As we recently celebrated International Women’s Day, a quick google search will show you that many women responsible for breaking glass ceilings died this past year. Their legacies, though, will continue on as women continue to guide us towards a better future. The women in our local communities are just as impactful as the ones known internationally. International women's day isn't just for women who have global fame. It's also for the women in our immediate circles the impact our lives every day.
NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson
If you're not sure who she is, she is a NASA mathematician, winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She remained unknown to most Americans until the movie Hidden Figures came out in 2017. I myself had something of an awareness of her as a concept. I knew that someone who was female, and a person of color had computed, by hand, the return trip for Apollo 13. But, I didn't know her name, and I didn't really know her story until that movie came out.
What I wanted to share with you today is that the reason I know who she is and the reason that so many Americans now know who she is is that someone took the time to hear her story. Someone got excited about her story and took the time to actually tell her story, which in and of itself is incredible. And that is the work that you are doing every day. You have an opportunity to help someone tell their story and share a piece of who they are.
How her story ends
Katherine Johnson died at the age of 101. You probably saw memes about the fact that she waited until she was a prime age and a prime number to die, which I thought was pretty cool. My approach to death and grief has always been fraught with humor and laughter. Not to say that I don't understand the somber and heavy parts of grief. I do appreciate it when others are able to find view Joy and light in celebration of a person's life.
I hope you share the story of Katherine Johnson with someone you're working with today. If you'd like to find out about more women like Katherine Johnson, I would encourage you to check out the Facebook post from A Mighty Girl. A Mighty Girl does an amazing job of including stories of women from around the world who aren't as well-known as they could be.
Women in your community
Turning more locally, you can be sure to find women who made lasting impacts on your region, but have their legacies been recorded? That’s why taking the time and using the tools at Legacy Recorder, can help us document the legacies of everyday women, who have lived powerful lives. We can gracefully use the Legacy method to encourage folks to open up and start a dialogue
- Have you ever been the first woman in your community to do something?
- How did that make you feel?
- What led up to that event?
- Did it change your life/view afterward?
- Did others eventually join you?
Respecting our Elders and their journey can be as easy as asking them questions and following the answers. How do we know what someone has achieved unless we take the time and engage them? As we age, it can be hard to find the balance between looking forward and remembering the past. Recording the legacies of everyday folks can give them, and their families documented stories to share with and inspire future generations.
- How have you helped people?
- What have you taught someone else?
- Did they teach you something in return?
- Have you ever been on the receiving end of kindness?
- What women have inspired you?
Audio Snippet of this Article
Elders can feel lonely and obsolete, even if they’ve had a full life behind them. This is why the work you are doing in care facilities is so important. You have the chance to remind our seniors that they’ve changed lives and impacted the world in unique, epic ways. Every day is a good day to get to know a woman in your life, not just around International Women's Day.
Want to learn more about The Legacy Recorder? You can find our 5 Minute Storytelling Scripts and how to get started here. Thank you for taking the time to ask questions about people's interests and what they might have accomplished in their younger years.