Women's History Month

Frances Perkins

Frances Perkins was the first female to serve in the U.S. presidential cabinet. As secretary of labor, she helped with the New Deal and Social Security.

Winnie Wong

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Winnie Wong is an activist and political organizer. She is a leader of the Occupy Wall Street movement. In 2014, she helped to launch the "Draft Elizabeth Warren for President" campaign. She is the co-founder of People For Bernie and is widely credited for having coined the viral hashtag: #FeelTheBern

Jacinda Ardern

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After graduating from the University of Waikato, Ardern worked in the offices of Phil Goff and Clark, and in Britain’s Cabinet and Home offices, and served as president of the International Union of Socialist Youth. After returning to New Zealand the 28-year-old entered Parliament on Labour’s list at the 2008 election.

Christa McAuliffe

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High school teacher Christa McAuliffe was the first American civilian selected to go into space. She died in the explosion of the space shuttle 'Challenger' in 1986. 

Diana Ross

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Diana Ross enjoyed singing with friends as a teenager, and eventually formed the groundbreaking 1960s trio the Supremes, going on to have hits like "Come See About Me" and "You Can't Hurry Love." Ross left for a solo career in 1969, later reaching No. 1 with hits like "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "Love Hangover." She starred in the films Mahogany and Lady Sings the Blues as well, earning an Oscar nomination for the latter.

Malala Yousafzai

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Malala Yousafzai defied the Taliban as a young girl in Pakistan and demanded that girls be allowed to receive an education. 

Frida Kahlo

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Artist Frida Kahlo was considered one of Mexico's greatest artists who began painting mostly self-portraits after she was severely injured in a bus accident.

Rosemary Mariner

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Rosemary Mariner was the Navy's first female jet pilot and the "first female military aviator to achieve command of an operational air squadron," according to a statement made by the U.S. Navy.

Christine Lagarde

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Christine Lagarde is a French lawyer and politician who is currently serving as the Managing Director and Chairwoman of the International Monetary Fund.

Elizabeth Blackwell

Elizabeth Blackwell graduated from New York's Geneva Medical College, in 1849, and became the first woman in America to earn the M.D. degree. She supported medical education for women and helped many other women's careers. 

Victoria Claflin Woodhull

Victoria Claflin Woodhull was the first woman to run for president of the United States.

Jeannette Rankin

Jeannette Rankin’s life was filled with extraordinary achievements: she was the first woman elected to Congress, one of the few suffragists elected to Congress, and the only Member of Congress to vote against U.S. participation in both World War I and World War II.

Amelia Earhart

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Amelia Earhart worked for years on her secret plans for to become the first woman and the second person to fly solo the Atlantic.

Hattie Wyatt Caraway

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Hattie Wyatt Caraway served for 14 years in the U.S. Senate and established a number of "firsts," including her 1932 feat of winning election to the upper chamber of Congress in her own right. 

Laverne Cox

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“During my college years, I went from being gender nonconforming to being more and more femme. I would soon start my medical transition and living and identifying as female. As I started my transition, I knew I wanted to continue to perform and I often found myself performing in drag shows in the nightclub scene."

Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay is a writer whose collection of essays in Bad Feminist explores what the word “feminist” has come to mean today and how attitudes around the term have shaped women’s progress.

Judith Sargent Murray

Judith Sargent Murray was a writer who wrote essays on political, social, and religious themes.

Biographies

Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai defied the Taliban as a young girl in Pakistan and demanded that girls be allowed to receive an education. For her activism, she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman in 2012, but survived and went on to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Malala Yousafzai's book, "I Am Malala," became an international bestseller.


Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani education advocate who, at the age of 17, became the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize after surviving an assassination attempt by the Taliban.


Born on July 12, 1997, Yousafzai became an advocate for girls' education when she herself was still a child, which resulted in the Taliban issuing a death threat against her. On October 9, 2012, a gunman shot Malala when she was traveling home from school. She survived and has continued to speak out on the importance of education. In 2013, she gave a speech to the United Nations and published her first book, I Am Malala. In 2014, she won the Nobel Peace Prize. 


In congratulating Yousafzai, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said: “She is (the) pride of Pakistan, she has made her countrymen proud. Her achievement is unparalleled and unequaled. Girls and boys of the world should take lead from her struggle and commitment." Former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described Malala as "a brave and gentle advocate of peace who, through the simple act of going to school, became a global teacher.”


Nine months after being shot by the Taliban, Malala Yousafzai gave a speech at the United Nations on her 16th birthday in 2013. Yousafzai highlighted her focus on education and women's rights, urging world leaders to change their policies. Yousafzai said that following the attack, “the terrorists thought that they would change our aims and stop our ambitions, but nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear, and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage were born.”

biography.com

Frida Kahlo

Artist Frida Kahlo was considered one of Mexico's greatest artists who began painting mostly self-portraits after she was severely injured in a bus accident. Kahlo later became politically active and married fellow communist artist Diego Rivera in 1929. She exhibited her paintings in Paris and Mexico before her death in 1954.


Many of Frida Kahlo’s works were self-portraits. A few of her most notable paintings include: 'Frieda and Diego Rivera' (1931), 'Henry Ford Hospital' (1932) 'The Suicide of Dorothy Hale' (1939) or 'The Two Fridas' (1939) to name a few of her memorable pieces. 

On September 17, 1925, Kahlo and Alejandro Gómez Arias, a school friend with whom she was romantically involved, were traveling together on a bus when the vehicle collided with a streetcar. As a result of the collision, Kahlo was impaled by a steel handrail, which went into her hip and came out the other side. She suffered several serious injuries as a result, including fractures in her spine and pelvis. After staying at the Red Cross Hospital in Mexico City for several weeks, Kahlo returned home to recuperate further. She began painting during her recovery and finished her first self-portrait the following year, which she gave to Gómez Arias.


In 1929, Frida Kahlo and famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera married. Kahlo and Rivera first met in 1922 when he went to work on a project at her high school. Kahlo often watched as Rivera created a mural called The Creation in the school’s lecture hall. According to some reports, she told a friend that she would someday have Rivera’s baby. Kahlo reconnected with Rivera in 1928. He encouraged her artwork, and the two began a relationship. During their early years together, Kahlo often followed Rivera based on where the commissions that Rivera received were. In 1930, they lived in San Francisco, California. They then went to New York City for Rivera’s show at the Museum of Modern Art and later moved to Detroit for Rivera’s commission with the Detroit Institute of Arts.


Kahlo and Rivera’s time in New York City in 1933 was surrounded by controversy. Commissioned by Nelson Rockefeller, Rivera created a mural entitled Man at the Crossroads in the RCA Building at Rockefeller Center. Rockefeller halted the work on the project after Rivera included a portrait of communist leader Vladimir Lenin in the mural, which was later painted over. Months after this incident, the couple returned to Mexico and went to live in San Angel, Mexico. Never a traditional union, Kahlo, and Rivera kept separate, but adjoining homes and studios in San Angel. She was saddened by his many infidelities, including an affair with her sister Cristina. In response to this familial betrayal, Kahlo cut off most of her trademark long dark hair. 


Desperately wanting to have a child, she again experienced heartbreak when she miscarried in 1934. Kahlo and Rivera went through periods of separation, but they joined together to help exiled Soviet communist Leon Trotsky and his wife Natalia in 1937. They came to stay with them at the Blue House (Frida's childhood home) for a time in 1937 as Trotsky had received asylum in Mexico. Once a rival of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, Trotsky feared that he would be assassinated by his old nemesis. Kahlo and Trotsky reportedly had a brief affair during this time.  Kahlo divorced Rivera in 1939. They did not stay divorced for long, remarrying in 1940. The couple continued to lead largely separate lives, both becoming involved with other people over the years.


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Rosemary Mariner

Rosemary Mariner was the Navy's first female jet pilot and the "first female military aviator to achieve command of an operational air squadron," according to a statement made by the U.S. Navy.


Mariner was born in Harlingen, Texas, and raised in San Diego, California. She graduated from Purdue University at age 19 with a degree in aeronautics.


Mariner also attended the National War College in Washington, DC, earning a master's degree in National Security Strategy, and served on the Staff of the Joint Chiefs at the Pentagon. Mariner was pregnant with her daughter at the time and was known for fighting to get women in combat. 


