March is Women’s History Month and today, March 8, is International Women’s Day!
The United Nations has declared the theme for International Women’s Day 2021 as “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”.
We’re honoring women today by highlighting five notable female figures from Southeastern North Carolina.
Minnie Evans worked as the Airlie Gardens gatekeeper from 1949 to 1974. At 43 years old she started drawing and later went on to be a well renowned artist. Over the years Minnie’s artwork has been displayed in the Cameron Art Museum, The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the North Carolina Museum of Art, and more. In 2004, a bottle chapel in Airlie Gardens opened in honor of Minnie’s legacy. Minnie passed away in 1987 at the age of 95.
Althea Gibson was the first Black athlete-male or female-allowed into United States Lawn Tennis Association tournaments. She was the first African American to win a Wimbledon singles title, the first to play at the U.S. Open in Forest Hills, N.Y., and the first to play in the French Open. Her career spanned almost twenty years, and she won nearly 100 professional titles including five Grand Slam crowns. Althea attended Williston High School in Wilmington and trained privately on the regulation size tennis court, at Dr. Hubert Eaton’s home. Gibson graduated from Williston and went onto earn her degree from Florida A&M University.
Barbara Guest was born in Wilmington. She moved to New York City in the 1940s and rose to prominence in the late 1950s as a member of an informal group of writers known as the New York school of poets which included Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, and James Schuyler. In addition to her poetry collections, Guest’s works include the novel Seeking Air (1978) and Herself Defined (1984), the biography of the Imagist poet H.D. (Hilda Doolittle).
Linda Lavin is an American actress and singer. She is known for playing the title character in the sitcom Alice and she is also known for her stage performances, both on and Off-Broadway. She began acting on Broadway in the 1960s, earning notice in It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s Superman in 1966 and receiving her first Tony Award nomination in Last of the Red Hot Lovers in 1970. Lavin and her husband worked together to rehabilitate impoverished neighborhoods in Wilmington including renovating many homes, donating a park to the city and creating a community theatre, the Red Barn Studio.
Sharyn McCrumb is best known for her Appalachian “Ballad” novels, including the New York Times best sellers The Ballad of Tom Dooley, The Ballad of Frankie Silver, and Ghost Riders, which won the Wilma Dykeman Award for Literature from the East Tennessee Historical Society and the national Audie Award for Best Recorded Book. Her current novels are Prayers the Devil Answers, the story of the last public hanging ever carried out in the United States, and The Unquiet Grave, the story of West Virginia’s Greenbrier Ghost.
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