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Playlist Trailblazers


Chicago's 'Anarchist Queen'

Daniel Hautzinger

Lucy Parsons was full of contradictions: an anarchist who defended marriage, a Black woman born into slavery who claimed her dark skin came from Mexican and Native American ancestry, a supporter of rights for women who didn't trust elections and thus never aligned herself with suffragists.

WTTW Celebrates Trailblazers, Women Who Changed the World

Daniel Hautzinger

This summer, in honor of the centenary of adoption of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, PBS and WTTW are celebrating trailblazers: women who already have or are working now to change the world and explode societal limitations. 

Celebrate Gwendolyn Brooks with PBS Books and WTTW

Daniel Hautzinger

The Chicagoland author and illustrator of the children's book Exquisite: The Life and Poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks give a live reading and discuss the process of creating the book as well as their admiration of the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet.

What to Watch in June

Lisa Tipton

An exciting new series from WTTW exploring billions of years of the prehistoric record with the Field Museum's Emily Graslie, a new season of a beloved mystery, a look at an infamous celebrity, and more. 

The Chicago Suffragists Who Fought for Women’s Right to Vote

Meredith Francis

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which guarantees women the right to vote. Chicago was home to some of the leading suffragists in the nation, and they brought Illinois women a limited right to vote years before 1920.

The Chicago Woman Who Fought to Clean Up the Southeast Side

Daniel Hautzinger

Hazel Johnson described her Southeast Side community as existing within a "toxic donut," surrounded by landfills, industrial facilities, incinerators, and more. Her activism on behalf of marginalized communities led her to the White House and the title of the "mother of environmental justice."

The Chicago Librarian Who Created a Lauded Collection of African American History and Literature

Daniel Hautzinger

Vivian Harsh helped make Bronzeville's library a center for African American writers and intellectuals, hosting speakers such as Gwendolyn Brooks and Zora Neale Hurston and amassing a collection of books and manuscripts by the likes of Langston Hughes and Richard Wright.

PBS Goes on A 'Prehistoric Road Trip,' Celebrates Female Trailblazers, in 2020

Daniel Hautzinger

The spring-summer 2020 lineup features the new, WTTW-produced natural history series Prehistoric Road Trip as well as programming celebrating female trailblazers, in honor of the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage in the United States.

Chicago's Outspoken Lesbian Power Couple

Daniel Hautzinger

Pearl Hart spent much of her career as a lawyer defending people from the infringement of their rights, from Communists caught up in the Red Scare to lesbians and gay people. Her late-in-life partner Valerie Taylor advocated for LGBT rights through her writing, speaking, and novels.

Chicago's Unsung, Pioneering Women

Daniel Hautzinger

Even prominent female groundbreakers are rarely recognized – there are approximately 40 figurative statues of men in Chicago but only two of women – so what about equally important pioneers who have been forgotten, from activists to literary figures to businesswomen?

Chicago's First (And Only) Female Mayor

Daniel Hautzinger

As Chicago prepares to elect its first female African American mayor, take a look back at Jane Byrne, the first woman to break the mayoral glass ceiling, standing up to the powerful Democratic machine in the process and winning in Chicago's biggest political upset.

The Many Pioneering Lives of Etta Moten Barnett

Daniel Hautzinger

She went from being a young mother from Texas to becoming one of the first black women to appear onscreen not as a stereotype and the first to sing at the White House. Gershwin wanted her for Porgy and Bess – and later she became a liasion to Africa and a Chicago cultural patron.

The Black- and Woman-Led Success of a Chicago Ice Cream Company

Daniel Hautzinger

Baldwin Ice Cream began as a parlor opened by seven African American postal workers on the South Side and eventually grew to offering ice cream in major Midwestern grocery stores and at O'Hare, thanks in part to Jolyn Robichaux, its president for more than two decades.

The First Female African American Pilot

Daniel Hautzinger

Only eighteen years after the Wright brothers' first flight, Bessie Coleman overcame both racism and sexism to become the first African American woman to earn a pilot's license, with the help of the Chicago Defender. But her high-flying career was cut tragically short. 

Meet 20 of Chicago's Influential Women in Culture

Daniel Hautzinger

The renowned Chicago-based artist Kerry James Marshall is painting a mural on the side of the Chicago Cultural Center that will honor twenty women "who've worked to shape the cultural landscape of the city, past and present."Who are they?
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