In 1984, a group of interested women, led by Jo Lloyd, Martha Whitehead and Peggy Coghlan, began to talk to the City Council about forming a commission for women. The Council was receptive, and in August of that year Mayor Mitch Henderson signed the Ordinance which created the Commission. Those first appointed to serve were Fain Williams, True Mann, Margaret Parker, Betty Lyn Collier, Dianne Farrar, Cissy Ward, Betty Jackson, Jan McBride, Lyndell Bright, Sandi Sachnowitz, Dianne Benton and ex officio members Martha Whitehead and Dr. Peggy Coghlan.
That same year, these women organized the first Women in Longview Day, with the Reverend Ruth Tiffany Barnhouse, MD, as keynote speaker. In the more than two decades since, other keynoters have included Linda Gale White, First Lady of Texas; the Honorable Kathy Whitmire, mayor of Houston; Sarah Weddington, Attorney, Roe v. Wade; Cathy Bonner, Director and Founder of the Women’s Museum; Xernona Clayton, Vice President for Urban Affairs with Turner Broadcasting Systems; and many others. A particular favorite was Longview’s own Julia Barron, who substituted for the late columnist Molly Ivins when she first became ill.
Women in Longview is a non-profit organization which plans and produces Women in Longview Day. The group gives scholarships to graduating seniors and adult women returning to college. Membership in the organization is open to anyone who wants to help.
In 1988, the event was held the third week of October to coincide with Women in Texas Week. That year, Women in Longview hosted the traveling exhibit called Women in Texas History, now on permanent display at Texas Woman’s University at Denton. Although there has not been another Women in Texas Week, the event continued to be held the third week of October for several years. It is now held the third Thursday in March during National Women’s History Month.
The primary purpose of Women in Longview is to celebrate the achievements and diversity of Longview’s outstanding women on a special day each year. Women in Longview Day is an event designed to encourage, inform, support and motivate women.
As women, we may differ politically, economically, and socially; but on this day we ignore those differences and come together with our common concerns. This is a time to learn and to remind ourselves that whatever our interests, we are more likely to achieve our goals by uniting our efforts.
Mary Siegfried, designed the “Three Sisters” artwork that has represented Women In Longview Day since she created it in 1991.
Copyright, Mary Siegfried, 1991
History of W.I.L.D.
(Women in Longview Day)