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Women share stories of discrimination at League of Woman Voters event

March 11, 2012|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com
  • Jeanne Jacobs speaks at the Hagerstown Women's Club on Sunday.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

Former Hagerstown Police Department officer Margaret Kline talked about having a larger-than-usual amount of clerical work when she was hired as the city’s first female beat officer.

Former Hagerstown City Council member Alesia Parson-McBean talked about going to a predominantly black beach in Florida as a youngster.

Jeanne Jacobs related seeing Jews being deported from France during the Nazi occupation of the country, and teacher Diane Macklin recalled her experiences being a black teacher.

The four women spoke during a League of Women Voters of Washington County event focusing on discrimination Sunday afternoon about issues they faced in life.

The event at The Women’s Club at 31 S. Prospect St. was the third year for the speaking series. The first two years focused on women’s equality, said group President Barbara Rice.

Kline said she was hired as a police cadet in 1974 for the Hagerstown Police Department and remembered at one point being given a skirt as part of her outfit. She also recalled being given more clerical work than male officers.

“Back then, I didn’t think a whole lot about it,” Kline said.

Today, less than 10 percent of the city police department’s officers are female, Kline said.

“I do feel we are underrepresented,” said Kline, adding that females bring advantages to a police job like being good problem solvers.

Parson-McBean said she used to go to a section of Pensacola Beach referred to as Jones Beach when she was a youngster. It was a beach were blacks went, but Parson-McBean said it was not anything she noticed at the time.

Parson-McBean has been working to establish the Doleman Black Heritage Museum in Hagerstown and talked about the challenges of raising money for the project.

Although private money has been donated for the museum, Parson-McBean said not every government entity wants to give. Parson-McBean said she was “frustrated by the system that says ‘no, no, no.’”

Jacobs recalled Jews being deported from France after Nazi occupation of the country where she lived as a teenager.

The French were not aware that people being sent away were being killed, said Jacobs, adding that the excuse given for their deportation was “work."

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Today, Jacobs said she empathizes with people who are victimized in any type of situation.

Macklin, of Baltimore, is a teacher who has worked just outside Boston and Washington, D.C.

She recalled when she was in a theater class in Montgomery County, Md., and a boy asked her if she was from Africa. The boy wanted to know, since Macklin was “dark.

Macklin explained to the boy that she was from America, just like him. She said the situation shows the need for children to be exposed to people from all backgrounds so no one seems different.

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