Woman Making History #66: Elizabeth Cady Stanton

| 0 Comments

ElizabethCadyStanton.jpgNot exactly an unknown, but worth revisiting all the same...

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was born in 1815 in upstate New York. She was the eighth of eleven children (only five of whom lived into adulthood) born to a prominent family. Her father was a judge. Like many families in their time and social class, the Cady family owned slaves.

Cady Stanton was formally educated, attending a co-ed school until she was sixteen. In 1830, she enrolled in Emma Willard's Troy Female Seminary, but did not graduate, instead leaving with a deep distrust of Christianity she held for the rest of her life.

In 1940, Cady Stanton was married to anti-slavery activist and orator Henry Brewster Stanton. They honeymooned at the World's Anti-Slavery Convention in London. Cady Stanton and her husband had seven children between 1842 and 1859. Throughout the course of their forty-plus year marriage (they remained together until Brewster Stanton's death in 1887), Cady Stanton and her husband lived apart more often than together. While they agreed on many issues, including abolition, they disagreed on others, the most notable being women's rights.

In 1847, the Cady Stanton family moved to Seneca Falls, New York. Though Cady Stanton loved motherhood and her children, she was unhappy with the isolation and lack of intellectual stimulation she found in Seneca Falls. This experience, as well as previous experiences of women's second-class citizenship in the abolitionist movement, sealed Cady Stanton's commitment to women's rights. She and others, including Lucretia Mott, organized the nation's first women's rights convention, in Seneca Falls, in 1848. Cady Stanton drafted the convention's Declaration of Sentiments, based on the U.S. Declaration of Independence, which, among other things, stated boldly that men and women were created equal, and demanding voting rights for women.

In 1851, Cady Stanton met Susan. B. Anthony, who would become her partner in writing and activism. Anthony, who was single and did not have children, was free to do the orating and traveling Cady Stanton did not have time to do, and Stanton took on the heavier burden of writing and research tasks, and was considered an organizer and tactician for the burgeoning movement.

Cady Stanton's woman's rights work was not limited to suffrage. She was also very interested in the role of religion in oppressing women, writing The Women's Bible. She supported divorce rights, property holding rights for women, equal guardianship rights for mothers, and protection of female employment. In 1868, Cady Stanton ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Congress. In her later years, she was also more involved in international activism, traveling to Europe and helping to found the International Council of Women in 1888. She was also a prolific writer, writing, among other things, Eighty Years and More: Reminiscences 1815-1897 and The Woman's Bible,
and co-writing the first three volumes of History of Woman Suffrage (with Matilida Josyln Gage)
.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton died in 1902 at her home in New York.

Sources:
Wikipedia
About: Women's History
National Women's Hall of Fame

Leave a comment


A brief rant on my name

| 1 Comment

While peering at the Lizard Kingdom, I noticed the link to the Social Security Administration's baby names site. In 1979, when I was born, my name was the 343rd most popular female name in the U.S. I am so OK with that. Go Mom. In 2005, it was number 14. Fucking 14. Slightly less popular than Alexis, slightly more popular than Sarah. The female popularity equivalent of David. So not OK. I liked having a name that only old ladies had. I liked being not only the only Grace in my grade, but the only one in my school. No more.

Number 343 for 2005? Tatum. Maybe I should switch.

1 Comments

Leave a comment


Woman Making History #65: Sarah Buel

| 0 Comments

Sarah BuelNot going far from home today...

University of Texas law professor Sarah Buel has spent the bulk of her career working for battered women and children. She is the co-director and founder of UT Law School's Domestic Violence Clinic and the UT Voices Against Violence program, which provides counseling and other services for victims of sexual and domestic violence and assault, as well as addressing the underreported problem of stalking on college campuses.

Buel is herself s domestic violence survivor. After leaving her abusive marriage in 1977, she earned her undergraduate and law degrees (Harvard, cum laude, 1990) while working as a paralegal and serving as a single parent to her child. While at Harvard, she founded or co-founded the Harvard Battered Women's Advocacy Project, the Harvard Women in Prison Project, and the Harvard Children and Family Rights Project.

Buel was a noted attorney right out of Harvard, receiving the Boston Bar Association's Public Service Award in 1991 and both the Massachusetts Bar Association's Outstanding Young Lawyer Award and the American Bar Association's Top Twenty Young Lawyers Award in 1992. She has continued to receive many accolades in since these early ones, including the American Bar Association's Fellows Award in 2001.

Before coming to teach at UT in 1996, Buel worked as a prosecuting attorney in Massachusetts, where she developed several award-winning domestic violence and juvenile programs. She has also served as Special Council for the Texas District and County Attorneys, providing training and case assistance for domestic violence prosecutions, and taught at Harvard Medical School, where she is currently an adjunct professor. Buel has also written extensively on domestic violence and juvenile law, including many articles and training manuals.

Sources:
UT Law Faculty
Fine Living
National Center of Domestic and Sexual Violence

Leave a comment


Woman Making History #64: Toni Morrison

| 0 Comments

toni_morrison.jpgToni Morrison was born in 1931 in Ohio. She grew up the second of four children in a working class family. She attended Howard University, graduating with a B.A. in Literature in 1953, then taking her M.A. from Cornell in 1955.

After she left school, Morrison became an English professor at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas, then returned to Howard to teach. She married in 1958, had two children, then divorced in 1964. After the divorce, Morrison and her children moved to New York, where she became an editor at Random House.

In her role as editor at Random House, Morrison was instrumental in bringing the work of black authors, particularly women, into the main stream. She also began to teach at the State University of New York. In 1989, she also became an endowed professor at Princeton, a position she held until 2006.

Morrison published her first novel, The Bluest Eye, in 1970. She followed it will many seven novels, some non-fiction works, and most recently several children's books. She is also on the editorial board of The Nation magazine. In 1988, she won a Pulitzer Prize for her novel, Beloved. In 1993, she received the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Sources:
Wikipedia
Nobelprize.org
About: Women's History

Leave a comment


Woman Making History #63: Martha Graham

| 0 Comments

martha_graham.jpegMartha Graham was born in 1894 in Pennsylvania. She spent her teenage years in Los Angeles. In 1916, she joined a dance school. Graham was 22 when she started dancing, which is considered very late for a serious dancer.

Seven years after beginning her dance training, Graham moved to New York City. Graham danced, modeled, and taught dance classes to stay afloat. In 1926, she started her own company, the Martha Graham Dance Company. She also taught dance at Bennington College and New York University, and was a founder of the dance program at Julliard. She is considered one of the major creators of modern and experimental dance.

As a performance artist, Graham did not really come to her own until the 1940s, when her dramatic, angst-ridden dance dramas became popular. Graham's style of dance was unlike anything previously seen, with dramatic makeup, sculpted sets, and painful rountines.

Graham continued to dance on stage until 1968, well past the age of retirement for most dancers. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1976. She died in 1991 at the age of 96.

Sources:
Time Magazine
Wikipedia
PBS American Masters

Leave a comment


Woman Making History #62: Charlotte Perkins Gilman

| 2 Comments

cpgilman.gifWriter and early feminist theorist Charlotte Perkins Gilman was born in Connecticut in 1860. Harriet Bleacher Stowe was her great-aunt. Gilman's father abandoned the family in 1866, and she grew up in poverty.

Gilman was a voracious reader as a child studied hard. She went to the Rhode Island School of Design for two years, then began to earn a living designing greeting cards. She married an aspiring artist in 1884, then had a daughter. After her daughter's birth, Gilman, who had always tended towards depression, began to have serious problems with it, which were compounded by the medical advice she received, which was to "live as domestic a life as possible" and not give in to the temptations of writing or art. Gilman's most famous short story, "The Yellow Wallpaper," was inspired by her post-natal depression and the ridiculous medical treatment she received.

In 1888, Gilman separated from her husband (they later divorced) and moved to California. She then married again, and became the editor of a literary publication, The Impress. At this time, Gilman began experimentally publishing her own short stories, and in 1893, she published her first book, In This World, satirical feminist poetry.

For the next twenty years, Gilman lectured on feminist ethics, and human rights issues and wrote and published fiction. She also wrote and published her own feminist paper, The Forerunner, from 1909 through 1916. Many of Gilman's novels, including the feminist utopian Harland, were first published serially in her paper.

Gilman did not limit her writing to fiction. She also wrote about women and the economy in Women and Economics (1898) and the need for professional child-care in Concerning Children (1900). She took on religious freedom in 1922 with His Religion and Hers, and wrote a posthumously published autobiography, The Living of Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1935).

In 1932, Gilman was diagnosed with inoperable breast cancer. In 1934, her husband died unexpectedly of a cerebral hemorrhage. Gilman, an advocate of euthanasia and the right to die, took an overdose of chloroform and died in 1935. Over the course of her lifetime, Gilman published an amazing 8 novels, 170 stories, 100 poems, and 200 non-fiction pieces.

Sources:
Books and Writers
Women Writers
Wikipedia

2 Comments

Leave a comment


Woman Making History #61: Pasty Mink

| 0 Comments

patsy_mink.jpgPatsy Mink was born on Maui in 1927. Her parents were second generation Japanese-Americans. Mink had experiences with both racism and politics early, overcoming prejudice against Japanese Americans in 1940s Hawaii to become her high school student body president. She was the first female student office holder in her school's history.

After high school, Mink attended the University of Hawaii at Honolulu, then transferred to the University of Nebraska, where she organized to end the long-standing racial segregation policy. Mink then returned to Hawaii, where she took dual Bachelor's degrees in zoology and chemistry. She applied to twenty medical schools in 1948, but none of them would accept a woman. Mink decided to bring suit against those schools, and in the process, decided to become a lawyer.

