The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Galveston District observed Women’s History Month with an online presentation March 21, 2023.
This year’s theme, chosen by the National Women’s History Alliance, is “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories.”
As such, Galveston’s Equal Employment Opportunity Office chose author, teacher, and licensed minister Kimberley Yancy as the guest speaker for the event. Yancy is also the first African-American woman to be elected to a district council seat in the history of the city of La Marque, Texas.
Yancy—who authored the book Confessions of a Preachers Wife—shared her story and experiences growing up Black, female, and middle-class in Texas and how that intersectionality shaped her. She also touched on how her career in local politics has influenced how she is perceived and treated.
Yancy also shared her thoughts on the lingering racial tensions she still sees within the country and how—together—Americans can all move forward.
As Americans, we all have unique backgrounds and upbringings that mold us and shape us into the people we become, she said.
The Texas City-native recalled growing up in the post-segregation era and how—even though segregation was legally ended—there was still a social rift throughout the country. This social environment, along with living in a middle-class neighborhood often meant she would be the only Black student in her classroom.
“There were days where I felt like I was carrying the weight of 22 million African-Americans on my shoulders,” Yancy said, adding that she often felt the need to put forth a positive portrayal of her community for her mostly white schoolmates.
Her college years at the University of Texas at Austin saw her encountering racism directly. Yancy recalled being the target of several racial slurs, particularly during the period where she actively petitioned to improve the dormitory room conditions of UT Austin’s Black students.
She reflected on how that time in her life mirrored being harassed in her political career—seemingly for being a Black female politician. “Words like ‘thug’ and ‘ghetto’ have been aimed at me throughout my political career, despite being college-educated and coming from a middle-class background,” Yancy said.
“Why is race so political?” she asked, while offering her own take on the topic. “I think because when people want to attack you, it’s easy to attack you for something you can’t change,” Yancy said. “Are people truly racist, or are they just opportunistic? … I think it’s really a bit of both.”
Yancy noted a common thread between the political and racial tensions of today and of the past. “Great moments of progress are usually met with great pushback,” she said. This can be taken as a sign that society is moving in the right direction, she said.
“I am praying for our nation,” Yancy said. “I am asking all of us to love our democracy enough to fight for it, to stand for it.”
Each March, the Department of Defense pays tribute to the women who, through determination and contributions, have shaped American history and whose efforts continue to pave the way forward. Women’s History Month originated in 1981 when Congress passed Public Law 97-28, which authorized and requested the president to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982, as “Women’s History Week.” After being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress passed Public Law 100-9 which designated the month of March 1987 as “Women’s History Month.”
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