Friday, March 25, 2011

In History: March 25

This is the 70th post in a weekly feature here at Spare Candy, called "In History." Some posts might be little more than a photo, others full on features. If you have any suggestions for a person or event that should be featured, or would like to submit a guest post or cross post, e-mail me at rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com.

I'm calling this In History column "March 25" because there are a number of amazing women who were born on this day, and I want to bring attention to them (and no doubt I've overlooked some). It is, after all, Women's History Month!

Bonnie Guitar: Born on March 25, 1923, in Seattle, Guitar is a country-pop singer. She is best remembered for her 1957 country-pop crossover hit "Dark Moon." She became one of the first female country music singers to have songs crossover from the country charts to the pop charts, and have hits on both sides. She also co-founded the record company Dolton Records in the late 50s, that launched the careers of The Fleetwoods and The Ventures. In 1960, she left Dolton and became part owner of Jerden Records.

Gloria Steinem: Born March 25, 1934. I don't know if Steinem really needs an introduction, so to speak, on this blog, but just in case: Steinem is an feminist, journalist, and social and political activist who became nationally recognized as a leader of, and media spokeswoman for, the women's liberation movement in the late 1960s and 1970s. A prominent writer and political figure, Steinem has founded many organizations and projects and has been the recipient of many awards and honors. She was a columnist for New York magazine and co-founded Ms. magazine. In 1969, she published an article, "After Black Power, Women's Liberation" which, along with her early support of abortion rights, catapulted her to national fame as a feminist leader. In 2005, Steinem worked alongside Jane Fonda and Robin Morgan to co-found the Women's Media Center, an organization that works to amplify the voices of women in the media through advocacy, media and leadership training, and the creation of original content. Steinem currently serves on the board of the organization. She continues to involve herself in politics and media affairs as a commentator, writer, lecturer, and organizer, campaigning for candidates and reforms and publishing books and articles.

Toni Cade Bambara: Born on March 25, 1939, in New York City. Bambara was an African-American author, documentary film-maker, social activist and college professor. Bambara graduated from Queens College with a B.A. in Theater Arts/English Literature in 1959, then studied mime at the Ecole de Mime Etienne Decroux in Paris, France. She became also interested in dance before completing her master's degree in American studies at City College, New York (from 1962), while serving as program director of Colony Settlement House in Brooklyn. She has also worked for New York social services and as a recreation director in the psychiatric ward of Metropolitan hospital. From 1965 to 1969 she was with City College's Search for Education, Elevation, Knowledge-program. She taught English, published material and worked with SEEK's black theatre group. She was made assistant professor of English at Rutgers University's new Livingston College in 1969, was visiting professor in Afro-American Studies at Emory University and at Atlanta University (1977), where she also taught at the School of Social Work (until 1979). She was writer-in-residence at Neighborhood Arts Center (1975–79), at Stephens College at Columbia, Missouri (1976) and at Atlanta's Spelman College (1978–79). From 1986 she taught film-script writing at Louis Massiah's Scribe Video Center in Philadelphia.

Bambara participated in several community and activist organizations, and her work was influenced by the Civil Rights and Black Nationalist movements of the 1960s. She went on propaganda trips to Cuba in 1973 and to Vietnam in 1975. She moved to Alabama with her daughter, Karma Bene, and became a founding member of the Southern Collective of African-American Writers. Her first book, Gorilla, My Love (1972), collected fifteen short stories, written between 1950 and 1970. Most of the stories in Gorilla, My Love are told through a first-person point of view. The narrator is often a sassy young girl who is tough, brave, and caring.

