In 1977, the event we now celebrate as National Women’s History Month began as a local celebration of Women’s History Week in the schools of Sonoma County, California. By 1980, the idea spread nationwide. The National Women’s History Project was created in California and President Jimmy Carter issued a National Women’s History Week Proclamation.
By 1986 many schools and communities had expanded their Women’s History Week celebration to an entire month. This resulted in Congress passing a resolution designating March of every year as National Women’s History Month. This resolution continues to be reaffirmed by the Congress on a biennial basis. Today, schools and organizations throughout the land conduct educational and celebratory activities to highlight the contributions women have made to the development of our country.
At Cerritos College, Maureen May, Re-Entry Resource Specialist and Gender Equity Coordinator, initiated the Women’s History Month program in 1987. The program that year was a week-long celebration which was expanded the following year to a month-long program. May spent 10 years coordinating this celebration until her retirement in 1996. Because of her vision and dedication, the institution continues to preserve the legacy. The grassroots movement also led to Cerritos College becoming the first community college in California to offer an Associate of Arts Degree in Women’s Studies.