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Inspirational Figures

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The Bloodiest Race Riot in US History
It began as a protest against the Conscription Act of 1863 – but quickly descended into the bloodiest race riot in US history. So why did New York’s White working class kill at least 120 people during the New York Draft Riots?
Stephen H Long: The Man Who Mapped the West
Stephen H. Long mapped much of the unexplored American West – but he made one big mistake that set Western migration back decades.
Sally Hemings: Surviving Slavery and Sexual Exploitation
Sally Hemings was an enslaved woman who had several children with Founding Father Thomas Jefferson. Her story of agency and eventual emancipation remains an inspiration.
Ellen Ochoa: The First Female Hispanic Astronaut
In 1993, Ellen Ochoa wrote her name in the stars – as the first Hispanic woman to enter orbit. She continues to inspire generations of aspiring astronauts today.
Teaching Ruby Bridges
In the 1960s, Black schoolgirl Ruby Bridges and White teacher Barbara Henry showed America the true power of racial integration in the classroom.
Helen Keller's Watch
Deafblind pioneer Helen Keller campaigned for a better America – with the help of a remarkable watch that she didn’t have to see to read.
Judy Heumann: The Mother of ADA
Teacher Judy Heumann dedicated her life to fighting for disability rights and was one of the architects of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), changing U.S. society forever.
What Makes The War of the Worlds a Classic?
In H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds, a brutal alien army descends on Earth, intent on colonising the planet for its own ends. First published as a novel in 1898, the story tapped into fears that advances in technology would herald a new age of warfare.
Ghost Army
The WWII 23rd Headquarters Special Troops – otherwise known as the Ghost Army – was a top secret tactical deception unit deployed by the US Army during the Second World War to fool the enemy by any means necessary.
Gladys Bentley: Breaking All the Rules
At a time when homosexuality was illegal in the United States, LGBTQ+ artist and pioneer Gladys Bentley broke all the rules to become one of the wealthiest Black performers of her time.
The Pentagon Papers: Explained
The Pentagon Papers revealed how the U.S. government had lied to the public about its involvement in the Vietnam War. Leaked by the New York Times, this opened the door for future whistleblowers to expose the truth.
Afong Moy
Afong Moy is believed to be the first Chinese woman to step foot on U.S. soil and her presence sparked an American fascination with Chinese culture, but her experience in the United States was far from welcoming.
Gwendolyn Brooks
The first African-American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, Gwendolyn Brooks wrote about the hardship and struggles of ordinary people.
The Brontë Sisters
In the 19th century, amidst societal expectations for women to stay home, the Brontë Sisters defied norms, pursuing their literary dreams. Their novels unveiled the genuine aspirations of women at the time.
Malitzen: Enslaved Interpreter for Hernan Cortés
The enslaved Native woman who acted as the primary interpreter for Hernan Cortés during his conquest of the Aztec Empire.
Ida B. Wells: Journalist and Anti-Lynching Activist
Investigative journalist Ida B. Wells made it her mission to exposing the horrors of racism in the American South, but it wasn't easy.
Madam Queenie: New York's Notorious Crime Boss
America has always been captivated by crime and the sharp-dressed, trigger happy men who dominate the underworld. But one story remains criminally neglected, that of gambling kingpin Stephanie St. Clair, aka Madame Queenie - the Robin Hood of Harlem.
Barbara Jordan: The Black Texan Politician who Broke the Glass Ceiling
At a time when women and people of colour were all but excluded from the US government, one woman stormed the corridors of power and made them her own. This is the story of Barbara Jordan, the African American from the South who defied expectations by being selected to serve in Congress and who became one of the finest legislators in US history.
Claudette Colvin: The Original Rosa Parks
You know the story of David and Goliath, right? Well, America has its own version. Only our hero is 15-year-old African-American, school girl Claudette Colvin and in 1955, she took on the State of Alabama for real. The original Rosa Parks!
Jim Thorpe: Native American Olympic Hero
Football, baseball, basketball player – he was one of America's most talented sportsmen and the first Native American to achieve Olympic Gold glory! So why don't we see Jim Thorpe's name up in lights?
George W. Bush: After September 11
In the wake of the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil in history, President George W. Bush delivers a much anticipated speech to a Joint Session of Congress, outlining America’s reaction to the unprecedented atrocity.
Mary Carson Breckinbridge
Mary Carson, born into the wealthy Breckinridge family in 1881, changed the face of US midwifery. This is her story.