Mink attended the University of Chicago Law School, who reportedly only accepted her because they believed her to be a man until she got there. She graduated with her law degree in 1951, then married and settled in Honolulu.

When Hawaii began to debate statehood in 1956, Mink was elected representative of her district in the territorial legislature. In 1959, Hawaii became a state, and in 1965, Mink became the first woman of color in the United States Congress.

Mink served six consecutive sessions in the House of Representatives, where one of the most notable things she did was her strong support for Title IX of the Education Act
(renamed the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act in 2002), which prohibited gender discrimination in public schools. She also introduced the first comprehensive early childhood education legislation.

In 1977, Mink gave up her seat in the House in order to run for the Senate. She lost her race, but President Carter appointed her to his cabinet as the Assistant Secretary of State. After the end of the Carter administration, Mink returned to Honolulu, where she served on the City Council, eventually becoming its Chair. In 1990, Mink returned to Congress.

Patsy Mink died in 2002, in Honolulu. She was given a state funeral and buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. She was post-humously re-elected to Congress after her death (it was too late to remove her name from the ballot).

Sources:
Wikipedia
Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress
NOW
National Women's Hall of Fame

Leave a comment


Woman Making History #60: Holly Near

| 2 Comments

holly_near.jpgThis Christmas Woman Making History has a really special place in my heart, because my mom had a Holly Near album (A Live Album, 1975) when I was a kid that got a lot of play, and my childhood lullaby, which was incredibly appropriate given the situation my mom and I were in, was from that album. I still know all the words, even though the album didn't come out on CD or tape and isn't available anymore. I'll put them at the end, just for old time's sake.

Holly Near was born in 1949 in California. She started performing at the age of eight, moving to singing folk music in a group called the Freedom Singers when she was in high school in the early 1960s. In 1968, she enrolled in the UCLA theater arts program and attended her first anti-war protest.

Near's professional career began in 1969, when she got small parts in several television series, including The Mod Squad and The Partridge Family. The next year, she was cast in the Broadway musical Hair.
In 1971, Near joined the FTA (Free the Army) anti-Vietnam traveling road show. In the next few years, she was an active folk and protest singer, working with artists including Joan Baez, Phil Ochs, Arlo Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and Bernice Johnson Reagon. In 1972, Near founded her own record label, Redwood Records, dedicated to putting out albums by socially conscious artists. Redwood existed for nearly 20 years before going out of business in the early 1990s.

In 1976, Near came out as a lesbian, and she was probably the first out lesbian to be interviewed by People magazine (Near later resumed relationships with men and considers herself bisexual). She continued to make music and work for international peace and human rights for the next several decades, building a discography of 26 albums and writing a one-woman show that appeared off-Broadway.

In recent years, Near has continued her activism, focusing particularly on working for peace and against violence towards women. She participated in the V-Day march in Juarez in 2004 and continues to tour, singing and promoting non-violence. One of her songs, "Singing For Our Lives" (also called "We Are Gentle Angry People") is included in the official Unitarian Universalist hymnal, Singing the Living Tradition.

Sources:
Hollynear.com
Wikipedia
About: Folk Music

Started Out Fine

Started out fine
We were movin' ahead
You were drivin' the truck
I was combing the hair
On the head of the one in the middle
She was lovin' it all
Bouncin' round like a rubber ball

And you thought that she was
Just about the finest kid
And I had to agree
But maybe that's 'cuz she looks like me
And you were taking a space
Maybe takin the place of a father

But then you started seeing that there might be a scene
You got to complainin'
Got pretty mean
First it was the weather, then it was me
Then you started takin' it out on my baby

Well if you think travelin' three is a drag
Pack up loner
I got my own bag
Full of dreams for this little child of wonder
And you can only stay if you start to understand
How an old campfire gets warmer with you
But even when you're gone it still cooks the stew
And the coffee...you freeze my soul
I ain't ready to grow that old

You say go home woman and find you a someone
Who's gonna turn into be a middle class bum anyway
Well he might make me some money
But that ain't the kind of life I'm looking for honey
So don't go around sayin' I been a burden to you
You been a burden to me and we're through
If you can't seem to find the joy in my livin'
You can't seem to get into takin' and givin'
But I got a little one who loves me as much as she needs me
And darlin' that's a lovin' enough
For a hiking boot mother
Seeing the world
For the first time with her own little girl

2 Comments

Leave a comment


Woman Making History #59: Gertrude Ederle

| 0 Comments

gert.ederle.jpgGertrude Ederle was born in 1906 in Manhattan. She was the daughter of German immigrant parents. Beginning when she was 13, she trained at the Women's Swimming Association, which was also the birthplace of competing female swimmers Eleanor Holm and Esther Williams. Ederle broke amateur records in swimming from very early in her career.

In 1924, Ederle competed in the Olympics, taking a gold medal as part of the 400-meter freestyle relay team and bronze for her individual performances in the 100- and 400-meter freestyle races.

In 1926, Ederle became the first woman to swim across the English Channel. She did it in 14 hours and 31 minutes, a record that stood until 1950, when it was broken by Florence Chadwick. Ederle's channel swim garnered her a lot of publicity, including exclusive contracts with the New York Daily News and Chicago Tribune, and a ticker tape parade upon her return to New York (attended by a reported 2 million people). At the time Ederle swam the channel, the arduous route had been completed by no other woman and only five men.

After her swimming career came to an end, Ederle played herself in a movie (Swim Girl, Swim) and tour the vaudeville circuit. Later, she spent many years teaching deaf children how to swim, and she herself lost her hearing in the 1940s.

In 1968, Ederle was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame. She died in 2003 at the age of 98.

Sources:
Wikipedia
Sports Illustrated for Women
Michigan State University

Leave a comment


Woman Making History #58: Wilma Mankiller

| 0 Comments

wilma_mankiller.jpgWilma Mankiller was the first female Chief of the Cherokee Nation. She served from 1985 through 1995.

Mankiller was born in 1945 in Oklahoma, on the reservation at Mankiller Flats. When she was a child, her family relocated to San Francisco in hopes of finding a better life. Mankiller became an activist early on, participating in the occupation of Alcatraz and other Native American demonstrations in the in 1960s.

In 1977, Mankiller returned to the reservation in Oklahoma. She started working for the Cherokee Nation in a low-level job and worked her way up to deputy chief, a position to which she was elected in 1983. In 1985, the Principal Chief resigned and Mankiller took over. She was then re-elected in 1987 and in 1991, in an 82% landslide victory.

Mankiller's tenure as Cherokee Nation Chief was full of obstacles, many of them gender-related. However, she overcame resistance to found the Cherokee Nation Community Development Department, revive Cherokee high schools, and increase the Nation population from 55,000 to 156,000. She also focused on providing economic assistance to tribe members wishing to open small businesses.

Mankiller resigned from the Chief position in 1995, mostly due to health concerns. She has written two books, Mankiller: A Chief and her People (1993) and Every Day is a Good Day (2004).

Sources:
National Women's Hall of Fame
Wikipedia
Salon

Leave a comment


Woman Making History #57: Dorothea Dix

| 1 Comment

dorothea_dix.jpgDorothea Dix was an early activist on behalf of the mentally ill. She was born in 1802 in Massachusetts. After attempting several career paths appropriate to her gender, she was unsatisfied with all of them and suffered a nervous breakdown in her mid-30s.

In 1936, Dix went to England, where she met a Quaker family with whom she lived for a year. These Quakers believed women should have a public role in government and society, and Dix soon took to their beliefs. She was also exposed to the British "Lunacy Reform Movement," which investigated insane asylums and reported on conditions to the House of Commons.

After returning to the U.S. Dix headed up a statewide investigation on the Massachusetts insane and how they were treated in asylums. In 1843, she reported the results to the state legislature and as an outcome, a bill was introduced to expand the state mental hospital. Dix then traveled to several other states, documenting the conditions of the indigent mentally ill populations and reporting to state legislatures. In Pennsylvania, she was instrumental in the founding of the Harrisburg State Hospital, the first public mental hospital in the state. She also lobbied for a large national mental health facility, but President Pierce vetoed the bill, saying the federal government should not get involved in state social programs.

In the mid-1850s, Dix returned to Europe and conducted investigations of asylums in Scotland. After returning to the U.S., during the Civil War, she was appointed Superintendent of Army Nurses. This did not work out well, however, and she was relieved of responsibility.

After the war, Dix returned to her advocacy work, traveling widely in Europe, reporting on conditions, and helping build hospitals there. Over the course of her career as an activist and spokesperson for the mentally ill, Dix helped to establish mental hospitals in 11 U.S. states, Turkey, Russia, France, and Scotland.

Dorothea Dix died in 1887 at the New Jersey State Hospital.

Sources:
Wikipedia
National Women's Hall of Fame
Spartacus School

1 Comments

Leave a comment


Holiday Note

| 0 Comments

I am going to be away for the holidays and probably not blogging for the next week and a bit. However, due to the miracle of setting the blog to publish itself in advance, there should still be a new History Making Woman up every day I'm gone (I think). So enjoy, happy holidays, and I'll be back in a bit to regale you with tales of my (maybe) white Christmas in Minnesota.

Leave a comment


The Red Thread

| 4 Comments

As I've likely mentioned, my favorite little girl in the world is adopted from China. Her parents started the adoption process...fivish? years ago, and she's been with them for coming up on three years this summer. Watching the whole process unfold has been one of the more inspiring and instructive things I've ever experienced. It has opened up entire new avenues of thought for me about parenthood, childhood, race, culture, and where I want to fit in with all of these things. Seriously, it's been huge for me, and I'm involved only peripherally.

