It should have been the sitting president’s Hurricane Katrina. Like Bush before him, Trump should have been held accountable for his failure to act in the face of human tragedy. Fortunately, for the residents of Puerto Rico, they had a strong voice in Carmen Yulín Cruz.
On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico. In roughly 30 hours, the category 5 hurricane tore the island apart. Some say it was the worst natural disaster in the history of the Caribbean. Others characterize it as a “catastrophic event,” more devastating by definition than a “disaster” as it lay to waste the infrastructure that once served its 3.4 million inhabitants.
Without warning, Maria left Puerto Ricans without power and water. Hospitals swelled with the wounded and dying. But weeks later, health practitioners were still forced to operate by the light of mobile phones. Puerto Rico was in crisis. It needed help. Fast. Yet, its nearest, richest, and most powerful neighbor, the United States of America failed to come to the rescue.
The indifference may not have been so shocking were it not for the fact that Puerto Rico is an official commonwealth of the US. It has been since the end of the Spanish-American War of 1898.
What would you do if suddenly your language, culture, and people were told they no longer had the right to exist?
Louis Riel organized. He would be martyred for his efforts.
Louis Riel was Métis. Have you ever heard of such people? Well, neither had I until Louis was nominated as a #HistoryHero.
The Métis were the descendants of French fur-trappers and indigenous Native American tribes who had trapped and farmed the Canadian Prairies (the mostly grassland area now comprising the southern regions of what is now Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba) since the 17th century. While the Métis spoke French and were devoted Catholics, they were ruled autocratically by the London-based Hudson's Bay Company on behalf of Britain until 1869. That’s when the Company sold the vast region to the new Dominion of Canada without consulting or even informing the local inhabitants. This left the status of Métis farms and language rights unclear.
While Margherita Hack was out-of-this-world brilliant, she stayed forever down-to-earth. Italy’s “Lady of the Stars” was an astrophysicist specialized in stellar spectroscopy, yet she was dedicated to communicating both her scientific findings as well as her political opinions in plain, understandable, everyday terms. As a result, she became one of her country’s most beloved cultural icons and one of it’s first “popular scientists.” Her accomplishments are all the more notable because astrophysics was then, as it is now, a male-dominated field.
Yet, she remains largely unknown to the international public. So we’re delighted to introduce her to you today.
Today is #NationalWildlifeDay. And we've got the perfect #HistoryHero to celebrate and commemorate this special event.
Even as a child, Jane Goodall loved animals. She liked to watch birds and to sketch them, as well as read zoology texts. As a five-year-old, she hid out in the family henhouse in order to discover where eggs came from. Her mother was frantic with worry. But when Jane emerged, wide-eyed with wonder, holding a newly hatched and still warm egg in her tiny hands, mum didn't have the heart to scold her little girl. Instead, she told Jane that if she worked hard, and took advantage of opportunities, she could be anything she wanted to be. But this was more easily said than done.
Ernest Shackleton sailed to the ends of the Earth and gave us one of the greatest survival stories ever told.
Though born in County Kildare, Ireland, in 1874, Ernest Shackleton grew up, along with his nine siblings, in London. His father thought he'd make a great doctor and urged the boy to go to medical school. But Ernest had his eye set on the horizon.
You know the old adage that you can’t save the world until you first save yourself?
Well, Henry David Thoreau embodied it.
Born in Concord, Massachusetts, USA, exactly 200 years ago (July 12, 1817), Henry David Thoreau was the son of a pencil maker and a gifted student. He graduated from Harvard College (now University) in 1837. Yet, it was many years before he found the path that immortalized him.
Can you imagine a life without forests, rivers, lakes, marshes, and all the life they sustain?
John Muir couldn't.
John emigrated to the US from Scotland at the age of 11. His family settled in the Wisconsin woods and as a child, John thrived in the great outdoors. The forest was his cathedral and he escaped into it whenever he could.
Born in 1838, John came of age as the United States was racing to industrialize. As he grew, he watched as roads spread their tentacles across the country. He bore witness as people and businesses gobbled up the land's finite resources. He lamented the degradation of nature at the hands of humans.
Do you demand – and passionately pursue – everything life has to offer?
Beatrix Potter did.
Most of you will know Beatrix Potter's name from the beautifully illustrated children's books, such as the tale of the infamous Peter Rabbit. And it's true, Potter was a prolific children's author/illustrator, crafting delicate nursery rhymes accompanied by realistic, yet whimsical, animal sketches.
What you probably don't know was that Potter was a true jack-of-all-trades. In addition to self-publishing her own children's books – at least initially – she also excelled in business, conservationism, farming, and sheep breeding.
But it all started with mycology: the scientific study of fungi.