Negotiating the Surrender of New Netherland
How two wives saved New Amsterdam from total destruction by English invaders through the power of negotiation.
Mad Ann Bailey: Heroine of the Kanawha Valley
Historic accounts describe her “wild” appearance. So why did English settler Mad Ann Bailey don men’s clothes to take up the fight against Native American tribes?
Angie Thomas
Angie Thomas transformed her challenging experiences into groundbreaking novels, inspiring young African Americans to raise their voices.
Jacqueline Woodson
Jacqueline Woodson's journey, from her upbringing during the Civil Rights movement to becoming a celebrated children's author, showcases her dedication to creating stories that resonate with diverse experiences, especially for young Black readers.
Jason Reynolds
Author Jason Reynolds has transformed young adult literature with his unique writing style, merging poetry with colloquial language to reflect the lives of Black and Brown youth in the US and beyond.
Ibi Zoboi
Ibi Zoboi's journey from Haiti to New York inspired her to write novels that capture the immigrant experience's diversity and challenges, blending elements of fantasy, social justice and cultural identity in her impactful young adult fiction.
Katherine Johnson: Trailblazing NASA Mathematician
At a time when American space exploration was dominated by men, mathematician Katherine Johnson broke through gender and racial barriers to help change our understanding of the cosmos forever.
Mary McLeod Bethune: Fighting for Equality in the Classroom and Beyond
Mary McLeod Bethune, an influential educator activist, recognized that going to school could be a form of activism. Her groundbreaking work helped change America for the better.
Angela Davis
Despite being on the FBI's Top Ten Most Wanted list, Angela Davis went on to become an international symbol of resistance against social injustice.
What was the Edenton tea party?
The Boston Tea Party is remembered as one of the key moments that sparked the American Revolution. But it was lesser known protests like the female-led Edenton tea party that kept the flames burning. David Rubenstein tells the story in a fact-filled history minute.
Susan La Flesche Picotte: The First Female Native American Doctor
At a time when many Native Americans were refused healthcare by racist White doctors, Susan La Flesche Picotte overcame gender discrimination to become the first Indigenous woman in U.S. history to earn a medical degree.
Prohibition: Capitol Hill Secret
While Prohibition made it to illegal to sell, transport or make alcohol in the United States, the top brass in the US Congress were able to stay well-lubricated – thanks to the nefarious work of famed bootlegger, George Cassiday.
Dolley Madison: The First First Lady
As the host of unrivaled skill, First Lady Dolley Madison brought the US political elite together by throwing the best parties Washington, D.C., had ever seen.
Tuskegee Airmen
The Tuskegee Airmen, otherwise known as the Red Tails, were the first all Black air squadron in U.S. history. Their bravery and skill during the Second World War is legendary.
Susan Clark Holley: Breaking Barriers in Education
Facing racial barriers in 19th-century Iowa, Susan Clark Holley’s legal battle pioneered school desegregation, laying early groundwork for the monumental Brown v. Board of Education case.
Social Security
When times get tough, Social Security provides a vital financial lifeline for U.S. citizens in need. But how did this revolutionary legislation come into being and what benefits does it provide?
Puppy Diplomacy and the Cold War
In 1961, a gift from Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev to President John F. Kennedy, the adorable pooch Pushinka, brought the men closer together. Did puppy diplomacy prevent an all out nuclear war?
Octavia Butler
First popularized as a genre of literature in the 1920s, for decades science fiction was dominated by white male authors. That is until Octavia Butler, an African American woman, rewrote the script.
Lois Lowry
Being a teenager isn’t always easy – but sometimes, books can provide the comfort and guidance we need. Few authors capture the adolescent experience better than young adult author Lois Lowry.
Harriet R. Gold Boudinot: Interracial Marriage in Early America
The interracial marriage of Harriet R. Gold and Elias Boudinot transcended racial taboos of the 1800s, leaving a lasting impact on both the Cherokee and Cornwall communities.
The Battle of Athens and Gun Control
The story of how the Second Amendment was used in a fight against democracy, during the Battle of Athens, Tennessee.
What Makes Little Women a Classic?
When Little Women was first released in 1868, it sold 2,000 copies in just two days. A coming-of-age story that defied convention, it has gripped and inspired readers for generations.
Jailhouse Fight for Prisoners' Rights
What rights, if any, do prisoners have under US law? It’s a question that came to a head during the Attica Prison Riots of 1971.
