Q: Who was Fern Holland?
A: Fern Holland was a Bluejacket and Miami, Oklahoma, native who made a significant impact for women’s and human rights in both Africa and Iraq. She was an attorney who used her education and training to improve the lives of refugees, women and children through legal centers and public policy. She and two others were the first American civilians working for the U.S. occupation forces to be killed in Iraq. When Fern was assassinated, she was working to make sure women had a key role in the Iraqi government.
Q: What kind of impact did she have on women’s rights?
A: In less than one year in Iraq, Fern helped start multiple women’s rights centers, interviewed victims for potential crime cases, and helped write part of the Iraqi constitution that not only protected women’s rights, but also gave women a guaranteed position within the Iraqi government. She also worked with women and children refugees in Africa while setting up legal clinics throughout Guinea and investigating human rights abuses.
Q: Why is important for the Community Crisis Center to host the Fearless Fern 5K every year?
A: Our Miami-based walk-in advocacy center is named after and dedicated to Fern Holland. We think it’s important to honor and remember Fern as a local who made a worldwide impact on women’s and human rights.
Fern was an avid runner, and her birthday was in August. Each year we host the 5K in her hometown to not only remember her work but also to celebrate her life and something she enjoyed to do.
It is important to us to keep her memory alive so that future generations know her story and the importance of the impact she made. All race proceeds will provide services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking in honor of Fern L. Holland.
Q: How will the Fearless Fern 5K look this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: This year’s Fearless Fern 5K and 1 Mile Walk are going to be completely virtual. We will be including a map in the participant packets so runners can still choose to run our USATF course, or they can walk/run any course of their choosing. The event will take place over two weeks, which will allow participants to run or walk at a time that is convenient for them. Runners can send their times in and still have the opportunity to medal.
Q: How much does it cost to register?
A: Participants can register to walk 1 mile for $15 or run the 5K for $20. You can also pay not to run for $25, which is just a way to donate to a great cause. You can register on our website at getmeout.org. You can also call 918-540-2275 to request a mailed paper registration.
Kelsey Samuels is the executive director of the Community Crisis Center of Northeast Oklahoma.