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Syracuse Speaks: Women's History Month Special

Women lining up for parade, one with baby and carriage, others dressed in white and wearing sashes "Votes for women" and carrying flags and banner.
Youngest parader in New York City suffragist parade, 1912 May 4, c1912 May 6.

Central New York and the entire United States has just commemorated Women's History Month, intended to recognize the remarkable contributions of women to history, culture, and society.

In this episode of Syracuse Speaks, the evolution of how we address domestic violence and the woman behind a project to transform part of Syracuse's Southside. Also, meet the author of a book that addresses climate crisis as she tells a narrative about A I, as well as how Syracuse observes and celebrates Jeannete Epps's journey into space.

Since its inception in 1987, Women's History Month has helped highlight the often-overlooked achievements of women, from the nation’s founding mothers to the contemporary leaders shaping the future. The origins trace back to a weeklong celebration in a California school district, in 1978, which eventually gained national recognition and led to the establishment of Women's History Month by Congress nine years later.

The month includes International Women's Day (March 8), a global celebration of women's economic, political, and social achievements that, according to the United Nations, was inspired by the first National Women’s Day in the U.S. in 1909, in commemoration of a strike by female garment workers in New York City, over their working conditions. Interestingly, International Women’s Day is celebrated much more in Europe and other parts of the world than it is in the U.S. Each year, the National Women's History Alliance designates a theme for Women's History Month. The 2024 theme, "Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion," celebrates women who champion the elimination of bias and discrimination from all facets of life.

Segment 1: Evolutions in Domestic Abuse Perception and Prevention
Women comprise the majority of victims of domestic violence (DV), which only became acknowledged as a federal crime in the U.S. in the mid-1990s; historically speaking, very, very recently. In this segment, Syracuse Speaks talks to Sidney Germinio, who heads Family Services at the Syracuse Salvation Army, which offers numerous emergency and long-term services to survivors of domestic and intimate partner violence, arguably the most prevalent violent crimes, locally as around the globe. Germinio discusses the significant evolutions that have taken place in abuse perception and prevention since the 1990s, and the role that social and news media itself can play in exacerbating the problems – as well as creative ways they can help increase prevention.

Segment 2: Syracuse's Southside Renaissance Project
The area just south of downtown Syracuse is seeing a rebirth after decades of disinvestment. JMA wireless located a factory and headquarters on the former Coyne Textile site. Next door, Syracuse Community Health Center recently opened its new campus. A little more than a mile to the south, President and CEO of the Women’s Economic Institute Charlene Tarver has proposed the 30-million-dollar Southside Renaissance Project on South Avenue between Eastman and Colvin Streets. It’s not far from where she grew up, and closely resembles the “micro-community” or “town center” mixed-use model being pushed by Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon. Yet, more than two years after the project was first proposed, she says challenges remain to raising the funding needed to get it off the ground. WAER’s Scott Willis talks with Tarver about the importance of the project, its hurdles, and how she hopes the development will address many of the issues facing south side residents.

Segment 3: Celebrating Women in Space
In another segment, Syracuse Speaks highlights the groundbreaking achievements of Dr. Jeanette Epps, a Syracuse native and astronaut currently serving on a long-duration space mission. Epps, who graduated from Corcoran High School and LeMoyne College, is making history as only the second black woman to carry out such a mission. Her journey inspires students in the Syracuse City School district and LeMoyne College, emphasizing the importance of representation and diversity in STEM fields.

Segment 4: Exploring a Post-Apocalyptic Debut Novel
Listeners of Syracuse Speaks, prepare to be captivated by the post-apocalyptic debut novel "Afterworld" by Syracuse-based author Debbie Urbanski. The novel explores themes of climate change, artificial intelligence, and the resilience of humanity in the face of environmental collapse. Urbanski's unique narrative style, which almost reads like a scientific journal, offers a thought-provoking perspective on the future of our planet and the role of AI.

Syracuse Speaks hopes to encourage listeners to engage in conversations around impactful topics of interest. Through engaging discussions and thought-provoking interviews, this podcast is intended to spark dialogue and action, ensuring that the legacy of women's resilience, courage, and determination continues to shape our future.

Bob Beck, a veteran media professional, currently serves as a part-time editor/host at WAER Public Radio and an adjunct professor at Syracuse University. Beck retired as News Director at Wyoming Public Radio in 2022 after 34 years. During his time, Beck won 5 regional Edward R. Murrow awards and 5 Public Media Journalists Association awards for reporting. He also won 11 PMJA awards for the news and public affairs program Open Spaces. He was awarded the Wyoming School Bell award for education reporting and was part of two Emmy Award winning television productions. You can find him on X under the name @butterbob.<br/><br/><br/>
Kat is WAER's anchor/producer delivering local news content and hosting NPR's "All Things Considered."
Natasha Senjanovic teaches radio broadcasting at the Newhouse School while overseeing student journalists at WAER and creating original reporting for the station. She can also be heard hosting All Things Considered some weekday afternoons.
John Smith has been waking up WAER listeners for a long time as our Local Co-Host of Morning Edition with timely news and information, working alongside student Sportscasters from the Newhouse School.
Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at