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Sharing the Spirit

Sharing the Spirit: Angwin's Beth Lincoln empowers women, promotes equality

Beth Lincoln has made it her life’s mission to speak out for equality and diversity and against discrimination.

And don’t expect the founder of Women Stand Up-St. Helena and organizer of Women’s Summit Napa Valley to fall silent anytime soon.

“I’m not your angry Jane Fonda, but I’m not going to shut up,” Lincoln said.

During a career in nursing, Lincoln wrote two books about providing competent and culturally sensitive medical care to diverse populations. She serves on the board of the Transcultural Nursing Society and teaches a class in transcultural nursing at Pacific Union College in Angwin.

To Lincoln, social justice isn’t just a professional interest – it’s personal. As a teen, she heard racist comments from one of her teachers at St. Helena High School. As an adult, she witnessed racial discrimination against her first husband, who was black, and their two mixed-race sons.

“You hear people talking about white privilege, and it’s true,” said Lincoln, who is white. “I can go places and say things (other people can’t). And I’m not ever going to be quiet. Throughout my life I’ve tried to think about what I can do to make a difference.”

After the 2017 Women’s March in Napa, coinciding with the inauguration of President Donald Trump, people concerned about women’s rights and other social justice issues started meeting in local huddle groups. Lincoln discovered that the nearest huddle group was in Healdsburg, so she started her own.

To her surprise, 60 people showed up to the first meeting of what became known as Women Stand Up-St. Helena. (The 2020 Women’s March will begin at 9 a.m., Saturday, Jan. 18 at the Veterans Memorial in Napa.)

Some members wrote or called legislators to advocate for pending bills. Some promoted National Popular Vote, a plan to abolish the Electoral College. Some took action on immigration, climate change or health care. Others ran voter registration booths at high schools, fairs and farmers’ markets.

“The key is to identify the issues that really spark you,” Lincoln said. “Then find some group and see if it’s a good fit for you. Then determine for yourself where you want to put your energy and time.

“Whatever you do, it’s going to have an impact. You might not think your encounters are going to be pivotal for someone else, but they are. You never know what that ripple effect is going to be afterwards.”

Women Stand Up’s biggest project was Women’s Summit Napa Valley, an annual forum aiming to empower women to find their voices and take action. Lincoln described the concept as “inspire me, and then tell me four things I can do.”

The 2018 summit, held at Charles Krug Winery, featured Supervisor Diane Dillon, former state Superintendent of Schools Delaine Eastin, and Kathryn Zdan, a writer, actor and teacher. The second, held this past August at the Napa Valley Country Club, featured experts discussing education, the Equal Rights Amendment, health care and the links between mental health and gun violence.

The 2020 Women’s Summit at Napa’s Odette Estate will celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote and focus on issues like climate change, racial justice and voter registration.

Even as she’s stepping back from her work as a nurse practitioner, Lincoln still feels a calling to remain active in social causes.

“We all have a role to play,” Lincoln said. “We all bring different gifts to the table, and we need each of those gifts to make things work.”

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Related to this story

The Fourth Annual Women's March Napa Valley will be Saturday, Jan. 18 and will feature Las Vegas mass shooting survivor Emily Cantrell, who will address the importance of community activism to realizing political and social change, such as stricter gun legislation.

From Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott to the recent vote by the state of Virginia, ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment, finally we can say, "We are united. We are strong. We persevere. Equal rights for all."

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