January 12, 2005
The Women of Courage Lecture Series, cosponsored by the Wellesley Centers for Women and the Boston Research Center for the 21st Century, continues its celebration of women who have taken brave stands on issues, including economic justice, nonviolence, environmental ethics, and human rights. On January 27, 2005, Gloria E. White-Hammond, M.D., will present the fourth program in the series, "Standing on the Shoulders of Harriet Tubman: I Am My Sister’s Keeper," at 6:00 p.m. in Jewett Auditorium, Wellesley College. The event is free and open to the public.
Presenter White-Hammond’s work has helped to highlight the problem of modern-day slavery, and her humanitarian efforts have had global impact. She has worked as a medical missionary in several African countries, including South Africa, Côte D’Ivoire, and Botswana. Over the last several years, she has traveled to southern Sudan where she has been involved in securing the freedom of 10,000 women and children who were enslaved during two decades of civil war. In 2002, she founded My Sister’s Keeper, a human-rights group organized to support women of southern Sudan in their efforts toward the reconciliation and reconstruction of their communities.
Born into slavery, Harriet Tubman was put to work at the age of six. She lived as a slave until 1849, when she set out on foot for a journey north to freedom. She traveled across the Mason-Dixon Line from Maryland to Philadelphia with the help of the Underground Railroad, a network of courageous people whose abolitionist ideals transformed America. Within a year, she made her way back to the South to free her family and others still held in slavery.
All told, Tubman made 19 trips south, and it is believed she was instrumental in freeing over 300 slaves, including her own parents. During the Civil War, she continued to help others, working as a nurse in army hospitals and as a spy operating behind enemy lines for the Union Army in South Carolina. Her final years were spent in Auburn, New York, where she became well known for her work for women’s rights.
The inaugural Women of Courage lecture in 2002 honored Fannie Lou Hamer, a civil rights activist, with a lecture by social activist Linda Stout. In January of 2003, the series recognized Jeannette Rankin, a suffragist and pacifist, with a lecture by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA). The third lecture in February 2004 honored Rachel Carson, writer, scientist, and ecologist, with an address by environmental author Janine Benyus.
"This is one way to heighten awareness of the important work women are doing to resolve critical problems confronting our society," reports Susan McGee Bailey, executive director of the Wellesley Centers for Women. "Too often, women’s pioneering efforts are lost. We hope this series will celebrate women’s leadership in ways that will inspire and support all the women and men who are working for a more just and peaceful world."
Daisaku Ikeda, founder of the Boston Research Center (BRC) states, "The conversation of women of keen perception who are sensitive to the feelings of others has the power to open even the most heavily barricaded heart. It is invariably women’s cries for justice that move people to action and change the times."
Reverend White-Hammond enjoys a career as a pediatrician at Boston’s South End Community Health Center. Since 1997, she has also been the co-pastor of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Boston, where she serves as founder of, and consultant to, the church-based creative writing/mentoring ministry Do the Write Thing, a program designed to empower high-risk adolescent females of African-American descent. The project, which began in 1994 with four girls, now serves over 550 young women through small groups in two Boston public schools, two juvenile detention facilities in Boston, and on-site at Bethel AME Church.
For more than 30 years, the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) has been a driving force, both behind the scenes and in the spotlight, promoting positive change for women and girls. The world's largest women's research center, WCW is the powerful alliance of the Center for Research on Women and the Stone Center at Wellesley College. The Boston Research Center for the 21st Century (BRC) is an international peace institute committed to dialogue and education aimed at cultivating an inclusive sense of community, locally and globally.