Posts tagged arts
Anne Frank

A most difficult anniversary approaches: the day, 73 years ago, when today's #HistoryHero was discovered, along with her family, and condemned to death in a Nazi concentration camp for the crime of being born Jewish.

Our hero is remembered thanks to the stories and precocious wisdom she left behind. She is beloved by generations the world over.

May we all continue to learn from her hardship and sacrifice.

Do you believe that goodness can endure and conquer evil?

Anne Frank embodied that belief.

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We'wha

A life dedicated, from birth, to bridging divides…

That's We'wha's story.

Born in New Mexico in 1849, a member of the A:Shiwi (or “Zuñi”) tribe of North America, We’wha (WAY-wah) has gone down in history as one of the most famous Zuñi lhamana (LHA-mana), or “Two-Spirits,” – individuals who occupy a distinct, third gender whose role in their community went beyond understood white American social conventions of the time. Anthropologist Matilda Stevenson, who spent her professional life studying North American women and families, used feminine pronouns to describe We'wha, claiming she "could never think of her faithful and devoted friend in any other light."

And it's true...

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Aretha Franklin

Nina Simone is remembered as the “High Priestess of Soul” because, the consummate musical storyteller, she could weave a spell so hypnotic your heart would pound and you would lose track of time listening to her. But she never liked that moniker.

“…I was playing popular songs in a classical style with a…technique influenced by cocktail jazz…I included spirituals and children’s song in my performances, and those sorts of songs…identified with the folk movement.”

Simone could not be easily classified, nor did she want to be. She was a musical revolutionary with more than 40 albums of original songs in her discography.

Still, you may not have heard of her until now. And that is because her lyrics were so honest and so uncompromising, she was feared by the very monster she stood up to: Jim Crow America. With her songs, Nina Simone became a spokeswoman for a culture in upheaval.

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Nina Simone

Nina Simone is remembered as the “High Priestess of Soul” because, the consummate musical storyteller, she could weave a spell so hypnotic your heart would pound and you would lose track of time listening to her. But she never liked that moniker.

“…I was playing popular songs in a classical style with a…technique influenced by cocktail jazz…I included spirituals and children’s song in my performances, and those sorts of songs…identified with the folk movement.”

Simone could not be easily classified, nor did she want to be. She was a musical revolutionary with more than 40 albums of original songs in her discography.

Still, you may not have heard of her until now. And that is because her lyrics were so honest and so uncompromising, she was feared by the very monster she stood up to: Jim Crow America. With her songs, Nina Simone became a spokeswoman for a culture in upheaval.

Continue reading…

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Fela Kuti

Few things are typical about the Nigerian-born son of a Protestant preacher and school principal named Olu'fela' Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti. Except this one thing: like many of our history heroes, his genius was only recognized in retrospect by the regime he spent his adult life bravely and actively resisting. This he did not with violence, but with music.

Music was Fela Kuti's weapon.

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Fred Rogers

Even in an increasingly noisy world, Fred Rogers proved you don't have to shout to make your voice heard. He demonstrated that you don’t have to be a president or a general or a Steve Jobs to improve the lives of others — for 30 years and 886 episodes! He made a difference to millions over the course of generations through his message that you are important just by being you.

Fred Rogers was a cultural pioneer. He recognized in the earliest days of television that it was going to have a major impact on the world. He wanted that impact to be positive. But he found that the first attempts at children's programming simply were not right: It was not age-appropriate. It was not respectful. It did not respond to children’s deepest fears nor answer their most pressing questions. He believed that young people were thoughtful people, too, who deserved the best programming possible.

Now, you may not recognize the name "Fred" Rogers, but most will have heard of "Mister" Rogers. And some of you reading this post may have had an intimate relationship with him and his neighborhood, as well as the neighborhood of Make-Believe.

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Queen Lili'uokalani

Today we make history on the #HistoryHero BLAST!

Behold our first-ever student-authored #HistoryHero post, fulfilling our original goal that the #HistoryHero BLAST be not simply for -- but by -- young people from all over the globe.

Special thanks to Harper Katherine Lower, age 13, from The Lowell School, in Maryland, USA, for being our first youth author!

Take it away, Harper...

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Tom Wolfe

Without Tom Wolfe's literary innovations you probably wouldn't be reading this...

In the 1960s and 70s, Tom Wolfe was a pioneer of what was then called New Journalism but which today is known as journalism by some, narrative, creative, or literary non-fiction by others. Tom married an incredible eye for detail with an ear for voice to capture an era — or a moment. There's nothing new anymore about wedding traditional reporting with the flair of a novelist, but when Tom and like-minded writers, such as Joan Didion and Hunter S. Thompson, burst on the scene, it was revolutionary.

In the decades to come, Tom Wolfe's characters — both real and invented — will outlast him. But first, let's take a moment to recall the great writer who died just last week, 14 May 2018.

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William Barak

In public museums as well as private art galleries all over Australia, you will find the highly prized works of William Barak. With good reason: they are beautiful. They also tell the story of the culture of Australia's indigenous Kulin people before, during, and after the arrival of white European colonizers. It's a story Barak knew well because he lived it. 

