There was a time in the history of our great nation that all the ” powers-that-be ” were old white men. Yes, that’s what I said, non-biased and non-judgmental. Simply a fact.
Look back at your history , however short or however long. Look at life in the 50s when segregation was the standard and women stayed in their place : at home, in the classroom, clerking………..but never, NEVER , with very few exceptions , in the board room or the corner office.
The status quo was the status quo, and it was generally accepted until……
The world woke up and realized that there actually might be gifts and talents free from gender or color bias. Real people with real ideas who had long been overlooked and pushed back. And the time was now !
And so it’s different in the 21st century, and it’s positive.
Watched a re-run of the 1960s ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW, the one where ” Miss Ellie” , the female pharmacist , decides to run for Mayberry City Council. First woman to make that move ! The responses from the ” old white men ” were typical and although funny now, not so much when the status was real !
Andy, of course, was opposed to her move and the friendship suffered——–until the ongoing pressure from Aunt Bee and the good women in town led him to understand that judging a person on gender alone was pretty darn silly !
And so he rallied the men and she won the office.
I’ve been there and done that : shattered some glass ceilings. It was never my intention. I simply seized opportunities as they presented themselves, and with the help of so many people along the way, I found my place(s).
I know about ” firsts “. I have walked the walk and talked the talk. I have taken my seat, listened to the men, and stayed the course. I have gone back to school, done the research, and absorbed the experience and wisdom of those who were smarter than I.
I can honestly say that I have never, never, felt inferior in any situation because I was a woman. Instead, I felt accepted, honored, and blessed.
Two stories and I’ll stop .
My first ” first ” was my appointment by the Grand Jury to the Franklin County Board of Education in the mid 70s, I became the first female to serve.
Alan Wansley ( old established Carnesville family ) was a childhood friend who was a long-standing board member. Byron and I had been away from Franklin County for some 20 years, so I had not seen Alan in that long.
As soon as he heard, he called me and said, ” Congratulations to you ! Our first meeting is next week, and I will meet you on the steps of the district office, hold your hand, and walk you in to meet the other members. ” And he did——and I did . I will be forever grateful………..
And the second story is that the male board member whose seat was diagonally across from me at the table ( we sat around the table in those days, not like a panel, as is done now ) was diametrically opposed to almost all I believed in regarding education.
He wasn’t wrong, and I wasn’t wrong. We just had different perspectives.
From the “git-go ” and until one of us rolled off, he never truly understood how a woman could serve ! He was a nice person, but his upbringing and his lack of exposure created a mindset that he could not get beyond.
The women in his life stayed at home, cleaned the house , cooked the meals, had the babies, and , in general, served their menfolk.
But , for the most part , we agreed to disagree although he was never comfortable with an otherwise male board having a woman there. However , because the other three gentlemen and Superintendent Ed Bryant welcomed me with open arms and utmost respect, we managed , but it remained a challenge.
Our board went through some tough times, but we also celebrated many successes. And that’s what counts !
Today our nation is in a better place. Being a white male no longer has priority but simply takes its place alongside women and people of color. We are learning , hopefully, to value integrity and intelligence in whatever gender or color these two virtues might rest.
Can we rest on our laurels ?
Never, for there will always be ” miles to go before we sleep. ”
( Thanks to Robert Frost for his oh-so telling line of poetry ! )