BY BRIA BAYLOR
Women’s History Month at Salisbury University was kicked off with a lecture by Mitzi Perdue, a powerful civic leader and philanthropist.
In the lecture, Perdue most prominently spoke of her authorship of her most recent book, “Tough Man, Tender Chicken: Business & Life Lessons from Frank.” The book, a biographical work of her late husband Franklin Perdue, reached No. 6 in the rankings for business biographies.
Perdue spoke in great length about the success of her husband, but she also spoke about her own success, as well.
Prior to the publishing of “Tough Man, Tender Chicken” she had written four books. In addition to her literary success, Perdue acts as the corresponding editor for the Academy of Women’s Health and for Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN).
She manages the philanthropy column for The Salisbury Daily Times, as well, where she presents a weekly spotlight of a local charity, sharing the needs of the charity to the public and giving “the public pat on the back to the charity’s staff and volunteers”.
Perdue has written over 1,600 articles as a national columnist for 22 years as well as produced more than 400 half-hour shows as a television hostess and producer.
She’s a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, the Women’s Day Magazine “Women Who Inspire Us Award” and the President’s Award from the Maryland State Medical Society for “Bettering the Health Care of Maryland Citizens.”
Perdue says that she lives by her motto, “success is not measured by what you can get, but what you can give.”
“Mitzi Perdue shared some of her own story, about how she achieved her own success in communications, art history professor Victoria Pass said. “She spoke to the importance of having a community of other women supporting you in your endeavors, and to me that reflects the importance of Women’s History Month.”
Perdue shared insights in both her failures and those of her husband. She made it clear that even in the midst of many successes, it is probable to still encounter some failure. To end her lecture, Perdue shared her path from timidity to being an open speaker.
“For the first 35 years of my life, I hadn’t done much with my education or career,” Perdue said. “I was a rice farm owner for many years. It was great because for eight hours, I’d tend to the crops and didn’t have to communicate much.”
Following the lecture was a reception held in Great Hall of Holloway Hall. The audience was able to meet with Perdue and purchase a copy of her book. $7.50 of each book purchase was given back to the Salisbury Community in support of Salisbury University Center of Education.
“(Women’s History Month is) a time when we celebrate the diverse lives and stories of women because those stories are the ones that inspire the next generation to go further, take bigger risks and imagine even bigger possibilities,” Pass said. “Just like the women Perdue spoke about in her public speaking class, these women buck us up, and encourage us to take on ever bigger challenges.”
The SU community will host multiple events on campus in honor of Women’s History month including Lunafest: Short Films By, For About Women, on March 8, Motivational Leadership Speaker Neen James on March 10, a film viewing of The Pill on March 25, Women’s History in the Making Panel on March 26 and a “Weaving the Story of Women’s Lives” exhibition.
“I am most looking forward to our ‘Women’s History in the Making Panel’ on March 26th,” Chairman of the Women’s History Month Committee Kara French said. “We have a great combination of guest panelists and people from SU who will be talking about the issues facing women and how women are making history now.”
At the panel, the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision, HIV/AIDS activism, SU’s promotion of gender equality and a student’s experience as a transgender woman will be discussed.
“Women’s History Month is important because so often we are ignorant of the contributions women have made to history, as well as their struggles and challenges,” French said. “We get role models from the past who can inspire us in the present to make a better, more equitable future. Those role models are not just important for women, they are important for everyone.”