News & Events  |  Inspiring Women 2020

December – Inspiring Women

Families & Criminal Justice, Los Angeles, California

Families & Criminal Justice, Los Angeles, California

About the featured grantee image:

California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP)

San Francisco, California

Ending violence against women, transgender people and people of color in California prisons.

The California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP) is a grassroots advocacy organization for women and minorities in prison and those who have been released and are facing a difficult transition.

One of CCWP’s advocacy initiatives is their Drop LWOP (Life Without Parole) campaign. Drop LWOP is focused on changing California code to commute the sentences of people currently serving LWOP, ending LWOP sentencing, and halting all forms of in-prison discrimination against people serving LWOP. Their strategy is to work simultaneously to improve incarcerated people’s lives right now while working to change the system fundamentally.

December 2020

December 1
Rosa Parks (b.2/4/1913 d.10/24/2005)
Rosa Louise McCauley Parks was an activist in the Civil Rights Movement, whom the United States Congress called “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement”. On December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks refused to obey bus driver James F. Blake’s order to give up her seat in the colored section to a white passenger, after the white section was filled. Parks was not the first person to resist bus segregation.

December 2
Jean Donovan, Sr. Ita Ford, Sr. Maura Clarke, Sr.Dorothy Kazel
In 1980, all four of the women had made trips out of El Salvador, visiting family and friends, but all chose to return to help the poor and to give them hope in a desperate situation. They knew they might be killed, but perhaps they held onto the myth that Americans were exempt from the killing. On December 2, 1980, the four women were reported missing. Their burned-out van was located. Then their grave was discovered. The women had been raped and shot, execution style, in the back of the head. Their American families fought for justice for many years afterward. Five men who were members of the Salvadoran National Guard were eventually accused. However, there was a lot of cover up and our government continued to support the military that were responsible, not only for these killings but for the murders of thousands of Salvadoran peasants who threatened the comfortable lifestyle of the ruling class.

December 3
Patsy Mink (b.12/8/27 d.9/2/2002)
Patsy Mink was an American politician from Hawaii. Mink was a third generation Japanese American and member of the Democratic Party. She also was the Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs. Mink served in the U.S. House of Representatives for a total of 12 terms, representing Hawaii’s first and second congressional districts.  While in Congress she was noted for co-authoring the Title IX Amendment of the Higher Education Act.

December 4
Edith Cavell (b.12/4/1865 d.10/12/1915)
Edith Cavell is celebrated for saving the lives of soldiers from both sides without discrimination and in helping some 200 Allied soldiers escape from German-occupied Belgium during the First World War. She was arrested, accused of treason, found guilty by a court-martial and sentenced to death. Despite international pressure for mercy, she was shot by a German firing squad. Her execution received worldwide condemnation and extensive press coverage.

December 5
Alabama Bus Boycott 1955
The Montgomery Bus Boycott was a civil-rights protest during which African Americans refused to ride city buses in Montgomery, Alabama, to protest segregated seating. The boycott took place from December 5, 1955, to December 20, 1956, and is regarded as the first large-scale U.S. demonstration against segregation. Four days before the boycott began, Rosa Parks, an African-American woman, was arrested and fined for refusing to yield her bus seat to a white man. The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately ordered Montgomery to integrate its bus system, and one of the leaders of the boycott, a young pastor named Martin Luther King Jr., emerged as a prominent leader of the American civil rights movement.