Bambara was active in the 1960s Black Arts movement and the emergence of black feminism. Her anthology "The Black Woman" (1970) with poetry, short stories, and essays by Nikki Giovanni, Audre Lorde, Alice Walker, Paule Marshall and herself, as well as work by Bambara's students from the SEEK program, was the first feminist collection to focus on African-American women. "Tales and Stories for Black Folk" (1971) contained work by Langston Hughes, Ernest J. Gaines, Pearl Crayton, Alice Walker and students. She wrote the introduction for another groundbreaking feminist anthology by women of color, "This Bridge Called My Back" (1981), edited by Gloria Anzaldúa and Cherríe Moraga. Bambara went on to write many other books before she died in 1995.

Aretha Franklin: Another women who probably does not need an introduction. Franklin was born March 25, 1942. She is a singer, songwriter, and pianist. Although known for her soul recordings and referred to as The Queen of Soul, Franklin is adept at jazz, blues, R&B, and gospel music. Rolling Stone magazine ranked her atop its list of The Greatest Singers of All Time. Franklin is one of the most honored artists by the Grammy Awards, with 18 competitive Grammys and two honorary Grammys. She has 20 No. 1 singles on the Billboard R&B Singles Chart and two No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100: "Respect" (1967) and "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)" (1987), a duet with George Michael. Since 1961, she has scored a total of 45 Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100. She also has the most million-selling singles of any female artist. Between 1967 and 1982 she had 10 No. 1 R&B albums -- more than any other female artist. In 1987, Franklin became the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Susie Bright: Susannah "Susie" Bright (also known as Susie Sexpert) was born March 25, 1958, in Arlington, Va. She is a writer, speaker, teacher, audio-show host, and performer, all on the subject of sexuality. She is one of the first writers/activists referred to as a "sex-positive feminist." She has a weekly program entitled In Bed with Susie Bright distributed through audible.com, where she discusses a variety of social, freedom of speech and sex-related topics.

Bright was active in the 1970s in various left-wing progressive causes, in particular the feminist and anti-war movements. She was also one of the founding members of Teamsters for a Democratic Union, and wrote under the pseudonym Sue Daniels. Bright co-founded and edited the first women's sex-magazine, On Our Backs, "entertainment for the adventurous lesbian," from 1984 to 1991. From 1992 to 1994 she was a columnist for San Francisco Review of Books. She founded the first women's erotica book-series, "Herotica," and edited the first three volumes. She started The Best American Erotica series in 1993, which she publishes to this day. Bright was the first female critic of the X-Rated Critics Organization in 1986, and wrote feminist reviews of erotic films for Penthouse Forum from 1986–1989. Her film-reviews of mainstream movies are widely published, and her comments on gay film history are featured in the documentary film "The Celluloid Closet."

Cammi Granato: Born March 25, 1971, Granato is a retired U.S. female ice hockey player and one of the first women to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in November 2010. Granato was the captain of the U.S. women's hockey team that won a gold medal in the 1998 Winter Olympics. She is the younger sister of former NHL player Tony Granato, and a graduate of Providence College. Granato played hockey for Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. In June 1997, New York Islanders general manager Mike Milbury extended an invitation to Granato to attend Islanders training camp. She eventually declined. She played for Vancouver Griffins (2001–02 and 2002–03) a professional women's ice hockey team in the National Women's Hockey League. Granato has been a recipient of the Lester Patrick Award (2007), inducted into the International Hockey Hall of Fame (2008), the US Hockey Hall of Fame (2009) and the Hockey Hall of Fame (2010).

Danica Patrick: Born March 25, 1982, Patrick is an auto racing driver, currently competing in the IndyCar Series and the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Patrick was named the Rookie of the Year for both the 2005 Indianapolis 500 and the 2005 IndyCar Series season. With her win in the 2008 Indy Japan 300, Patrick became the first woman to win an Indy car race. She placed third in the 2009 Indianapolis 500, which was both a personal best for her at the track and the highest finish by a woman in the event's history. In 2011 in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Patrick became the first woman to lead a lap at Daytona International Speedway. She had her best career finish of fourth in the NASCAR Nationwide Series on March 5th, 2011, at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. By doing this, she set a record for the best finish by a woman in a NASCAR top-circuit race.

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