Today a fitting film to see on Women’s Equality Day is the new movie “The Help.” Today the III Corps at Ft. Hood, Texas, as on other military facilities, a Women’s Equality event was held. At this event, an overview of the historic American struggle for universal suffrage and equal rights for women was presented. Dr. Diane Howard performed voices from female leaders in this conflict, one of whom was Fannie Lou Hamer. She was arrested and beaten by police in the 1960’s after she had registered to vote, forty years after women were given the right to vote in 1920. The demeaning harassment that Ms. Hammer experienced was during the same period that African American women were routinely treated as segregated, second-class citizens.
In the movie, “The Help,” which takes place in Mississippi during the 1960s, this same kind of demeaning treatment of African-American women and yet their persisting strength is depicted. Skeeter, played by Emma Stone, interviews black women, who had given their lives to care for prominent southern families and their children. Danger and comic relief are interwoven into the story, which is historic fiction based on real situations and common practices. The acting in this poignant but entertaining movie is outstanding, captivating, and authentic.
This movie is fitting for Women’s Equality Day, which was designated in 1971 as such by a joint resolution of Congress to be celebrated each year on August 26. This resolution states,
“…WHEREAS, the women of the United States have been treated as second-class citizens and have not been entitled the full rights and privileges, public or private, legal or institutional, which are available to male citizens of the United States; and
WHEREAS, the women of the United States have united to assure that these rights and privileges are available to all citizens equally regardless of sex; and
WHEREAS, the women of the United States have designated August 26, the anniversary date of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, as symbol of the continued fight for equal rights: and
WHEREAS, the women of United States are to be commended and supported in their organizations and activities,
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that August 26th of each year is designated as Women’s Equality Day, and the President is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation annually in commemoration of that day in 1920, on which the women of America were first given the right to vote…”