Champagne flowed and a saxophone’s song set nearly everyone’s foot to tapping.
At 9 a.m., it was early for a dance, but that didn’t stop the party-goers who’d waited years for it.
Nearly 100 people gathered Saturday at Cavanaugh’s Inn at the Park to honor 15 women who cleared a path for African-Americans in Spokane.
“This morning, it is important to recognize these women who had the courage to step forward in a society that has not recognized their talents before,” said V. Anne Smith.
Smith is president of the Spokane chapter of Links, the international women’s civic organization that sponsored the event.
These women were the first to work in construction, graduate from Eastern Washington University, serve as president of the Garden Club and counsel college students.
They wrote for newspapers, excelled at business, ran for office and started a day-care center.
Their achievements can be seen everywhere, Smith said. “They were the first to fight against race, gender, everything. They’re our role models.”
Said Links member Fannie Bush, “This is not a celebration to elevate or lower or alienate any segment of society. This is an opportunity to savor the triumphs of the human spirit.”
With a honey-coated voice that soothed her listeners’ ears, Bush told tales of African-American women who changed the world with their preaching, their writing, their music, their strength.
From Sojourner Truth, who railed against slavery in the 1850s, to Rosa Parks, whose bus ride home helped sparked a civil rights movement. From Pulitzer Prize winning author Toni Morrison to Olympic athlete Florence Griffith Joyner.
“Like an African-American Express Card, I’m everywhere you want me to be,” Bush said of her “courageous and determined sisters.”
Links - symbolic of the chains that unite people - organizes programs that encourage young people to stay in school and attend college. Members work to develop students’ cultural interests by taking them to the symphony, the theater and other arts events.
“We’re a quiet group, but we’ve helped a lot of young people,” said member Inez Chubb.
Saturday’s celebration of the women’s accomplishments may have been a first, but it won’t be the last, Chubb said.
“If this carries off, we’ll do something like this each year,” she said.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 photos
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: WOMEN HONORED BY LINKS Women honored Saturday by Links include: Bernice Adams, musician. Joyce Bobb-itt, school board member. Eleanor Chase, social worker. Selma Clark, senior advocate. Willie Earthman, construction. Frances Freeman, Garden Club president. Sarah Gardner, cosmetologist. Roberta Greene, businesswoman Valaray Irvin, counselor. Charlene Kay, engineer. Pauline Lake, bailiff. Jennifer Roseman, journalist. Frances Scott, attorney. Lydia Sims, city government. Marjorie Wellington, education.