Stumbling Toward Enlightenment

Remember the Ladies: Joy Adamson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Friederike Viktoria Gessner 20 January 1910

Friederike Viktoria Gessner
20 January 1910

Joy Adamson (born Friederike Victoria Gessner; 20 January 1910 – 3 January 1980) was a naturalist, artist and author. Her book, Born Free, describes her experiences raising a lion cub named Elsa. Born Free was printed in several languages, and made into an Academy Award-winning movie of the same name. In 1977, she was awarded the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art.

Elsa and her cubs
Joy Adamson is best known for her conservation efforts associated with Elsa the Lioness. In 1956, Joy’s 3rd husband, George Adamson, in the course of his job as game warden of the Northern Frontier District in Kenya, shot and killed a lioness as she charged him and another warden. George later realized the lioness was just protecting her cubs, which were found nearby in a rocky crevice. Taking them home, Joy and George found it difficult to care for the all the cubs needs. The two largest cubs, named “Big One” and “Lustica” were passed on to be cared for by a zoo in Rotterdam, and the smallest “Elsa” was raised by the couple and their pet rock hyrax, Pati-Pati.

After some time living together, the Adamsons decided to set Elsa free rather than send her to a zoo, and spent many months training her to hunt and survive on her own. They were in the end successful, and Elsa became the first lioness successfully released back into the wild, the first to have contact after release, and the first known released lion to have a litter of cubs. The Adamsons kept their distance from the cubs, getting close enough only to photograph them.

In January 1961, Elsa died from disease resulting from a tick bite. Her three young cubs became a nuisance, killing the livestock of local farmers. The Adamsons, who feared the farmers might kill the cubs, were able to eventually capture them and transport them to neighboring Tanganyika Territory, where they were promised a home at Serengeti National Park. In The Story of Elsa, a compilation of the books about Elsa, Joy Adamson wrote: “My heart was with them wherever they were. But it was also with these two lions here in front of us; and as I watched this beautiful pair, I realized how all the characteristics of our cubs were inherent in them. Indeed, in every lion I saw during our searches I recognized the intrinsic nature of Elsa, Jespah, Gopa and Little Elsa, the spirit of all the magnificent lions in Africa”.

Writer and celebrity
Using her own notes and George’s journals, Joy wrote Born Free to tell the lions’ tale. She submitted it to a number of publishers before it was bought by Harvill Press, part of HarperCollins. Published in 1960, it became a bestseller, spending 13 weeks at the top of The New York Times Best Seller list and nearly a year on the chart overall. The success of the book was due to both the story of Elsa and the dozens of photographs of her. Readers had pictures of many of the events of Elsa’s life leading up to her release. Subsequent books were also heavily illustrated. Born Free received largely favorable reviews from critics. Adamson worked closely with publishers to promote the book, which contributed to the Adamsons’ new-found international celebrity.

She spent the rest of her life raising money for wildlife, thanks to the popularity of Born Free. The book was followed by Living Free, which is about Elsa as a mother to her cubs, and Forever Free, which tells of the release of the cubs Jespah, Gopa and Little Elsa. Adamson shared book proceeds with various conservation projects.

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Remember the Ladies: Michelle Obama

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

2013 official portrait

2013 official portrait

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama (born January 17, 1964) is an American lawyer and writer. She is married to the 44th and current President of the United States, Barack Obama, and is the first African-American First Lady of the United States. Raised on the South Side of Chicago, she is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School, and spent the early part of her legal career working at the law firm Sidley Austin, where she met Barack. Subsequently, she worked as part of the staff of Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley, and for the University of Chicago Medical Center.

Throughout 2007 and 2008, Obama helped campaign for her husband’s presidential bid. She delivered a keynote address at the 2008 Democratic National Convention and spoke at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. She and her husband have two daughters together. She has become a fashion icon and role model for women, and an advocate for poverty awareness, nutrition, physical activity, and healthy eating.

Early life and ancestry
Obama was born Michelle LaVaughn Robinson on January 17, 1964, in DeYoung, Illinois, to Fraser Robinson III, a city water plant employee and Democratic precinct captain, and Marian (née Shields), a secretary at Spiegel’s catalog store. Her mother was a full-time homemaker until Michelle entered high school.