Which is why, when I heard on NPR last night and then started reading follow up article, the new adoption rules being put in place by the Chinese government just break my heart.

On one hand, I'm thrilled that there are starting to be more internal adoptions in China, particularly of girls. That speaks to a change in culture that has to be positive, and if there are truly more people wanting to adopt "orphaned" Chinese children and infants than there are orphans, that is wonderful news.

On the other hand, using this particular set of rules to narrow the field of adopters makes me sick in my stomach. Specifically, the new rules would prohibit adoptions by "single" people (i.e. unmarried people), people over 50, obese people, and people with a history of depression.

Yep. No fatties, no moodies, no oldies, and no unmarrieds. Cuz we all know those people are shitty parents.

Previously, China had a quota system on unmarried parents (8% of adoptions, which isn't great, but is better than nothing), an age limit of 55 (again, slightly better), and no rules about obesity or depression. The new rules also require a net worth of at least $80,000.

The reasoning behind these limits is that it will narrow the field of potential adopters while improving the quality of families the children are adopted into. And that's where it rubs me all wrong. These aren't good criteria by which to choose better parents. If adoption is going to be competitive, fine, that's probably good for the kids. But the automatic denial of applications by fat people, older people, single people, or people who take anti-depressants? That's not going to do it.

How do I know that? I know because under these rules, it's possible that my favorite little girl in the world wouldn't be here, for one reason or another. And that would be so, so wrong.

And I also know because under these rules, Mark and I couldn't adopt. We actually couldn't adopt now anyway, because you have to be 30 (which I have no problem with, for the record). But a couple of years from now, we still wouldn't be able to. Not even if we got married like good little heterosexuals. Why not? Because I have a whole big fat medical record full of anti-depressants. Paradoxically, these very anti-depressants are one of the reasons I would want to adopt, rather than bear children myself, if given the choice. I know that I am well medicated, and that while I take these pills, I could be a very good parent. I am less sure that I could be a very good parent off them, and going off them might be necessary were I to carry and breastfeed a child. Hence, adoption. No Catch-22 there.

I know there is a lot of disagreement about international adoption, with some people classifying it as cultural imperialism, baby buying, and worse. I've given my opinion on that before and see no need to go into it again. I don't think anybody has a "right" to a baby, adopted or birthed. However, I also don't think these particular criteria are good ones by which to restrict the privilege of parenthood. If there are more adopters than adoptees, that's wonderful, and I'm all for each child getting the best possible family match. However, I'm equally for people being fairly assessed for their potential as parents, and of all of the things that might make me unsuitable as a parent, I am completely sure the two little pills I take every day to keep my brain chemistry balanced don't make the list. And, for the record, neither does my fat ass, even if and when it crosses the border towards obesity.

It is difficult, probably to the point of impossible, to develop a list of quantative criteria by which good parents can be judged. But can't better stand-ins be found? Ones that don't keep out wonderful parents, like my friends, and even pretty damn good potential parents, like me?

4 Comments

Leave a comment


Woman Making History #56: Queen Lili'uokalani

| 1 Comment

queenl.jpgQueen Lili'uokalani as the last queen of the Hawaiian islands. She was born in 1838 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Her birth parents were high chief Kapaakea and chiefess Keohokalol, but she was adopted at birth by Abner and Konia Paki. She was enrolled in the Royal School at age 4, where she became part of the royal circle attending Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma. In 1862, she married John Own Dominis, who became governor of Oahu and Maui. They had no children, and Dominis died soon after Lili'uokalani assumed the throne.

In 1891, Lili'uokalani became queen when her brother, King Kalakauam, died. Shortly after becoming queen, she attempted to put forth a new Hawaiian constitution, stretching the power of the monarchy and the native Hawaiian people. Her government was overthrown, she was deposed, and provisional government was instituted. The American Cleveland administration commissioned a report and found that her overthrow was illegal, offering to put her back on the throne if she offered amnesty to everyone responsible for the coup. Due in part to the queen's original instance that the perpetrators of her overthrow be punished (she later reversed this position), she never regained her throne. Instead, in 1894, Hawaii was declared a republic, and in 1898 it was annexed to the United States.

Lili'uokalani reported made several failed attempts to regain her crown, had some legal trouble due to possession of firearms, then finally accepted life as a private citizen. She wrote a history of her country, Hawaii's Story by Hawaii's Queen (1898) and several songs. She died in 1917.

Sources:
Wikipedia
University of Illinois at Chicago
Hawaii State Government

1 Comments

Leave a comment


Woman Making History #55: Sally Ride

| 0 Comments

sally_ride.jpgSally Ride was born in 1951 in Los Angeles, California. She attended Stanford, taking a Bachelor's in Physics and a Bachelor's in English in 1973, then a Ph.D. in Physics in 1978. She was also a nationally ranked tennis player as a young woman, but chose science over tennis as a career.

After getting her Ph.D., Ride was chosen by NASA as an astronaut candidate. She was one of six women in NASA's first class of coed trainees. She completed the one-year training course, then worked for NASA in several capacities. In 1983, she became the first woman in space as a crew member on the Challenger space shuttle.

Ride worked for NASA until 1987, at which time she took a job at the Stanford University Center for International Security and Arms Control. Two years later, she became a professor of Physics at the University of California, San Diego. She is currently on leave from that position and is serving as the president and CEO of Sally Ride Science, which creates science programs and publications for middle and high school students, particularly girls.

Ride has also written several children's books about space, including The Mystery of Mars (1999), To Space and Back (1989),The Third Planet: Exploring Earth from Space (2004), and Voyager (2005).

Sources:
NASA
Wikipedia
About: Women's History

Leave a comment


Woman Making History #54: Josephine Baker

| 1 Comment

Josephine BakerHmm...this is an interesting choice. Kind of jumped out at me when I started looking for a picture...

Josephine Baker was an actress, dancer, singer, and burlesque performer. She was born Freda Josephine McDonald in St. Louis in 1906. She was African-American/Native American, by way of her mother, and the identity of her father has been widely debated. The most popular opinion is that he was Eddie Carson, a vaudeville drummer.

As a child, Baker danced and sang in the streets for money, as well as doing laundry, waiting tables, cleaning houses, and babysitting. She started performing vaudeville at the age of 15, moving to New York during the Harlem Renaissance and performing in popular clubs and Broadway choruses. In 1925, she began performing in Paris, her act getting more and more successful as it became increasingly erotic and her costumes increasingly skimpy.

In the 1930s, Baker starred in several French films. She also had a recording hit, and posed for painters and sculptors including Picasso. Earnest Hemingway called her "the most sensational woman anyone ever saw." However, her French popularity did not translate to American fame, and her returns to America during this time disappointing. Baker married a Frenchman in 1937 and became a French citizen.

During World War II, Baker remained in France and participated in the Underground. During the U.S. Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s, Baker showed her support, even though she still lived in France. She refused to perform for segregated audiences on her trips to the U.S., and worked with the NAACP. In 1963, she was the only woman to speak at Martin Luther King Jr.'s March on Washington.

Baker was married six times and adopted twelve multi-national children. She was also linked with Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.

In 1975, at the age of 68, Baker died of a brain hemorrhage. She was the first American-born woman ever to receive French military honors at her funeral.

Sources:
Wikipedia
The Official Josephine Baker Website
PBS African American World

1 Comments

Leave a comment


Woman Making History #53: Dorothea Lange

| 0 Comments

dorothea_lange.jpgNoted Depression photographer Dorothea Lange was born in New Jersey in 1895. She had polio as a child and was partially disabled by the experience, walking with a limp for the rest of her life. She attended Columbia University, studying photography, and worked in New York photography studios. In 1918, she started traveling, making her way to San Francisco, where she worked in studio photography during the 1920s. She then married and toured the Southwest with her husband, photographing Native Americans.

When the Depression hit, Lange began to photograph those who were most effected by it. She and her second husband were employed by the Farm Security Administration. migrantmother.jpg

Lange's husband was a labor economist, and her job was to document the victims of the Dust Bowl. Some of these photographs are very famous, particularly "Migrant Mother, Nipoma, California, 1936", shown here.

In 1941, Lange was the first woman to be awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship (which she was never able to complete, due to health problems and her changed focus after the breakout of World War II). During World War II, Lange photographed Japanese-Americans in internment camps and the women working in California shipyards. Her images of the internment camps were so critical that the U.S. Army impounded them.

During the 1950s and early 1960s, Lange traveled extensively internationally, doing photographic essays for Life magazine in Vietnam, Ireland, Pakistan, and India.

Dorothea Lange died in 1965, at the age of 70. She was survived by her second husband, her two children, four step-children, and several grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Sources:
Americans Who Tell the Truth
Wikipedia
Artcyclopedia

Leave a comment


Woman Making History #52: Winona LaDuke

| 0 Comments

winona_laduke.jpgWinona LaDuke was born in Los Angeles in 1959. Her father was Anishinaabe, from a reservation in Minnesota, and her mother was Jewish.

LaDuke was raised in Ashland, Oregon. She graduated from Harvard in 1982 with a degree native economic development, then became a high school principal on the White Earth Ojibwe reservation in Minnesota. While working on the reservation, LaDuke became involved in native politics, particularly the struggle to recover native lands. LaDuke went on to found The White Earth Land Recovery Project, the Indigenous Women's Network, and Honor the Earth.

LaDuke is the author of three books--Last Standing Woman (1997), All our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life (1999), and Recovering the Sacred: the Power of Naming and Claiming (2005). She has also appeared in several films, including the documentaries Anthem (1997) and The Main Stream (2002) and the feature film Skins (2002).

