Westchester County, New York — where I live — has nurtured a remarkable number of accomplished, outspoken women.

That’s why on Wednesday, July 17, at the White Plains Public Library, I’ll be sharing stories about some of these women and talking about their speeches:

Sojourner Truth — abolitionist and woman’s rights activist who lived for several years in a religious community in Ossining. We’ll be talking about her iconic speech, Ain’t I A Woman?, delivered in Akron, Ohio in 1851.

Isadora Duncan — the “mother of modern dance,” who performed on a table to entertain guests at a party in Scarborough. In 1924 she gave a talk, Come Children, Let’s Dance, at the Kamerny Theatre in Moscow.

Inez Milholland — suffragist icon, labor lawyer, and prison reformer. She investigated inhuman conditions at Sing Sing and helped draft a groundbreaking study — and lived for a while in the village of Harmon. She collapsed part way through her final, fiery 1916 speech, Appeal to Woman Voters of the West, and died a few weeks later.

Crystal Eastman — lawyer, occupational safety pioneer, and journalist who lived in Croton-on-Hudson. Three months after US women won the vote in 1920, she laid out her vision for what lay ahead in her speech, Now We Can Begin — parts of it sound like they were written yesterday.

Amelia Earhart — record-breaking aviator who lived in Harrison. In this video, she described her historic 1932 solo flight from Newfoundland to Ireland.

Josephine Goldmark — labor law reformer who spoke in 1917 about the social impact of women replacing men in the workplace during WWI. She spent her final years with her sister Pauline Goldmark, also a labor reformer, in Hartsdale.

Lorraine Hansberry — playwright and author who lived in Croton-on-Hudson. In a famous debate at Town Hall in Manhattan in 1964, she shared her impatience with white liberals in The Black Revolution and White Backlash.

Clare Boothe Luce — journalist, playwright, politician who was educated in Tarrytown. In her fiery speech at the 1944 Republican National Convention, Let’s Not Forget G.I. Joe and G.I. Jim, she accused FDR of undermining American democracy.

Margaret Sanger – birth control activist and sex educator who studied nursing in White Plains and lived in Yonkers and then Hastings-on-Hudson. In her 1931 testimony to the US Subcommittee on the Judiciary, she explained why the Comstock Laws were harming women’s health.

These women and so many others made a powerful and lasting impact on history. But too often, what they said was not recorded or remembered. That’s why I created Speaking While Female, the first-ever online library with hundreds of contemporary and historical women’s speeches.

We need more recognition and celebration of female speakers through the ages. More role models for women to emulate. More examples to embolden and inspire us.

Here’s info about the event — please join us if you can.


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