Stories of how activism and history can bring us closer together
As women we know we were born into oppression. But how we rise to the occasion and bring a movement of empowerment and influence to future generations is entirely up to us, and the history that we must learn from. In order to fully grasp the magnitude of that concept, we have to first take a look at how we move towards progress. This week we came across stories of women in history, men making a difference and the many ways in which women and female-identifying people can continue to shift the make paradigm. From music to politics, and activist movements to recognizing our buying power, each story offers insight and information. We begin with a pivotal woman in jazz and the LGBTQ movement and as you read this, consider how these stories relate to your own personal lives and journey as women, mothers, partners, innovators and game-changers.
A Woman You Need to Know
Why everyone should know Alberta Hunter’s name
Alberta Hunter was a legendary jazz singer/songwriter, and she wrote “Down Hearted Blues,” which was later performed by Bessie Smith. That was the song that put Smith on the map. Hunter was the first Black woman to be backed by an all-white band. Hunter was also a nurse. She left music in 1977 to get her nursing degree, and at age 83, she retired and returned to the stage. Hunter was with her partner, Lottie Taylor for decades. Hunter performed until she was 89 years old.
At 12, Alberta Hunter fled poverty in Memphis to become a blues singer in Chicago. Hunter began singing at a brothel, but nightclub jobs soon followed. When she had saved enough money, she moved her mother north and cared for her for the rest of her life. Though married briefly, Hunter never consummated the union, saying she could not sleep with a man with her mother so close. In truth, she was a lesbian, and her real love was Lottie Taylor, her partner of many years.
Though she had great success at Chicago venues like the famed Deluxe Café and Dreamland Café, in 1921 Hunter headed to New York to begin a recording career with the Black Swan label. She wrote much of her own material, including the famous “Down Hearted Blues” and became the first African American singer to be backed by a white band. By 1925, she was starring in musical reviews, and two years later she left for Europe. She appeared as “Queenie” in the London production of “Show Boat” and replaced Josephine Baker at the Casino de Paris. In 1944, she began touring with the USO, entertaining the troops. Devastated by her mother’s death, Hunter gave up singing.
In 1954, she lied about her age in order to get into a Practical Nursing Program, saying she was 50 when actually 62. She worked as an LPN in New York City for 20 years until mandatory retirement ended her career at 70 (she was actually 82). In 1977, Alberta Hunter reemerged, performing at the Greenwich Village club, The Cookery. In trademark shawls and dangling earrings, she became a sensation. She secured a Columbia recording contract, sang at The White House, and continued performing until her death in 1984.
Featured Biographies and Unladylike2020
Women have always played an active role in history. Explore some of the historical pioneers and contemporary newsmakers that continue to impact the world. New biographies are added regularly, so check back to discover new stories!
Research by the National Women’s History Museum shows that out of 737 historical figures taught in K-12 curriculum standards in every state, only 178, or 24%, are women, including several fictional characters such as Rosie the Riveter. 98 of the women appear in only 1 state standard; only 15 are taught in more than 10 states.
First female president takes over at Catholic Theological Union
Michigan is making feminism and progress possible
When Dominican Sister Barbara Reid took over as president of Catholic Theological Union on Jan. 1, she was heralded as the first female president of the Hyde Park school, which was founded in 1968 when three men’s religious communities combined their theology programs.
Sister Barbara, a member of the Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids, Michigan, has been a member of CTU’s faculty since 1988 and served for nine years as vice president and academic dean. She is a widely respected biblical scholar, especially for her work in feminist biblical interpretation.
“‘I’ve been here at CTU so long and I love it so much, it is a labor of love,” said Sister Barbara, who last served as vice president and dean in 2018. “When I became dean it was rather a steep learning curve. After nine years, I know quite well what goes on in the president’s office as well as in the vice president’s office.”
The Man Behind Black History Month
A movement that opened the world’s eyes
By Sarah Pruitt in the Inside History Newsletter
In 1915, Carter G. Woodson traveled to Chicago from his home in Washington, D.C. to take part in a national celebration of the 50th anniversary of emancipation. He had earned his bachelor’s and master’s degree at the University of Chicago and still had many friends there.
