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Women's History Month 2019 at Whittemore Library

In honor of Women's History Month was asked the staff what woman they admired.

Audre Lorde: Poet, Essayist, Novelist, and Civil Rights Activist

¨Audre Lorde attended Hunter College and Columbia University and was a librarian for several years before publishing her first volume of poetry, First Cities, in 1968. More successful collections followed, including From a Land Where Other People Live (1973) and The Black Unicorn (1978). Lorde also wrote the memoirs The Cancer Journals (1980) and A Burst of Light (1988).  A self-described “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,” Audre Lorde dedicated both her life and her creative talent to confronting and addressing the injustices of racism, sexism, and homophobia.


Dr. M. Vera Peters: Canadian Oncologist and Clinical Investigator

¨Dr. Peters (1911-1993) is renowned for her 1950 seminal discovery that Hodgkin's disease could be cured with radiation. Her approach of treatment tailored to the individual disease characteristics and minimizing treatment exposure became known as "the Toronto approach". It took 30 years to win over the skeptics and go to the tailored treatment approach. She was an early advocate of breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy) followed by radiation, which is as effective as radical mastectomy, in an era where disfiguring radical mastectomy prevailed.
¨Dr. Peters was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in 1975 and an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1977.  In 1979 she was the recipient of the Gold Medal from the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology -- the highest honor in the radiation oncology profession.

Maya Angelou: Poet, Storyteller, Activist, and Autobiographer

As a civil rights activist, Angelou worked for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. She was also an educator and served as the Reynolds professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University. By 1975, wrote Carol E. Neubauer in Southern Women Writers: The New Generation,“ Angelou had become recognized not only as a spokesperson for blacks and women, but also for all people who are committed to raising the moral standards of living in the United States."  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is the first of Angelou’s six autobiographies. It is widely taught in schools, though it has faced controversy over its portrayal of race, sexual abuse and violence. ¨A prolific and widely-read poet, Angelou’s poetry has often been lauded more for its depictions of black beauty, the strength of women, and the human spirit; criticizing the Vietnam War; demanding social justice for all—than for its poetic virtue. In 2000 she was awarded the National Medal of the Arts and in 2011 the Presidential Medal of Freedom.