News | Aug. 23, 2017

DLA celebrates women’s equality day program with historical reflections

By Michael L. Jones DLA Land and Maritime Public Affairs

DLA Land and Maritime associates were treated to a historical flashback Aug. 16 as part of the Women’s Equality Day program celebrated in the Building 20 auditorium. The program included a three-scene production with historical references to women’s equal rights initiatives dating back to the mid-1800s.

The Defense Supply Center Columbus choir set the stage for what was to be a non-stop parade through history by performing an inspiring rendition of the National Anthem.

After identifying several of the women to be honored during her opening remarks Defense Finance Accounting Services Site Director Pamela Franceschi implored the audience to actively support equality for women. “These stories you hear today will awe and energize you,” Franceschi said. “In our everyday actions we have the greatest impact on our sons and daughters. We (women) make a difference, we show that no dream is beyond reach” as she challenged the audience to think of ways to continue to make positive contributions to the nation.

“You’re in for a treat today, so please sit back and enjoy the program.”

The theme for this year’s celebration was Women Who Have Impacted History. The celebration opened with the introduction of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Henry Brewster-Stanton and Lucretia Mott, three people who attended the first Women’s Convention in July 1848.

As the master of ceremonies set the stage for the program, a group of “protesters” entered the auditorium and provided a natural segway into the first vignette.

Complete with vignettes representing snapshots from the lives of women who’ve positively influenced the progress of women’s rights in the United States, the program provided an ongoing narrative that allowed a glimpse backward into their thought processes during their struggles.

Other female luminaries represented included activist and educator Mary McLeod Bethune, Eleanor Roosevelt, Wilma Mankiller – the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation and Dr. Mae Jemison – the first African American female astronaut. Homage was also paid to several men, President Franklin Roosevelt and Dr. Martin Luther King who championed the cause of equal rights for women.

Associates Lisa Griffin and Donna Walker Griffin honored gospel singer and activist Mahalia Jackson with a moving rendition of the song “I’ve Heard of a City called Heaven”. Jackson performed a concert in Montgomery, Ala., in 1956 despite death threats generated from social unrest because of bus segregation at the time. Montgomery later abolished bus segregation because of the pressure from the protests.

Jemison’s personal penchant for dancing was highlighted during a vignette focusing on her professional achievements as an astronaut.

Land and Maritime associate Wyneuco Washington performed a solo selection for the audience as part of a cultural expression portion of the program. He played an instrumental version of “I Believe I Can Fly” to a totally attentive and appreciative audience.

Pushed along by theme music from the “Mission Impossible” series, the next vignette included a version of Oprah Winfrey interviewing Slyvia Mendez, Mazie Hirono, Wilma Mankiller, Helen Keller and Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell. All women recounted their contributions to the women’s push for equal rights and their personal successes as the first Asian-American female U.S. senator to the first female chief of the Cherokee Indian tribe in support of the equality movement.

Pat Shields, recently retired associate and former champion of the DLA Land and Maritime’s Federal Women’s Program, was the program’s final speaker. She spoke about three influential women in her DLA career and the importance of continued mentoring of women who display leadership potential.

“It’s often said that it takes a village…” and it’s so true, said Shields. “I’m convinced that in this auditorium there’re future Hall of Famers among us who’ll make tremendous contributions to this organization. Build your networks and support structures at all levels, teach and learn from one another.

“You have an important role in keeping America the land of the free and the home of the brave,” Shields concluded.

The program closed with a Ray Charles version of “God Bless America” as the narrator summarized the diversity among the people who make America beautiful.