Margaret Taylor-Burroughs said “The color of skin is a minor difference… that has been stretched out beyond its importance.” Taylor-Burroughs spent her long life acting on that belief, bringing people together as an artist, educator and institution builder. In her paintings and woodcuts she depicted blacks, whites and mixed people doing everyday things together as equals– celebrating a child’s birthday, learning in a classroom— a lovely human vision, radical at the time. She founded lasting organizations— community centers, African-American art museums. She was unstoppable. Writer Jasmine Swift tells the story of this woman who held to her powerful simple vision of human equality and created a better world in that image.
Poet/Author Aimee Liu tells us about the prolific visual artist Carolyn Hall Young, a painter/printmaker/graphic designer who lived and worked with cancer for decades, creating hauntingly beautiful work. When she became too weak to paint, Carolyn turned to digital arts, opening a door from her sickbed that would engage her with the world as never before. With an iPad Carolyn Hall Young created 1600 mobile art portraits of people all over the world, given freely over the internet, winning awards and the esteem of the art world, as well as the devotion of those she portrayed. Carolyn said, “You never know what you’re going to get to be grateful for.”
Actor/comedian/writer Kate Siahaan Rigg tells the riveting story of a young Indonesian woman, Raden Adjeng Kartini, who changed the fate of girls in her country, though she died before age 25. Born into an aristocratic family Kartini had the advantage of learning to read, but this didn’t save her from the cultural practice of isolating girls before marriage. During her confinement she read widely and became a published author as a teenager, speaking out against polygamy and for the right of girls to be educated. Once married and allowed back into society, Kartini founded schools for girls, now called Kartini Schools. She was the first to speak up publicly for women’s rights in Indonesia and her birthday is still celebrated there as Kartini Day. Listen to Kate Rigg’s funny and emotional telling of this national heroine.
Maggie Lena Walker was a powerhouse, a brilliant visionary bringing dignity to her community despite the soul-crushing circumstances of the Jim Crow South. An African-American in Richmond, Virginia at the beginning of the 20th Century she was the first woman, of any race, to found and become the President of a bank in the United States. Under her leadership the St. Luke Pennybank and its Benevolent Society helped hundreds of African-American families buy homes, start businesses and weather the financial crisis of the Depression. Shelby Jiggetts-Tivony tells the emotional story of this foremother of hers who lifted the fortunes of multitudes of African-Americans in the Old South, including Shelby’s parents and grandparents. Maggie Lena Walker’s legacy lives on still.
“I can keep going forward.” That’s the pledge Mam-Yassin Sarr has her students make each day at their school in The Gambia, West Africa. She founded Starfish International School to educate girls to be independent, entrepreneurial and prepared for higher education, breaking through traditional cultural and economic barriers. In a country where the average family subsists on $1 day, Starfish offers scholarships to girls for a world-class education focused on service to humanity. Business Consultant / Executive Coach Tanya Monsef tells the story of her friend and colleague the brilliant and determined Mam-Yassin Sarr, and how she came to discover her mission to empower the African women and children of her homeland.
Donatella Cinelli Colombini changed the face of wine-making in Italy… after oh, say, a thousand years of male vintners. When Donatella inherited her family vineyard she broke with tradition, rather than have a husband manage the fields and the business as expected, she decided to run it herself. Shocking! And she chose to work with other women to do it. Marvelous. Writer and traveler Susan Van Allen tells the story of this trailblazing bella donna who always wears pearls and says the vines tell her what they need. Watch and enjoy!
Doctoral student Clementine Bordeaux, a Lakota woman, tells the story of Ella Deloria, a brilliant Dakota ethnographer, educator, and linguist who had the vision not only to gather oral histories, myths, languages and evidence of her people’s culture before they were lost forever, but to tell their story from their own perspective. The books Ella Deloria wrote, Speaking of Indians and especially Water Lily, affected Clementine as a young girl on the Pine Ridge Reservation and sent her on her own life path. Among other things, the books teach “what it means to be a woman” and how to “keep the rules of kinship” with all people, including yourself. Powerful and relevant messages. Please watch the story of this visionary Native scholar who was far ahead of her time.
Nancy Hanks had a mission– “to make sure every American had access to the arts.” It was her life’s work and she permanently changed the landscape of arts in America, inspiring generations. As a Southern woman lobbying in DC politics in the 1960’s and ’70’s, she had her work cut out for her, but she persisted and grew the National Endowment for the Arts to 14 times its size when she took over. Thank you, Nancy! Martha Richards (another persistent woman dedicated to lifting the arts!) tells the story. Heard of the ART Train? Check out the video!
Mary Edwards Walker, one of the first female doctors in America and the only woman to win the Medal of Honor, served in the military during the Civil War despite relentless efforts to stop her. This independent firebrand had other ideas. Mary followed her own path with tenacity, courage and an extremely modern sense of how to be a woman. For starters, she wore pants to her wedding and deleted the word “obey” from her vows. (In the 19th century!) Dee Johnson tells us the charming and crucial story of this original American patriot, a “pants girl” and a true inspiration.
Pilot Jackie Cochran broke every aviation record she could find, speed, altitude, you-name-it. Jackie was a wit and a powerful personality, soaring from the humblest of beginnings to the upper echelons of American society and politics. Emmy Award winning writer/director Jane Anderson tells the story of the complicated soul of Jackie Cochran, a take-no-prisoners woman who busted through every barrier in her way but in the end of her life erected barriers for other women. A thrilling woman, a cautionary tale.