December 6
Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ (b.12/6/1941)
Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ is a feminist theologian and Sister of St. Joseph of Brentwood, Johnson has written several works of contemporary theology, many of which  include feminist narratives into predominant narratives of Catholic theology. She has not shied away from criticizing the institutional structure when actions taken are exclusive or harmful. For her theology and courageous outspokenness for inclusivity, she has been criticized by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Vatican’s Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith. She is most well-known for her book She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse. Johnson received her PhD in theology from Catholic University of America where she taught for ten years. She is currently a Distinguished Professor of Theology at Fordham University, and is the recipient of fourteen honorary degrees

December 7
Dr. Cynthia Maung (b.12/6/1959)
Dr. Cynthia Maung has gained a reputation as more than a doctor, working on the border of Burma (Myanmar) and Thailand. She gives medical care to any who ask for it and works with thousands of refugees. She organizes teams of medics to venture into the jungles of Burma to give medical care to those isolated from hospitals and doctors, who rely on midwives. She has refused to look for safe asylum in other countries, preferring to dedicate herself to her work on the border, saving countless lives.

December 8
Mary Aloysia Hardey (b.12/13/1804 d.6/17/1896)
Mother Mary Aloysia Hardey, R.S.C.J., was an American Religious Sister of the Society of the Sacred Heart. She established all the convents of her order, up to the year 1883, in the eastern part of the United States as well as in Canada and Cuba.

December 9
Ruby Dee (b.10/27/1922 d.6/11/2014)
Ruby Dee was an American actress, poet, playwright, screenwriter, journalist and civil rights activist. She is perhaps best known for originating the role of “Ruth Younger” in the stage and film versions of “A Raisin in the Sun”. Ruby Dee was the recipient of many awards and honors. She was a recipient of the  GrammyEmmyObie and Drama Desk . She was also a National Medal of ArtsKennedy Center Honors and Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award recipient.

December 10
Emily Dickinson (b.12/10/1830 d.5/15/1886)
Emily Elizabeth Dickinson was an American poet. Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts. Although part of a prominent family with strong ties to its community, Dickinson lived much of her life in reclusive isolation. While Dickinson was a prolific private poet, fewer than a dozen of her nearly 1,800 poems were published during her lifetime. The work that was published during her lifetime was usually altered significantly by the publishers to fit the conventional poetic rules of the time. Dickinson’s poems are unique for the era in which she wrote; they contain short lines, typically lack titles, and often use imperfect rhyme as well as unconventional capitalization and punctuation. Many of her poems deal with themes of death and immortality, two recurring topics in letters to her friends.

International Human Rights Day
On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 

December 11
Marie Marguerite of Youville (b.10/15/1701 d.12/23/1771)
Saint Marguerite d’Youville was a French Canadian widow who founded the religious order the Order of Sisters of Charity of Montreal, commonly known as the Grey Nuns of Montreal. 

December 12
Our Lady of Guadalupe
In 1531, a “Lady from Heaven” appeared to a poor Aztec Indian, Juan Diego, at Tepeyac, a hill northwest of Mexico City with a message of love, compassion and a promise of universal help and protection. She instructed him to have the bishop build a temple on the site. The bishop did not believe Juan until after the third apparition when the Lady presented Juan with roses blooming out of season and instructed him to take them to the bishop. Juan wrapped the roses in his tilma made of rough cactus cloth and when he unwrapped them for the bishop, the roses scattered on the floor and the image of Mary was on the tilma.

December 13
Ella Baker (b.12/11/1903 d.12/13/1986)
Ella Josephine Baker was a Black civil rights and human rights activist born in Virginia, who grew up in North Carolina and graduated from college there, Most of her life she worked in New York City. She was a largely behind-the-scenes organizer whose career spanned more than five decades. She worked alongside some of the most famous civil rights leaders of the 20th century, including W. E. B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall, A. Philip Randolph, and Martin Luther King, Jr. She also mentored many emerging activists, such as Diane Nash, Stokely Carmichael, Rosa Parks, and Bob Moses.

December 14
Victoria Leigh “Vicki” Soto
Vicki Soto was an American teacher who was murdered in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. After the gunman entered the school, Soto hid her students, then died trying to protect them. Ms. Soto is hailed as a hero.  She is a posthumous recipient of the Presidential Citizens Medal. Since the Sandy Hook shootings, there have been 1,552 mass shootings, with at least 1,767 people killed and 6,227 wounded (Gun Violence Archive). Gun violence continues to plague our nation.

