Celebrating Women’s History Month — SOMA style!

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SOUTH ORANGE / MAPLEWOOD, NJ — The two towns kicked off Women’s History Month at the Fox and Falcon on March 7, inviting women from both towns to the restaurant to celebrate the achievements of the women who came before them. The evening was the first in a series of events that will be happening in the two towns in the coming weeks, organized by the Maplewood Township Committee and the South Orange Board of Trustees.

“It’s for women in the two towns who want to come out and celebrate each other,” Maplewood Committeewoman Nancy Adams said in an interview with the News-Record at the event. “We want to highlight all of them.”

Adams is the only woman currently serving on the Maplewood Township Committee, and said she is only the seventh woman in Maplewood’s history to serve on the committee. Only one woman, Ellen Davenport, has served as mayor.

Next on the calendar is movie night at the South Orange Performing Arts Center when the towns will screen “A League of Their Own,” the 1992 fictional story about the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. South Orange Village President Sheena Collum said the movie was chosen because often women’s accomplishments in sports are not celebrated.

“Women in sports often get overlooked,” Collum said in an interview with the News-Record at the event. “So we should look at their achievements and celebrate them as well.”

Last year’s movie night featured “Hidden Figures,” the story about black female mathematicians who worked at NASA during the 1960s Space Race. Collum said area mothers and daughters took the opportunity to have a bonding night.

“We had a ton of mothers and daughters come and bring sleeping bags and pajamas and just pig out with pizza and snacks,” she said. “It’s really great to bring together those different generations.”

Other Women’s History Month events include Cathy McCoy Bristol’s exhibit “Everyday People” on display in the hallway of the South Orange Village offices through March 21 and a talk about “Revolutionary Style” at the Durand-Hedden House on Sunday, March 17, at 2 p.m.; clothing historian Pat Sanftner will talk about the style changes of the 1700s, in addition to there being a display of American Girl Doll clothes designed by Judy Cronin and her sister, Claire Sisson.

On March 31, The Woodland will host a reading of the play “Miss Perkins,” about Frances Perkins, the United States labor secretary from 1933 to 1945 and the first woman cabinet member. A question-and-answer session will follow the reading. Ticket proceeds will benefit United Tastes of America and the Syrian Supper.

At the very beginning of the month, on March 2, women from Maplewood and South Orange gathered on the front steps of Maplewood Town Hall wearing white to honor the women of the suffragette movement.

“We want to honor the women that came before us,” South Orange Trustee Karen Hartshorn Hilton said in an interview with the News-Record at the event. “Especially in South Orange with an election coming up, there are so many strong, capable women running. That’s great and it’s important to highlight.”

For more information about Women’s History Month events in the two towns, visit www.somawomen.org.

Photos by Amanda Valentovic and Courtesy of Nancy Adams