Columbia, SC Edition
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Gates, Locks and Bolts …

Happy spring to all! March is recognized nationally as Women’s History Month, so it is with great pride and enthusiasm that I dedicate this month’s publisher’s letter to the ladies—more specifically, those that have made honorable contributions on behalf of the Palmetto State. This is a “shout out” to the brave and courageous mothers, grandmothers, matriarchs, business professionals and notable trailblazers that, in the face of adversity and through personal sacrifices made, have come through for the sake of others. Some contributions are public knowledge and documented historically, while countless others (way too many to even count) are hidden away in the hearts of those fortunate enough to have benefited from such acts of unselfish love.

English novelist and essayist Virginia Woolf stated the following in her 1929 essay A Room of One’s Own: “Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” True indeed! Women all across our state have broken through locks, bolts and barriers to accomplish great things. Who are these women?

These are women like the Honorable Ferdinan B. Nancy Stevenson, who was elected as a state representative from Charleston in 1975, where she was raised. In 1979, Stevenson became the first and only elected female lieutenant governor of South Carolina.

Then there is Bennettsville native Marian Wright Edelman, who broke both the “locks and bolts” in 1964 by becoming the first African-American female admitted to the Mississippi Bar. Edelman was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award, in 2000. She also founded the Washington Research Project, which later became the Children's Defense Fund.

TV personality and entertainment star Leeza Gibbons, a Hartsville native, has won three Emmy Awards. Gibbons also was awarded the Congressional Horizon Award and received a coveted star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Sumter County native Althea Gibson became the first African American to win an international world-championship tennis tournament in 1956. All total, Gibson won 11 Grand Slam tournaments, including six doubles titles. And she was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame and the International Women's Sports Hall of Fame.

Last but not least, Nikki Haley, born on January 20, 1972, as Nimrata “Nikki” Randhawa to immigrant parents from India, was elected to the S.C. House of Representatives in 2004, becoming the first Indian-American to hold office in the Palmetto State. In 2010, Haley became the first female governor of South Carolina, serving nearly two terms. In January, she was confirmed as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, subsequently resigning as governor of South Carolina.

The list of Palmetto “jewels” goes on and on—I couldn’t possibly list them all! Some are still with us, while others have transitioned into eternity. Even so, their cumulative impact resonates still today with ripple effects that will reverberate over many lifetimes. Oh, and by the way, if you’re a woman and reading this, the list has your name on it, too—or soon will. As Woolf said, “no gate, no lock or bolt” can hold you.

P.S. To my mother, daughters and new granddaughter, Avaiah Shayne Page—you are my heroes and the fire burning deep within my heart! 

Proud to be a woman,

Annette Briggs

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