Women's Equality Day luncheon set
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- In 1920, the Woman Suffrage Amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution, giving U.S. women the right to vote.

In the 90 years since, women have accomplished many "firsts" in their fight for equality, from Amelia Earhart's solo flight across the Atlantic to Effa Manley's election to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

In September 2009, one of Fort Jackson's own Soldiers made history as she became the first female commandant of the Drill Sergeant School here.

In honor of the passage of the 19th Amendment, and of the many accomplishments of American women, Command Sgt. Maj. Teresa King will share how she went from being a sharecropper's daughter to becoming one of the most successful women to serve in the military.

As the guest speaker for Fort Jackson's 2010 Women's Equality Day Luncheon Tuesday, King will tell her story of how a little girl living "in the middle of nowhere" in rural North Carolina was able to grow up in the Army and become a leader among leaders.

"I want people to know how Teresa King evolved - not just Command Sergeant Major - I'm talking about Teresa Lynn King," she said.

King, born the eighth of 12 children, enlisted in the Army in 1980 right out of high school. She said she had been inspired to join when, as a teenager, she visited Fort Bragg and saw a female paratrooper.

"I didn't know her name, but she looked so disciplined," King said. "I saw her standing with her red beret and I thought, 'I want to do that.'"

In the Army, King learned from many role models and mentors who helped her thrive during her 30-year career.

"They are the reason I'm here," King said. "The Soldiers and leaders who gave me opportunities helped get me to where I am, because the Army is an organization that doesn't just see where you are, but where you can go."

She said that as long as Soldiers have the ability to enforce standards and motivate others - people don't really care if they are men or women.

"As long as you have those abilities and people have confidence in your leadership, you will earn leadership positions."

Laura Freeman, who is helping coordinate the luncheon, said it is important to honor King, and the many women like her who have made great strides for women's equality.

"She's Command Sgt. Maj. 'No-Slack' King," Freeman said. "She's a woman who has made it without any expectations of ever having been given a helping hand. She did it her way on her own."

It's important to honor her, as well as to show our gratitude to the pioneers who fought for our right to vote," she said. "There are still places in this world where women have no rights - they can't vote, they can't drive or go to school. Life is tough, very hard, still, for women around the world."

Freeman works with DENTAC, which is co-hosting the event with the Equal Employment Opportunity Office.

The luncheon is scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Tuesday at the Officers' Club. Tickets cost $9.25 and can be purchased at the door.

For more information, call 751-7163 or 751-6213.