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Janus Adams: A Woman Making History

March 28, 2010

In recognition of the 30th anniversary of Women’s History Month, Women’s Media Center is profiling 30 extraordinary women making history. Our goal is to raise $10,000 to support WMC Exclusives — every dollar raised will go directly toward hiring women writers to comment on major news stories and report topics often neglected by the mainstream media. Will you contribute $30?
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Janus Adams: A Woman Making History

By Becca Stanger

“I’m a woman.  Phenomenally.  Phenomenal woman.  That’s me.”

More than any floral dress or pair of delicate heels or vibrant lipstick, Maya Angelou’s stirring words in her poem “Phenomenal Woman” have always filled me with immense pride as a woman.  With confidence and pleasure in her femininity, Angelou embraces womanhood’s strength, inspiring me to do the same.  I feel a similar sense of pride when hearing of Janus Adams’ life work.

Janus Adams has made a career out of speaking for the unspoken.  An Emmy-winning journalist, historian, producer, talk show host, and publisher, Janus Adams is the author of nine books, including the Glory Days trilogy on African American history and culture.   She is also the creator of the highly acclaimed BackPax children’s book-and-audio series – a project born from her desire to offer her daughters “non-racist, gender-inclusive materials.”  Adams writes a syndicated column titled “What Do We Tell Our Children,” regularly offers commentary on NPR, and writes op-eds featured on and in USA Today.  If that weren’t enough, Janus Adams was one of the four children selected to end New York City’s de facto segregation in elementary schools.  A classically trained pianist, Adams earned the nation’s first graduate degree in Black Studies when she graduated with a Masters in Pan-African Culture.  For her impressive accomplishments helping those in need, Adams was selected as a participant in the Women’s Media Center’s Progressive Women’s Voices program.

Janus Adam’s professional accomplishments as well as her commitment to children, women, caregivers, and black Americans inspires me. Besides blowing past the barriers of oppression, Adams has wielded her success for good, fighting for social justice for all. As Adams explained in an interview with The Byline Blog:

“I came upon a book of African American women’s history with a title that put all that nonsense [racism and sexism] into perspective:  All the Women are White, All the Blacks are Men, But Some of Us are Brave. When I can’t be brave, or forget how, I ‘whistle a happy tune’ and put on something outrageously red.”

Janus Adams’ courage and outrageously red choices allows her to continue fighting for the social underclass.  Like Maya Angelou’s poetry, Janus Adams’ dedication to and pride in this underclass instills me with a strong sense of pride as a woman.  I am proud to have a woman like Janus Adams changing the course of history by speaking for the unspoken.