The Robinson and Shields families can trace their roots to pre-Civil War African Americans in the American South. On her father’s side she is descended from the Gullah people of South Carolina’s Low Country region. Her paternal great-great grandfather, Jim Robinson, was a slave on Friendfield Plantation in South Carolina, the state where some of her paternal family still reside. Her grandfather Fraser Robinson, Jr. had built his own house in South Carolina, and he and his wife LaVaughn (née Johnson) returned to the Low Country after retirement.

Among Obama’s maternal ancestors was her great-great-great-grandmother, Melvinia Shields, a slave on Henry Walls Shields’ 200-acre farm in Clayton County, Georgia; he and his children would have worked along with the slaves. Her first son, Dolphus T. Shields, was biracial and born into slavery about 1860. Based on DNA and other evidence, in 2012 researchers said his father was likely 20-year-old Charles Marion Shields, son of her master (Charles later married a white woman and had white children). Melvinia did not talk to relatives about Dolphus’ father. Dolphus Shields moved to Birmingham, Alabama after the Civil War, and some of his children migrated to Cleveland, Ohio and Chicago.

All four of Obama’s grandparents were multiracial, reflecting the complex history of the U.S., but her extended family said that people did not talk about the era of slavery when they were growing up. Her distant ancestry includes Irish and other European roots. In addition, a paternal first cousin once-removed is the African-American Jewish Rabbi Capers Funnye, son of her grandfather’s sister.

Obama grew up in a two-story bungalow on Euclid Avenue in Chicago’s South Shore community area. Her parents rented a small apartment on the house’s second floor from her great-aunt, who lived downstairs. She was raised in what she describes as a “conventional” home, with “the mother at home, the father works, you have dinner around the table.” Her elementary school was down the street. The family enjoyed playing games such as Monopoly and reading, and frequently saw extended family on both sides. They attended services at nearby South Shore Methodist Church. The Robinsons used to vacation in a rustic cabin in White Cloud, Michigan. She and her 21-month older brother, Craig, skipped the second grade. Her brother is a former basketball coach at Oregon State University and Brown University. By sixth grade, Michelle joined a gifted class at Bryn Mawr Elementary School (later renamed Bouchet Academy).

Obama recalled experiencing gender discrimination in her early years, mentioning that she was opinionated, but people commonly were more inclined to ask what her older brother thought of a given topic.

Education and early career
Obama attended Whitney Young High School, Chicago’s first magnet high school, established as a selective enrollment school, where she was a classmate of Jesse Jackson’s daughter Santita. The round-trip commute from the Robinsons’ South Side home to the Near West Side, where the school was located, took three hours. She was on the honor roll for four years, took advanced placement classes, was a member of the National Honor Society, and served as student council treasurer. She graduated in 1981 as the salutatorian of her class.

Obama was inspired to follow her brother to Princeton University, where he graduated in 1983. At Princeton, she challenged the teaching methodology for French because she felt that it should be more conversational. As part of her requirements for graduation, she wrote a thesis titled Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community. “I remember being shocked,” she says, “by college students who drove BMWs. I didn’t even know parents who drove BMWs.” While at Princeton, she got involved with the Third World Center (now known as the Carl A. Fields Center), an academic and cultural group that supported minority students, running their day care center, which also included after school tutoring. Obama (then known as Robinson) majored in sociology and minored in African American studies; she graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in 1985. She earned her Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from Harvard Law School in 1988. At Harvard she participated in demonstrations advocating the hiring of professors who were members of minorities and worked for the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, assisting low-income tenants with housing cases. She is the third First Lady with a postgraduate degree, after her two immediate predecessors, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Laura Bush. Obama would later say her education gave her opportunities beyond what she had ever imagined. In July 2008, Obama accepted the invitation to become an honorary member of the 100-year-old black sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha, which had no active undergraduate chapter at Princeton when she attended.

