2024-07-19 10:28 AM

Guest Commentary: F.C. Women’s History Walk: An Event for Everyone

Communities and organizations across the United States are celebrating Women’s History Month, and Falls Church has a special event for the whole family: The Falls Church Women’s History Walk. If you aren’t already involved, consider this your heartfelt invitation to be part of it. There are many reasons to gather to celebrate history-making women, focus on wellness, and build community right here in Falls Church.

On Sunday, March 18 the mile-long walk will kick off at 4 p.m. outside the Falls Church Community Center. (It will follow the Town Hall Meeting that takes place inside at 2 p.m.) Participants can start anytime between 4 – 5 p.m., and enjoy the walk at their own pace. The “Herstory Stations” will be set up throughout the City and we will have a closing gathering at the Tinner Hill Historic Park at 5:15 p.m.

Despite our small size, Falls Church looms large in American history. Some of our predecessors made history that is written “in the books.” Others provide a unique window into historic events. Some of the names on the Women’s History Walk will be familiar to Falls Church residents because streets, buildings and schools are named for them. Some aren’t as familiar, but they are worth getting to know!

Women began making history in Falls Church before Colonial times. The first European settlement at Big Chimneys dates to 1699. We don’t know exactly who lived at the inn/trading post but we have to assume that at least one woman lived in the log house with big chimneys.

Falls Church has been home to noted abolitionists, educators, visionaries. Women who persisted. Women who made a difference. In 2017 at the inaugural walk, we recognized 20 women, and this year we are adding 20 more to the list.

Among the new honorees are:

• Marian Costner Selby, one of the first African American students to integrate George Mason High School and the first to graduate in 1964.

• Mildred Pope and Mary Madeline King, who led the charge to save Cherry Hill Farmhouse so that it became a renowned house museum, rather than an office building.

• Cay Wiant, a beloved George Mason High School teacher and artist.

Two of our Honorary Grand Marshals are:

• Mary White, a founding member of the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation, a community activist and and a leading member of Second Baptist Church, who has a key role in organizing monthly Moneyless Markets.

• Midge Wang, the heart of the Falls Church Victorian Society, preserving history and making it come alive through her leadership.

We will also recognize several women as “Modern Voices” who are taking action right now to address problems in the world and make a difference in our community, state and country.

There are big questions that each of us has to answer: What are you doing, today, to carry on the legacy of these women? What are you doing to make a difference in our local community and the world? How are you bridging the divide and getting to know people who aren’t in your usual circles? How are you making life better for others?

Everyday life has a way of overwhelming our dreams of doing something big (or small), and our polarized society makes it difficult to bridge the gap between people. We hope that events like the Women’s History Walk will provide the opportunity to think about bravery, determination, health, purpose, community, sisterhood in a way that empowers each person to make a difference for others.

While we discover history, we will also celebrate health and wellness. Taking a walk is one of the best things you can do for your body and mind. We hope this walk puts a spring in your step and inspires you to make history.

Everyone is invited – old, young, women and men, visitors from afar and neighbors around the corner. People in strollers and wheelchairs, those using skates, scooters and canes are all welcome.

The Women’s History Walk is presented by the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation and its board members Nikki Graves Henderson, Rebecca Stotts, and Irena Chambers; as well as the six women elected to office in Falls Church: Jody Acosta, Marybeth Connelly, Erin Gill, Letty Hardi, Shannon Litton, and Shawna Russell. Generous sponsors are Jazzercise and Citizens for A Better City. We are adding sponsors every day, so if you want to participate, we’d love to have you. We would also use a few volunteers to help along the walking route. Contact me at mbdoncon@gmail.com for information on being part of the Women’s History Walk. Sign up on the Facebook event page: Falls Church Women’s History Walk, to get previews, updates, maps and more.





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In Memoriam: Cathy Quinn

Catherine Garhart Quinn passed away peacefully on July 13, 2024. She was born in Sharon, PA on June 24, 1945, to Bernard and Anne Garhart.