Texas Wisewomen Speak - Let me tell you what I've learned Review
By PJ Pierce
Tune In and Listen
Barbara Jordan spoke for many Texas women when she told a reporter, "I get from the soil and spirit of Texas the feeling that I, as an individual, can accomplish whatever I want to, and that there are no limits, that you can just keep going, just keep soaring. I like that spirit."
Jordan's spirit of limitless possibilities has inspired countless women. Freelance writer PJ Pierce captures this amazing spirit in her collection of interviews with Texas women, Texas Wisewomen Speak. Pierce interviews twenty-five Texas women ranging in age from 53 to 92. They share the wisdom they've acquired through living unconventional lives.
Some of the interviewees I knew, and some I did not. I found them all interesting people who I would like to know better. Pierce makes it a point to highlight their achievements, however the interviews themselves bring out more universal topics such as leadership, principles in life, influence of upbringing and the future.
Barbara Jordan reflects upon being the state's first black female senator in the Texas Legislature. Linda Ellerbee broke ground in the national broadcasting arena. Juliet Garcia and Diana Natalicio became two of only a handful of female university presidents in the United States. They speak proudly in their interviews on their model programs for minority students in higher education.
Kay Bailey Hutchison is today a leading figure in the United States Senate. She discusses her federal legislation to prosecute stalkers. Sarah Weddington, attorney, argued and won the Roe v. Wade case before the United States Supreme Court. Liz Carpenter organized and operated networks to pass the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s, after performing a distinguished career in the Presidential administration of Lyndon Johnson.
Pierce asks questions such as "what have you learned from your successes and mistakes," and has you Texas upbringing influenced your life.
Pierce writes in the book's forward:
In this book, their common theme is "What I have learned to be most important in life." All have the same intention: to share insights learned through decades of living so that generations coming behind them can profit from their experiences.
These female pioneers took paths not open to women in their time. And today they still look at life differently then most people do. They see what needs to be done and figure out a way to make it happen.
Pierce describes in her interview with Jody Conradt of her successful career in coaching college women's basketball. Conradt has been a catalyst in bringing the sport into serious popularity. Since she had no predecessors, other female coaches today look to her as a mentor.
Conradt grew up in the country town of Goldthwaite, Texas. Playing sports was a natural for her since her father coached Little League, and her mother played softball. In 1976, she took over the fledgling women's basketball program at the University of Texas in Austin. During her tenure she has turned the program into a national power, winning the 1986 NCAA National Championship, winning ten league titles and sending many players into the professional ranks.
University of Texas coach Jody Conradt's comments on Confrontation:
Teaching girls to confront their problems head on is something I deal with almost daily as a college coach. If a person can't confront, she can't move forward. Most girls have been socialized to be nonconfrontational. Instead of discussing the problem with a person she is having trouble with, a girl typically talks behind that person's back. But I encourage players to confront. It is in my personality to be to-the-point. I want to tackle the problem and fix it.
In her interview, Conradt discusses topics as: women's basketball then and now, coaching, teaching, setting goals, mentors, growing up in sports, and women's sports influencing society.
I found inspirations and interesting observations in this, as well as all twenty-four other interviews. This book makes an interesting text for a course in Women's Studies, but it also stands on its own with insightful looks into one of Texas's best characteristics - its women.
Carmen Lomas Garza - San Francisco, California (b. 1948, Kingsville)
Glenna Goodacre - Santa Fe, New Mexico (b. 1939, Lubbock)
Violette Newton - Beaumont, Texas (b. 1912, Alexandria, Louisiana)
Jody Conradt - Austin, Texas (b. 1941 Goldthwaite)
Barbara Jacket - Prairie View, TX (b. 1934, Port Arthur)
Attorneys / Judges:
Louise B. Raggio - Dallas (b. 1919, Manor, Texas)
Mary Lou Robinson - Amarillo (b. 1926, Dodge City, Kansas)
Sarah Weddington - Austin (b. 1945, Abilene, Texas)
Marj Carpenter - Brownsville (b. 1926, Mercedes, Texas)
Juliet Villarreal Garcia - Brownsville, Texas (b. 1949, Brownsville, Texas)
Amy Freeman Lee - San Antonio, Texas (b. 1914, San Antonio, Texas)
Diana Natalicio - El Paso, Texas (b. 1939, St. Louis, Missouri)
Guadalupe C. Quintanilla - Houston, Texas (b. 1937, Ojinaga, Chihuahua, Mexico)
Ninfa Laurenzo - Houston, Texas (b. 1924, Harlingen, Texas; d. 2001, Houston, Texas)
Pauline Durrett Robertson - Amarillo, Texas (b. 1922, Amarillo, Texas)
Liz Carpenter - Austin, Texas (b. 1920, Salado, Texas)
Linda Ellerbee - New York City, New York (b. 1944, Bryan, Texas)
Sarah McClendon - Washington, DC (b. 1910, Tyler, Texas)
Lawmakers and Political Officeholders:
Wilhelmina Delco - Austin, Texas (b. 1929, Chicago, Illinois)
Kay Bailey Hutchison - Dallas, Texas (b. 1943, Galveston, Texas)
Barbara Jordan - Austin, Texas (b. 1936; d. Austin, Texas)
Irma Rangel - Kingsville, Texas (b. 1931, Kingsville, Texas)
Ann Richards - Austin, Texas (b. 1933, Lakeview, Texas)
Judith Zaffirini - Laredo, Texas (b. 1946, Laredo, Texas)
Edith Irby Jones - Houston, Texas (b. 1927, Conway, Arkansas)
- Quotable Texas Women
by Susie Kelly Flatau and Lou Halsell Rodenberger
- Texas Wisewomen Speak
"Let me tell you what I've learned"
by PJ Pierce
- Start With A Laugh
by Liz Carpenter
- The Atheist: Madalyn Murray O'Hair
by Bryan F. LeBeau
- I'm Not Slowing Down
Winning My Battle with Osteoporosis
by Ann Richards