By Praycious Wilson-Gay
the Durham VOICE
March is Women’s History Month.
Women have risked their lives to have a lasting impact for the future generations. Women like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul and even the namesake of my school, Josephine Dobbs Clement, paved the way for me.
Josephine Dobbs Clement was the fourth born of six children to John Wesley Dobbs and Irene Ophelia Thompson. She was a civil rights leader and a community advocate. Dobbs Clement earned her bachelor’s degree from Spelman University and her master’s degree from Colombia University.
In the late 1940s, she moved with her husband, William A. Clement, to Durham, where she was active in local politics and social justice movements. She was appointed to the Durham City-County Charter Commission and also chaired the city’s board of education. Under her leadership, the city selected its first African-American superintendent of schools. She was a director of Durham’s Better Health Foundation and a volunteer worker at the Durham Children’s House.
Clement was actively involved in desegregating the YWCA and the League of Women’s Voters. She was also a member of the city-county library board in Durham.The Josephine Dobbs Clement Early College High School in Durham was named in her honor.
We all can also identify the trailblazers in our own life that perhaps didn’t chisel out a new road but kicked a couple rocks out of the way. Like my great grandmother who, in the early 1900’s, graduated from high school, which was not common for African American women. Although, she could not realize her own dreams, between wash loads, she made sure all her children pursued education. This ideal was trickled down to me.
The best way for me to honor these women is to be myself and make a difference. These women did not take the “easy” way out of anything. These women worked hard, risked their lives, sat in jail for their beliefs and spoke out when no one else would. The way I see it, all these women believed in me, which gives me the power to persevere through all the turmoil and try to make a change. I honor all women, commonly known or unknown, for everything they have done. I appreciated them before, but this year I have relished learning more about the women who’ve made history. I hope to make these women proud.