Josefa Segovia: The Only Mexican-American Woman Hanged in California
Was Josefa Segovia – the first and only woman hanged in the state of California – killed for her actions or her race? And what can we learn from her tragic story?
The Civil War Battle for Bread
When the women of Richmond, Virginia couldn’t afford to buy bread during the American Civil War, they incited the largest civil disturbance the Confederacy had ever seen.
The Explosive Story of Dynamite Hill
When Black residents moved into one neighborhood in Birmingham, Alabama, White supremacists unleashed a wave of terror against the community.
Changunak Antisarlook: The Reindeer Queen
She was known as the Reindeer Queen – and one of the richest women in Alaska. So how did Changunak Antisarlook use her remarkable wealth to benefit the Inupiat community?
The Harlem Cultural Festival: Soul Time
The 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, also known as Black Woodstock, was a watershed moment for Black culture in America - that history almost forgot.
What Makes A Doll's House a Classic?
Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House is a feminist drama that challenged social convention - and scandalised 19th century audiences. First performed in Denmark in 1879, its subversive themes still resonate today.
What Makes The Odyssey a Classic?
Homer's The Odyssey is the ancient Greek tale of one man's epic journey home from war. Full of vengeful gods and deadly sea monsters, its influence can be seen in countless books, comics and movies today.
Patsy Mink: Groundbreaking Congresswoman
What do you think of when you picture Title IX? Inequality has plagued America’s youth for generations. Patsy Mink, a then young Japanese-American, vowed to change the system forever.
Vincent van Gogh
This is a timeline of events in the life of Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh, from 1853 - 1890. Known for his vivid and unique oil paintings, Vincent van Gogh found it hard to make a living from his art and struggled with his mental health during his lifetime.
Robber Barons or Captains of Industry?
The Gilded Age was a period of unprecedented industrial and economic growth in the United States – but were the men at the helm captains of industry or robber barons out for their own?
The History of the Rainbow Flag
The rainbow flag is one of the most recognisable symbols in the world, synonymous with tolerance and LGBTQ+ rights. But how was it created?
Marie van Brittan Brown: Creating CCTV in Queens
How did a hardworking nurse from New York City invent the world's first home security system? When a burglar tried to break into her apartment in the 1960s, this kickass crimefighter went where no-one had gone before.
Frances Oldham Kelsey: Standing Up to Big Pharma
Meet Frances Oldham Kelsey - a true American hero! Frances was a pharmacologist working for the FDA who stood up to the big drug companies and ultimately saved thousands of American lives in the process.
William Jennings Bryan: Flag of an Empire Speech
Former U.S. Secretary of State, William Jennings Bryan spoke in Indianapolis back in 1900 on the opposition of Imperialism within America. The speech has since been entitled Flag of an Empire.
The NAACP Legal Defense Fund
Thurgood Marshall represented the country's first civil and human rights law firm. Known as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, they raised money, amassed lawyers, and launched lawsuits throughout the country to fight segregation.
Mary Church Terrell: Championing Suffrage and Civil Rights
Mary Church Terrell was a lifelong activist who advocated for suffrage and equal rights.
The Shelleys and the Right to Fair Housing
JD and Ethel Shelley fought against restrictive covenants for the basic right to choose their own home. These agreements prevent homes being sold to people of certain races.
Stetson Kennedy: Unmasking The Ku Klux Klan
Folklorist and social crusader, Stetson Kennedy, helped unmask the KKK, one of the deadliest hate groups in US history.
Roberto Clemente: True Baseball Hero
Puerto Rican All-Star Roberto Clemente hit 240 home runs and was W a two-time World Series champion. He won the coveted Golden Glove twelve years in a row, but life in America was anything but easy.
Opening the Oval with David Rubenstein: Presidential Power in Wartime
In this episode, David Rubenstein explores Presidential Power in Wartime with historian Michael Beschloss and documentary filmmaker Ken Burns.
Zoot Suit Riots
Did you know that in LA, it’s illegal to wear Zoot suits? A fashion crime that dates back to the Zoot Suit Riots of 1943.
Jovita Idar: Voice of the People
Imagine throwing shade at a politician online and police showed up to arrest you! It would be un-American, right? In this video, we'll explain the story of Jovita Idar, a Mexican-American journalist who refused to be silenced!
What is a Global Citizen?
How do YOU make the world a better place? Let's find out what it takes to be a Global Citizen!
Amelia Earhart: Flexibility
Most famously known for being the First Woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, how did Amelia Earhart go from defying traditional gender roles - to defying gravity?
Nelson Mandela: Respect for Difference
After being imprisoned for over 20 years, Nelson Mandela maintained his call for justice and equality. How did he become a symbol of positive change?
Margaret Mead: Intercultural Knowledge
Mead brought the central insight of cultural anthropology. A master in her discipline – fearless and freethinking – let’s find out how her determination to help others understand, celebrate, and learn from other cultures, made humanity stronger.
Oprah Winfrey: Effective Communication
A captivating storyteller - how did this girl from Mississippi become the most powerful woman that America has known?
Barbara McClintock: Scientific Persistence Pays Off
Barbara McClintock used corn to make pioneering discoveries in genetics, despite facing gender bias and initial skepticism from the scientific community.
Madeleine L'Engle
For Madeleine L’Engle, the starry night sky sparked profound questions about life, the universe, and her place in it. Inspired by science and spirituality, her extraordinary works of fiction have captured the hearts and minds of millions.
Clara Brown: Pioneering Philanthropist
Clara Brown made history as a founding settler of Central City Colorado. After gaining her freedom from slavery, she became a philanthropic force for good.
Ronald Reagan: Tear Down This Wall
On June 12, 1987, President Ronald Reagan delivers a speech to the people of West Berlin, calling upon the Soviet Union to tear down the wall that divides the city.
Walter Dean Myers
Author of more than 100 books for young readers, Walter Dean Myers overcame many struggles in his personal life to write stories that represented the Black experience and the struggles of young Americans.
Author W.W. Jacobs crafted a unique blend of Gothic horror and dark comedy in his writings, most notably in 'The Monkey’s Paw', to inspire horror icons like Stephen King and Alfred Hitchcock.
Letitia Carson: Defiant Pioneer
In the mid-19th century, only around 3% of those who traveled West on the Oregon Trail were Black. Among them was Letitia Carson, the only Black woman in Oregon to successfully receive land through the Homestead Act.
Tituba: The First Accused Witch
The Salem Witch Trials are one of the most infamous tragedies in American history, yet most people do not know the story of the enslaved woman at the heart of the hysteria, the first accused witch, Tituba.
Ona Judge: Self-Emancipated from the Presidential Mansion
Born into slavery on George Washington's plantation, Ona Judge's daring escape highlights the ideological contradictions of personal liberty in early America.
How did a statue help win the fight for independence?
It was erected in New York as a symbol of English King George III’s grip on the North American colonies. So how did a metal statue help American Patriots win the Revolutionary War? David Rubenstein answers that question in a fact-filled history minute.
Polly Bemis: Chinese Immigrant Pioneer
Sold into slavery by her parents, Polly Bemis faced discrimination as a Chinese immigant in America – but became something of a pioneer of the West.
The Haymarket Affair
One of the worst miscarriages of justice in U.S. history, the Haymarket Affair, a labor action in support of an eight-hour working day, led to the unlawful executions of four Chicago residents.
Lilian Bland
For this Rebel Girl, the sky was the limit.An aviator who was determined to fly into the history books as the first woman to design, build and pilot her own plane. We explore who Lilian Bland was. Based on the best-selling book series 'Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls'.
This Rebel Girl was a fearless warrior; Queen of an ancient British tribe called the Iceni, who spearheaded a rebellion against the Romans to protect her Kingdom. We explore who Boudicca was. Based on the best-selling book series 'Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls'.
Grace Hopper
This Rebel Girl wanted to know what made things tick. She turned a fascination with puzzles into a career in computer programming: then sailed into the history books as the oldest commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy. We explore who Grace Hopper was. Based on the best-selling book series 'Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls'.
Nat Turner's Slave Rebellion
Nat Turner - known as the prophet in his enslaved community, led a violent uprising that changed everything.
When the Youth of Birmingham Changed History
In 1963, school children from Birmingham, Alabama skipped class to demonstrate for racial equality. Met with police violence, they helped to bring about significant change. The Birmingham Children's Crusade, as it was known, has gone down in history as a turning point in the fight for Civil Rights.
Sacagawea: Intrepid Indigenous Explorer
Native American interpreter Sacagawea was the only woman on Lewis and Clark’s expedition into the West. She played a vital role, but was subsequently forgotten.
Lozen: Fearless Apache Warrior
At a time when Apache men and women followed specific gender roles, Lozen defied convention – to become one of the finest warriors in the tribe's history.
Marian Anderson: The Opera Singer Who Challenged Segregation
When Black singer Marian Anderson was barred from performing in Washington by the Daughters of the Revolution – her Lincoln Memorial performance made her an icon of the Civil Rights Movement.
Charity and Sylvia: A Federal Era Love Story
Sylvia Drake and Charity Bryant overcame many challenges to become pioneers of LGBTQ+ visibility in the United States.
What Makes Silas Marner a Classic?
First published in 1860, but set decades earlier, George Eliot's Silas Marner took its first readers back to a pre-industrial world. A story that celebrates human connection, it explores how caring for a child changes one man's life forever.
Anna May Wong: The First Chinese-American Hollywood Star
Anna May Wong, Hollywood’s first Chinese-American leading lady, broke through racial barriers to change the face of cinema forever.
Edith Galt: The First Lady Who Took Control
Historically a ceremonial position, the role of First Lady at one point mainly involved hosting events at the White House. But when President Woodrow Wilson suffered a stroke in 1919, his wife, Edith, covertly took on many of his duties as President of the United States.
Hawaiian Leis and the Selma to Montgomery March
The Selma to Montgomery March was one of the most important actions of the Civil Rights Movement – but what were the connections between Black Americans and Hawaiians and why did the leaders wear Hawaiian necklaces?
What are the mysteries of the Washington Monument?
Towering above the National Mall is the Washington Monument. But what are the secrets behind the building of this 100,000 ton testament to the life and achievements of George Washington? David Rubenstein answers that question in a fact-filled history minute.
Who was Deep Throat?
Codenamed Deep Throat, FBI chief William Mark Felt, Sr., displayed immense courage to expose abuses of power at the heart of government during the infamous Watergate investigation.
Let's Go To Alabama
In the Southeast region of the United States is the state of Alabama. It’s famous for cotton, the struggle for Civil Rights and space travel. Let’s find out more.
Responsibility: Clara Barton
Clara Barton's unwavering responsibility led her from establishing free schools to founding the American Red Cross, exemplifying how individual dedication can fortify a nation.
Integrity: Schechter Brothers
In the 1930s, Jewish butchers the Schechter brothers showed integrity when they fought what they felt were unjust regulations, in order to uphold their faith and customer trust.
Sandra Cisneros
A trailblazer in more ways than one, Sandra Cisneros was the first Mexican-American woman to be published by a mainstream publisher. Her work brought Hispanic culture to a wider audience of readers.
Alice Walker
As the first Black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, Alice Walker helped to bring the Black experience to readers across the globe. A true trailblazer, her work continues to entertain and enlighten.
Shirley Jackson
A master of the macabre, Shirley Jackson explores the creepy underbelly of domestic life, with a sharp focus on the challenges that women face.
Lorenda Holmes: Loyalist Spy and American Sufferer
Loyalist spy in New York who did everything she could to undermine the American war efforts during the Revolution.
Women's Activism and Social Change
For centuries, women have used activism in the United States to voice their concerns about society and secure their rights as citizens. Activism is an important part of any democracy as it’s the way ordinary people shape nations.
Emma Tenayuca: Latina Labor Activist
Latina labor leader, Emma Tenayuca, led a major food-industry strike in her early 20s and was eventually ostracized for her political beliefs.
Bob Fletcher: WWII Samaritan for Japanese-American Farmers
Good deeds – they happen all the time. Those little acts of kindness that make the world a better place but unless they go viral, they can go unnoticed. Which is why it’s time to celebrate Bob Fletcher: the greatest good Samaritan you've never heard of!
Victoria Woodhull: The First Woman To Run for President
Victoria Woodhull ran for President of the United States before most American women were even allowed to vote.
Stepping Forward: The Fight for College Integration
For Autherine Lucy and Pollie Anne Myers, trying to get an education was an act of courage in itself.
Students and the Struggle for School Integration
The story of Barbara Johns and her fellow students fight for school integration resulting in the successful case - Brown v. Board of Education.
Harriet Robinson Scott: A Personal Fight for Emancipation with National Ramifications
The story of the enslaved woman who challenged slavery in the highest court in the United States.
Antonia Pantoja: Grassroots Organizer and Activist
The story of Latina activist Antonia Pantoja, who fought for bilingual education programs.
Marsha P. Johnson: Transgender Activist
The story of transgender activist, Marsha P. Johnson, who dedicated her life to LGBTQ+ rights.
