In celebration of Women’s History Month, North Gwinnett Voice staff member Denise Rumbaugh reached out to women whose accomplishments have been influential and impactful in several areas, including education, politics, media and business. She asked each woman about other women throughout history they admire, the most influential women in their own lives, advice they would share with women and girls on achieving their own goals and dreams and the importance of celebrating women’s history. The NGV has compiled their responses in celebration of Women’s History Month and in honor of these incredible women leaving their marks.
Dr. Mary Kay Murphy has served on the Gwinnett County Board of Education representing District 3 for 27 years. She holds a doctoral degree in education administration from Georgia State University.
Denise Rumbaugh: Is there any particular woman or are there women in history you admire? What do you admire about her or them?
Dr. Mary Kay Murphy: I admire the women who worked to secure the right to vote for women in the United States. The Suffragettes, as they were called, showed immense courage over the many years that they fought for women to have a voice and a leadership role in governing the country. They also demonstrated remarkable resilience in their ability to organize the effort and to work to see it through to the successful passage of the women’s right to vote Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
DR: Who has been the most influential woman in your life and why?
MKM: The most influential woman in my life has been my mother. The major reason that I cite my mother’s influence in my life is that she was one of the women who worked to ensure that women exerted their right to vote. When she was a young woman growing up in Colorado, my mother did not have the right to vote. Neither did either of my grandmothers or my many aunts, their women cousins, and their women friends.
Once my mother and the other women had the right to vote, they began to exert their civic duty to gain support for local, state, and federal initiatives. Their example in advocacy and support touched both men and women.
Over the years, my mother worked for the passage of countless initiatives in Denver, my hometown. Her greatest result came with passage of support for the new Denver airport, Stapleton Field, that allowed Denver to expand its economic development reach between Kansas City and San Francisco.
Both my father and my mother greatly valued their right to vote. They never missed an election day and their chance to participate in casting their ballot.
My father’s most memorable day to vote came one day before he died. He believed so firmly in his right to vote that on that November election day many years ago he drove himself in the snow to cast his vote before he returned home and went to the hospital. He did that because he knew how blessed he was to have the right to vote.
DR: What do you think is the importance of celebrating women’s history?
MKM: It is important to celebrate women’s history to provide an example to those around us and to those who follow us of the importance of our actions and the meaning of the choices each one of us makes, in my case to vote or not to vote.