Official portrait by Pete Souza of the Obama family in the Oval Office, 11 December 2011

Official portrait by Pete Souza of the Obama family in the Oval Office, 11 December 2011

Family life
Michelle met Barack Obama when they were among the few African Americans at their law firm, Sidley Austin (she has sometimes said only two, although others have pointed out there were others in different departments), and she was assigned to mentor him while he was a summer associate. Their relationship started with a business lunch and then a community organization meeting where he first impressed her. The couple’s first date was to the Spike Lee movie Do the Right Thing. They married in October 1992, and have two daughters, Malia Ann (born 1998) and Natasha (known as Sasha, born 2001). After his election to the U.S. Senate, the Obama family continued to live on Chicago’s South Side, choosing to remain there rather than moving to Washington, D.C. Throughout her husband’s 2008 campaign for US President, she made a “commitment to be away overnight only once a week – to campaign only two days a week and be home by the end of the second day” for their two daughters.

(AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

(AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

Obama once requested that her then-fiancé meet her prospective boss, Valerie Jarrett, when considering her first career move. Jarrett is now one of her husband’s closest advisors. The marital relationship has had its ebbs and flows; the combination of an evolving family life and beginning political career led to many arguments about balancing work and family. Barack Obama wrote in his second book, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, that “Tired and stressed, we had little time for conversation, much less romance.” However, despite their family obligations and careers, they continued to attempt to schedule date nights while they lived in Chicago.

The Obamas’ daughters attended the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, a private school. As a member of the school’s board, Michelle fought to maintain diversity in the school when other board members connected with the University of Chicago tried to reserve more slots for children of the university faculty. This resulted in a plan to expand the school. Malia and Sasha now attend Sidwell Friends School in Washington, after also considering Georgetown Day School. Michelle stated in an interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show that they do not intend to have any more children. The Obamas have received advice from past first ladies Laura Bush, Rosalynn Carter and Hillary Rodham Clinton about raising children in the White House. Marian Robinson, Michelle’s mother, has moved into the White House to assist with child care.

Public image and style
With the ascent of her husband as a prominent national politician, Obama has become a part of popular culture. In May 2006, Essence listed her among “25 of the World’s Most Inspiring Women.” In July 2007, Vanity Fair listed her among “10 of the World’s Best Dressed People.” She was an honorary guest at Oprah Winfrey’s Legends Ball as a “young’un” paying tribute to the ‘Legends,’ who helped pave the way for African American women. In September 2007, 02138 magazine listed her 58th of ‘The Harvard 100’; a list of the prior year’s most influential Harvard alumni. Her husband was ranked fourth. In July 2008, she made a repeat appearance on the Vanity Fair international best dressed list. She also appeared on the 2008 People list of best-dressed women and was praised by the magazine for her “classic and confident” look.

At the time of her husband’s election, some sources anticipated that as a high-profile African-American woman in a stable marriage Obama would be a positive role model who would influence the view the world has of African-Americans. Her fashion choices were part of the 2009 Fashion week, but Obama’s influence in the field did not have the impact on the paucity of African-American models who participate, that some thought it might.

Obama's first term official portrait

Obama’s first term official portrait

Obama’s public support grew in her early months as First Lady, as she was accepted as a role model. On her first trip abroad in April 2009, she toured a cancer ward with Sarah Brown, wife of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Newsweek described her first trip abroad as an exhibition of her so-called “star power” and MSN described it as a display of sartorial elegance. Questions were raised by some in the American and British media regarding protocol when the Obamas met Queen Elizabeth II and Michelle reciprocated a touch on her back by the Queen during a reception, purportedly against traditional royal etiquette. Palace sources denied that any breach in etiquette had occurred.

Obama has been compared to Jacqueline Kennedy due to her sense of style, and also to Barbara Bush for her discipline and decorum. Obama’s style has been described as “fashion populist.” In 2010, she wore clothes, many high end, from more than 50 design companies with less expensive pieces from J.Crew and Target, and the same year a study found that her patronage was worth an average of $14 million to a company. She became a fashion trendsetter, in particular favoring sleeveless dresses, including her first-term official portrait in a dress by Michael Kors, and her ball gowns designed by Jason Wu for both inaugurals.

Obama appeared on the cover and in a photo spread in the March 2009 issue of Vogue. Every First Lady since Lou Hoover (except Bess Truman) has been in Vogue, but only Hillary Clinton had previously appeared on the cover. In August 2011, she appeared on the cover of Better Homes and Gardens magazine, the first person to do so in 48 years, and the first woman. During the 2013 Academy Awards, she became the first First Lady to announce the winner of an Oscar (Best Picture which went to Argo).

