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Tuesday, June 18, 2024
The Observer

Hesburgh puts on a special collection for Black history month, women’s history month

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Rose Androwich | The Observer


The Rare Books Special Collection (RBSC), in honor of Black history month and women’s history month, is curating a special collection called “That just isn’t fair; settling for leftovers.” The collection explores the experiences of Black women athletes and Black women’s involvement in culture and politics.

The collection was curated by Rachel Bohlmann and Greg Bond. Bohlmann is an American history librarian and curator for the University, while Bond is a sports archivist and researcher. 

The collection features various magazines, one of them founded by a famous female tennis player. Bond discussed the Women’s Sports Magazine and its founder. 

“It was founded by Billie Jean King. She was the founding publisher, famous tennis player, in 1974. I believe it was published and one of the first mainstream magazines [that] really focused on women in sports. I knew we had this title, and I was looking through it and we’re thinking about an exhibit about both Black history month in February and women’s history month in March,” Bond said.

Bond also spoke about the process of finding the magazines curated in the exhibit. 

“I was looking through the women’s sports magazines. We have to play this title with an eye towards something that captured the history of women’s sports and also African American women in sports. And luckily, women’s sports magazine did cover African American athletes. In fact, before the 1970s, women in sports didn’t get a lot of coverage in the popular press,” Bond said.

The articles in the magazine, Bond said, talk about how the lack of funding in the seventies connect to the modern issues women in sports are facing. 

“Several of the articles talk about the lack of funding some of these women athletes who are receiving in the mid seventies, and the discrepancy in funding between male athletes and women athletes. In this case, the track athletes, which, of course, directly ties to some of the issues we’ve had today with funding for the women’s national soccer team, the men’s national soccer team, WNBA versus the NBA,” Bond said. 

The collection features articles from feminist magazines and discusses the idea of Black feminism, Bohlmann added. 

“The earliest one is a feminist magazine — a second wave feminist magazine from 1970 ... and in it is an article by an African American woman who was writing about Black feminism, so she sort of theorizing about feminism of Black women, and how that fits in with the sort of larger women’s movement in the United States,” she said.

Bohlmann continued, expanding on how the article points to the importance of Black women in women's movements.

“We were thinking about how these magazines — both for African American athletes and for African American non-athletes — are a way to show how these African American women were absolutely fundamental, foundational to the women’s movement in the 1970s,” she said. 

Bohlmann also added she feels the problems shown in the exhibit are still being faced today.

“A lot of these questions and problems are still with us to an alarming degree. But that’s why we want to display these, because it shows both how far we’ve come and what yet needs to be done. So, there’s a hopefulness about it,” Bohlmann said. 

Bond noted the progress that has been made but, in his opinion, there’s work that still needs to be done.

“That certainly a lot of progress that has been made — uneven progress and in certain areas, perhaps — but there’s still work to be done, and we can see through the activism, the struggle of these women in the seventies, perhaps, a path forward [which can] help explain how we get to where we are and where we still hope to go,” Bond said.

Bond spoke about Madeline Manning Jackson, a distance runner who competed in the Olympics and how she discussed, in one of the articles on display, the lack of resources available in order to compete at the Olympics.

“They offer no funding — no travel funding, no training funding. She talks about how she probably could have gone, but she didn’t want to go because it made her mad, the lack of resources. She also talks about she wasn’t mad just for herself, but for all the other girls not to put up with this kind of treatment,” he said.

The exhibit is on display until the end of March and the RBSC is open Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.