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December 16

Compiled and Written by Irene Stuber
who is solely responsible for its content.
This document has been taken from emailed versions
of Women of Achievement. The complete episode
will be published here in the future.

Women Who Win


QUOTES by Kathe Kollwitz and Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

Cheryl Toussaint

      Born Dec. 16, 1952, Cheryl Toussaint, one of our greatest track runners showed what she was made of early in her career. "Cheryl had been training with us for only about two weeks," her early coach Fred Thompson recalled, "but I decided to enter her in a one-mile run, just to give her some competitive experience. I said to her before the race, don't go out too fast, stay with the pack, and just try to finish.
      "Well, the gun went off, and Cheryl was a hundred yards in front of the whole field and running like a madwoman... Then, with about a hundred yards to go, the oxygen debt really hit her, and she just about collapsed. She fell down, then got up and started crawling on her hands and knees. It was unbelievable! She stood up, staggered some more, got about twenty yards from the finish line and fell again. She kept on going, crawling, still with nobody near her, and then right at the wire another girl caught up and won.
      "Cheryl cried like a baby... I knew, at that moment, that this girl was going to be something special. I had never seen anything like that before in my whole life."
            -- Excerpted from Women Who Win by Francene Sabin, Dell Publishing, 1977.

      Many years later the world through TV witnessed another woman, a marathon runner make that same oxygen deprived, staggering, unbelievable fight to reach an Olympic finish line. The dignity that everyone gave her, respecting her pure flame of purpose as she stumbled blindly toward the goal she had spent her life trying to reach... her coaches walked beside the track calling out encouragement as she stumbled along. One touch by them, one wrong step would have disqualified her...
      The hushed Olympic stadium knew they were witnessing something special in the superhuman spirit - yet at home we were forced to listen to U.S. men announcers regaling her coaches for not stopping her, implying that "she" shouldn't be allowed to decide her own destiny. How little those who never reach for the stars know.

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B. 12-16-1775, Jane Austen, English novelist. Considered by many as one of the supreme creators of English literature and certainly the writer who modernized novel writings by depicting people acting in everyday life.

B. 12-16-1843, Josephine Shaw Lowell, after years of administrative work in improving the care of the poor through organizaed charities she acknowledged the dichotomy of able-bodied willing workers unable to earn enough money to support themselves and their families and turned to labor reform and supporting organized labor's efforts for better wages and working conditions. She also organized the Woman's Municipal League to enlist women in reform legislation.

B. 12-16-1847, Augusta Mary Anne Holmes, French pianist and opera and orchestral composer who used the masculine pseudonym Hermann Zenta.

B. 12-16-1901, Margaret Mead, American anthropologist who revolutionized thinking about primitive life and female adolescent sexuality by raising questions about rigid social mores in all cultures. After her death efforts are being made to discredit her research and claim she misread primitive tribes' female attitudes. Blackberry Winter, 1972, is her autobiography.

B. 12-16-1903, Elizabeth Hawes operated an exclusive couturiere in New York City, authored Fashion is Spinach (1938) debunking the fashion scene including the uncomfortable clothes men wear. Was the first American to display a fashion collection in Paris. She advocated pants for women, skirts for men, and child care centers for children. In Why Women Cry (1943) she detailed the hardship women suffer as working women. Her mother was an early Vassar graduate and encouraged the careers of her daughters.

Event: 12-16-1904, in spite of dire predictions of moral turpitude, nothing bad happened when the Majestic Theater in New York City hired female ushers.

B. 12-16-1952, Cheryl Toussaint, one of our greatest track runners got her start in a city-sponsored group. While watching the meet, Cheryl was urged by friends to run in an "open" race for girls. She ran second in borrowed shorts and borrowed tennies that didn't fit.

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      "I do not want to die until I have faithfully made the most of my talent and cultivated the seed that was placed in me, until the last small twig has grown."
            -- Kathe Kollwitz: Diaries and Letters.

      "In spite of her supposed segregation to maternal duties, the human female, the world-over, works at extra-maternal duties for hours enough to provide her with an independent living, and then is denied independence on the grounds that motherhood prevents her working."
            -- Charlotte Perkins Gilman in Women and Economics.

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