This month marks the 50th anniversary of Title IX of the Education Amendments, a law that transformed sports opportunities for girls and women in the U.S. I dedicated a hefty chunk of twenty years to co-authoring Playing for Equality (2016), a collection of oral histories that chronicle Title IX’s passage and implementation. While offering the facts of the law, these stories of eight women–physical educators, coaches, Olympic athletes, and administrators–are snapshots of the daily efforts required to overcome inequity and create legal and social change.
Some of the writers I now coach ask how I stuck with the project for so long. I admit, I was often lost in the evolution of sports governance for girls and women because the facts are buried in archives beyond the internet. But the stories kept me going. Celeste Ulrich loved to play as a child, and she told us how she turned that passion into a teaching and coaching career, and ultimately applied that experience in her work as a college dean. Five-time Olympic athlete Willye White brought us inside the racist, sexist practices of the games and her training leading up to each competition. Their perseverance inspired me through every revision.
Today, June 23, I’m thinking about the excitement, the risks and sacrifices, and the energy required to create social change. You might find this book at a local library, purchase it through a local bookstore, or learn more on my For Readers page.
In other news this month, Heron Tree published two word and image poems in Volume 9. The journal publishes found poems created from public domain books. Editors add to the volume throughout the month. I invite you to take a look now and return for more.
Two new essays are forthcoming. Please check back for details. I’m ever grateful to editors and readers for your support.
If you’re heading out to play on this summer day, or facing challenges and obstacles, I wish you inspiration and strength. May stories be your guide.