From Susan B. Anthony, one of the country’s most recognized women’s rights activists and Ruth E. Carter, an Oscar-nominated costume designer, to this year’s winner of NBC’s singing competition “The Voice,” Brynn Cartelli, women in Massachusetts have powerful stories to tell and many of those stories are shared in “The Power of Women.”
The book, authored and edited by Wayne E. Phaneuf, executive editor of The Republican, and historian Joseph Carvalho III, highlights influential women from the 1600s until present day. “This book was written mostly by women, for women and to women,” Phaneuf said, adding that 1,000 women are featured in the book. “This book celebrates what was a long and trying struggle (for equality) that lasted way too long.”
A launch party was held at The Log Cabin in Holyoke on Wednesday night to honor many of the women featured.
Cartelli, the youngest winner of “The Voice,” performed at the event. The singer, who edged out three fellow finalists to win $100,000 and a record deal, is the youngest woman featured in the book.
“It’s such an honor to be included in the book with all of these amazing women who are from around my hometown and I like to keep that close to me,” said Cartelli, who is working on her first album due for 2019. She is also getting ready to go on tour with Kelly Clarkson and country singer Kelsea Ballerini.
The tour will hit 28 states starting in January 2019 and will include stops in many states Cartelli has never visited. “I haven’t been to South Carolina, Arizona, Utah and to most of the Midwest. I’m just so excited. It’s going to be total girl power on the tour,” said Cartelli, who is a sophomore in high school and is now doing her schooling online.
Cartelli was introduced to the audience by Kathy Tobin, mistress of ceremonies for the event, and director of annual giving and events at Baystate Health. Tobin said Cartelli is still the same girl who participates at Rays of Hope every year and visits the Children’s Hospital to sing to the kids. “You haven’t changed,” Tobin said.
The event also included a speech by Elizabeth Cardona, the executive director for Multicultural Affairs, International Student Life, and assistant to the provost for Diversity and Inclusion, who also served as the senior director and civic engagement adviser to Governor Deval L. Patrick, was the keynote speaker. “I’m truly humbled to be here as we lift up these amazing honorees and celebrate the power of women,” she said. Cardona thanked the many powerful women who have shaped her life beginning with her mother, who she described as “‘ a force to be reckoned with,” and her Abuela (grandmother) who raised 15 children and was a survivor of sexual assault. “As a child, I was aware of the power of women. The early messages I received came from my Abuela, who taught me to be resourceful and that first impressions matter,” she said.
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., also sent in a video as she was unable to attend in person. “This November, a record number of women are stepping up to run for office at all levels. From women’s marches to the Me Too Movement, women are speaking out,” Warren said in the video. “We’re changing the country to make life better for all the girls who come after us.”
The book features women in education, social activism, politics, the arts, sports, and many other areas. Phaneuf said he and Carvalho reached out to women who were knowledgeable about a particular subject to write the introductions for each of the 20 chapters. “We had Jeanne Douillard, an author and wonderful historian write the introduction to the first chapter which is about women of the colonial era,” he said. “There are so many women who helped make this book a reality.” Tobin said she hopes will be used as a way to inspire future generations of women. “When I heard that ‘The Power of Women’ was coming out I thought how could they possibly do that? Tell all of the stories,” Tobin said. “When you open this book you will see a number of accomplished women from every field and every part of our rich history in the region…This book will be an inspiring resource for generations to come who will follow us and lead us into a great future.”