LaDuke has been honored with several awards, including Ms. Magazine's Woman of the Year (1997) and the Reebok Human Rights Award (1998). In 2000, she was the vice-presidential candidate on the Green Party's Nader presidential ticket. She is also the mother of five.

Sources:
Wikipedia
Mother Jones
Voices from the Gaps

Leave a comment


Woman Making History #51: Barbara Jordan

| 0 Comments

babara_jordan.jpgEek. I nearly missed a day. Too busy playing Sims...

Barbara Jordan is a personal heroine of mine. She's a pretty big deal down here, and with good reason, too. There's even a (fairly terrible) statue of her at the airport.

Barbara Jordan was born in the Houston Fifth Ward in 1936. Her father was a preacher. She graduated from Texas Southern University in 1956 and Boston University Law School in 1959. After passing the bar, she returned to Houston to set up practice.

Jordan's first political involvement was in the Kennedy-Johnson campaign in 1960. She made unsuccessful runs for the Texas House of Representatives in 1962 and 1964, then won a seat in the state senate in 1966. She was the first African-American Texas senator since Reconstruction and the first black woman ever to serve on the state senate. She served in the state senate until 1972, when she was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. She was the first black woman from a Southern state to serve in the House.

In the House, Jordan's accomplishments included the impeachment of Richard Nixon, the renewal of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 (and its expansion to cover other minorities), and the Community Reinvestment act of 1977. Jordan was also lauded as a speaker, with her keynote at the 1976 Democratic Convention widely considered one of the best in modern history. She was both the first woman and the first African-American ever to give the address.

In 1979, Jordan retired from the Senate and started teaching at the University of Texas Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. By this time, she had begun suffering from multiple sclerosis. Her health gradually deteriorated for many years, but she kept on working. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994 and was elected to the national Women's Hall of Fame in 1990. President Bill Clinton wanted to nominate her for the Supreme Court, but by the time he could do so, her health would not permit her to serve.

Barbara Jordan died in 1996. She lay in state at the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum before her burial at the Texas State Cemetery, where she was the first black woman ever interred.

Sources:
Wikipedia
Lambda
National Women's Hall of Fame

Leave a comment


Breaking Clean

| 0 Comments

breaking_clean_cover.jpgby Judy Blunt
Knopf, February 5, 2002

Judy Blunt's Breaking Clean continued my recent trend of reading books about the West, and like most of the Western authors I've picked up recently, Blunt tells her story in a sparse, no-holds-barred way that I both appreciate and identify with. She takes it one step further, though, making explicit her thoughts and feelings about the role of women in the West in a way that other writers (Annie Proulx and Pam Houston come to mind) haven't. The book is simply fabulous.

Breaking Clean is a fairly chronological retelling of Blunt's life growing up on a secluded Montana ranch, her marriage to neighboring rancher and life as part of an increasingly corporate ranching culture, and her eventual decision to leave the land and the lifestyle that makes up the only thing she has ever known. Skipping entire years and dedicating multiple pages to describing in painstaking detail the seemingly small events that her memories turn around (including a multiple page account of pulling a calf that made me cry with its honesty and gorgeousness), Blunt is less interested in a literal retelling of the events of her life and more in sharing with readers both her visceral love for the land and the lifestyle on which she grew up and her crippling disappointment and rage at the role she was forced to take as a woman in that lifestyle and on that land.

Blunt makes no secret of her feminism, nor does she shy away from idealizing the strong backs and stiff upper lips of the women around who she came of age--women who would never call themselves feminists. She sees, at a young age and increasingly as she grows up, the ways in which these women are short-shrifted. She takes on the problems of patriarchal land and family management and the traditional movement of family ranches from father to son head-on, calling them what they are and speaking with clarity about the role of these practices in her eventual decision to take her children away from the land she loves.

Breaking Clean is just the right mixture of thought and action, switching seamlessly from Blunt's internal monologue to the physical reality of the land around her and back again. Blunt's version of self-reliant feminism, invented from equal parts 1970s coming of age and a lifetime of exposure to the old world customs and near superhuman strength of ranching women, may well be the most comfortable and reasonable one I've ever observed. Even if you don't want to read Blunt's book for the feminism, though, you should read it for the stories. Her retelling of the great blizzard that plagued her family's ranch in the early 1960s, freezing most of the cattle to death, her baby sister facing off with an Angus bull, and her own uncomfortable move from a one-room school house to high school in "town" are worth the read in and of themselves. Blunt is both a fantastic theorist and memoirist and first-rate storyteller, and it doesn't get much better than that.

Leave a comment


Woman Making History #50: Susan Love

| 0 Comments

Susan_Love.jpgDr. Susan Love was born in 1948, the eldest of five children. Love studied pre-med at the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore, but did not graduate, leaving after two years to take residence in a New York City convent. A bit later, Love left the convent and returned to her studies, enrolling in Fordham College, where she took her B.S. in 1970. Love then got her M.D. from SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, graduating cum laude.

Love went on to a surgical residency at Beth Israel Hospital in New York, ending up chief resident by 1979, which was almost unheard of for a woman at the time. She then became the hospital's first female staff surgeon. Over the course of the next decades, Love continued to break barriers for women. She taught at Harvard Medical School from 1980 to 1992.

Slowly, Love began to focus on women's health, and particularly on breast health. She says this is because female patients were routed to her due to her gender, and after seeing a few of them, it became clear they were not being treated very well elsewhere. In particular, Love was dismayed at how little information patients were given about their bodies and their treatment options. In 1981, Love became a member of the Breast Evaluation Clinic at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and in 1988 she went on to found the Faulkner Breast Center, the first medical institution in the country with a multi-disciplinary all-female staff.

In 1990, Dr. Love co-wrote what has become the standard book on breast health, Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book. The book has been revised and reprinted four times since its initial release. The same year, Love helped to found the National Breast Cancer Coalition, an organization for which she still serves as director. The grassroots group's mission is to advance research and increase comprehensive, patient-centered care. Since its development, federal funding for breast cancer has increased over 800 percent.

Through the 1990s, Dr. Love continued to help found breast cancer institutes and teach other doctors. She was the founding director of the Revlon/UCLA Breast Center, then became the medical director of the Santa Barbara Breast Cancer Institute, later renamed the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation.

Dr. Love has won numerous awards for her work. She also co-wrote a second book, Dr. Susan Love's Menopause and Hormone Book, in 1998, and served on the National Cancer Advisory Board from 1998 to 2004.

Recently, Dr. Love has focused her work on advocacy and the development of better diagnostic tools for breast cancer.

Sources:
Harry Walker Agency
My Hero Project
WomenOf.com

Leave a comment


Woman Making History #49: Oprah Winfrey

| 2 Comments

Oprah_Winfrey.jpgToday we've got someone everybody has heard of.

Oprah Winfrey was born in 1954 in Mississippi. She was raised by her grandmother on a farm until she was six, then lived in Milwaukee with her mother until she reached her teens. Winfrey ran away at 13, due to abuse and molestation, and after she was rejected from an overly full juvenile detention center, she was sent to live with her father in Nashville.

Winfrey's broadcast career began in her late teens, when she got a job at a Nashville radio station. She later worked in local television while attending Tennessee State University. In 1976, she moved to Baltimore to become a news anchor, and she was soon serving as a cost-host of a local talk show.

In 1984, Winfrey moved again, this time to Chicago, to take a job hosting a local talk show, AM Chicago. In 1985, the format of the show was expanded and it was renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show. It has been seen nationally since 1986.

The Oprah Winfrey Show became the number one talk show in the nation in less than a year. It was immediately embraced by the public and critics alike, winning numerous Daytime Emmys in its first year of eligibility. In 1988, Winfrey won the International Radio and Television Society's "Broadcaster of the Year" award. She was the youngest person ever to receive the honor, and only the 5th woman.

Along with her show, Winfrey also started doing serious acting in the 1980s. In 1985, she portrayed Sofia in Steven Spielberg's adaptation of the Alice Walker novel The Color Purple. Her performance garnered both Oscar and Golden Globe nominations. She went on to form her own production company, Harpo Productions, in 1986.

By 1988, Harpo had acquired the rights to The Oprah Winfrey Show. This made Winfrey the first woman ever to own and produce her own talk show. Harpo went on to produce the television miniseries The Women of Brewster Place (1989), TV movies There Are No Children Here (1993) and Before Women Had Wings (1997), and the feature films Beloved (1998), an adaptation of Toni Morrison's novel, and Their Eyes Were Watching God (2005), an adaptation of the Zora Neale Hurston novel. Winfrey appeared in all of these productions but the last one.

Aside from her television and film work, Winfrey also publishes two magazines, O, the Oprah Magazine and O at Home, and has co-authored several books, mostly dealing with her weight struggles and various diets and exercise plans. In 2002, Fortune magazine called O the most successful start-up ever in the magazine industry.

Winfrey's work has not been limited to entertainment. In 1991, she started an anti-child abuse campaign, focused on establishing a national database of child abuse offenders. Winfrey has also been very involved in her own campaign to get Americans reading more, debuting the very popular Oprah Book Club on her show in 1996. In 1999, she was presented with the National Book Foundation's 50th anniversary gold medal for her involvement with books. In 2000, Winfrey's "Angel Network" began giving $100,000 awards, called "Use Your Life" awards, to people who improve the lives of others. The organization has also given significant amounts to non-profit organizations that support the underprivileged worldwide. In addition, she has used her celebrity and her money towards various causes, including raising over $3 million for victims of Hurricane Katrina and giving nearly $10 million of her own. In 2005, Winfrey became the first black person ever to be listed among Business Week's 50 Most Generous Philanthropists. The 235th richest American, she was the 37th most giving.