The media have been criticized for focusing more on the First Lady’s fashion sense than her serious contributions. She has stated that she would like to focus attention as First Lady on issues of concern to military and working families. In 2008 U.S. News & World Report blogger, PBS host and Scripps Howard columnist Bonnie Erbé argued that Obama’s own publicists seemed to be feeding the emphasis on style over substance. Erbé has stated on several occasions that Obama is miscasting herself by overemphasizing style.

Further reading

  • Colbert, David (2008). Michelle Obama, An American Story. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 0-547-24770-2.
  • Lightfoot, Elizabeth (2008). Michelle Obama: First Lady of Hope. The Lyons Press. ISBN 1-59921-521-7.
  • Mundy, Liza (2008). Michelle Obama, A Life. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 1-4165-9943-6.
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Remember the Ladies: Eve Queler

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Eve Queler, 2015

Eve Queler, 2015

Eve Queler (born January 11, 1931) is an American conductor and the emerita Artistic Director of the Opera Orchestra of New York (OONY). She founded the OONY in 1971, after having worked on the staff of the Metropolitan Opera and the New York City Opera. She is notable for her advocacy for, and conducting of, lesser known and less-frequently performed operas, such as Renzi and Jenufa.

Eve Queler Conducting

Eve Queler Conducting

Born Eve Rabin in New York City, Queler attended the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, graduating in 1948. She then matriculated in the Mannes College The New School for Music, where she studied piano and conducting. A Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund grant enabled her to pursue further studies in conducting with Joseph Rosenstock and accompaniment with Paul Ulanowsky and Paul Berl. She also participated in master classes with Walter Susskind and Leonard Slatkin in St Louis and Igor Markevich and Herbert Blomstedt in Europe.

Although primarily dedicated to the OONY, she has appeared as a guest conductor with numerous opera companies and orchestras internationally, including the Mariinsky Theatre, Opera Australia, the Hamburg State Opera, the National Theatre in Prague, the Frankfurt Opera, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Edmonton Orchestra, and the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra among others.

Eve Queler is the recipient of a 2010 National Endowment for the Arts Opera Honors Award.

Equally at home with symphonic repertoire, Maestro Queler has conducted numerous symphony orchestras including the Philadelphia Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, the Montreal Symphony, and the Orchestra Sinfonica Siciliana in Palermo, Sicily.

Among the many legendary opera singers Maestro Queler has conducted are Stephanie Blythe, Montserrat Caballe, Placido Domingo, Renee Fleming, Marcello Giordani, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Aprile Millo, Renata Scotto and Dolora Zajick.

Ms. Queler is the recipient of numerous awards. In addition to the 2010 National Endowment for the Arts Lifetime Achievement award, she has received the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (arguably the highest award presented by the French government),and the Sanford Medal, Yale University’s highest Musical Honor. (EveQueler.com)

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Remember the Ladies: Harriot Kezia Hunt

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Harriot Kezia Hunt (November 9, 1805 – January 2, 1875) was an early female physician.

Hygeia, the Greek goddess of health, carved by Edmonia Lewis c. 1871-1872 for Harriot Hunt's graveHunt was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1805, the daughter of Joab Hunt and Kezia Wentworth Hunt. She and her sister, Sarah Hunt, studied medicine under Elizabeth Mott and Richard Dixon Mott. She was the first woman to apply to Harvard Medical School, but was denied entrance in both 1847 and 1850. She worked practicing and as an advocate for the right for women to learn and practice medicine. Much of her career is described in her memoirs, Glances and Glimpses; Or, Fifty Years’ Social, Including Twenty Years’ Professional Life (Boston: J.P. Jewett and Company, 1856). Her office was at 32 Green Street.

[She] is the most famous of the female “irregular” practitioners, who could’t, or wouldn’t, get a medical degree, but who offered remedies of a sort. Men as well as women performed these sorts of services, and in a time when the medical profession was loosely organized and when medical schools often provided minimal information, an irregular practitioner might be as handy and as skillful as a “real doctor.” (Remember the Ladies, Kirstin Olsen)

She is buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery, near Boston. Her grave marker includes a statue of the Greek goddess of health, Hygeia, carved by the African American sculptor, Edmonia Lewis.

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