“To strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them”: Women’s History Month Book Club Event

Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, and Malala Yousafzai: Just a few of the many voices who contributed to the empowerment of women all over the world. Women’s History Month has attracted people of all ages and given women the opportunity to stand tall and be true to themselves.

Fitchburg State is made up of many powerful and strong women, one being Jamie Cochran. Being the program coordinator for the center for diversity and inclusiveness as well as organizer of the Spring Break Book Club, Cochran definitely has her hands full. However, she does it all for the young women as well as female staff at Fitchburg State.

The book chosen for this year’s spring break book club was Phenomenal Woman: Four Poems Celebrating Women by Maya Angelou. Ever since Cochran was a young woman she has been inspired by Maya Angelou and her work stating “She helped me find my self confidence and I think that’s what all women need. I chose for all of the members to read this novel particularly because of the poem ‘Still I Rise.’ The whole first stanza teaches women that they can be talked about and put in the dirt. All the hardships that come our way, but still we rise.”

The book club as well as Maya Angelou’s feature attracted many intelligent women such as Marla Buffong and Kamelia Lechani. Both of the graduate students play a tremendous role on campus, demonstrating all of the great deeds a woman can achieve. They have shared amazing insight and their inspiring stories of how Maya Angelou affected their perspective on women empowerment.

“Women’s History Month means everything to me. I’ve always been passionate about women’s empowerment. I’m a millennial so the experience is different, of course, for every generation. Where I come from, women’s rights were implemented quite recently, so it is very interesting to see how things have evolved. At the same time it is important for women to always have their voice heard not because they need to have it, but they need to use it,” said Lechani.” (Kamelia Lechani)

The spring break book club was inspired by 19-year-old Amanda Gorman, the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history. Gorman read her poem right on the steps of Washington, DC at the United States Presidential Inauguration. It was a book called the Hills We Climb and was promoting women’s empowerment but especially a woman of color.

Buffong goes into depth of the meaning of Women’s History Month adding, “because I am a black woman, I use this month as a guide on how to persevere and become the person I know I can be. Just seeing how far women today have come and all of these powerful women impacting the world really amazes me. In one of her poems Maya Angelou talks about history and for me just knowing my female ancestors are responsible for a piece of me as a person, who I am, and what I’m able to do today. That is the impact that she had on me.”

Women’s History Month is profoundly recognized at Fitchburg State. Women all over the world are inspired by stories like Maya Angelou, and may be inspired by future amazing women such as Marla Buffong and Kamelia Lechani. The month is filled with many recognitions, readings, and appreciation. However it is mostly a lesson to be learned. Use your voice, it’s there for a reason.