The Power of Storytelling


Women’s History Month began as Women’s History Week via proclamation by then President Jimmy Carter in 1980, which Congress adopted as public law in 1982.  In 1987, Congress passed a replacement law, at the bold urging of women’s groups nationally, which designated the month of March as “Women’s History Month.” Now, as a nation, every March we celebrate the contributions of half of our population for an entire month. So why do we need a month to celebrate women in history?

Well, the answer is both simple and complex and it will toss us into a rabbit hole about historical patriarchy. I will instead urge us to stay grounded in defining our own narrative about women in history. I urge us to spend this month in celebration and commit to tell the stories of brave, bold and loving women we seldom get to hear about.

The stories of our mothers, grandmothers, and the great generations of women who came before us teaching us about faith, love and family, while also contributing significantly to science, culture, mathematics, medicine, law, education, government, the arts, pastoral care, engineering and so on, need to be told. These are great stories of heroines!

Did you know that there is tremendous power in storytelling? Stories told over and over again can drive change first through our minds, then our hearts, then through inspiration for what could be. Did you ever notice that when stories of great people are told that people gather around like a family? As a young child, my parents would take us out on clear hot nights in the Bronx to walk around what were then dilapidated and neglected neighborhoods, and would tell us stories of times past. Their stories were always about all of the people that crossed their lives in New York after they migrated from Puerto Rico. They were wonderful stories about neighborhoods and people and events – all positive. The disrepair and poverty of the city around us would disappear during those walks. Those moments will forever be embedded in who we are as their five children, now adults, telling our children and grandchildren our own stories.

Our nation’s children and youth are gathered around and they are listening. What stories will we share with them this month?  Will they learn from us that they come from greatness?

In this issue, I give you a small glimpse into the stories of three great women: Superintendent Katrise Perera, former Illinois State Superintendent Dr. Carmen Ayala, and rocket scientist Sylvia Acevedo. Enjoy their stories and pass it on!

The Theme of Women’s History Month 2023 is: Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories