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Movies! Munificence! Music!

Not just in March, in honor of Women’s History Month, but throughout EVERY month, we celebrate the power of women!

This month, I want to shine a light on four people who have turned a personal passion into a mission that will have a powerful impact on generations to come. Each in their own way, regardless of their age, shows me how to be a continual force for good in the world, and truly UNSTOPPABLE

The Oscar-nominated short documentary film, The ABCs of Book Banning, is a call to action for anyone who loves books and cherishes freedom. PEN America, which defends free expression, supports persecuted writers, and promotes literary culture, counted 3,362 book bans affecting 1,557 unique titles, with more than 40% of the bans occurring in Florida. To Kill A Mockingbird is on this list, yet no other book from my childhood had a bigger impact on my thinking about race and the devastating effects of discrimination. It was the catalyst for my early involvement in various social justice organizations, and, in my humble opinion, should be required reading. 

So, my fear is that if left unchecked, this ban will not stop with books but will seep into every aspect of our lives. Remember the book burning in Berlin on May 10th, 1933?  It was merely a foreshadowing of the repression to come. But, it’s never too late to join the fight. Here’s what Grace Linn, a shining force in this wonderful film, is doing. 

A retired hospital administrator and avid reader turned activist, 101-year-old Linn has been taking on Florida’s Martin County School Board for their banning of 84 books.  Feisty and mincing no words, she says, “The ability for authors to write and people to read books is a constitutional right guaranteed by the First Amendment. My husband died fighting for our freedoms in WWII, and  I don’t  want his fighting and his death to be in vain.“ 

She conveys her message both with words and a handmade quilt displaying many of the banned books. She advises, “ If you don’t like a book, simply don’t buy it, borrow it from a library, or read it. Society can’t grow and evolve without the education and empathy-building that comes from the free exchange of thoughts shared through books.”

Grace, thank you for fighting for all of us, who should know better, do better, and be better.

I don’t know many doctors who prescribe to the existence of miracles, but current and future medical students of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx may think differently now that they’ll be the beneficiaries of a ONE billion dollar bequest by Philanthropist Ruth Gottesman. This gift gives future doctors a four-year, tuition-free ride (currently more than $59,000 per year). This is truly a dream come true for many who never dared to envision a medical career because of the exorbitant educational costs. 

Living in New Mexico, I’ve witnessed the difficulty of finding adequate healthcare due to the shortage of medical professionals.  Last year, primary care physicians left the state in record numbers, resulting in a four to six-month wait time to see a doctor; and that’s providing the practice has openings. God forbid you need immediate attention; you’re off to Urgent Care or the Emergency Room.

Professor Gottesman’s gift will help to increase the number of physicians and make healthcare more available, not only in the Bronx but throughout the US — and hopefully in New Mexico too. Her generosity will be felt by many for decades to come. What a gift Ruth Gottesman has given us all. 

In his fabulous, inspirational song, “Put a Woman in Charge,” American blues musician KebMo, captures the hopes echoed by so many during International Women’s Month. I love his lyrical message of realism, We’re standing on the brink of disaster, the time has come, we’ve got to turn this world around.”  And, I am touched by his optimism,  “let the ladies do what they were born to do — change the rules, raise the vibration, and make a better place for me and you.” 

Watch his music video. Imagine putting a woman in charge, and imagine that woman is YOU

Through LinkedIn, Rent the Runway is encouraging people to recognize deserving women by offering a free month of Rent the Runway’s services. All you have to do is “BRAG & TAG,” by creating posts on LinkedIn nominating women for recognition using the hashtag #RTRShowOff. The company has committed to giving away $1 million in free subscriptions and donating $1 million in gross merchandise value to Dress for Success to outfit women for the workplace. 

It’s no surprise that Co-Founder and RTR CEO, Jennifer Hyman, is a huge supporter of women. And, she is also very vocal about wanting women to proudly “show off” their accomplishments and amplify their voices in the workplace. She and I are in total agreement that women need to self-promote (aka Brag) because no one else will do it for them. Hyman says,  

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