Thousands of years ago, our Creator had a divine thought: to give to man a "help-meet." Our God knew that man could not do the job by himself. He needed someone else to help meet humanity's needs--and God's.

This brilliant innovation was woman.

The book of Genesis tells us that she was created out of one of man's ribs (Genesis 2:21-22). I believe this was a strategic idea in order for woman to have her rightful place in this world. God did not choose a piece of Adam's head, so that woman would be over him; nor did He select a piece from Adam's foot, so that he would step on her. Rather, our loving Creator chose man's rib, so that woman was taken from his side--to be his equal...from under his arm--to be protected by him...and from near his heart--to be loved by him.

But this column is about women's plight--because it is a shame that it has taken from the beginning of time until today for this divine thought to become reality.

I have said many times in my life, "Woman, thou art loosed" to countless thousands in person, or via print or satellite, and this has not been in vain. I say it as a reminder, and as a way to give memory to the social, cultural, and political matriarchs of our era, and of eras past. They have given today's woman liberty to be loosed--not just loosed from a spiritual ribcage but from eons of oppressive thought and bias that has echoed in their ears: "You can't do that as well as I can. You are a woman."

From Sarah to the Virgin Mary, from Sojourner Truth to Harriet Tubman, from Susan B. Anthony to Ida B. Wells-Barnett, women have achieved important accomplishments. They have had to conquer myths of their inadequacies and strive for an equality that God intended for them all along. This reality largely exists now, but do many of us take time to consider the risks of many courageous women? In light of Women's History Month, I think we should take that trip back in time to remember what they endured.

When most children discuss brave women, usually they talk about their mothers; however, have any of them been taught about their ancestral motherhood?

Sarah was a dear 90-year-old woman, thought by many to be destitute and decrepit. Had she listened to the gossip from people, much less from her husband, we would not even know about her today. Yet, since she dared to believe that she still had an ounce of life in her, we know her as the wife of Abraham, mother of Isaac, and matriarch of a nation.

Perhaps children could be reminded of another mother more than once a year. This mother was an impressionable young person who loved God. Unmarried, untouched, and unaware of her destiny, Mary is known as the sole human responsible for our Lord Jesus. Due to her obedience and diligence, we esteem and read about her today.

Hundreds of years later, women were considered unequal and three-fifths of a person. But to be a black woman during America's first two centuries was double jeopardy because not only were you a victim of color but also of gender. Hunted by slave owners and slaves, persecuted by blacks and whites, these mighty women carried more than their share of life's troubles; they worried about themselves, their children, their family, and their people.

I think of a runaway slave from New York who worked as a domestic for several religious communes. In 1843, this fugitive named Isabella Baumfree was so inspired by a spiritual revelation that she changed her name to Sojourner Truth and began to walk through Long Island and Connecticut preaching God's Word and His plan for salvation. By 1850, she met with Fredrick Douglass and Olive Gilbert and added abolitionism and women's suffrage to her oratory--shouting as loud as she could about civil and spiritual rights for all of God's people.

Another brave woman, named Ariminta Ross, came to be known as the "Moses of her people." Through her own blood, sweat, and tears, she helped create a rigorously secret route that brought hundreds of Southern slaves to their freedom in the North. More commonly known as Harriet Tubman, she should not only be remembered as the engineer of the Underground Railroad but as a matriarch to all freed slaves and those today who know of this trek as just a fading memory.

Throughout the ages, women have struggled to have a voice. Had it not been for Susan B. Anthony paving the way, women all over America would not have urged passage of the 19th Amendment, giving them the right to vote, and would not today walk in liberty. Anthony's famous clarion call was "Failure Is Impossible."

A woman who believed that notion was Ida B. Wells-Barnett, born just months before the Emancipation Proclamation. In spite of political hardship, cultural bias, and social prejudice, Wells-Barnett formed the Women's Era Club, which was the first civic organization for African-American women. However, her most important action came as the 19th century turned to the 20th. She encountered lynching and riots personally and decided to take a stand. In 1909, she was asked to be a member of the "Committee of 40," which then established the groundwork for an organization now known as the NAACP--the oldest civil rights organization in America.

These women are icons--but they are also surrogate mothers to millions. Whether you were born in affluence or poverty, whether you have been kept down in spite of a male hand or slapped down because of one--my sister, my friend, I have a word for you.

The list of the women throughout time who have fought for your freedom is endless. If you are a wife, a mother, a daughter, or a friend, the next time you hear a child speaking of great women, you will innately have a scroll of enlightenment to pass on, and a legacy to carry on. You do not have to be born a Joan of Arc or a Catherine the Great to have a voice. You do not have to be born a Mother Teresa or an Indira Gandhi to make your life count. All you need is a light. That light, if placed on the right soul, will be a towering beacon for your generation.

Behind every great man, myth, or movement, there is always a stately woman...and behind every heroic woman, there has always been a mighty God. Woman, Thou Art Loosed!

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