Chalking event celebrates Women’s History Month by recognizing local leaders

Chalk drawing of a flowers around the word, "Women."

Students and others across campus participated in a chalking event to commemorate Women’s History Month in the Quad at UMSL. (Photos by Wendy Todd)

Student-based organization Artists Anonymous held the second annual Women Leaders Then & Now In Chalk event to commemorate Women’s History Month at the University of Missouri–St. Louis.

Initiated by the Pierre Laclede Honors College in partnership with departments and student organizations across campus, the event invited anyone who wanted to highlight a woman significant to history or even in their own lives in chalk on the Quad.

Participants were given the name of a St. Louis woman who made history and were encouraged to have fun creating their tribute.

Rob Wilson, assistant teaching professor and community engagement coordinator at the Honors College, explained the origins of the event.

“We created the event because there was a chalking event that’s about the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire that happened way back in New York City,” he said. “A woman started doing a chalking to commemorate all the people that died. So they go out every year on the anniversary and they put their names down of all these immigrants that died to remember them in front of the places that have lived. So I got inspired by that.

“I thought why don’t we do a Women’s History Month thing, and we’ll just get women from St. Louis that a lot of people may or may not have known. We can celebrate women with music and art and history altogether.”

For Ayiana O’Neal, a junior majoring in secondary education with an emphasis in social studies, participating in the chalking sparked nostalgic memories. She “chalked” about Hannah Hennessey, who founded the St. Louis Women’s Trade Union League in 1907.

Ayiana O’Neal does a “chalking” of Hannah Hennessey, who founded the St. Louis Women’s Trade Union League in 1907.

“This is the first time I’ve seen this event out here,” she said. “I used to love chalk as a kid, so it kind of just brought back some childhood memories. But I also think it’s pretty cool to do something like this, especially during Women’s History Month. I didn’t even know who Hannah Hennessey was until today. And then just seeing all the different names, different designs that people have drawn out in the Quad – I just think it’s really cool.”

Ian Eldridge a podcaster and rock ‘n’ roll fan, participated in the event and celebrated musician Lilith Czar.

“She’s a huge inspiration for people everywhere, and she rocks,” the senior English major said. “Every day I feel like less and less people celebrate the art form known as rock ‘n’ roll. I feel like she is fighting for feminism and equal rights for women and just keeping rock ‘n’ roll going.”

Avery Temple, a junior majoring in early childhood education with an emphasis in special education, enjoyed being out on a sunny day learning about historical women with her friends.

“I like this type of event,” she said. “It was cool to see some different names from Missouri specifically. Researching the different people and talking to my friends about, ‘Oh, who did you get?’ It’s kind of a game to pick somebody new.”

There were others who celebrated their moms and other women who inspired them in chalk.

A student made a tribute to her mother.

Eldridge thought the event was a great way to engage the UMSL campus.

“Seriously, I feel like this kind of involvement is just incredible for UMSL, especially a school that isn’t necessarily known for big and crazy campus life,” he said. “This was nice. This was really cool.”


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