CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va, (WFXR) — “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” These are the 37 words of Title IX, it was signed into law by President Richard Nixon on June 23, 1972. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of this important day, the Virginia High School League Thursday held a special event at the University of Virginia’s Alumni Hall to shine the spotlight on the lasting legacy and importance of Title IX.
“We have been celebrating since January 1. Because we have been tweeting out a pioneer of Title IX or a different event that has happened. Then I garnered a whole bunch of really enthusiastic female athletic directors and we have been meeting through zoom and that has been fun. Now we are able to see each other in person. But they have all have come together to plan this event and put it together,” said VHSL Director of Development Hannah Catherine Munro.
One athlete getting the honor to speak at this celebration is recent Glenvar star Carly Wilkes. Wilkes won 26 state titles in swimming, cross county, indoor and outdoor track. “I was super excited. I mean with this being such a big event. I was honored to be chosen to speak, I feel like I have a lot to say about it because like I mentioned I grew up being a female in sports and I am going to pursue this at the collegiate level so I feel like I can speak to this pretty well to get a full understanding of what this act allowed me to pursue,” said Glenvar H.S. Graduate/Class 2 Female Athlete of the Year Carly Wilkes.
During the event, a special panel discussion happened. Panel member Vivian Greene Brown shared her story as she is Norfolk State’s all time scorer in women’s basketball history. Greene Brown also played in the original Women’s Basketball League in the late 1970’s. It was the first women’s pro basketball league in the United States. “We were the beginning. I just want people to know that we were there. We were the pioneers. So don’t ever forget us. We were the stepping stone to the present,” Smithfield H.S. & Norfolk State University Graduate Vivian Greene Brown.
Panel moderator in UVA women’s basketball player Samantha Brunelle says she got a history lesson from the panel members. “It is very humbling to know that they are the reason why I get to do what I get to do. Playing Division I women’s basketball. Between having a bus to drive me up to a charter plane to take me to games. It was like they were in mini vans riding to games 10 hours away. Having a good nutrition staff. All of these great things that we kind of take for granted. We step back and think about wow, these are the women who laid that before us is why we can do what we can do now,” said Brunelle.
“I am just happy I had the opportunity today to share my story. It is a blessing to be among people that know that their steps were ordered by the Lord. I was in a room that I was able to talk to some people and to share my story and to let them know that we are doing something great for people that are going to come after us,” said Greene Brown.