Oprah Winfrey has been called the most powerful woman in the world, one of the top 100 most influential people in the 20th century, and the world's only Black billionaire. VH1 recently named her the greatest pop culture icon of all time.

Sources:
Academy of Achievement
Wikipedia
Oprah.com

2 Comments

Leave a comment


Woman Making History #48: Sarah James

| 1 Comment

sarah_james.jpgWoohoo! Another fantastic woman about whom I knew nothing previous to this project! This is what makes it all worthwhile.

Sarah James is an activist for indigenous rights and environmental issues in the Arctic. She has led the fight against drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge since 1988. She has also been a member of the International Indian Treaty Council since 1989, working to address human rights abuses against indigenous peoples.

James resides in Arctic Village, Alaska, the northernmost Native village in the U.S. She is a member of the Neetsaii Gwich'in tribe, a group of about 8,000 who base most of their traditional diet on caribou meat. These caribou would be among the native species threatened by drilling in ANWAR.

James speaks widely on issues of human rights, indigenous rights, and Arctic environmental protection. In 2004, she was honored as a finalist for the Buffett Award for Indigenous Leadership.

Sources:
Save the Arctic
Ecotrust
Washington Post

1 Comments

Leave a comment


2006, Year in Review

| 1 Comment

The year in review meme is making the rounds, and it's a favorite of mine, so I'll play along. For the sake of comparison, last year's version is here (the second of the three) and 2004 is here.

1. What did you do in 2006 that you'd never done before?
Left a well-paying dead-end job for a less well-paying job with more potential. Agreed to spend Christmas away from my family. Bought a new car.

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I kept some of them, worked on other's. I'll probably make more. I always make them.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
A couple of very good online friends had babies.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No.

5. What countries did you visit?
None.

6. What would you like to have in 2007 that you lacked in 2006?
A feeling of control.

7. What dates from 2006 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
I don't tend to remember things by date.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Getting through calculus, expanding our family to include Ata and Esme.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not getting out of debt.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing major.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Our Element.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Susan's.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Most of our national and local politicians'.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Tuition, junk.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Howell and Melinda's visit, going home in July

16. What song will always remind you of 2006?
The Leonard Cohen tribute soundtrack, especially the Teddy Thompson track.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? sadder
b) thinner or fatter? fatter
c) richer or poorer? poorer

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Making the most of my time.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Shopping

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
With Mark's family and the dogs.

21. Did you fall in love in 2006?
Yes. A couple of times. And stayed in love, too.

22. How many one-night stands?
I am so too old for that shit.

23. What was your favorite TV program?
House

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
No. But I am intensly irritated by some people I wasn't at this time last year.

25. What was the best book you read?
Counting Coup

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Rufus Wainwright (yep, slow on the uptake)

27. What did you want and get?
A new car, an iPod, time with my mom

28. What did you want and not get?
A savings account, a cure for my allergies

29. What was your favorite film of this year?
Kinky Boots, The Science of Sleep

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I was 27. Went out to a great Indian dinner with all of my local friends.

31.What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Getting out of debt

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2006?
My stomach finally catches up to my ass

33. What kept you sane?
My dogs. My iPod.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Zidane

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
Local arts funding

36. Who did you miss?
Tony. Sandy.

37. Who was the best new person you met?
Minnesota group

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2006
It is better, sometimes, to be kind than to be right.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year
"If I've got to remember that's a fine memory."

1 Comments

Leave a comment


Woman Making History #47: Zora Neale Hurston

| 0 Comments

Zora Neale HurstonZora Neale Hurston's exact birth date and birthplace are reported differently depending on the source, as was the case when she was alive. The most common belief is that she was born in 1891 in Alabama, but moved to Florida at a young age and spent her childhood there. Her mother died when was 13, after which her father sent her away to a private school. She went to college at Howard University, studying anthropology, but did not graduate due to financial constraints. She was later offered a scholarship to Barnard College, and she graduated with a B.A. in anthropology in 1927. In the course of her studies, Hurston worked with noted anthropologist Franz Boas, as well as Ruth Benedict and Margaret Mead.

Though she is best known by contemporary audiences for her fiction, particularly Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), Hurston's professional dedications were not only to fiction, but also to folklore, ethnography and dance. She wrote a book about folklore, Mules and Men (1935), and produced dance number for a Broadway play. In 1937, she received a Guggenheim Fellowship to travel to Haiti and study Vodun (known commonly as voodoo), after which she wrote another non-fiction book, Tell My Horse (1938).

Politically, Hurston was more conservative than many of her contemporary authors and artists. She was a staunch anti-communist and supported Robert Taft's presidential bid in 1952. She also opposed the Supreme Court's ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, and was generally detached from the Civil Rights Movement.

Hurston's relative obscurity during her lifetime can be attributed to any of several causes. Many prominent liberal thinkers objected to the "black" dialect she used for the characters in her books, saying it made them seem like caricatures (this very same dialect has been praised as "realistic" in more recent times). She was criticized by the black community for allowing her work to be supported by white patrons, and for writing about white characters in Seraph on the Suwanee (1948). Her conservative politics alienated her from fellow artists. Any or all of these factors may have come into play. Hurston died in Florida in 1960, penniless. Her grave was unmarked until Alice Walker and Charlotte Hunt discovered it in 1973, at which time her work experienced a renaissance

Sources:
Women in History
Wikipedia
About: Women's History

Leave a comment


Woman Making History #46: Mary Harris "Mother" Jones

| 2 Comments

Mother Jones with her dogMary Harris was born in Ireland in 1837. She and her family moved to Toronto when she was a young girl, shortly after her grandfather was hanged by the British for being part of the Irish Republican Movement.

When she finished school, Harris moved to the U.S., where she worked as a seamstress in Chicago and a teacher in Michigan. She met her husband, George Jones, through union involvement, and they married in 1861. The couple quickly had four children.

In Tennessee in 1867, Jones' husband and children died during the Yellow Fever Epidemic. After her family died, Jones moved to Chicago and became a dressmaker. A few years later, in 1871, she lost all of her property in the Great Chicago Fire. These two events are said to be the ones that shaped Jones' later life. Needing an income, she was employed by the Knights of Labor, a precursor organization to the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), which Jones helped to found in 1905. In the course of her labor work in the late 1800s, Jones was heavily involved in United Mine Workers' activities, as well as in the Socialist Party of America.

One aspect of organizing for which Jones is particularly noted in the organization of the wives and children of workers, particularly mine workers, and child workers themselves. In 1903, she organized a "Children's Crusade," in which children who worked in mills and mines marched from Kensington, Pennsylvania to Oyster Bay, New York (the home of president Theodore Roosevelt). The children held signs reading "We want time to play" and "We want to go to school." Though Roosevelt largely ignored the protest, it did bring the issue of child labor to the forefront of public (and union) thought.

In the early part of the 1900's, Mother Jones continued to organize both adults and children and was subsequently hassled by the police and the government, put under house arrest, charged with crimes, attacked by hired thugs, and even serving some time in prison. Corporations she had organized against also sued her for slander and libel. In 1925, when men broke into the house she where she was staying and attacked her, Jones fought them both off. One man later died from his wounds. Jones was 88 years old.

Mother Jones continued her organizing work up until her death in 1930, at the age of 93.

Sources:
Wikipedia
About: Women's History
Faces of Protest
A Celebration of Women Writers

2 Comments

Leave a comment


Woman Making History #45: Audre Lorde

| 1 Comment

audre lordeAudre Lorde was born to a West Indian family in New York City in 1934. She was the youngest of five children and legally blind from birth. She attended Hunter College, graduating with a Bachelor's Degree in Library Science in 1959.

In 1954, Lorde spent a year abroad at the National University of Mexico. While in Mexico, she came to her own identity both as a poet and as a lesbian. Upon her return, she became active in the gay community in Greenwich Village. She also attended Columbia University, getting a Masters in Library Science in 1961. Despite her revelation about her sexuality, Lorde married in 1962 and had two children. She and her husband divorced in 1970.

During the 1960s, Lorde's poetry was published regularly in anthologies and black magazines. Her first independant volume, The First Cities, was published in 1968. Also in 1968, Lorde took a NEA-funded poet-in-residence position at Tougaloo College in Mississippi. There, she met Frances Clayton, who was to be her partner for the rest of her life.

In 1970, Lorde published her second volume of poetry, Cables to Rage, which was followed by From a Land Where Other People Live in 1972. In 1974, her focused switched from love to politics with New York Head Shot and Museum.

Lorde continued to publish poetry throughout the 1970s. When she was diagnosed with cancer in 1980, she switched to prose, writing The Cancer Journals. She followed this with more poetry, including her most famous work, The Black Unicorn (1978), then with more prose, including Zami: A New Spelling of My Name (1982). She and writer Barbara Smith founded Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press. Lorde also co-founded Sisters in Support of Sisters in South Africa, an organization working to raise awareness of the state of women under apartheid.

Along with all of her writing, Lorde spoke and taught. She was a professor of English at John Jay College of Criminal Justice from 1979 to 1981 and at Hunter College from 1981 to 1987. In 1991-92, she was also the New York poet laureate. She died of breast cancer in 1992.

Sources:
Wikipedia
The Academy of American Poets
New York State Writers Institute

1 Comments

Leave a comment


Woman Making History #44: Eleanor Roosevelt

| 0 Comments

Eleanor RooseveltEleanor Roosevelt gets trotted out as an example of mid-century feminism all the time. Generally by people who can't come up with another name. For this reason, I, frankly, get kind of tired of her. But for the purposes of this project, I've tried to take a step back and reconsider what she actually did.

