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It is said that behind every successful man is a woman. That was never more true than in the American Civil Rights movement, but in general the contributions women have made, except for a few notable examples, have been overshadowed by the good works of men.
A new exhibit that is traveling around the country is taking steps to bring the stories of 20 African American women who have made a difference to the forefront.
Freedom's Sisters is an interactive exhibit that is a collaboration between the Cincinnati Museum Center and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. It will make its' only West Coast stop beginning Oct. 25 at the Sacramento Central Library.
The show, which views through Jan. 4, features historical figures, early civil rights fighters, women who have made a difference and living legends.
Those featured include Ella Jo Baker, Mary McLeod Bethune, Shirley Chisholm, Setpima Poinsette Clark, Kathleen Cleaver, Myrlie Evers-Williams, Fannie Lou Hamer, Francis Watkins Harper, Dorothy Irene Height, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Barbara Jordan, Coretta Scott King, Constance Baker Motley, Rosa Parks, Sonia Sanchez, Betty Shabazz, Mary Church Terrell, Harriet Tubman, C. Delores Tucker and Ida B. Wells.
While the exhibit will only be on display at the Sacramento Central Library, Ford Motor Company is sponsoring an essay contest for students in grades four to eight. Ideally, organizers want young people to visit and experience the exhibition, and then write 250-500 words on the theme "Who is your favorite freedom sister and why?" A secondary question asks, what are you doing to continue her legacy?
The contest is open to any eligible students from Oct. 25 to Nov. 20, and completed entries should be mailed to Freedom's Sister Essay Contest-Sacramento, 1 American Road-211WHQ, Dearborn, MI 4812. Please include your name, school name, grade level and contact information. Winners will be announced Dec. 15, 2008 and featured in the Freedom's Sisters exhibition.
Winners will also receive U.S savings bonds. First place will receive $5,000; second place $2,500; third place $1,000, and three runners-up receive $500 each.
The exhibition itself features video, photographs, illustrations, reproductions of artifacts and more, and addresses themes including dare to dream, inspire lives, serve the public, and look to the future. There is also a free exhibit guide that can be downloaded from www.sites.si.edu/exhibitions/exhibits/freedoms_sisters/main.htm.
For more information about visiting Freedom's Sisters, contact the library at 828 I St., Sacramento, Calif. or (800) 209-4627.