GENEVA, N.Y. (WROC) — The National Women’s Hall of Fame returned to holding an in-person ceremony in Geneva for its newest class of inductees this year — highlighting local and nationally recognized women, including former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as the honorary chair.
During the induction into the Hall of Fame, this year’s class emphasized the world can be a better place for gender equality if we take more time to listen about the journeys of the women who worked to shape history and leave legacies for the next generation to learn.
Nine inductees were welcomed to this year’s class. Some, such as Octavia E. Butler, Emily Howland, and Katherine Johnson, had already passed away — but representatives accepted the awards on their behalf.
Katherine Johnson’s daughters were humble about her recognition — being a black woman helping NASA put a man on the moon.
“The first thing she’d say is what was all the fuss about I was just doing my job,” said Katherine Moore, the youngest daughter of Johnson. “But she also was very proud of everything she did at NASA. She knew that her work was valued.”
Some of the inductees had to join virtually, like former USA soccer star Mia Hamm, whose trail-blazing career gave women’s sports more funding and attention — motivating younger women in attendance to never shy away from the challenges they face today.
“Seeing her succeed as a female athlete I know I’m so grateful for her to pave the way for other female athletes,” said 15-year-old Ellie Teerlinck. “She played at a time when women weren’t viewed as good athletes. And still, now, women are doubted in the athletic field.”
Michelle Obama was another inductee who made a virtual appearance, but some who made it in person had close ties to New York such as General Rebecca Halstead of Willseyville — the first female graduate of West Point to attain General Office ranking.
“Character has no gender,” said General Halstead. “So what we’re really talking about is building men and women of character and competence so that they’re leading themselves with their heart and mind.”
While addressing the crowd, Hillary Clinton used the ceremony to motivate women everywhere to keep progress moving forward — referencing the overturning of Roe v. Wade as an example for women to get out and vote.
“It saddens and angers me that my granddaughter Charlotte may grow up in a world where she has fewer rights than my daughter Chelsea,” Clinton said. “But that also motivates me to keep going, keep fighting, keep standing up.”
Other inductees into the Hall of Fame include Judy Chicago, Joy Harjo, and Indra Nooyi.