Eleanor Roosevelt was born in New York City in 1884. Both of her parents died when she was a child, and she lived with their grandmother before going to boarding school in England. As a child and a young woman, Roosevelt was plagued by feelings of insecurity due to her "plain" looks and shyness.

Roosevelt returned the U.S. after high school, where she married a distant cousin, Franklin Roosevelt, in 1905. Eleanor's uncle (and godfather), president Theodore Roosevelt, gave her away at their wedding.

The Roosevelts lived in Albany, New York, where Franklin served in the Senate and Eleanor had six children. Franklin then served as Assisant Secretary of the Navy, before getting polio in 1921. While her husband recooperated, Eleanor became heavily involved in the women's division of the State Democratic Committee. After making his recovery (though he used a wheelchair for the rest of his life), Franklin became for New York State Governor in 1928. In 1933, as the country faced the Great Depression, the Roosevelts moved into the White House.

Eleanor Roosevelt upheld all of the traditional social duties of the First Lady, but she also broke the mold, holding her own press conferences, traveling, giving lectures and speaking on the radio, and writing a daily syndicated newspaper column.

After President Roosevelt died in 1945, Eleanor Roosevelt moved back to New York. However, her political activities did not cease. She was instrumental in drafting the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and served as the first chair of the UN Human Rights Commission. She was an American spokesperson to the United Nations and remainded active in the Democratic Party until her death in 1962.

Sources:
The White House
Wikipedia
Time

Leave a comment


Your town now

| 2 Comments

No Wal-Mart signThey are going to build a fucking Wal-Mart in my neighborhood. For those not of the Austin persuasion, the mall in which they plan to build this behemouth is practically across the street from my house. I would probably be able to see this thing from my back yard. Well, not quite, but almost. Seriously, it would be like four or five blocks away. And they don't just want to put a run of the mill Wal-Mart in, either. Plans are for a two-story, 24-hour megacenter, the biggest in the county. In my neighborhood, which is an older, established neighborhood with full grown trees and houses that have seen at least two generations grow up.

Fuck that, I say.

And luckily, so do many of my neighbors. No Wal-Mart signs are popping up in yards up and down my street (we'll hopefully be getting ours this weekend). A protest is planned at City Hall next week (I plan to take off work to go). Letters are being written to the city council. The developing resistance to the plan has published a "Top 10 Reasons Why Wal-Mart is Bad for Northcross" list, which is being distributed (sidenote: I actually really dislike some of these reasons, but I understand they're tryiing to appeal to a broad base, so I'll let it slide). Resistance is mobilizing.

But will it be enough? There are honestly few things I can imagine that would be worse for my neighborhood, a neighborhood which I have come to love, than being the site of a Wal-Mart SuperMegaGiantCenter. Not only is the residential part of the neighborhood beautiful and established and friendly, but the non-residential part is fantastic. It's home to an increasing number of really great independant businesses, including an Alamo Drafthouse (which would end up literally across the street from the new Wal-Mart), Top Notch, which is the hamburger joint featured in Dazed and Confused (great not only for their flame-kissed burgers but also for the fact that it's not retro, it's just old), and the best toy store I've ever been in, Terra Toys, as well as a local gym, local hair salons, etc. New indie businesses are moving in all the time, and they are doing well. It's that kind of neighborhood. And that is in spite of the overload of bullshit chain businesses we already have (including a Starbucks, an Einstein's Bagels, a CVS, and a McDonalds). The space taken up by Northcross Mall could be put to such great use, moving in more independant and Austin-local businesses. I can easily think of a hundred, or even a thousand, better and more neighborhood-friendly uses for that space than a 220,000 square foot bastion to American greed and stupidity. However, Wal-Mart seems to generally get what Wal-Mart wants, so my hopes aren't high that the organization against it, as right-minded as it is and as organized as it seems, has much of a chance. Still, Mark and I will do everything we can to keep Wal-Mart out of our neighborhood, and if you live near where we do (as I know a couple of readers do), or if this is happening in your neck of the woods, I encourage you to do the same.

Your Town Now
I used to go out quite a lot,
chase to chase and shot to shot.
I'm all done with that somehow,
and it's your town now.

These days the mighty eagle sings,
of money and material things,
and the almighty Dow,
and it's your town now,
your town now,
it's--

From the mountains to the plains
all the towns are wrapped in chains,
and the little that the law allows,
and it's your town now,
it's your town now,
it's--

Where are the young bands gonna play?
Where're the old beatniks gonna stay,
and not before some corporation bow?
and it's your town now,
it's your town now,
it's--

So be careful everyone,
Cops can get careless with their guns.
And then they slip off somehow,
and it's your town now,
it's your town now,
it's--

You young ones it's up to you
to fight the fight and I hope you do,
Oh I see in your eyes that you know how
and it's your town now
your town now.

Don't let 'em take the whole damn deal,
Don't give up on what you really feel.
Ah, the small and local must survive somehow,
if it's gonna be your town now.
Is it gonna be your town now?
Is it gonna be your town now?
Is it gonna be
?
-Greg Brown

2 Comments

Leave a comment


Woman Making History #43: Pat Humphries

| 0 Comments

Pat HumphriesBorn in 1960 in northeast Ohio, activist folk singer Pat Humphries began playing music in Cleveland coffee houses in the late 1970s, sitting in with a number of folk, old-time, and bluegrass bands. She struck out on her own in 1984, performing her own original music as well as the music of folk anti-war legend Phil Ochs. At this time, she wrote the song "Keep On Moving Forward (Never Turning Back)," which has since become an anthem often heard at protests and marches.

Since striking out, Humphries has built up a steady following of activist folkie fans. Her songs have been done by notable performers, including Pete Seeger. More recently, Pat has begun performing with her partner, Sandy Opatow. The two call themselves Emma's Revolution, and their song "If I Give Your Name," from their debut CD "1 X 1,000,000 = change," won the Grand Prize in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest in 2003. The duo's songs have also been featured on Democracy Now! and NPR's "All Things Considered."

Sources:
Emma's Revolution
Pat Humphries

Leave a comment


On not being married.

| 4 Comments

Over on Name that Mama, Em posted this article from the New York Times (if you want the text and don't have a login, she posted at least some of it). My friend T., from Ceci n'est pas un blog emailed me the same article. Neither of my friends gave a comment, so I have no idea what their views on the article and the subject are, but I have some views, and I haven't talked about them in a while, so I'll share them.

Mark and I are among those 20 and 30-something different-sex couples who are intentionally unmarried (mostly) because we don't want to take part in a discriminatory institution. We have both thought about it and talked about it fairly extensively, and what it comes down to is that neither one of us is comfortable becoming married, or identifying ourselves as married, while married has the meaning it currently does in the U.S. We both know that our "marriage boycott" does nothing to help gay and lesbian couples who want to get married. It's not a substitute for actual political action. We don't feel like we're on some kind of strike, denying ourselves something we want for political reasons. Rather, because of what marriage is, a discriminatory institution that only affords benefits to those with the "right" sexuality, we don't want it.

I think that's an essential difference, and it is one the article didn't pick up to the extent I had hoped it would. For us, at least, the decision not to marry is not about self-sacrifice. It's about making the conscious decision, in order to live with ourselves, more than to "help" or "support" anyone, to reject an institution that feels wrong to us. While I do, like one of the couples in the article mentioned, go out of my way to point out to people who assume otherwise that Mark and I are not married and tell them why, I'm not convinced doing it makes any difference. There is no reason that I can think of that anyone with any power to change current marriage law (that is, anyone) cares one way or the other whether or not I get married, so not getting married is a pretty ineffectual protest.

My thinking on this has changed quite a bit over the past few years. It used to be that I thought I wasn't going to get married as a form of protest--just what I'm disparaging here. However, it has been pointed out to me numerous times by lesbian friends and acquaintances, that I'm not really doing them any favors by not getting married, particularly if not getting married is the only thing I'm doing, or if I think just not getting married myself is enough. And it's kind of...patronizing, I guess...to think that it does make a difference.

So that is what the article made me think. I understand why these couples, from Brad and Angie on to the folks who sound a bit more like Mark and I, are making the decisions they are. And I fully support the choice not to get married--for whatever reason you make it--but I think there's a real need to be careful in stating or even thinking that you are making that choice in support of or on behalf of other people. At the end of the day, Mark and I aren't getting married because we aren't comfortable with it, and assuming that should make any difference to anyone but us is pretty self-centered.

4 Comments

Leave a comment


Woman Making History #42: Fannie Lou Hamer

| 0 Comments

fannie_hamer.jpgFannie Lou Hamer was born in 1917 in Mississippi. She was descended from slaves and grew up one of 19 children in a sharecropping family. After she married, she and her husband were sharecroppers as well.

In 1962, at the age of 44, Hamer became involved in African-American voter registration drives through the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Previous to meeting SNCC representatives, Hamer is said to have not even been aware that Black Americans had the legal right to vote. From this time on, Hamer was very involved in Civil Rights activism. She was jailed and tortured for attempting to vote, lost her job, and even got death threats. So she became a Field Secretary for SNCC.

Hamer went on to co-found the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, challenging the all-white Mississippi Democratic delegation at the Democratic National Convention. Captured on national television while at the convention, Hamer became a bit of a celebrity, speaking about her life as a black woman in the Deep South. After the Convention, Hamer received (and accepted) many speaking requests all over the country.

In 1964 and 1965, Hamer ran (unsuccessfully) for Congress on the Freedom Democratic ticket. In 1968, she was seated as a Democratic delegate from Mississippi at the Democratic National Convention, where she spoke against the Vietnam War. Hamer also continued grassroots level work, including Head-Start programs and the first Southern Black cooperative farm.

Hamer died of breast cancer in 1977.

