Real AAUW Women—Part I

True AAUW women understand the value of networking, but as my column collaborator, reminds us AAUW membership goes beyond exchanging business cards and noshing with bright people. Biologically we continue the species, and lovingly or not we strongly influence the environment we share by the way we raise our progeny and conduct our daily lives. This gift of womanhood is not to be taken lightly. Before we act, we must ask ourselves “Will our actions promote or erode progress?” This month I’d like to celebrate two Ohio women who have used their talents to unite thousands of kindred spirits. With the publication of her first book, Zeely (1967), Virginia Hamilton of Yellow Springs not only wrote award- winning literature that celebrated African Americans, she paved the way for other writers to share their work with educators and students in Northeast Ohio. Virginia Hamilton graduated from Ohio State University and later studied fiction writing at the New School for Social Research in New York City. This author wrote 41 books while becoming the first Black author to win the Newbery Award for Literature. In addition to that award, Hamilton received three Newbery Honor Awards, the National Book Award, the Boston Globe Horn Book Award, and the Hans Christian Anderson Award among many others. She is considered to have been one of the most influential American writers of juvenile books.
In 1984 a conference was established at Kent State in her name. The Virginia Hamilton Multicultural Conference is the oldest multicultural conference in the United States. More recently the Virginia Hamilton Arnold Adoff Outreach Grant has annually funded a project for a classroom teacher and a librarian. As a recipient of one of the grants, I was able to bring a Native American representative to my school to provide a Native American perspective of history. I also was able to acquire a rich library of multi-cultural books that are frequently used in my class and in community activities.
Participating in the conference is to be included in a warm and loving family. Her husband, poet Arnold Adoff; son, Jamie (author and soon to be teacher); daughter, Leigh (opera singer in Germany) and various family members have attended the event and made participants feel glad to be a part of it all. It has been a joy to watch her grandchild, whom she never met, Blossom knowing that Mrs. Hamilton would have been so proud. By sharing her gifts with the world, Virginia Hamilton has left the most extraordinary legacy for a 21st century woman. The first Black engineer to receive a PhD in aeronautical engineering is Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi. A resident of West Chester, this curator, historian, author, and artist of highly collectible quilts is also the founder of the Women of Color Quilt Network (established in the 80s) which has around
2000 members. She has been honored by the International Labor Department and the United Nations for her efforts toward the advancement of women. In 2003 Carolyn Mazloomi received the first Ohio Heritage Fellowship Award.
Mazloomi has curated exhibits to showcase the works of network members and has written books relating to quilts. Her published books deal with contemporary African American quilts, quilts inspired by religion and faith, quilts related to jazz, reflecting on African American women’s history, and celebrating Barack Obama’s election to the presidency. Touring exhibits have traveled throughout the USA, to Central America, Africa, and Japan museums. Some of the host museums have selected work for their collections.
“Quilts need to be included in permanent museum collections,” says Mazloomi. “Our children and grandchildren should be able to see how we, African American women, contributed to culture in America.”
Because Dr. Mazloomi is committed to sharing the stories through quilts, she is a visionary. Her most recent project is a 400-year time line which showcases events in Black history through quilts. The exhibit is scheduled to open during spring of this year, and eventually parts of the exhibit will be on display in the Smithsonian.
Carolyn Mazloomi is the kind of woman who can entreat other fiber artists to put their personal projects on hold, so they can participate in her dream. When the project is completed, the designers are delighted to have been part of such exciting venues. I know because this new exhibit will be my third project working with her. It is exciting and inspiring to be around this woman who uses her intellect and artistic ability to network with others, and spotlight talents of many.
As you can see, these women are exceptional, and the world has been graced by their presence. From strong women we learn that we are empowered, not diminished, when we promote each other. We can be individuals who achieve personal goals while resisting the temptation to throw each other under the bus. Our survival depends upon recognition of this fact. I am grateful for role models who remind me of the power in sisterhood.

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One Response to Real AAUW Women—Part I

  1. kathe1223 says:

    Again, a very nice piece.

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