In 1973, Mariner and five other women entered officer candidacy school after the Navy opened its flight school to women. According to the Navy, the six became the first women in any military branch to earn their wings.


After flight school, Mariner became the Navy's first female jet pilot but was not allowed to legally fly a jet until after a landmark legal case, Owens vs. Brown, ruled that a US policy prohibiting women from serving aboard Navy vessels was unconstitutional in 1978.


The Navy says that, in 1982, Mariner was among the first women to serve aboard a US Navy warship -- the USS Lexington -- and to qualify as a surface warfare officer.


Mariner's final military assignment was as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs' Chair in Military Strategy at the National War College in Washington. Before retiring in 1997, she logged over 3,500 flight hours in 15 different aircraft during her time in the Navy.


Mariner died January 24 after a long battle with ovarian cancer. She was 65.

Now, at her funeral, retired Navy Capt. Rosemary Mariner will receive the first-ever all-female flyover. The special tribute, officially (and datedly) named the "Missing Man Flyover," honors aviators who have served their country.


For the full length article click Here

Christine Lagarde

Christine Lagarde is a French lawyer and politician who is currently serving as the Managing Director and Chairwoman of the International Monetary Fund.

On July 5, 2011, Christine Lagarde became the eleventh Managing Director of the IMF, and the first woman to hold that position. She was elected to a second term, which started on July 5, 2016. Having served her first five-year term, she was re-appointed in July of 2016.

A national of France, she was previously French Finance Minister from June 2007 to July 2011, and had also served as France’s Minister of State for Foreign Trade for two years.


Ms. Lagarde also has had an extensive and noteworthy career as an anti-trust and labor lawyer, serving as a partner with the international law firm of Baker & McKenzie, where the partnership elected her as chairman in October 1999. She held the top post at the firm until June 2005 when she was named to her initial ministerial post in France.

Elizabeth Blackwell

Elizabeth Blackwell graduated from New York's Geneva Medical College, in 1849, and became the first woman in America to earn the M.D. degree. She supported medical education for women and helped many other women's careers. By establishing the New York Infirmary in 1857, she offered a practical solution to one of the problems facing women who were rejected from internships elsewhere but determined to expand their skills as physicians. She also published several important books on the issue of women in medicine, including Medicine as a Profession For Women in 1860 and Address on the Medical Education of Women in 1864.


In her book Pioneer Work in Opening the Medical Profession to Women, published in 1895, Dr. Blackwell wrote that she was initially repelled by the idea of studying medicine. She said she had "hated everything connected with the body, and could not bear the sight of a medical book... My favourite studies were history and metaphysics, and the very thought of dwelling on the physical structure of the body and its various ailments filled me with disgust." Instead she went into teaching, then considered more suitable for a woman. She claimed that she turned to medicine after a close friend who was dying suggested she would have been spared her worst suffering if her physician had been a woman.


So Blackwell convinced two physician friends to let her read medicine with them for a year, and applied to all the medical schools in New York and Philadelphia.


She also applied to twelve more schools in the northeast states and was accepted by Geneva Medical College in western New York state in 1847.


The faculty at Geneva Medical College, assuming that the all-male student body would never agree to a woman joining their ranks, allowed them to vote on her admission. As a joke, they voted "yes," and she gained admittance.


Two years later, in 1849, Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman to receive an M.D. degree from an American medical school.


Later in life, as her health declined, Blackwell gave up the practice of medicine in the late 1870s, though she still campaigned for reform.


Read her full biography here

Victoria Claflin Woodhull

Victoria Claflin Woodhull, the first woman to run for president of the United States, was born on September 23, 1838, in Homer, Ohio. In 1868, Victoria Woodhull and her sister, Tennessee Claflin, moved to New York City.


Upon their arrival, they made their living by telling fortunes and selling medicines. In fact, one of their customers was Cornelius Vanderbilt, one of the wealthiest citizens in the United States.


Vanderbilt provided the two sisters capital to start Woodhull, Claflin and Company, a stock brokerage firm. The company quickly prospered and allowed the two women to begin their own magazine, Woodhull and Claflin's Weekly. This journal called for equal rights for women with men. It also called for free love.


Thanks to Woodhull and Claflin's Weekly, Woodhull emerged as a prominent spokesperson for the women's rights movement during the 1870s.


In 1872, Woodhull sought election as President of the United States. Her running mate was noted-abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Woodhull lost the election to Ulysses S. Grant.

Woodhull seemed to attract controversy. Her candidacy for president and her stance on free love dismayed many Americans. She also published inflammatory stories in Woodhull and Claflin's Weekly, including an article that attacked Henry Ward Beecher, who sued the two women. Woodhull also published a copy of Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto as a proclamation of her political support of socialism.


In 1877, Woodhull moved to England, purportedly using money that she had inherited from Cornelius Vanderbilt. She spent the remainder of her life living in England, although she did return to the United States on several occasions.

Woodhull continued to author numerous books, and published the Humanitarian, a magazine, with her daughter from 1892 to 1910.


Woodhull died on June 10, 1927.


9 Things You Should Know About Victoria Woodhull

Jeannette Rankin

Jeannette Rankin’s life was filled with extraordinary achievements: she was the first woman elected to Congress, one of the few suffragists elected to Congress, and the only Member of Congress to vote against U.S. participation in both World War I and World War II.


Jeannette Rankin, the eldest daughter of a rancher and a schoolteacher, was born near Missoula, Montana, on June 11, 1880. She graduated from Montana State University (now the University of Montana) in 1902 and attended the New York School of Philanthropy (later the Columbia University School of Social Work). After a brief period as a social worker in Spokane, Washington, Rankin entered the University of Washington in Seattle.


“I may be the first woman member of Congress,” Ranking observed upon her election in 1916. “But I won’t be the last.”

In the years after she left Congress, India became one of her favorite excursions; she was drawn by the nonviolent protest tactics of Mohandas K. Gandhi. During the Vietnam War, she led the Jeannette Rankin Brigade, numbering 5,000, in a protest march on Wash­ington in January 1968 that culminated in the presentation of a peace petition to House Speaker John McCormack of Massachusetts.


Her 90th birthday in 1970 was celebrated in the Rayburn House Office Building with a reception and dinner. At the time of her death, on May 18, 1973, in Carmel, California, Rankin was considering another run for a House seat to protest the Vietnam War.


Click here to read Jeannette Rankin’s full biography

Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart worked for years on her secret plans for to become the first woman and the second person to fly solo the Atlantic.


On May 20th, 1932, Earhart took off from Harbor Grace, Newfoundland, to Paris. Strong north winds, icy conditions, and mechanical problems plagued the flight and forced her to land in a pasture near Londonderry, Ireland. 


As word of this flight spread, the media surrounded her, both overseas and in the United States. President Herbert Hoover presented Earhart with a gold medal from the National Geographic Society. Congress awarded her the Distinguished Flying Cross-the first ever given to a woman. At the ceremony, Vice President Charles Curtis praised her courage, saying she displayed “heroic courage and skill as a navigator at the risk of her life.”


Earhart felt this flight proved that men and women were equal in “jobs requiring intelligence, coordination, speed, coolness, and willpower.”


In 1937, as Earhart neared her 40th birthday, she was ready for a monumental, and final, challenge: she wanted to be the first woman to fly around the world. 


At 7:42 a.m., the Itasca picked up the message, “We must be on you, but we cannot see you. Fuel is running low. Been unable to reach you by radio. We are flying at 1,000 feet.” The ship tried to reply, but the plane seemed not to hear. At 8:45 a.m., Earhart reported, “We are running north and south.” Nothing further was heard from her.


A rescue attempt immediately commenced and became the most extensive air and sea search in naval history. On July 19th, after spending $4 million and scouring 250,000 square miles of ocean, the United States government reluctantly called off the operation.


In 1938, a lighthouse was constructed on Howland Island in her memory, and across the United States, streets, schools, and airports are named after Earhart. Her birthplace, Atchison, Kansas, became a virtual shrine to her memory. Amelia Earhart awards and scholarships are given out every year.


