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Column: Celebrating outstanding women

Posted: March 8, 2018 2:14 p.m.
Updated: March 9, 2018 1:00 a.m.

March is Women’s History Month. As announced by the National Women’s History Project, the theme for 2018 is Nevertheless She Persisted. The phrase originated in February 2017 when Senator Elizabeth Warren was silenced during Jeff Sessions’ attorney general confirmation hearing. As Senator Warren was reading a letter, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reprimanded her and stated that her speech violated Senate Rule No. 19. Later, when referring to the incident, Senator McConnell said Senator Warren “appeared to violate the rule.” He stated, “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.

The 2018 National Women’s History Month theme provides the opportunity to honor women throughout history. Included among the National Women’s History Project’s 2018 Honorees are Susan Burton, who spent nearly two decades in the criminal justice system before finding sobriety and founding a non-profit to help others break the cycle of incarceration; Geraldine Ferraro, the first female vice-presidential candidate representing a major political party; and Angelia Salas, a key strategist and leader in the national movement for immigrant rights and policy reform.

Throughout the month of March, no doubt various other organizations and many schools across the country will recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of women who have shaped American history and its future. Women have excelled in all professions and occupations -- women are revered specialists in medicine, education, law enforcement, business leadership, religion, politics and the armed forces.

I would be remiss not to mention the many outstanding women who made and continue to make extraordinary contributions right here in our great city of Camden. To try to name and recognize all of them would be a task impossible to achieve. A couple of them are no longer with us; however, their life lessons and service to our hometown are as memorable as the many current memorable women of today are:

Amy Johnson McLester was a thoughtful, nurturing teacher and elementary school administrator who brought joy, happiness and love to her students each day. She felt the best way to reach students could be summed up in three words: Love, Nurture, Inspire. Amy loved people; she nurtured and inspired all to dream bigger and aim higher. Among her many accolades and accomplishments, she was appointed by the late Senator Donald Holland to the Judicial Merit Selection Commission for the State of South Carolina

Lois Rhame West was an American health and physical fitness advocate, activist, and philanthropist who was born in Camden.   She served as First Lady of South Carolina during the administration of her husband, Governor John C. West. She made physical education and wellness the focus of her tenure as First Lady. She later served on the National Board of Directors for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and as the first female president of the association. Actively involved in so many great promotions, she was also a leader in both the state Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts. Her passion continues to inspire us today.

Kathleen Parker, a name you recognize from this very paper, is a politically conservative columnist who owns a home in Camden along with her husband, Woody Cleveland. The Week named her one of the nation’s top five columnists in 2004-2005.  In 2010, she was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for a selection of political opinion columns. Not only is she a proponent of women, she is author of Save the Males, Why Men Matter, Why Women Should Care.

Dr. Daisy B. Alexander taught math to thousands of students during her 40-year career in Kershaw County schools. Dr. Alexander retired from teaching in 1979 after teaching at the Boykin School where she was also principal, the Carver School in Bethune, Jackson Elementary and Jackson Junior High. Her last assignment was with Camden Middle School. In 2010, the South Carolina General Assembly issued a concurrent resolution bill recognizing her lifetime achievements as an educator and community volunteer. In September 2014, Morris College opened two new residence halls, naming one of them in honor of Dr. Alexander.

During this Women’s History Month, please join me in honoring and celebrating these and many other outstanding women of Camden.  I am sure that their impact on our community reaches far beyond what they themselves could have ever imagined. I am sure they met, and continue to meet, obstacles and personal struggles to reach their levels of achievement.

Nevertheless, They Persisted.


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