Women Count, Women Matter

Katherine Johnson passed away on February 24, 2020, at age 101. You’re probably knitting your brow wondering who was Katherine Johnson and asking why is her death noteworthy. Johnson was one of the first African American woman hired by NASA and one of the three African American women scientists depicted in the movie Hidden Figures that compellingly tells of the pioneering work they did at NASA. Not surprisingly, the performance of the brilliant women mathematicians, who toiled in the shadows at NASA because of their race and gender, was not celebrated or recognized at the time.  If the movie Hidden Figures teaches anything, it is that the contributions of African American women were often overlooked and undervalued by society, all because of their race and gender.

Another recent movie that seeks to bring African American women out from the shadows is Harriet, a name that is synonymous with the Underground Railroad, by way of which hundreds of slaves were led to freedom. A former slave who grew up like a neglected weed, Harriet Tubman was a steady, sturdy woman of faith who challenged societal norms, especially those having to do with slavery, the “diabolical institution.” Harriet Tubman was one in a long line of woman who played pivotal roles in the drive of African Americans for freedom. Others included Sojourner Truth, an early Adventist abolitionist, and Rosa Parks, who famously sparked the modern Civil Rights movement by refusing to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955. 

American history would be robbed of much depth and richness were the contributions of African American women to be expunged from the record.   Given that African American men were systematically and intentionally emasculated so as to wreck black life, African American women had to “step up to the plate,” in a manner of speaking, to preserve African American life.  In the face of daunting odds, African American women refused to surrender or bend, believing that a better day was coming.  The legacy of African American women is that of resilience, creativity, and courage.  Young African American women need to know that they are following in the steps of  women of grit and grace, stamina and strength.

Since the theme of the Lake Region Conference this year is “Everyone Counts, Everyone Matters,” we would be remiss if we failed to note or herald women of color, who have been Hidden Figures for way too long.  And what better time to pause to celebrate women than during March, Women’s History Month.   

An undeniable feature of the earthly pilgrimage of Jesus was the extraordinary relationships He had with women, including those with soiled, sordid pasts. Jesus consistently paired women with men in His teachings and interactions, and the women almost always came out on top (Luke 7:36-50; Luke 23:27-31). In a time when women were discounted and treated with condescension, Jesus lifted them up, welcomed them to His company, and went to great lengths to engage them in conversation and activity (John 4:1-42).

It may be countercultural to elevate women the way Jesus did, but our Lord dramatically demonstrated that to Him women count, women matter.  

R. Clifford Jones


One Response to “Women Count, Women Matter”

  1. DORIS GOTHARD says:

    Dr. Jones, thank you for this March Tribute to Women. Your Article lets us know that the Women of Lake Region Count. We are proud to serve in ministry and proud to follow in the steps of women of grit and grace, stamina and strength.

    Thank You!

    Doris Gothard
    Women’s Ministries Dir.

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