Women’s Center closes out Women’s History Month celebrations by ‘Lifting Every Voice’

This past Thursday marked the end of Women’s History Month, as the Women’s Center here at Minnesota State University, Mankato held “Lift Every Voice: Women Make History!” in the CSU Ballroom to celebrate women’s history and current movements.

The event was open to the public and featured tables representing student and community organizations, a gallery from the Women’s Center’s photo campaign, speeches about influential women across the globe, and Lizzo’s touring DJ Sophia Eris. 

The event ran from 7-9 p.m., with the presentation portion beginning around 7:30 p.m. Shadow Rolan, MSU’s Interim Director of Violence Awareness & Response Program, kicked off the program by showing a rendition of the poem-turned-song by J. Rosamond Johnson and James Weldon Johnson.

“Lift Every Voice and Sing” has been adopted as a black national anthem, and Rolan encouraged listeners to think about how the lyrics bear similarities to women’s history as well. 

This was followed by speeches from various students involved with the Women’s Center, who spoke about the women who inspire them. The selected role models ranged from American historical figures, to modern-day activists, to family members. 

One student in attendance was Aisha Maiga, a senior at MSU. “I really enjoyed the speeches, especially the one by Tahmina Sobat. It made me emotional– I cried a bit,” said Maiga. Sobat spoke about her mother’s determination to secretly educate girls in her home country of Afghanistan during the Taliban rule. 

Before and after the main program, attendees were free to roam around the space, which was lined with representatives from different campus associations and departments, along with people representing the Greater Mankato community. One student organization in attendance was the Black Motivation Women group. 

“As black women, it’s hard to find other black women on campus. For my first semester, I didn’t really have anyone. We wanted to create a space for black women to come and be themselves,” said freshman Azariah Haywood, a member of the group. 

Some of the tables offered stickers and chances to win prizes, while others were focused on being informational. One cluster of tables was promoting a petition advocating for free period products in Minnesota schools, which is now over a third of the way to its goal. The Violence Awareness & Response Program had teal ribbons for attendees to take and wear on Tuesdays throughout April for sexual assault awareness month. 

Following the speeches, Eris took the stage for the remainder of the night, providing music from female artists for attendees to dance and listen to as they traveled from table to table. 

Liz Steinborn-Gourley, the director of the Women’s Center, encourages students to get involved with future events.“The Women’s Center is open to any student anytime the door is open– people can just come in and hang out, and find a niche for themselves,” Steinborn-Gourley said.

Header Photo: Various students at MSU spoke at the event and shared stories about the women who inspire them. American historical figures, modern-day activists, and family members were mentioned. (Maddie Behrens/The Reporter)

Write to Alexandra Tostrud at Alexandra.Tostrud@mnsu.edu

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