As he joined the thousands of Black Americans overflowing from the Coliseum, which housed exhibits highlighting African American achievements since the abolition of slavery, Woodson was inspired to do more in the spirit of celebrating Black history and heritage. Before he left Chicago, he helped found the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). A year later, Woodson singlehandedly launched the Journal of Negro History, in which he and other researchers brought attention to the achievements of Black Americans …
American democracy finally passes the Bechdel test
Kamala Harris is the new American Shero.
By Monica Hesse in The Seattle Times
The promise of a Joe Biden presidency was a return to normalcy, but 62 seconds of Wednesday’s inauguration ceremony were quietly revolutionary. Not the soar of Amanda Gorman’s poem, or the thunderous power of Lady Gaga using a golden microphone to belt the national anthem. In a ceremony filled with artistic creations specifically designed to arouse emotions of patriotism and pride, the 62 seconds that did so most effectively were from a bland, scripted oath of office, administered with the same exchange of words for more than a hundred years. But never between two women.
New Book: How Are You?
This interactive book is a game-changer in education.
I’m feeling Nervous. What makes you feel nervous?
I’m feeling Playful. What do you do when you play?
Use your words! That’s what parents and teachers often say to children. Now kids will have the words to describe how they are feeling. Those “emotion words” are a hot topic in education, often referred to as social and emotional learning or SEL. Research shows that one of the greatest predictors of a child’s success in school is their social and emotional health.
This interactive book is a game-changer for educators, counselors and parents to use in their efforts to teach kids to name their feelings. It is filled with multicultural images of children showing a variety of emotions from A to Z. Children everywhere will relate to the images and emojis in this book. What a fun tool for kids that will help them become successful, healthy, articulate human beings!
Women Determine Spending
And we can use the power of our money.
By Sallie Krawcheck in Magazine and What The ELLE
Even as we’ve been hit harder by the recession, our money has power. Women control 85% of household spending and $10 trillion of personal wealth — a number that’s set to triple in a decade as money transfers from Boomers to millennials. We can use that power.
If we can afford to give, we can make a plan — whether it’s to create a strategic philanthropic giving plan or finding ways to fit donating into our monthly budget.
We can choose to give to traditionally underrepresented groups, such as Black-led organizations, trans-led organizations, and orgs centering women and girls (which only get 1.6% of all donation money, by the way).
We can invest to make a better world for everyone, starting with women.
And we can decide to use our holiday shopping budget to lift up other women+ — especially those groups who have been hardest-hit by the recession. This Small Business Saturday, let’s use the power of our money to shop at companies led by BIPOC women. The Ellevest community has shared some of their favorites, from fashion to beauty to food to authors and poets. Check out the guides to shopping businesses led by Native American women, Latinx women, and Black women.
I’m so thankful for the incredible community that’s come together in the past four years to share experiences, recommendations, and ideas. … READ MORE HERE
Remembering Jan Morris, Historian and Writer
First to last, the world has never ceased to astonish me.
By Scott Simon in ELLE
To open a book by Jan Morris is like popping the cork on a bottle of champagne: pop, fizz, then bubbles of delight.
She climbed with Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay on Mt. Everest, covered wars across deserts, and wrote dozens of books, including the Pax Britannica trilogy — her at once lyrical and irreverent history of the British Empire — fine novels, and scores of essays about the world’s great cities. Listen to, or savor, her description of Hong Kong, just before the handover from British to Chinese control.
Pickens exhibits her renowned murals in the United Kingdom
by in ASHEVILLE MADE
Self-taught artist Jenny Pickens, a native of Asheville who co-created the Black Lives Matter mural installed last month in downtown Asheville, was recently announced at the First Artist in Residence at 22 London, an art studio and exhibit space administered by Randy Shull. The venue commissioned Pickens to design and paint a 4-x-24-ft. mural for the courtyard of the Wortham Center for the Performing Arts, to be created in three panels at 22 London. Pickens, who has designed and painted murals throughout the city, including at LEAF Global Arts and the Stephens-Lee Recreation Center and an upcoming mural at the Funkatorium, researched images from more than 20 years of performances at the Wortham Center to incorporate into her work in progress…