Read more at ameliaearhart.com

Hattie Wyatt Caraway

Hattie Wyatt Caraway served for 14 years in the U.S. Senate and established a number of "firsts," including her 1932 feat of winning election to the upper chamber of Congress in her own right. Drawing principally from the power of the widow's mandate and the personal relationships she cultivated with a wide cross–section of her constituency, "Silent Hattie" was a faithful, if staid, supporter of New Deal reforms, which aided her largely agricultural state.


Caraway was still a part of the capital city in her post–congressional years. Franklin Roosevelt nominated her in early 1945 as a member of the Federal Employees' Compensation Commission, where she served for a year. In 1946, President Harry S. Truman elevated her to the commission's appeals board, where she remained until her death on December 21, 1950, in Falls Church, Virginia.


For a full length biography click here

Laverne Cox

Laverne Cox says that she has been a performer for her entire life.


“I started studying dance when I was 8 years old in Mobile, Alabama and was performing in dance recitals and talent shows by the time I was in 3rd grade. My childhood was filled with dreams of fame and performing in television and movies, and on Broadway and the great stages of the world.


“I got a scholarship to study at the Alabama school of Fine Arts (ASFA) in Birmingham, Alabama and spent my high school years at that boarding school. I began my serious study of classical ballet while at ASFA. After graduating from ASFA I accepted a dance scholarship to Indiana University at Bloomington and eventually transferred to Marymount Manhattan College where I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance.


“During my college years, I went from being gender nonconforming to being more and more femme. I would soon start my medical transition and living and identifying as female. As I started my transition, I knew I wanted to continue to perform and I often found myself performing in drag shows in the nightclub scene.


“I booked my first appearance in an episode of ‘Law and Order’ (a rite of passage at the time for a New York City actor), then a second ‘Law and Order’ appearance. Then I did my first pilot for HBO’s ‘Bored To Death,’ followed by a reality show called ‘I Wanna Work for Diddy’ which lead to me producing and starring in my first show on VH1 called ‘TRANSform Me.’  In 2012 I booked the show that would change my life, ‘Orange is the New Black.’”


To read more of Laverne Cox’s autobiography click here

Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay is a writer whose collection of essays in Bad Feminist explores what the word “feminist” has come to mean today and how attitudes around the term have shaped women’s progress.


In the introduction to the essays, she writes that she openly embraces the label bad feminist, and does so "because I am flawed and human." For years she felt that as a black woman – particularly one who has, at times, identified as queer – feminism wasn't for her, because the movement "has, historically, been far more invested in improving the lives of heterosexual white women to the detriment of all others." She also worried that feminism didn't allow for natural human messiness. But she supports feminism's aims, wants equal opportunities for men and women, reproductive freedom and affordable healthcare for all, so she came up with the label Bad Feminist, which punctures the need for perfection. Her Bad Feminist essay is a clarion call to bad feminists everywhere – for pluralism, collective effort and mutual respect – and the most persuasive feminist recruitment drive in recent memory.


Alongside, Bad Feminist, Gay is also the author of the novel An Untamed State, a finalist for the Dayton Peace Prize; and the short story collections Difficult Women and Ayiti. A contributing opinion writer to the New York Times, she has also written for Time, McSweeney’s, the Virginia Quarterly Review, the Los Angeles Times, The Nation, The Rumpus, Bookforum, and Salon. Her fiction has also been selected for The Best American Short Stories 2012, The Best American Mystery Stories 2014, and other anthologies. She is the author of World of Wakanda for Marvel.


For Gay, writing is a way "to think through what it means to be in this world. I definitely write to reach other people, but I write for myself first. I don't mean that in an arrogant way. It's just that this is me trying to make sense of my place, and how did I get here, and why am I so lucky in some ways, and so unlucky in others? So it starts with me, and then I move beyond the self, as much as I can."


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Judith Sargent Murray

Judith Sargent Murray was a writer who wrote essays on political, social, and religious themes. She was also a poet and dramatist, and her letters, including later letters more recently discovered, give insight into her times.  She is especially know as a writer for her essays about the American Revolution as "The Gleaner" and for an early feminist essay.


Her essay, "On the Equality of the Sexes," was written in 1779, though she did not publish it until 1790. The introduction indicates that Murray published the essay because there were other essays on the subject in circulation and she wanted to defend her essay's priority.

She had written and published another essay on education for women in 1784, "Desultory Thoughts upon the Utility of Encouraging a Degree of Self-Complacency, Especially in Female Bosoms."


Murray also wrote a series of essays for the Massachusetts Magazine called "The Gleaner," which looked at the politics of the new nation of America and at religious and moral themes, including women's equality.


Judith Sargent Murray was largely forgotten as a writer until late in the twentieth century. Alice Rossi resurrected "On the Equality of the Sexes" for a collection called The Feminist Papers in 1974, bringing it to wider attention.


In 1984, Unitarian Universalist minister, Gordon Gibson, found Judith Sargent Murray's letter books in Natchez, Mississippi—books into which she kept copies of her letters. (They are now in the Mississippi Archives.) She is the only woman from that period of time for whom we have such letter books, and these copies have allowed scholars to discover much about not only Judith Sargent Murray's life and ideas, but also about daily life in the time of the American Revolution and early Republic.

In 1996, Bonnie Hurd Smith founded the Judith Sargent Murray Society to promote Judith's life and work.


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Jacinda Ardern

Like one of her political mentors, Helen Clark,  Jacinda Ardern grew up in Waikato, hardly a traditional Labour stronghold. She was raised as a Mormon but left the church in 2005. After graduating from the University of Waikato, she worked in the offices of Phil Goff and Clark, and in Britain’s Cabinet and Home offices, and served as president of the International Union of Socialist Youth. After returning to New Zealand the 28-year-old entered Parliament on Labour’s list at the 2008 election.


Although she had long been identified as a rising star in New Zealand politics, Ardern began 2017 as a list MP in an opposition party that was languishing in the polls. In February she won a by-election in the electorate seat of Mt Albert – Helen Clark’s former stomping ground – and in March she became Labour’s deputy leader. Then on 1 August, less than eight weeks before election day, she succeeded Andrew Little as the leader.


Ardern campaigned impressively against the vastly more experienced Bill English and lifted Labour to a creditable 36.9% of the vote. After weeks of tense negotiations, on 19 October MMP ‘King-maker’ Winston Peters announced that his New Zealand First Party would form a coalition with Labour, who could also count on the support of the Green Party. With 63 seats between them, this was enough to install Ardern as our 40th PM.

By prime ministerial standards, Ardern came into the role as a relative political novice, not having held Cabinet rank before. Even so, her nine-year parliamentary apprenticeship was longer than either David Lange or John Key had before becoming PM. 


Like Clark, as PM Ardern took on the Arts, Culture and Heritage portfolio. She also announced she would be the minister responsible for child poverty reduction, a cause she had often described as being the reason she entered politics.


On 21 June 2018, she became only the second elected leader in the world (after Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto) to give birth while in office. 

Christa McAuliffe

High school teacher Christa McAuliffe was the first American civilian selected to go into space. She died in the explosion of the space shuttle 'Challenger' in 1986. 

Christa McAuliffe was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on September 2, 1948. A high school teacher, she made history when she became the first American civilian selected to go into space in 1985. On January 28, 1986, McAuliffe boarded the Challenger space shuttle in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The shuttle exploded shortly after lift-off, killing everyone on board. 

Born Sharon Christa Corrigan on September 2, 1948, in Boston, Massachusetts, Christa McAuliffe was the first of five children born to Edward and Grace Corrigan. When she was 5, she and her family moved to Framingham, Massachusetts. An adventurous child, McAuliffe grew up in a quiet, suburban neighborhood during the space age. McAuliffe graduated from Marian High School in 1966 and enrolled at Framingham State College, where she studied American history and education. She received a bachelor's degree in 1970, and married Steven McAuliffe soon after. The couple had met and fallen in love during their high school days. Around this time, McAuliffe began her career as an educator, teaching American history and English to junior high school students in Maryland. In 1976, she and Steven welcomed a son, Scott. After earning a master's degree in education from Bowie State College in 1978, McAuliffe and her family moved to New Hampshire. She landed a teaching job at a high school in Concord, and gave birth to a second child, Caroline. 