December 15
Senal Sarihan
Senal Sarihan ,is a Turkish human rights attorney. She make career out of defending those with cases whom others wouldn’t represent, from fighting for intellectuals and human rights advocates to her many cases involving sexual assault, death in detention, and assault in police custody. Twice she was imprisoned by the military government. Senal Sarihan was a recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award in 1997.

December 16
Margaret Mead (b.12/16/1901 d.11/15/1978)
Margaret Mead was a pioneer for women in the world of scientific reasoning and study. Most celebrated for introducing generations to a unique perspective on the cultures of people who would have otherwise been overlooked by members of the field of anthropology. Mead researched the cultures of those in such places as New Guinea, Samoa, and Bali, going on to author over twenty books based upon her experiences. Mead served as president of several major scientific organizations, including the American Anthropological Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Mead frequently testified on social issues before the United States Congress and other government agencies, and was posthumously honored with a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

December 17
Amy Carmichael (b.12/16/1867 d.1/18/1951)
Amy Wilson Carmichael was a Protestant Christian missionary in India, who opened an orphanage and founded a mission in Dohnavur. Carmichael’s most notable work was with girls and young women, some of whom were saved from customs that amounted to forced prostitution. Hindu temple children were primarily young girls dedicated to the gods, then usually forced into prostitution to earn money for the priests. She served in India for 55 years without furlough writing many books about her missionary work. 

December 18
Clara Hale (b.4/1/1905 d.12/18/1992)
Clara Hale’s husband died (1938) when she was 27 years old.. She had three children, Nathan, Lorraine and adopted son Kenneth. Hale struggled to support her children through the Great Depression. Hale cleaned houses and worked a janitor, laboring day and night to make ends meet. Hale was living in Harlem, New York, when she retired from working as a domestic and started her work helping addicted children in 1969. A At the age of 65 Hale began to take children in who were born addicted to their mother’s drug habits during pregnancy.  Within months, she was caring for 22 infants. Hale became known for the work she did and became known as a mother to those who did not have one. Clara McBride Hale, also known as Mother Hale, was an American humanitarian who founded the Hale House Center, a home for unwanted children and children who were born addicted to drugs.

December 19
Sacagawea (b.1788 d.12/20/1812)
Sacagawea, the daughter of a Shoshone chief, was born circa 1788 in Lemhi County, Idaho. At around age 12, she was captured by an enemy tribe and sold to a French-Canadian trapper (Toussaint Charbonneau) who made her his wife. In November 1804, she was invited to join Lewis and Clark. The bilingual Shoshone woman Sacagawea accompanied the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery expedition in 1805-06 from the northern plains through the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean and back. Her skills as a translator were invaluable, as was her intimate knowledge of some difficult terrain. Perhaps most significant was her calming presence on both the expeditioners and the Native Americans they encountered, who might have otherwise been hostile to the strangers. Remarkably, Sacagawea did it all while caring for the son she bore just two months before departing. After leaving the expedition, she died at Fort Manuel in what is now Kenel, South Dakota, circa 1812.

December 20
Madam C.J. Walker (b.12/23/1867 d.5/25/1919)
Sarah Breedlove, known as Madam C. J. Walker, was an African American entrepreneur, philanthropist, and a political and social activist. Madam C.J. Walker was born Sarah Breedlove on December 23, 1867, near Delta, Louisiana. After suffering from a scalp ailment that resulted in her own hair loss, she invented a line of African-American hair care products in 1905. She promoted her products by traveling around the country giving lecture-demonstrations and eventually established Madame C.J. Walker Laboratories to manufacture cosmetics and train sales beauticians. Her savvy business acumen led her to be one of the first American women to become a self-made millionaire. She was also known for her philanthropic endeavors including donating the largest amount of money by an African-American toward the construction of an Indianapolis YMCA in 1913.

