Mary McLeod Bethune – Educator & Civil Rights Shero

Mary Mcleod Bethune was an amazing woman; an African-American teacher, who started her own school for girls from scratch and went on to be an advisor to presidents, campaigner for civil, and human, rights and champion of girls and young people.

Mary was born in 1875 in Mayesville, South Carolina, she was the fifteenth of seventeen children, and her parents were former slaves. From a very young age Mary worked in the fields with the rest of her family. Mary was the only child in the whole family who was lucky enough to go to school; she had to walk eight miles there and back, to a school which only had one room, and was only for black children. Because no-one else in her family could attend, she would come home from school each day and pass on what she had learned to her brothers and sisters.

Continue reading Mary McLeod Bethune – Educator & Civil Rights Shero

Advertisements

Margaret Fell – the Mother of Quakerism

Margaret Fell (1614–1702): The Mother of Quakerism

Margaret Fell (née Askew, later Fox) was born into a wealthy gentry Lancashire family in 1614. By the time of her death in 1702 she had gained an international reputation as a leading figure of Quakerism.

Known as the ‘Mother of Quakerism’, she played a crucial role as an organiser, innovator, author and elder of the early movement. Although the details of her life as a Quaker leader are well-known, her influence in the early movement was greater than traditional Quaker history has suggested and is a subject that is only just beginning to receive due acknowledgement by historians.

Continue reading Margaret Fell – the Mother of Quakerism

Dame Ethel Smyth: Composer and Suffragette

Ethel Smyth was a composer, suffragette and writer known for her passionate public and private life.

Born on 23rd April 1858 Ethel developed an interest in music from a young age. At 12, when she learned that her governess had studied music at the Leipzig Conservatory in Germany, she decided that was where she needed to go.

Unfortunately her father saw things differently, and was completely against the idea. He even stopped her music lessons to try and change her mind. Ethel was having none of it, and over the next seven years she persistently pressured her father; refusing to eat, locking herself in her room, skipping church and other social occasions until he finally gave in! At the age of 19 she finally left to attend the music school.

Continue reading Dame Ethel Smyth: Composer and Suffragette

Leila Khaled

Leila Khaled was born on April 9, 1944 in Haifa, a coastal city in Occupied Palestine. Leila’s family fled to Tyre in Lebanon after al-Nakba, also known as the Catastrophe, which resulted in the displacement of around 750,000 Palestinian refugees and the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.

Leila fled Palestine with her mother and her siblings leaving her father behind to take care of the house and their family business, and thinking that they would return home after the bloodshed. However, he joined them a year later, after both the house and the shop were confiscated by Israeli forces.

Continue reading Leila Khaled

Betsy Ross

Betsy Ross is a heroine of the American Revolution, and if you’ve attended grade school in the US, you probably know why.  Or at least, you think you do.

Betsy Ross’s claim to fame is that she was approached by George Washington in the spring of 1776 and asked to sew the first American flag.  She adapted the original design of the stars on the flag to a 5-point design, and produced the first American flag for the brand new country and remained a staunch patriot for the rest of her life.

Although that story is very famous, it is actually much more myth than reality.  The real story of Betsy Ross is a little more ordinary but just as worthy of commemoration.

Continue reading Betsy Ross

Bhikaiji Cama – ‘Mother of the Indian Revolution’

Bhikaiji Cama was an important figure in the movement for an independent India. Known to some as ‘Madam Cama’ and others as ‘The Mother of the Indian Revolution’.

Bhikaiji Sorab Patel was born on the 24th September 1861 into British-ruled India. Her young life was fairly uneventful; raised in a privileged family,  she did well at school and had a flair for languages.

In 1885 she was married, and her name became Bhikaiji Rustom Cama. Unfortunately this marriage wasn’t very successful. By this time in her life Bhikaiji had begun to have strong feelings about the British rule of India, and had become very interested in the Indian Nationalist Movement which campaigned for a free and independent country. Sadly her husband didn’t share her views, he was pro-British and enjoyed the benefits this gave him. Eventually, and controversially for the time, she left him.

Continue reading Bhikaiji Cama – ‘Mother of the Indian Revolution’

Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin

Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin was born on 12th May 1910. She was a  scientist & peace campaigner, and winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

Born in Egypt to British parents, Dorothy developed an interest in chemistry at the young age of 10. At school she and one other girl were allowed to join the boys for their chemistry lessons; when no further science education was offered to her she took private tuition to enable her to gain entry to Oxford University.

The work for which she is known, and which earned her the Nobel Prize, was her development and use of X-ray crystallography, which enabled her to discover the molecular structures of natural substances. She helped confirm the structure of penicillin, worked with insulin for over 34 years studying insulin and revealed the structure of vitamin B12.

Continue reading Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin