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The Insider's Connection

Women's History

Kalpana Chawla: the First Woman of Indian origin to go to Space

Kalpana Chawla spent her whole life chasing her dreams of being an astronaut. In 1997, she made history as the first woman of Indian origin to go to Space. Kalpana Chawla created opportunities, shattered glass ceilings, and spearheaded groundbreaking research for NASA. It’s the 1960s, and it’s uncommon for women and girls in Karnal, India…

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May 14, 2021

Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit”: The First Great Protest Song of the Civil Rights Movement

What happens when protest is propelled forward by music? How do people in power silence artists who have the courage to speak against injustice? What is the cost of resistance through art?  Billie Holiday, the legendary jazz singer, challenges the injustice of lynching with her iconic rendition of the song “Strange Fruit,” the first great Civil Rights Movement protest song, but she paid a high price. Billie Holiday had a tough childhood. At 9 years old she started working as an errand-runner in a Baltimore brothel and was sexually assaulted. At the age of 10, she was sent to The House of the Good Shepherd, a Catholic reform school for “troubled” African-American girls. When she was released from The House of the Good Shepherd at age 10, Holiday moved with her mother Sadie, the only consistent support system in her…

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February 25, 2019

Enslaved Woman Hiding in Plain Sight: A Story of Daring Escape

What did it take to escape from slavery? How was it possible? No matter how many accounts we gather about the creativity, courage, collaboration involved in escape, we know some pieces of the puzzle will always be missing. When we encounter these stories, we must remember that there are many more that we’ll never know. Ellen and Williams Craft were enslaved in separate households in Georgia. They got married, and shared the trauma of being separated from their families at a young age. Ellen and William did not have children while enslaved, fearing that they’d be taken away. William was allowed to keep a small fraction of the wages he earned as a cabinetmaker in a shop where his owner collected the rest of the money. He and Ellen planned to leave around Christmas, coming up with an elaborate plan….

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February 11, 2019

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