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You Have to Start a Thing: North Carolina Women Breaking Barriers


From Buncombe County Libraries:

You Have to Start a Thing: North Carolina Women Breaking Barriers – UNC Asheville, Vance Birthplace State Historic Site, Thomas Wolfe Memorial State Historic Site, and the Friends of the North Carolina Room to Present Symposium Examining the History of Women’s Agency, Voice, and Scope in Western North Carolina.

UNC Asheville’s Department of History, the Vance Birthplace State Historic Site, the Thomas Wolfe Memorial State Historic Site, and the North Carolina Room at Pack Memorial Library will present a two-day symposium, You Have to Start a Thing: North Carolina Women Breaking Barriers, Sept. 12-13. The symposium, will celebrate the achievements of women in Western North Carolina and examine their impact on breaking down barriers in North Carolina and the nation.

On Friday, Sept. 12 at 6 p.m., the symposium will begin with a presentation by Dr. Valerie Ann Johnson, Mott Distinguished Professor of Women’s Studies and Director of Africana Women’s Studies at Bennett College in Greensboro, N.C. This free program will be at Pack Library.

On Friday, Sept. 13, speakers at Pack Library will present throughout the day from 10am to 5pm. The Friday symposium will conclude with a reception from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at Cultivated Cocktails. Guests can sample local spirits from H&H Distillery, purchase cocktails, and hear Dr. Dan Pierce’s talk, "Daring Amazonian Women: North Carolina Women Moonshiners."

The year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified on August 18, 1920, granted American women the right to vote. This 72-year battle began in July 1848 with the Seneca Falls Convention that fought for social, civil and religious rights of women. However, the passing of the 19th Amendment still did not grant suffrage for many women of color and immigrant women; that battle would continue on for decades. This symposium will explore the many women that changed the world and their impact on our nation today.

You Have to Start a Thing: North Carolina Women Breaking Barriers is free and open to the public. Seating capacity is limited, so registration is strongly encouraged. To register, visit here.

Symposium Events

Keynote Talk by Dr. Valerie Ann Johnson – Thursday, Sept. 12, 6 p.m. at Pack Memorial Library’s Lord Auditorium. Bennet College Mott Distinguished Professor of Women’s Studies, Johnson, also chairs the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission, serves on the NC Historical Commission, National Register Advisory Committee, and Ms. Committee of Scholars.

With a Ph.D. in medical anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley, M.A. in sociology from Atlanta University, and B.A. in sociology from Spelman College, Dr. Johnson is a leading scholar of centers of gender, bioethics, disability, the health of women and girls, and environmental justice.

Dr. Johnson’s recent publications include, “Realizing Our Institutional Missions: Engaging Present and Past Heroes to Inspire Modern Global Leadership and Service,” co-authored with K. Jeffrey, L. Ralph, and P. Waldron-Moore, in Network: A Journal of Faculty Development (April 2015);“ and “Bringing Together Feminist Disability Studies and Environmental Justice” in the 2011 Barbara Faye Waxman Fiduccia Papers on Women and Girls with Disabilities, reprinted (June 2017) in Disability Studies and Environmental Humanities: Toward an Eco-Crip Theory, edited and with an Introduction by Sarah Jacquette Ray and Jay Sibara, Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press. She has served on many boards and advisory boards, including the Board for the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters, the Steering Committee for the Anna Julia Cooper Center at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem North Carolina, and advisory board for the Institute for African American Research at UNC Chapel Hill and Our Children’s Place.

Schedule: Friday, Sept. 13, at Pack Memorial Library, Lord Auditorium

Coffee & Expo Hall Opening 10 a.m.

Session I: “Addressing the Challenges for Cherokee Women in North Carolina: From Post-Removal, through Suffrage, to Today” – 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Cultural Historian, Susan Abram

Session II: “Inspiring Stories of Asheville’s Jewish Women” – 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Historian, Sharon Fahrer

Session III: “Edith Vanderbilt” – 2 p.m. – 3 p.m. Historians, Winnie Titchener-Coyle & Meghan Forest

Session IV: “You Have to Start a Thing: Lillian Exum Clement, Leah Chiles & Women’s Sovereignty in NC” – 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. Historians Catherine Amos & Katherine Calhoun Cutshall

Session V: “Fulfilling The One Imperative By Any Means Necessary: Desegregation and Race Politics at the Asheville YWCA” – 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.  UNC Asheville Associate Professor of History, Dr. Sarah Judson

Reception Talk & Tasting: Presentation on Women in Moonshines and Spirit Tasting – Friday, Sept. 13, 5:30-6:30 p.m. at Cultivated Cocktails, 29 Page Avenue, Asheville.

The symposium will conclude with a reception where guests can sample spirits, purchase cocktails, and hear UNC Asheville Professor of History, Dr. Dan Pierce, on the impact of women on moonshine, "Daring Amazonian Women: North Carolina Women Moonshiners." Pierce is author of the new book, How Secret Stills and Fast Cars Made North Carolina the Moonshine Capital of the World, forthcoming in October from UNC Press.

To register for the symposium click here.

For more information, contact the North Carolina Room, Pack Memorial Library, 828-250-4740 or katherine.cutshall@buncombecounty.org, or the Vance Birthplace State Historic Site, vance@ncdcr.gov or 828.645.6706.