Examining the impact of ‘37 words that changed America’

Mary Carillo, a tennis champion who broke barriers to cover men’s sports and is widely regarded as one of the nation’s best athletes, and Northwestern alumna Katrina Adams ’89, the first African American president and CEO of the United States Tennis Association (USTA) . , who won the NCAA doubles title with partner Diane Donnelly in 1987, yesterday shared her personal experiences as a woman who came of age at the time of the passage of Title IX in 1972.

At Northwestern’s inaugural “Title IX at 50” event, they highlighted the importance of knowing the history of Title IX and talked about the ongoing efforts to achieve a level of equality for women — on and off the court.

“In 2021, Title IX is the only law of any kind that gives women equality. The only one,” said Medill professor Melissa Isaacson, lead organizer of “Title IX at 50,” which continues today and tomorrow. Isaacson moderated what was, at times, a comedic conversation with Adams and Carillo in front of a packed house in Galvin. Bienen’s Recital Hall, which attracted University leaders, scholars, athletes, advocates, players, coaches and more from the Northwest and beyond.

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To see the full schedule of events, visit “Title IX at 50: Past. Present. Future.”

Northwestern President Michael Schill “bragged” to the audience about the fact that of Northwestern’s 19 athletic teams, 11 are women’s teams, with 248 student-athletes, who were “nothing short of spectacular.” He noted several historical records, including field hockey, lacrosse, tennis, softball and basketball.

While president of the University of Oregon, Schill attended most of the women’s basketball games. The women’s team, he said, captured the ideal of college athletics with players driven by a love of the sport, their school and their teammates.

In his welcoming remarks, Charles Whitaker, dean of the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, acknowledged the progress made since the passage of Title IX.

“But make no bones about it, we still have a long way to go,” he said. “We have glass ceilings left to break, but I’m excited to come together this weekend to reflect on the progress that’s been made, and I look forward to celebrating the remaining barriers to full equality that will fall, hopefully within a lifetime.” me, though I am old.”

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A Black woman from the West Side of Chicago, whose parents were from Mississippi and chose not to talk much about race in their home, Adams’ most eye-opening experience with inequality came with the realization that she could a champion

“Our sport, the sport of tennis, taught me I was going to be a minority,” Adams said, recalling major tournaments where he was the only black player. He talked about his most recent experience on the business side of tennis, as often the only person of color.

“When I took over at the USTA, I knew I had to be twice as good, I knew I had to represent, and I knew all eyes were on me,” he said. “I never had a hair out of place, and I still don’t.”

When Carillo, a self-proclaimed tomboy, was young, tennis was the only sport you could occasionally see women playing on television. He grew up three blocks away from John McEnroe in Queens, New York, where the two played tennis as children. When Carillo was 11 and McEnroe was 9, he started losing matches.

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Oh dear for his storytelling prowess and raw authenticity, Carillo talked about the importance of having “male sponsors” as he built his sports career in what remains, in many ways, male-dominated.

“I got all my breaks from men because they were the ones in power,” Carillo said, with a nod to the vastly improved representation of women in her field, which allows women to lean on other women.

Adams added: “It’s so important that we as women are reaching back. Too often we break ourselves because we don’t want someone to take our place.” Speakers praised today’s female athletes for continuing their work to level the playing field.

President Schill, a Yale-trained lawyer and longtime legal scholar and university administrator, read the full text of Title IX — only 37 words in all.

“This law, sometimes called the ’37 words that changed America,’ has had an amazing impact,” he said.

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