December 21
Emma Tenayuca (b.12/21/1916 d.6/23/1999)
Emma Tenayuca was born in San Antonio, Texas and after graduation from high school, took a job as an elevator operator. She joined the labor movement after becoming aware of the struggles of working people. In 1937, Emma had become the general secretary for ten chapters of the Workers Alliance in San Antonio. In protest of very unhealthy working conditions, and after their wages were cut in half, 12,000 pecan shellers decided to strike. Emma was asked to be their representative. The strike was marked by police brutality and violence. Finally, Emma had to leave and move to San Francisco where she taught for many years. She retired in 1982 and died in 1999.

December 22
Sr. Frances Xavier Cabrini (b.7/15/1850 d.12/22/1919)
Mother Cabrini, was an Italian-American religious sister, who founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a Catholic religious institute that was a major support to the Italian immigrants to the United States. She was the first naturalized citizen of the United States to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church, on July 7, 1946.

December 23
Sr. Mary Antionette (b.12/23/12 d.11/19/1964)
Sister Marie Antoinette was martyred in the Congo in 1964.  This was a time of revolution and chaos in the Congo, and Sr. Marie realized that it was dangerous. She did not want to abandon her people.  She was captured by rebels, stabbed twice and her body was thrown in the Congo River.

December 24
Hortense Powdermaker (b.12/24/1900 d.6/15/1970)
Hortense Powdermaker was an American anthropologist best known for her ethnographic studies of African Americans in rural America and of Hollywood.

Ethnography is the systematic study of people and cultures. It is designed to explore cultural phenomena where the researcher observes society from the point of view of the subject of the study.

December 25
Mary Gives Birth to Jesus
May the love of God be born into our hearts and minds.

December 26
Our Lady of Chiquinquira, Colombia
Our Lady of the Rosary of Chiquinquirá or the Virgin of Chiquinquirá is a title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary in the northern Andean region of South America. She is the patron saint of Colombia, the Venezuelan state of Zulia, and the town of Caraz in Peru. The image is painted on a cotton support, is kept in the Basílica of Our Lady of the Rosary in Chiquinquirá, where thousands of pilgrims arrive not only for the Feast Day on July 9, but also every Sunday, when they celebrate masses and processions.

December 27
Eva Ensler (b.5/10/1953)
Eve Ensler is the founder of V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women and girls that campaigns and helps women in countries all around the world. She is also the author of the play “The Vagina Monologues”, a series of vignettes based off of true interviews she did with women of a variety of ages. The play is about self-love and women’s empowerment. Ensler’s most recent initiative is the City of Joy in Bukavu, eastern Congo – a revolutionary community where women survivors of rape can come to recover from their experiences and learn how to be leaders. Ensler is a uniquely irresistible and powerful speaker and woman.

December 28
Suzanna Arundhati Roy (b.11/24/1951)
Suzanna Arundhati Roy is an Indian author. She is best known for her novel The God of Small Things, which won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 1997. This novel became the biggest-selling book by a non-expatriate Indian author.

December 29
Thea Bowman (b.12/29/1937 d.3/30/1990)
Sister Thea Bowman, F.S.P.A., was a Roman Catholic Religious Sister, Servant of God, teacher, and scholar, who made a major contribution to the ministry of the Catholic Church to her fellow African Americans. She became an evangelist among her people and was a popular speaker on faith and spirituality in her final years. She helped found the National Black Sisters Conference to provide support for African-American women in Catholic religious institutes. Author: Families, Black and Catholic, Catholic and Black

December 30
Families Living in Poverty
45 million people live under the poverty level in the US.

December 31
Sr. Marie Augusta Neal (b.1921 d.2/25/2004)
Sr. of Notre Dame, Marie Augusta Neal helped to shape the direction in which liberation theology and the work of women religious were headed following the Second Vatican Council. She advocated for giving back to the poor and becoming socially and politically aware, to translate Jesus’ message of helping others and being active in one’s community in everyday life.

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