Beruk Barak was born near what is now Melbourne, Australia, in 1823, roughly 40 years after the British sailed into Melbourne Harbor. It wasn't long before the white settlers started pushing the native aboriginal people around, scamming them out of their land.

Barak's Wurundjeri clan was one of five tribes to form an alliance called the Kulin Nation. The Kulins referred to the land that had fed their people for millennia  60,000 to 100,000 years  as the "Yarra." To them, the Yarra was sacred. At the time of Barak's birth, it was deeply under threat. So too, therefore, was Kulin culture.

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Mariama Ba

Being an oppressed, second-class citizen doesn't mean you don't have anything to say ,and that what you do have to say won't resonate with people all over the world. It might even spur them to action and change lives for the better.

Introducing... Mariama Bâ.

Mariama Bâ was born in Dakar in 1929, the capital of what is now Senegal, then French West Africa. Mariama's mother died shortly after she was born. That's when her father, a very busy high-profile civil servant for the French government, sent Mariama to live with her maternal grandparents.

As conservative Muslims, Mariama's grandparents did not believe that girls should be educated. However, though largely absent through her childhood, Mariama's father insisted that his daughter learn to read and write. He made it possible for her to attend a private French-language school.

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Sylvia Pankhurst

What would you do if you were treated unfairly and denied your basic social rights? Sylvia Pankhurst stood up and was heard -- not only for her rights, but for those of others.

Born in 1882, Sylvia Pankhurst grew up in the shadow of history’s “radical suffragettes,” the women who, after fighting for their right to vote since the 1870s, lost hope in diplomacy and turned to more extreme means to ensure their voices be heard. Sylvia's mother, Emmeline Pankhurst, was one of them. Founder of the British Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), Emmeline was committed to winning woman's suffrage at any cost.

Sylvia, a talented and precocious writer, joined the women’s suffrage movement in 1906, at the age of 24. That’s when she launched the Woman’s Dreadnought journal in which she would write and publish on issues of women’s’ rights for most of her life.

In 1908, when Britain's Prime Minister refused women the right to vote… again….

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Yuan Mei

Have you ever thought about making your voice heard by concealing social critique in some common, everyday thing, like food? 

That's how the poet and gastronome, Yuan Mei, found a way to criticize the anti-intellectualism of a haughty, deceitful, and unjust government.

Born in 1716 in Hangzhou, China, the son of a poor clerk, Yuan Mei was raised by his aunt, who taught him to read poetry. He became so obsessed with words and books, he'd idle outside of bookshops just to be near them. But he had no money to buy them. Mei worked very hard at school. So hard, in fact, that he was able to pass his national exam at the age of 11 -- a test that many 17-year olds repeatedly failed. This allowed him to go on to higher education.

Starting in primary school, Mei saved every poem he ever wrote. They told the story of his life. By the time he died, at the age of 82, he had amassed several thousand poems. They still survive today. But writing poetry was no way to make a living in the China of his day. After finishing school, Mei spent all his time tutoring to make ends meet. His ambition was to win a position as a government official. In 1743, Mei finally gained a job as a Prefect to the city of Nanjing. For the next fifteen years, he worked in various government positions, gaining wealth and prestige as an insightful and caring governor of his people. However, he found little fulfillment in his work. 

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Chinua Achebe

Does Africa has a history? Of course it does! But before Chinua Achebe, few outside the "dark continent" believed that it did.

Achebe ignited a revolution and brought his people to the world...

...with words.

In 1974, an older white man asked Chinua Achebe what he studied. Achebe answered, "African Literature." The white man thought that was funny. He had never thought of Africa as having literature, or a history. 

Chinua Achebe spent his whole life proving that man wrong. Africa had a long history, and numerous stories to tell.

Chinualumogu Achebe, better known as Chinua, was born in the Igbo town on Ogidi on November 16, 1930, in what was then the British Colony of Nigeria. The Igbo had inhabited villages around the Niger River for thousands of years. In 1901, the British conquered the Igbo people, burning much of their land in the name of “pacification.” The Igbo survived as best as they could. But when missionaries converted most of the locals into Christians, schools taught only English, and the Igbo were made to follow the British system of law, their culture was all but decimated.

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Louis Braille

What do you do when you perceive a problem that needs solving? 

As a teenager in 19th Century France, this #HistoryHero invented a whole new language that helped to empower millions of people just like him.

His name was Louis Braille. He was born with sight in the humble French village of Coupvray in 1809. His father was a leatherer and as a toddler, Louis learned to help in his dad’s workshop. When he was just three, tragedy struck. Louis was hit in the eye with a sharp awl, and the injury became infected. By the age of five, Louis was completely blind.

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Charlie Chaplin

Do you believe laughter is the best medicine?

So did Charlie Chaplin.

Charlie Chaplin's own life had nearly as many twists and turns as the movies that made him perhaps the world's first global celebrity. His story begins in true rags-to-riches fashion, centering on a boy born in 1889 London. His father was largely absent so his mother Hannah, a singer and vaudevillian, brought up her sons, Charlie and Sydney, backstage. One night, so the story goes, Hannah – who performed under the name Lily Harley – lost her voice in the middle of a show. The production manager thrust five-year-old Chaplin onto stage in her place. He wowed the audience with his singing abilities and comedic timing -- at one point, bringing the house down by imitating his mother's cracking voice...

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