Think you know your stuff when it comes to women’s issues and the equal rights movement? So did we. But it seems there is plenty to learn and be moved by on Equality Archive, a comprehensive new Open Educational Resource helmed by Dr. Shelly Eversley, an associate professor of English at Baruch College in Manhattan. The site’s goal is to fill in the documentation gaps that have led to a "historical memory loss" of women's roles in history. "I’m a teacher and I’m a feminist who likes lipstick, who likes to wear high heels, and I’m also committed politically," Dr. Eversley, who specializes in African-American literature, gender, and sexuality studies, says in a phone interview with Refinery29. "Equality Archive has emerged to provide people access to fact-based, high-quality, accessible information. And this information is powerful, because our thoughts determine our actions, and our thinking determines our behavior. How you think decides how you move."
Equality Archive launched this week, with about 80 entries penned by more than 25 feminists who are all writers, teachers, and activist — some with PhDs. "They’re all volunteers and they’re very specialized," Eversley insists. "They know their shit!" The project originated from a conversation with Eversley’s colleague Michelle Habell-Pallan, with whom she edited the journal Women’s Studies Quarterly for the Feminist Press. "We were discussing the various movements that led up to the Equal Rights Amendment [ERA], which passed in 1972, yet failed to be ratified by 1979," Eversley recalls. "I was struck by how much I didn’t know, considering I am a feminist with a PhD." If you don't know, the Equal Rights Amendment is short — just 24 words — and says that no one should be discriminated against under the law and that women deserve equal protections under the law. It still hasn’t been passed into law. On Equality Archive, expect to find engaging writing on a spectrum of gender-centric topics, including community organizing, women’s health, immigration, trans identity, and the continuation of rape culture. One piece is about female orgasms and women’s pleasure, while another is about protests over the Miss America Pageant. Yet another addresses eco-feminism. Thankfully, these aren’t dry entries; they’re applicable and inclusive. They invite everyone to chew on issues that speak to the heart of being human today. Dr. Eversley explains why she would put the time into this painstaking endeavor, saying, "I didn’t have role models when I was getting my education," she says. "I’m a Black woman professor who never had a Black woman professor. There are more now, sure, but when I was studying at Columbia and Johns Hopkins, there weren’t any. Sure, there were some books...but that example was never up-close for me." With Equality Archive, equal rights pioneers like Shirley Chisholm, the first Black female presidential candidate (1972), and Title 9 champion Billie Jean King, are getting some long-overdue attention. While Dr. Eversley may have had to search far and wide for someone to look up to in her younger years, today, we can look up to her. Talk about a role model for a new generation!