we dream because of the women who have come before us.

Mimi: As a historian of American history in year four of working on my dissertation at Princeton, something that I鈥檝e recognized is that telling the stories of Black women transforms the way we think about American history. It widens and complicates and untangles and re-tangles all of our preconceived notions. Black women鈥檚 voices deserve to be heard.

I think that Women鈥檚 History Month is a moment for us to stop and pause, as my mother says, take a deep belly breath, and think about where we鈥檝e gone and where we want to go.

Candace: It鈥檚 a beautiful moment of reflection and action. It鈥檚 not just an observance; it鈥檚 also an action.

Patrice: The observance of Women鈥檚 History Month is about determining your contribution and action as well. It鈥檚 not just women who are standing on the shoulders of the great women. It鈥檚 everyone standing on their shoulders. With that comes some accountability and responsibility, and I think that鈥檚 embedded in how we answer the call to action to ensure that we鈥檙e all doing the work.

Journaling prompts for further consideration:

My daughters and I maintain practices of journaling and self-reflection in our own lives. Journaling is a great practice for spending time with deep, sometimes complicated topics. It can help you ground yourself and gain clarity on your thoughts and actions. During our discussion, we thought of three prompts that may encourage you to think more deeply about what Women鈥檚 History Month means to you. 鈼

  • Think about the women you鈥檝e interacted with personally and professionally or observed as public figures. What qualities of theirs have influenced you, and how can you incorporate those into your life?
  • How can you apply the lessons from Women鈥檚 History Month to your daily life?
  • In what ways can you actively support and be an ally to the women around you?

Candace Layne Borders is a Doctoral Candidate in American Studies and African American Studies at Yale. Camille 鈥淢imi鈥 Alyce Borders is a History Doctoral Candidate at Princeton and a Rhodes scholar. Patrice Baughman Borders, JD, is the Founder and CEO of AmplifyEI and their proud Mother.

鈥淕enerations in dialogue鈥 was originally published by the Cincinnati Regional Chamber via their website on March 8, 2024. Republished with permission.

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