Sources:
SNCC
Wikipedia
National Women's Hall of Fame

Leave a comment


Woman Making History #41: Kathy Kelly

| 0 Comments

Kathy KellyKathy Kelly is a peace activist and three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee. In 1996, she co-founded Voices in the Wilderness, a group working against the U.S./U.N. sanctions of Iraq and the harm they caused the Iraqi people.

Kelly was born in 1953 in Chicago. She attended Loyola University, then graduate school at the Chicago Theological Seminary. While at seminary, Kelly volunteered at the Catholic Workers soup kitchen. When she became a high school English teacher, Kelly continued to work on neighborhood poverty issues, both in her own life and in the connections she urged her students to make.

Kelly's activism moved from neighborhood poverty issues to issues of global peace. She served nine months in jail for planting corn in missile silo soil, and her teaching wages were garnered when she refused to pay federal taxes that fund weapons. She has been arrested for protesting, as well as for trespassing on the soil of the School of the Americas (earning her another three months incarceration).

Kelly and her fellow Voices in the Wilderness activists organized 70 delegations to Iraq, equipped with food, toys, and medicine, between 1996 and 2003. She and her organization were fined heavily for going against the sanctions, and have refused to pay those fines. Kelly herself has visited Iraq twice since the beginning of the most recent war there. She has also written a book, Other Lands Have Dreams: From Baghdad to Pekin Prison (2005).

Sources:
Americans Who Tell the Truth
Voices in the Wilderness

Leave a comment


Counting Coup

| 2 Comments

Counting Coup book coverby Larry Colton
Warner Books, October 2001

Counting Coup: A True Story of Basketball and Honor in the Little Bighorn was recommended to me by my stepdad when he and my mom visited last month. His description didn't make it sound like much--a book about high school girls' basketball on a Montana Indian reservation?--but his taste is often excellent and he swore I'd love it, so I requested it from the library.

He was right. It's fantastic.

I grew up in a basketball town, though I never played myself (much to the chagrin of many, given my height). Through a little bit of paying attention and a whole lot of osmosis, I understand basketball pretty well. That probably added to my enjoyment of this book, since none of the technical basketball details were lost on me. However, I don't think any knowledge of or interest in basketball is necessary to enjoy the book. At its heart, it's not really about the game. It's about the girls, about the place, about hope and taking control of your own life. And it's about those things in a really non-hokey way.

Colton is a sports writer (I think) who went to live for a year in Hardin, Montana, on the edge of a Crow Indian reservation, with the idea of writing about the traditional of high school basketball (specifically, boys' basketball) among the Crow. However, soon after arriving in Hardin, Colton observes (by chance) one of the stars of the girls' high school team, Sharon LaForge, casually shooting hoops. Impressed with LaForge, Colton takes an interest in the girls' team, and soon his project changes from the boys to the girls.

Colton follows the team throughout the season, interviewing all of the players extensively, going to all of the games and many of the practices, spending time with the players and their families and friends outside of basketball, etc. His narrative focuses on the team's season, but also on the details of the girls' lives, their relationships with each other and with their families, and the racial tension between the Indian and white players (Hardin is about 50-50). While he focuses on LaForge, Colton takes an interest in many of the players on the team, as well as a couple of high school students who are only peripherally related to basketball.

The picture Colton paints is bleak, particularly for Crow students like LaForge. Part of the original question he came to Montana to investigate was why Crow students almost never play basketball in college, no matter how good they are in high school. The answers he finds--a mixture of pure racism and socioeconomic and cultural conditions that stand in the way of Crow students going to college--is depressing. Much of Sharon LaForge's life is depressing. Her father is absent, her mother is a terrible alcoholic, her boyfriend is abusive, and her prospects are bleak, no matter how she shines on the court. Colton doesn't sugarcoat this.

On the other hand, though, neither does he give in completely to hopelessness. To his credit, at least in my mind, Colton does not even pretend to be an uninvested observer of LaForge and the other girls he writes about. He tries to help them, especially LaForge. He lends money, give rides, makes calls to college coaches. He cheers his heart out at every game, plays HORSE, scrimmages. He attends family dinners, puts in his time in the sweat lodge, and even goes to a player's wedding. And he feels the players' triumphs, on and off the court, as much as their failures.

Another thing I really loved about the book and respect about Colton is that there never seems to be a question as to whether or not the female basketball players are real athletes. They are playing the same game as the boys, with the same stakes, and it seems that Colton takes his female subjects just as seriously as he would have had they been male. The story is different, obviously, as the obstacles faced by the young women Colton observes and interviews are different than those of their male counterparts, but it's not lesser. This is an especially bright spot in a story that is full of male-to-female violence, as is reportedly very common on the reservation.

A final thing I admire about Colton's approach is that he doesn't leave the team, or LaForge, at the end of the last game of the season. He follows them, particularly LaForge, for several years. He cares about the outcomes, not just of their season, but of their lives. And he tries--and in some cases succeeds, I think--to find victory in their decisions, even if they don't make the choices he would have made for them.

All in all, this book is a great read. It moves fast, it makes you care, and if you happen to like basketball, or be interested in modern reservations, all the better. If not, though, pick it up anyway, just because it's well done.

2 Comments

Leave a comment


Woman Making History #40: Alice Hamilton

| 0 Comments

Alice HamiltonDr. Alice Hamilton was the first woman ever on the faculty of Harvard Medical School, as well as a founder of the field of occupational health, specifically toxicology.

Alice Hamilton was born in 1869 in Indiana. She was home-schooled as a child, then went to finishing school in her teens. In 1893, she took her doctorate of medicine from The University of Michigan Medical School. After doing internships for several years, she went to Europe to study bacteriology and pathology from 1895 to 1897. In 1897, she moved to Chicago and took a position as a professor of pathology at the Women's Medical School at Northwestern University.

While living in Chicago, Hamilton became a member and resident of Hull House, the settlement house formed by Jane Addams. Living at Hull House, alongside the poor, Hamilton became very interested in the occupational causes of many poor workers' illnesses. In 1907, she began to explore literature from abroad on what was then called "industrial medicine"--illnesses caused by certain industrial jobs. In 1908, she published her first article on the topic.

In 1910, Hamilton was appointed commissioner to Illinois' new Occupational Diseases Commission. In 1919, she was hired as an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School's new Department of Industrial Medicine. She was Harvard Medical's first female professor. From 1924 to 1930, she also served as the only female member of the League of Nations' health committee.

Hamilton retired from Harvard in 1935, keeping her connection to the school as a professor emeritus. She then served as a medical consultant to the U.S. Division of Labor Standards.

Hamilton died in 1970, at the age of 101.

Sources
Wikipedia
Women in Chemistry
Changing the Face of Medicine

Leave a comment


Woman Making History #39: Ruth Bader Ginsberg

| 0 Comments

Ruth Bader GinsbergRuth Bader Ginsberg (nee Joan Ruth Bader) was born in 1933 in Brooklyn. She attended Cornell University, the Columbia Law School, graduating in 1957, then earning an LL.B.

Bader married tax attorney Martin D. Ginsberg in 1954. They have two children.

Bader Ginsberg worked as a law clerk, then for the Columbia Law School Project on International Procedure, then became a law professor at Rutgers University from 1963-1972, and Columbia Law School from 1972-1980. She was the first tenured female law professor at Columbia, and co-authored the first law case book on sexual discrimination.

Bader Ginsberg also worked as chief litigator for the ACLU women's rights project, arguing in front of the Supreme Court several times. In 1980, she was appointed by President Carter to the District of Columbia United States Court of Appeals. In 1993, she was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Clinton.

Bader Ginsberg was only the second woman ever on the Supreme Court, and after the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor last year, she is its only female member.

Bader Ginsberg is generally regarded as a "liberal" judge, and she has been consistent on the need to protect women's rights, including abortion rights.

Sources:
Wikipedia
Infoplease
Supreme Court Official Biography

Leave a comment


Woman Making History #38: Guerrilla Girls

| 0 Comments

Guerilla Girl with fistEstablished in New York City in 1984, the Guerilla Girls are an underground group of female artists/feminist activists. They dress up in gorilla masks when they make public appearances, and are known by the names of dead female artists.

Most of the Guerilla Girls' most noted actions have come in the form of art projects themselves--they have created posters, stickers, etc. denouncing the male-centricism of art and media. One of their most famous posters, which was shown for a while on New York City buses, asked "Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?" The poster went on to state that less than 5% of the artists represented in the Met's modern art section were female, but 85% of the nudes were women.

The Guerilla Girls have also authored several books, including Bitches, Bimbos, and Ballbreakers: The Guerilla Girls' Illustrated Guide to Female Stereotypes and The Guerilla Girls' Bedside Companion to the History of Western Art. Their books, like their posters and actions, call into question the male-centricism of the modern art world and art history, as well as speaking out against misogyny in other aspects of life. The Guerrilla Girls also put out a quarterly newsletter, "Hot Flashes," funded for some time by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Currently, the Guerrilla Girls consists of three separate organizations. The first, Guerrilla Girls, Inc., continues the original mission of the group, using provocative posters and stickers, as well as published books, traveling lectures, and the web page www.guerrillagirls.com, to insert much-needed feminism into the worlds of art and media. The second, Guerrilla Girls on Tour, Inc., is a touring theater collective, performing plays and street theater actions dramatizing women's history and questioning the sexism and racism of the art and theater worlds. The final group, GuerrillaGirlsBroadband, Inc. (also called "The Broads"), fights many of the same battles as the first two groups, but focuses more on younger women, women of color, and work place issues. Their main tool is their website, www.ggbb.org.

