Eleven women inducted Saturday into the Hall of Fame share their message with the world
TYRE — Eleven extraordinary women inducted Saturday into the National Women’s Hall of Fame inspired hundreds of people at a ceremony at del Lago Resort and Casino.
The diverse group of women shared their stories of empowerment from a theater inside the casino near Seneca Falls, the birthplace of the American Women’s Rights Movement.
The ceremony was emceed by Gretchen Carlson, journalist and author, who paved the way for the #MeToo movement with her historic 2016 sexual harassment complaint against the chairman of Fox News, Roger Ailes.
“My parents taught me to be a gutsy girl,” said Carlson. When she filed the lawsuit against Ailes three years ago, “it felt like it was just me,” she said. But then other women came forward, supporting her and revealing their own experiences.
“You caught me and buoyed me on my darkest day,” Carlson said.
Fifteen months after that there was a flood of revelations and “Bill O’Reilly bit the dust,” Carlson said, referring to Fox News Channel ousting O’Reilly in 2017 over sexual harassment. “Women started to be believed,” Carlson said.
“Sexual harassment is predominantly a man’s issue,” she said. “We need men on our team, we need to get boys on the team at a young age.”
Representing the late U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter, the former U.S. Congress member from Fairport, advocate and new inductee, was her niece, Lauren Secatore.
“She believed in never giving up,” said Secatore, learning from her aunt that you can “choose who you want to be. There will be roadblocks and disappointments but with persistence and patience you can accomplish things you never dreamed of.”
Slaughter, who died last year, was a relentless advocate for western New York whose visionary leadership brought infrastructure upgrades, technology and research investments, and two federal manufacturing institutes to Rochester that will transform the local economy for generations to come. As the first chairwoman of the House Rules Committee, she blazed a path that many women continue to follow. It is difficult to find a segment of society that Slaughter didn’t help shape over the course of more than 30 years in Congress, from health care to genetic nondiscrimination to historic ethics reforms.
Inductee Angela Davis, a social justice activist for decades, talked about her experiences in the early 1970s as a person who spent 18 months in jail and on trial, after being placed on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted List.” She has conducted extensive research on numerous issues related to race, gender and imprisonment.
“We cannot rely on punishment to end gender violence,” she said. Imprisonment has not altered the statistics of sexual violence, she said, as those statistics have remained almost the same. Like Carlson, Davis said men have to be on board to solve this problem.
Inductee Laurie Spiegel, a composer, whose best known works include her 1970s music created on computers at Bell Telephone Labs, said she quickly learned that in her industry they had never heard of women composers. “Guys wanted to explain to you things you already knew,” she said. “The younger generation can expect to do things we could never expect to do.”
Inductee Gloria Allred said the #MeToo movement is here to stay. A founding partner of the law firm of Allred, Maroko & Goldberg, her firm handles more women’s rights cases than any other private law firm in the nation and has won hundreds of millions of dollars for victims. Over the course of her 42-year legal career, Allred has won countless honors for her pioneering legal work on behalf of women’s rights and rights for minorities.
“That is all due to the empowerment of women,” Allred said.
Sarah Deer, a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma, is a professor at the University of Kansas. Ending violence against women is her life’s goal.
“Indigenous women were the original rape victims,” she said. Citing federal statistics, Deer said 85 percent of native women experience sexual violence in their lifetime and 50 percent are raped during their lifetime. “Until we address violence against indigenous women, no woman will be free,” she said.
Her hope: “That this will amplify all the voices of native women of the United States,” she said.
A lawyer by training but an advocate in practice, Deer’s scholarship focuses on the intersection of federal Indian law and victims’ rights, using indigenous feminist principles as a framework.
Her work to end violence against Native American women has received national recognition from the American Bar Association and the Department of Justice. She has testified before Congress on two occasions regarding violence against women and was appointed by Attorney General Eric Holder to chair a federal advisory committee on sexual violence in Indian country.
Inductee Jane Fonda, award-winning actress and activist, in a fiery speech called for action in fighting climate change.
“We are living in the last possible moment of human history,” she said. “This is not hyperbole.”
The audience included some 300 students from area school districts, and Fonda urged all students to send a message of saving the planet by participating in “The Global Climate Strike” on Sept. 20.
“We cannot let our young people bear the brunt of what politicians and corporations are doing,” said Fonda. “There is no market-based solution. It will take an all-out war. We are facing a climate change crisis and an empathy crisis.
“We need collective action” and women are the ones to lead that, Fonda said.
“Women tend to be less eco-identified, more prone to do the public good … Rise to this crisis,” she said.
Nicole Malachowski, retired Air Force colonel, is a pioneer for women in combat aviation. She was the first woman pilot selected for the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds Air Demonstration Squadron, flying as Thunderbird No. 3, the right wing position, from 2005 to 2007. Malachowski flew over 188 combat hours, including her proudest moment as a fighter pilot: leading the first fighter formation to provide security for Iraq’s historic democratic elections in 2005.
She was also instrumental in the passage of the 2009 law awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to Women Airforce Service Pilots for their service during World War II.
Two million women veterans who served their country as service pilots during WWII “were left out” of the benefits and recognition given servicemen, Malachowski said. “Their story was lost.”
Malachowski said she sought the Congressional Gold Medal for these women “to correct the record.”
As she raises her twins and continues to recover from her neurological tick-borne illness, she is educating others about this growing epidemic. She is on the board of directors at the LivLyme Foundation and is a patient advisory board member of The Dean Center for Tick Borne Illness.
In her efforts fighting tick-borne illness, Malachowski said she sees this as a human-rights issue, a military readiness issue and so “it’s a national security issue.”
Susan Scott, spoke for Rose Cecil O’Neill, as president of the Rose O’Neill Historical Society.
Rose O’Neill (1874-1944) was the first cartoonist to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. O’Neill used her art to comment on social issues including women’s rights and discrimination. Initially using only her last name, her fans assumed she was a man until her publishers explained otherwise eight years later.
“Subscribers became curious thinking it was a guy,” said Scott.
O’Neill is remembered as a suffrage artist.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Diane von Furstenberg, fashion designer and philanthropist, and biologist Flossie Wong-Staal were also inducted.
National Women’s Hall of Fame inductees 2019
Gloria Allred: attorney, activist
Angela Davis: professor, activist
Sarah Deer: professor, lawyer, advocate
Jane Fonda: actress, activist
Nicole Malachowski: retired Air Force colonel, advocate
Rose O’Neill: artist, activist
Louise Slaughter: former U.S. Congress member, advocate
Sonia Sotomayor: U.S. Supreme Court Justice
Laurie Spiegel: composer, wildlife rehabilitator
Diane von Furstenberg: fashion designer and philanthropist
Flossie Wong-Staal: biologist
What is the National Women’s Hall of Fame?
The National Women’s Hall of Fame is the nation’s oldest membership organization dedicated to honoring and celebrating the achievements of distinguished American women. The Hall uses the stories of its inductees as tools for inspiration, innovation and imagination. A not-for-profit educational institution, its programs include Induction Weekend, educational programs, and special exhibits and events.
The National Women’s Hall of Fame was founded in 1969 in historic Seneca Falls, Seneca County, the birthplace of the American Women’s Rights Movement. Here, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott and 300 others gathered at the first Women’s Rights Convention in 1848. In 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting women the right to vote was passed. The Hall’s founders established the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, believing that the contributions of American women deserved a permanent home.