In 1981, when the first space shuttle circled the earth, McAuliffe made sure her students took note. Three years later, President Ronald Reagan and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced a bold new program, the Teacher in Space Project. McAuliffe was an extraordinary teacher with a dream of being a passenger on the space shuttle, so when NASA announced a contest to take a teacher into space, she jumped at the chance and applied. McAuliffe won the contest, beating out more than 11,000 other applicants. Vice President George H.W. Bush delivered the good news at a special ceremony at the White House, stating that McAuliffe was going to be the "first private citizen passenger in the history of space flight." After NASA announced the selection of McAuliffe, her whole community rallied behind her, treating her as a hometown hero when she returned from the White House. As for McAuliffe, she saw the space mission as a chance to go on the ultimate field trip. She believed that by participating in the mission she could help students better understand space and how NASA works. 


One of the more difficult aspects of the program was leaving her family for extensive training. She headed to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, in September 1985, returning only for the holidays. More than any other year, 1986 was to be the year of the space shuttle, with 15 flights scheduled. McAuliffe's mission, STS-51L, was to be the first to depart for space. The shuttle was originally scheduled for lift-off on January 22, but there were multiple delays. The first one was a routine scheduling delay. The second was because of a dust storm at an emergency landing site. The third delay was because of inclement weather at the launch site. One final delay was due to a technical problem with a door latch mechanism. 


On January 28, 1986, McAuliffe's friends and family, including her two children, anxiously watched and waited for the Challenger space shuttle to take off from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Her students in Concord also tuned in with the rest of the country to watch the history-making space expedition. However, less than two minutes after lift-off, the shuttle exploded, and everyone aboard died.


Biography.com

Diana Ross

Diane Earnestine Earle Ross was born on March 26, 1944, in Detroit, Michigan. She began singing with friends as a teenager, and eventually formed the groundbreaking 1960s trio the Supremes, going on to have hits like "Come See About Me" and "You Can't Hurry Love." Ross left for a solo career in 1969, later reaching No. 1 with hits like "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "Love Hangover." She starred in the films Mahogany and Lady Sings the Blues as well, earning an Oscar nomination for the latter. Despite personal and professional ups and downs, Ross has withstood the test of time as a performer with a career that spans more than four decades.

Diana Ross began singing in the group the Primettes with friends Mary WilsonFlorence Ballard and Barbara Martin as a teenager. Martin eventually dropped out, but the remaining members of the group went on to become the internationally successful 1960s R&B and pop trio the Supremes (later named Diana Ross and the Supremes). 


Signed to Motown Records by famed producer and label founder Berry Gordy Jr., in 1961 the Supremes scored their first No. 1 hit with "Where Did Our Love Go?" (1964). The trio then broke music records by having a streak of four additional singles top the charts — "Baby Love" (1964), "Come See About Me" (1964) "Stop! In the Name of Love" (1965) and "Back in My Arms Again" (1965) — thus becoming the first U.S. group ever to have five songs in a row to reach No 1. 


In all the group scored a monumental 12 No. 1 hits, including "I Hear a Symphony" (1965), "You Can't Hurry Love" (1966), "The Happening" (1967), "Love Child" (1968) and "Someday We'll Be Together" (1969). They thus established a phenomenal record, becoming the American vocal group with the most Billboard chart-toppers in history.  

Ross left the Supremes for a solo career in 1969 and continued to be a musical mainstay the following year with the Top 20 "Reach Out and Touch Somebody's Hand" and the No. 1 "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." Among an array of albums, other hit songs for Ross from the 1970s included "Touch Me in the Morning" (1973), "Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To)" (1976) and sensual dance classic "Love Hangover" (1976), with all three tracks reaching No. 1 on the pop charts. 

In 1972, she branched out into acting and starred in the Billie Holiday biopic Lady Sings the Blues. While the film received somewhat mixed reviews, Ross's performance garnered her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. The Blues soundtrack was a huge success and helped spurn new interest in Holiday as well. Ross went on to star in the films Mahogany(1975), co-starring Billy Dee Williams and Anthony Perkins, and The Wiz (1978). 


The next decade started out on a strong note for Ross with the Nile Rodgers-produced, platinum-selling album Diana (1980), featuring the No. 1 hit "Upside Down" as well as the Top 5 track "I'm Coming Out." She had another Top 10 single with "It's My Turn" and then reached No. 1 again, this time with Lionel Richie on the 1981 duet "Endless Love," from the film of the same name. 