Sources
Guerilla Girls
Wikipedia
The New Yorker

Leave a comment


Woman Making History #37: Dian Fossey

| 0 Comments

Dian FosseyDian Fossey was AMAZING.

Fossey was born in California in 1932. She obtained a degree in occupational therapy from San Jose State College, but was interested in animals from a very early age and previously considered veterinary training. After her graduation, she worked for several years at a hospital in Louisville, Kentucky.

In 1963, Fossey took a six-week trip to Africa. While in Africa, she met Dr. Louis Leakey, who explained to her the importance of observing great apes (Leakey was also a mentor to Jane Goodall). By 1966, Fossey was working for Leakey, doing her own research and observations on mountain gorillas in the Republic of Congo (then Zaire). She was supported by the National Geographic Society. In 1967, the political situation in the Congo forced her to move her operation to Rwanda.

Fossey's goals, to observe the gorillas' social behaviors, ecology, and demography, required her to be able to identify individual gorillas. In order to do this, she had to live among them for long enough for them to become comfortable with her. By 1970, her efforts were rewarded when a male gorilla touched her hand. This was the first friendly contact between humans and gorillas ever on record.

In 1976, Fossey obtained a belated Ph.D. from Cambridge University. By this time, she had been doing her gorilla research for ten years. In 1980, she accepted a faculty position at Cornell University, which allowed her to write her much-acclaimed book about her work, Gorillas in the Mist.

By the time Fossey's book was published in 1983, the population of mountain gorillas was down to about 250. Digit, a gorilla to whom Fossey was particularly attached, had earlier been killed by poachers, inspiring Fossey to speak often and eloquently about the need to protect the endangered gorilla population from human interference and particularly from poaching. In addition to her anti-poaching work, Fossey worked and spoke against "jailing" animals in zoos, arguing that several animals are often killed when one animal is captured to be taken to a zoo, that animals sometimes do not survive capture and transportation, and that animals in captivity have lower life spans and breeding rates than they do in the wild.

After her book's publication, Fossey returned to her camp in Rwanda to continue to continue her protection and anti-poaching campaign. In 1985, she was murdered in her cabin. Her murderers have never been found.

Today, the population of mountain gorillas is slowing growing, due in large part to the efforts of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, the non-profit Fossey set up in the 1970s.

Sources:
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund
Wikipedia
About: Women's History

Leave a comment


Smackdown: David Sedaris v. Augusten Burroughs

| 7 Comments

David SedarisAugusten BurroughsI've been doing a lot of listening to audio books lately. The purpose, when I got a new iPod for my birthday, was supposed to be to listen to them while exercising. Which I'm not. But I do listen to them as I move to and fro, and sometimes while going to sleep, or cleaning the house, or walking the dogs if I'm by myself. One of the first books I listened to was Augusten Burroughs' Running with Scissors (which I reviewed here). A few books later, I listened to Burroughs' Dry. Now, I'm listening to David Sedaris' Me Talk Pretty One Day. I've heard bits and pieces of a couple of Sedaris' other works as well.

It's not hard to draw parallels between the two writers. Both are gay men living in New York (for at least some of their stories). Both talk at length about their fucked-up childhoods. Both talk openly about their addictions (Burroughs' alcoholism and Sedaris' speed usage). Both have a merciless, dark, nothing-sacred brand of humor that appeals very much to me, but I'm sure horrifies some people. Sedaris is more famous, more popular, and less controversial.

And, to my mind, Burroughs is more talented.

Burroughs has been criticized for making up some of what he writes, or at least exaggerating heavily, particularly in Running with Scissors. This may or may not be true. My guess would be it's partially true, and I'd also guess that Sedaris plays fast and loose with actual history in his autobiographical writing as well. I think it's part of this genre, especially when you are making the morbid, improbable, and truly demented funny, which is what both men do. Whether or not the things they write about are actually true makes very little difference to me. They could be true. They are probably true for somebody. And, like Tim O'Brien said, "a lie, sometimes, can be truer than the truth." I suspect this is so for both Sedaris and Burroughs. Some of what they remember actually happened, I'm sure, and some of it, perhaps, feels like it happened.

Regardless, there is, to my mind, a very basic difference between the two men (both of whom read their own work on audio book, by the way, and do it very well). Sedaris is a humorist who happens to find most of his humor in memoir. Burroughs is a memoirist that happens to be hilarious. This doesn't, in and of itself, make Burroughs better, it just makes his stories better. What gives him the real edge, I think, is that he's also the funnier of the two men.

David Sedaris is very funny. He has a great ability to take things that should be sacred and make them profane, and I highly admire that. Turning the death of family pets into a joke isn't something I'd have thought I would appreciate until I heard his story "The Youth in Asia." Burroughs, however, simply does him one better. Not only is his sacred more sacred (parental abandonment, rape), but his profane is more profane--and this makes it both feel more heartfelt (whether or not it actually is being a separate question) and come off a lot funnier.

I enjoy both Sedaris and Burroughs. I'll read (or more likely listen to) more from either one of them. But I think the characterization of Burroughs as a Sedaris wanna-be is just plain bullshit. More than Sedaris, Burroughs reminds me of a more academically gifted and urbane Christopher Titus--someone for whom the comedy, and the exaggeration, are therapy. While Sedaris seems to want to be funny and be happy to mine his family for material, Titus and Burroughs seem much more to be men dealing with growing up the way they did and being the men they are by being funny. While both ways are fun to observe, Burroughs (and Titus) stays with me longer.

7 Comments

Leave a comment


December Giving: Orange Santa

| 0 Comments

Orange Santa graphicDecember already!

And, of course, that means that I need to put up my choice for December giving. It's really a no-brainer this time of year--Christmas gifts for those who might do without otherwise. In my particular case, I will be making some gift donations to the University of Texas' Orange Santa program, which collects donations into a "store," which is then open for parents to "shop" for presents for their kids. Obviously, if you aren't local, it doesn't make sense for you to give to this particular program, but there is something like this (a giving tree, a Toys for Tots donation barrel, something) in every town, I think, and I highly encourage you to include a donation to one of these programs in your Christmas shopping list.

Leave a comment


Woman Making History #36: Emma Goldman

| 0 Comments

Emma GoldmanI'll admit it. I've been excited about doing this entry since I started the project...

Emma Goldman was born in 1869, to Jewish parents in Lithuania (which was then under Russian control). At the age of 13, Goldman moved with her family to St. Petersburg, Russia. It was here, while working in a corset factory, that Goldman was first exposed to revolutionary, anarchist ideas.

When she was 17, Goldman and her sister emigrated to the United States (upstate New York). Goldman obtained work in a textile factory, and in 1887 she married an American, thereby gaining citizenship.

By the time she was 20, Goldman was a revolutionary. In outrage about the hanging of four anarchists after the Haymarket Riots, Goldman left her marriage and began to travel. She soon moved to New York City, met, and moved in with noted anarchist Alexander Berkman, who became her lover, friend, and political collaborator for many years.

Berkman and Goldman believes that drastic and violent actions were sometimes necessary for the sake of revolution. After Pinkerton agents killed several strikers in the Homestead Strike, Berkman decided Homestead factory manager Henry Clay Frick should be assassinated. Goldman agreed. Berkman attempted to kill Frick, shooting him three times. He was then convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 22 years in prison (he served 14 and was released in 1906). However, he gave no evidence against Goldman for her possible role in planning the attempted assassination, so she was never charged.

In 1893, Goldman became friends with Czech anarchist Hippolyte Havel. She began to travel with him, giving speeches on anarchism. The International Workers of the World (IWW) often funded her. That same year, she was imprisoned on charges of "inciting a riot," for publicly encouraging unemployed workers to "Ask for work. If they do not give you work, ask for bread. If they do not give you work or bread, take bread." Goldman served one year.

In 1901, Goldman was arrested again, with nine others, accused of plotting to assassinate President McKinley, who was shot by anarchist Leon Czolgosz several days before. Several days later, Goldman was released, as there was no evidence she was associated with the crime. However, this and other increasingly violent actions by anarchists caused increasing suspicion towards the movement, and other movements (particularly labor) began to distance themselves from anarchists.

After Berkman was released from prison in 1906, he and Goldman began publication of anarchist/feminist journal Mother Earth. The journal reprinted essays from famous thinkers who influenced the two, particularly Nietzsche and Tolstoy, as well as original writings, particularly from Goldman.

As the century progressed, Goldman drew increasing scrutiny from federal officials. In 1908, her U.S. citizenship was revoked, though she remained in the country. In 1916, she was once again imprisoned, this time for distributing birth control literature. This time, she served 14 months before being released.

During World War I, Goldman traveled extensively and gave a lot of anti-war speeches. She and Berkman were also instrumental in forming non-conscription leagues and organizing anti-war rallies. In 1917, Goldman was imprisoned again, this time for "draft obstruction." Under the new Espionage Act, Goldman was convicted and served another two years in prison. After her release in 1919, she was deported back to Russia, an undesirable alien under the Sedition Act.

The timing of Goldman's deportation allowed her to witness first-hand the aftermath of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in her home country. Unexpectedly, Goldman was horrified by the political repression, forced labor, and massive destruction and death she saw. After two years, she and Berkman left Russia, traveling to England and France, then living for several years in a French commune at Saint-Tropez. In 1936, Goldman moved to Spain in order to support the Spanish in their fight for independence against Franco and his fascist regime.

Emma Goldman died in 1940 in Canada. The U.S. allowed her body to be brought back into the country, and she was buried in Forest Park, Illinois, close to where the victims of the Haymarket Riot are interred.

Sources:
The Emma Goldman Papers
Wikipedia
The Anarchist Encyclopedia

Leave a comment


December 2012

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
            1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31          

Follow Me on Pinterest

Archives