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24 women who shaped the North Coast

During Women’s History Month, we honor the strong women who have shaped our country. But the movement to celebrate our female leaders first began here in Santa Rosa, with Sonoma County’s first Women’s History Week 38 years ago.

It was thanks to the efforts of educator Molly Murphy MacGregor, who saw a severe lack of curriculum highlighting the achievements of women and sought to change that.

“Women’s history transformed me,” MacGregor said. “It gave me a sense of confidence and made me feel connected to everyone. I believe it can transform others. If women know how strong, brave and bold other women have been, they can feel that way, too. And if men know how strong, brave and bold women have been, they will feel more respect for women.”

In March of 1978, Sonoma County school administrators proclaimed the first Women’s History Week. The press caught on and, following a Ms. magazine article on MacGregor’s success, schools across the nation worked to duplicate her efforts.

By 1980, through presidential proclamation, the week of March 8th was declared national Women’s History Week.

But MacGregor had a grander vision. She and others petitioned Congress to designate the entire month of March as Women’s History Month and, in 1987, they succeeded.

This gallery highlights the achievements of MacGregor and some of the amazing women who have shaped the North Coast past and present, from Grace Hudson’s realistic portraits of Pomo Indian life to Alicia Sanchez’s continued efforts to improve the lives of immigrant laborers. These are but a few of the strong females whose lasting contributions to our community continue to resonate today.

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