Apr. 26, 2021 --
Following up on his successful Black History Month forum, Vice President of Cleveland Heights City Council Kahlil Seren convened a group of powerful women and girls for a Women’s History Month forum on March 20.
Joining V.P. Seren were State Senator Sandra Williams, State Representative Janine Boyd, CH-UH Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby, CH-UH School Board Member Malia Lewis, and two district students: Heights High senior Zelda Thayer-Hansen and Monticello 7th grader Abby Burkle.
Each participant presented something that represents feminism to them, with both students sharing original artwork. Abby, who said the idea of the forum “was a little nerve-wracking at first, to be honest,” presented a drawing of a fist with many skin tones and a rainbow flag bracelet placed to look like a cross.
“This sketch speaks of feminism to me,” she told the group. “Anyone, any race, any gender, anyone can be a feminist.”
Zelda, who will study studio art and printmaking at Ohio University’s Honors Tutorial College as Class of 2025 Wilfred R. and Ann Lee Konneker College of Fine Arts Cutler Scholar, shared two mixed media pieces featuring inspirational Black women. The first, of Ella Baker, was for a school assignment during Black History Month, “but is completely applicable to Women’s History Month.”
The second portrait, more local and more personal, featured Taty Atkinson, a leader of Safer Heights
with whom Zelda is deeply involved. “It’s important that we highlight Black women in history. Black women and Black trans women have created so much of the gay and civil rights movements in history and continue to do so today,” Zelda said speaking of how inspired she is by Atkinson and fellow Safer Heights activist Kalia Michelle.
The young students were inspired by but also inspired the more established women on the panel. Representative Boyd commented on how she’s spent so many years learning from “so many feminist leaders of the past, but now I have the opportunity to learn from the younger generation.”