11 to be Enshrined in Women’s Hall of Fame in NY

BillieSinger Billie?Holiday, educator Donna Shalala and civil rights champion Coretta Scott King will be enshrined with eight others in the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

The 2011 honor roll, unveiled Tuesday, includes Barbara Mikulski, the longest-serving woman in the history of the U.S. Senate, and Lilly Ledbetter, an Alabama woman whose lawsuit against Goodyear sparked a pay equity act in Congress.

The 11 women will be inducted at an Oct. 1 ceremony in Seneca Falls, a western New York village where the first known women’s rights convention was held. Established in 1969, the hall acclaims women who have made valuable contributions to society and especially to the freedom of women.

“Each of these women have demonstrated fortitude, perseverance, intelligence and hope,” said the hall’s executive director, Christine Moulton. “Their experiences provide both an example for each of us to emulate and a challenge for each of us to embrace.”

Holiday’s soulful voice spoke of triumph and injustice, from her signature tune “God Bless the Child” to “Strange Fruit,” a ballad condemning lynching, which she recorded in 1939. She died in 1959 at age 44.

Four other women being honored posthumously are King, the widow of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.; early suffragist Abby Kelley Foster; beatified missionary St. Katharine Drexel; and Dorothy Harrison Eustis, co-founder in 1929 of the nation’s first dog-guide school for the blind.

Shalala, now the president of the University of Miami, was the longest-serving secretary of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, from 1993 to 2001.

Fellow honorees include chemist Helen Murray Free, nurse practitioner pioneer Dr. Loretta C. Ford and Emmy Award-winning television commentator Kathrine Switzer, who in 1967 became the first official female competitor in the Boston Marathon.

In all, 247 women have been selected by a national committee of judges over the last 42 years, from women’s rights pioneer Susan B. Anthony to sports icon Mildred “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias.

Source: The Associated Press