For Women’s History Month, StandUp For Kids is putting the spotlight on Maya Moore, Deja Foxx, Jeannette Rankin and Jacki McKinney. Did you know that it wasn’t until 1987 that the first “Women’s History Month” was celebrated after the National Women’s History Project petitioned Congress? From 1988 to 1994, Congress requested that we continue to designate March as this special month recognizing women, and in 1995, the President began to consistently acknowledge it every year.
The world needs more fierce champions like Maya.
It’s inspiring anytime a star athlete steps away from the game to forge a new path helping others. Moore is best known as a 2x NCAA and 4x WNBA champion while starring for the UConn Huskies and Minnesota Lynx, and now for her social action campaign, “Win With Justice,” which works toward a more fair and equitable criminal justice system. A staunch advocate for change, she helped Jonathan Irons (now her husband) win his release from prison by getting his 50-year sentence, for a crime he did not commit, overturned.
On July 10, 2021, at the annual ESPY awards, Moore received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award for leaving basketball in her prime to free Irons. In her acceptance speech, she spoke about the need for change in the criminal justice system, saying, “Power is not meant to be gripped with a clenched fist or to be hoarded, but power is meant to be handled generously, so we can thoughtfully empower one another to thrive in our communities for love’s sake, championing our humanity before our ambitions.”
We must follow Deja Foxx’s lead and empower youth to create change.
Foxx has shown the world the impact that young people can have, overcoming homelessness to become an ultra-inspiring change-maker. In high school, she co-founded the El Rio Reproductive Health Access Project, which gives youth in her hometown of Tucson free access to birth control services, STI testing, and PrEP. At just 19, she became one of the youngest presidential campaign staffers in modern history, working for Kamala Harris as Influencer and Surrogate Strategist. She’s now building digital strategies for Ford Models while pursuing a degree in race and ethnicity studies at Columbia.
Foxx is quick to point out that she would not be where she is today without some part of adult society backing her up when she was younger, saying, “My success is my community’s success. I recognize that I am in this place of privilege now not solely because of my own hard work, but because people invested in me.”
We salute political pioneers like Jeanette Rankin and her deep commitment to social change.
Rankin, a Montana Republican, was the first woman to hold federal office in the U.S. in 1916 – especially notable since most American women were not able to vote until 1920. Living until 92, she dedicated her life to world peace and the welfare of women and children. Early experiences as a social worker and activist led her to the frontlines of the national suffrage fight. She was known as an anti-war champion and the only member of Congress to vote against U.S. participation in both World War I and II.
Rankin once said, “I may be the first woman member of Congress, but I won’t be the last.” Today, women make up 28% of the 118th Congress – the highest % in U.S. history.
For helping people to step up and share their stories, we applaud Jacki McKinney.
As a survivor of trauma, addiction and homelessness, and having experienced hospital stays for mental illness, McKinney drew on her own battles to become a family advocate on issues affecting Black women and their children. A passionate leader and storyteller, always emphasizing “triumph over tragedy,” she sought to give communities of color a voice. She championed reform for the psychiatric and criminal justice systems and toured the country speaking on seclusion/restraint, intergenerational family support, and minority issues in public mental health. She was a founding member of the National People of Color Consumer/Survivor Network and proud recipient of the Clifford W. Beers Award, Mental Health America’s highest honor, and a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
McKinney encouraged mental health patients to resolve emotional pain from the past to prevent it from sneaking up in the future. She believed that blaming those who caused your trauma isn’t the final step in solving the issue – that you have to confront yourself in the end. She famously said, “Go find a way to be well yourself. Go look. That’s it.”
We support all the strong young women out there who are looking to follow in the footsteps of Maya, Deja, Jeannette and Jacki, as they will be the leaders of the next generation.