Women’s Voices, Women’s Work

Are you marching (or supporting someone who is) this weekend?  Then get inspired by these ladies!

Looking forward to the Women’s Marches this weekend, we’re bringing together a collection of women’s voices: women who worked hard, pushed the envelope, and took risks to make their communities a better place.

Mairead Corrigan Maguire won the Nobel Peace prize in 1976

for starting Community of Peace People.  When she joined Studs in the studio in 1993, he asked her what sparked her action.  She told him that her sister’s children had been shot and killed as a part of the violence in Northern Ireland, which prompted her and others to start Community for Peace People.  In 1976, the Peace People began marching; after 6 months, the violence in Ireland dropped 70%.  They are still working today and are “committed to building a just and peaceful society through non-violent means.”

When Dolores Huerta joined Studs in the studio in 1975,

she talked about the terrible conditions that led her to fight for farm workers’ rights, and against the racism that Mexican-Americans were facing.  During that conversation, she takes some time to point out how especially terrible it was for women working in the fields.  Her mother did not let her work in the fields while she was growing up, so she was spared some of the worst abuses and humiliations.  Here she explains to Studs why the field work is so brutalizing, and what makes it even worse for women.

In 1969, Studs brought his microphone and recorder to a Puerto Rican street festival in Lincoln Park.

The festival was celebrating a new daycare that would be opening to serve the Puerto Rican residents, particularly those families on welfare.  The Puerto Rican community was facing a lot of backlash in the neighborhood.  The successful creation of the daycare would help stabilize families and as a result, the community as a whole. The combined factors of a community of immigrants, racial tension, and a changing neighborhood made the daycare and the street festival very hot-button issues.  In this clip, we hear an unnamed woman talk about the need for the center and the support it has received from community members.

In 1970, Studs spoke with Mrs. Alberta Patterson.

One of her sons was autistic, and in 1970 there were very few affordable resources for children with autism and their families.  Mrs. Patterson tells Studs about her struggles with doctors and schools, and a misdiagnosis which, had she complied with the doctor’s mistaken orders, would put her son in a group home.  She told Studs, “I was not satisfied with that solution.”  After much hard work and research, this led her to collaborate with “a blundering group of parents with an idea and a goal”  and educators to start the STEP school.

When Maya Angelou was in the studio talking with Studs about her memoir

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, he asked her to tell the story of getting a job as a streetcar conductor in San Francisco.  It turns out that Maya, as a teenager, was the first Black female conductor on the streetcars there.  Her readers and fans will not be surprised to know that this was the result of great perseverance on her part.  As Studs said to her, “You did not take no for an answer.”

These voices show us how far we’ve come, and how far we have to go.  Just like these women, those marching this weekend are out there for education, workplace conditions and equality, and peace.

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Disability Pride 2017

This Saturday is Chicago’s Disability Pride parade, to celebrate Disability Awareness Month.

“Disability” used to have a very limited application and although not everyone is aware of it, the definition has widened to include people with chronic physical illnesses or conditions, learning disabilities, cognitive disorders or delays, mental illnesses, and autism spectrum disorders.

We’ve hunted through the archive to find three recordings that demonstrate the broad mindset of the disability community, and that remind listeners, then and now, that being different is nothing to be ashamed of. Continue reading →

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