By Amanda Lee Anderson
The Humanities Quad was filled with the music of drums and song on Thursday, August 23. The music was in celebration of Women’s Equality Day Celebration 2001. Many students showed up to celebrate the triumph of women’s rights.
National Women’s Equality Day is celebrated August 26, the anniversary of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. “On August 26, 1920, after about 70 years of the women’s suffrage movement, the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified by the states. It gave most women the right to vote,” explained Mary Karen Powers, the University of Louisville WomenÍs Center director.
Among the organizations who came to the celebration to provide information were the University of Louisville Debate Society, WomynSpeak and representatives from the University of Louisville Women’s Center. Visitors could also register to vote, or collect information about EarthSave, an environmentalist group.
The music was provided by a Native American percussion group. DJ McClure, the drumkeeper or the wasipi drum (which is a type of drum played at powwows), described how for many years, in Native American tribes, the women were not allowed to play the drum, but were made to sit behind the men and accompany their voices and music by singing on a higher octave. She also explained that the men who played the drums were often the most respected ones in the tribes. However, in recent years, problems had arisen among many Native American men, including alcoholism and domestic abuse.
“It was time for the women to come back to the drum as an example to all,” McClure declared. “It is our hope that someday women of all races will sit at this drum with us.” Indeed, this was demonstrated by the first song played by the group, which was an intertribal song. Traditionally, when this song was played at a powwow, members of any tribe or group could join in.
“This is the tenth anniversary of the Women’s Center on U of L’s campus,” said Lisa Huber, the assistant director of the Center. “This is the fifth year in a row that we have had this celebration.” Past years have included noted political activist Angela Davis, as well as various workshops and programs for students, faculty, and staff.
Surely, the celebration allowed the Women’s Center to communicate its goals to U of L students. Mary Karen Powers, Women’s Center director, said, “The Women’s Center encourages women to participate in public civic life. We do this by encouraging them to register to vote, to get involved in campaigns, and to take a stand on issues they care about. Whatever it is that women are interested in, we encourage them to get involved.”
Students’ reactions were positive. Many, like junior psychology major Stephanie Ryan, were amazed at the multicultural aspect of the music and song. “I think it’s very diverse,” she said. “I just transferred here from Indiana University Southeast, and they don’t ever have anything like this there.”
Jeremy Powers, a senior sports administration major, agreed. “I think it’s good to immerse yourself in other cultures. You are exposed to more diversity.”