 

On her new record label RCA, Ross released the albums Why Do Fools Fall in Love (1981), which offered two more Top 10 hits, and Silk Electric (1982), which had the Top 10 single "Muscles," written by Michael Jackson. Ross's sales gradually faltered, but she continued to record and perform. Returning to Motown Records near the end of the 1980s, she released the albums Workin' Overtime (1989) and The Force Behind the Power (1991), the latter having significant international success with its singles. Albums put forth by Ross in the new millennium included Blue (2006), jazz standards set taken from Motown's archives, and I Love You (2007), a collection of mostly pop covers.


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Frances Perkins

Frances Perkins was the first female to serve in the U.S. presidential cabinet. As secretary of labor, she helped with the New Deal and Social Security.


Frances Perkins was born Fannie Coralie Perkins in Boston on April 10, 1880, and spent her childhood in Worcester, Massachusetts. The family frequently visited her grandmother, Cynthia Otis Perkins, who had a strong influence on her. Her parents preached the ideals of hard work, conservative values, and the Republican ideology. Education was equally important and her father, Frederick Parking gave Fanny lessons in Greek grammar and classical literature. With his strong support, she enrolled in the nearly-all-male Worcester Classical High School. Though rare for the time, it was always understood that Fanny would attend college. In 1898 she enrolled at Mount Holyoke College.


After graduating in 1902 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in chemistry and physics, Frances Perkins parents expected her to follow the path of so many women of the era: live at home, teach school and wait for a suitable man to come along and marry But she had other ideas. Initially, unable to find employment in social work she began reading material in the field such as Jacob Riis’s How the Other Half Lives, depicting New York’s slums in the 1890s. She left home, got a teaching job in Illinois and changed her name to Frances. On her free time and vacations, she worked at Chicago Commons and Hull House, working with the poor and unemployed. There she found her life’s’ calling.


In 1907, Frances Perkins joined the Philadelphia Research and Protective Association which worked with newly arrived immigrant girls on ways to avoid prostitution. She studied economics and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and in 1909 began a fellowship at the New York School of Philanthropy investigating childhood malnutrition in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen. She received her Master’s Degree in sociology from Columbia University  At the suggestion of Theodore Roosevelt, New York City Mayor Al Smith appointed her secretary for the New York Citizens Committee on Public Safety. She did such a good job that in 1918 Smith appointed her to the State Industrial Commission, naming her its Chair in 1926. 


Two years later Franklin Delano Roosevelt promoted her to Industrial Commissioner where she helped improve workplace regulations and related social programs. After Roosevelt won the presidency and took office in 1933, he brought her to Washington, D.C., to become the U.S. Secretary of Labor, a post she would hold for twelve years. As the first female cabinet member, Perkins worked hard to improve the country’s labor conditions and played an important role in the development of Roosevelt’s New Deal programs. Perkins fought for laws to set minimum wages, pensions, unemployment insurance, restrictions on child labor practices and contributed to the creation of the Social Security system serving on the President’s Committee on Economic Security. Perkins stayed in her position until 1945 and then joined the U.S. Civil Service Commission.


Read More: www.biography.com

Winnie Wong

Winnie Wong is a radical media maker, internet activist and founding organizer of Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Sandy. 

Occupy Sandy hit the ground running In the immediate aftermath of a Hurricane Sandy devastated New York. More than 60,000 volunteers were trained and dispatched to the Far Rockaways, New Jersey, and Staten Island to provide what has now become the largest crowd-powered disaster relief effort in history.

As a movement strategist, she has helped vision, facilitate and implement numerous paradigm shifting campaigns for political, cultural and social change. In the Spring of 2014, she helped to launch Ready For Warren. 

In the Spring of 2015, she co-founded People For Bernie 2016 and created the viral political hashtag: #FeelTheBern. She will theorize the hegemony and continue to use the Internet as a powerful tool for organizing toward direct democracy, equality, and justice for all. People for Bernie is committed to progressive principles and seeks to use social media and good organizing to marry the best of movement politics, electoral organizing, and cultural strategies.


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