Week Of The Women
Four Women Standing In The Tide Of History Symbolize Change
Last week was one of those rare moments where the universe allowed for signatures of things to come to flare up brightly so that some can see possibilities in a new direction. Four women highlighted the biggest moments in Prince George’s.
As international dance and culture icon Judith Jamison passed this way to help usher in Dr. Aminta Breaux as the first woman president of Bowie State University (a moment powered in great part by Rhonda Dallas and Paula Brown), county executive hopeful Angela Alsobrooks hosted the bold 1,000 women lunch in her bid to become the county’s first woman to that office.
Jamison, a global figure and master Jedi Knight of the cultural world, needs no explanation here to establish her influence except to recognize the common denominator each woman shares with the others: breaking the tradition, standing on greatness and a vision for creating new traditions. Her work, both within The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and on her own, stands as more than her own legacy, but as a global benchmark for women. When Jamison came to Prince George’s April 10-11 to support and celebrate another Philadelphian poised to step into history at Bowie State University, she brought her message of how to navigate steps in life-–whether onstage, on the field or in office.
Jamison was invited to town through a joint effort between the university, Paula Brown, executive director of the Paula Brown Performing Arts Center and Rhonda Dallas, executive director of the Prince George’s Arts & Humanities Council. Dallas, a change agent in her own right, is also on a vision-building course. Dallas has grown the council from a small annual grant source for local artists to a multifaceted arts headquarters. PGAHC’s State of the Arts in Prince George’s, held last fall, helped to establish the arts as a vastly under tapped economic engine for Prince George’s (for every $1 invested in the arts, the county gains $4 in revenue). The annual arts gala, a showcase for student artists, was initiated under Dallas and grows each year raising monies for the arts in public school (this year’s gala will be April 28).
The installation of Dr. Aminta Breaux as the tenth and first woman president of BSU is another turning point in tradition. Attention has already been drawn to Breaux’ hands on, lead-from-the-front management style and Racing To Excellence vision. While the university has been on a positive trajectory throughout the Burnim Administration’s tenure, Breaux came to the attention of the presidential search committee because of her 30 years’ experience, student-centered nature and goal-oriented energy. Her aggressive pursuit toward pushing the state and its business leaders to award a larger slice of the economic pie to BSU has already begun. The board at BSU wanted a tactical change agent and saw one in Breaux.
The county may be closing in on another first woman in the seat of county executive. Donna Edwards and Angela Alsobrooks are among the three front-runners for county executive along with C. Anthony Muse. Alsobrooks’ bold step to invite 1,000 women to a mid-week, midday event April 11 demonstrates her formidable pace in the campaign. From the podium, Alsobrooks told her story, which resembled the story of many other women: one of denied access for the women before her and their insistence that she be denied nothing.
There is a slow but solid changing of the guard in Prince George’s to one that is less patriarchal. In the interest of balance and an evolving community, it’s about time.