Opening the Oval with David Rubenstein: Presidential Leadership
In this episode, David Rubenstein explores Presidential Leadership with historian Douglas Brinkley and journalist Jia Lynn Yang.
Anna May Wong: Hollywood's First Asian American Movie Star
At a time when racist laws and shameful stereotyping limited the careers of ethnic minority actors, Anna May Wong broke down doors to become the first Chinese American movie star in history!
Ethel Payne: First Lady of the Black Press
As the First Lady of the Black Press, Ethel Payne wielded her first amendment right to ask the tough questions and hold those in power to account.
Rachel Carson's Fight for the Environment
Marine biologist and writer Rachel Carson demanded that the US government take responsibility to protect people and the planet. Her book Silent Spring was a turning point in the modern environmental movement.
The Miss America Protest of 1968
In 1968 – the Miss America beauty pageant became the focus of an audacious protest that helped move feminism forward.
Kofi Annan: Understanding of Global Issues
Kofi Annan learned from a very young age that together, we are stronger. But how did this Nobel Peace Prize winner leave behind a legacy that creates a better world for us all?
Malala Yousafzai: Critical Thinking
Captivated by female innovators, Malala stayed up into the night, imagining the world as fair and united. But how did she change it for the better?
Mildred Cohn: Trailblazing Biochemist
Mildred Cohn shattered gender and religious barriers to revolutionize biochemistry, developing techniques with far-reaching applications in medicine and agriculture.
Tommy Orange
Tommy Orange, a groundbreaking Indigenous American author, illuminates urban Indigenous experiences with a unique narrative.
Anne Frank
Anne Frank was a Jewish girl who wrote a diary about her life in hiding from the Nazis during World War II. Her powerful story reflects resilience, hope, and the tragic impact of the Holocaust.
Pam Muñoz Ryan
Author of groundbreaking novels like “Esperanza Rising" and "Echo," Pam Muñoz Ryan has made literature more representative by expertly mining her own rich Mexican American heritage.
Martha Gellhorn: The War Correspondent who Covered D-Day
One of the United States’ finest war correspondents, Martha Gellhorn battled sexism and misogyny to report on the D-Day landings during the Second World War.
Mary Shelley
This Rebel Girl took up the challenge to write a horror story to scare her friends, And ended up creating a novel that has terrified readers for generations. We explore who Mary Shelley was. Based on the best-selling book series 'Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls'.
Queen Elizabeth I
This Rebel Girl never expected to be queen of England and Ireland. She came to the throne when she was just 25 years old; And ruled over one of the greatest periods in English history. We explore who Queen Elizabeth I was. Based on the best-selling book series 'Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls'.
Harvey Milk: Leading the Way
Harvey Milk, America’s first openly gay elected official, was assassinated in 1978. His pioneering campaign for LGBTQ+ rights paved the way for more members of the community to serve in government.
Yuri Kochiyama: Unyielding Voice for Justice
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, thousands of Japanese-Americans were interned on U.S. soil. Determined to right this wrong, Yuri Kochiyama testified to Congress and helped those affected win $20,000 in compensation.
Mary Ann Shadd Cary: Antislavery Activist
The first Black newspaper editor in the history of the United States, Mary Ann Shadd Cary spoke out to champion the cause of freedom in an era when the voices of African Americans were rarely heard.
Kateri Tekakwitha: First North American Indigenous Saint
Kateri Tekakwitha's journey from a Mohawk village to Catholic sainthood reflects the intertwined tales of faith and colonization in 17th century America.
Emma Goldman: Radical Activist
Anarchist Emma Goldman, once named the most dangerous woman in America by the FBI, left behind a complicated legacy. But who was this young radical and what did she believe in?
Dorothy Bolden: Unionizing Domestic Workers
Civil rights activist Dorothy Bolden made it her mission to empower America’s working class. Her activism empowered domestic workers across the nation – and created noticeable change in the workplace for thousands of Black women.
Bella Abzug: Pioneering Feminist Icon
At a time when the U.S. House of Representatives was dominated by men, pioneering feminist Bella Abzug became a law-making force to be reckoned with.
Victoria Woodhull: Fighting for Women's Rights
At a time when women were expected to know their place, activist and businessperson Victoria Woodhull blazed a trail as a fierce advocate for women's suffrage and empowerment.
Maria Tallchief: America's First Prima Ballerina
In a world dominated by mainly caucasian dancers, Native American Maria Tallchief overcame discrimination to become the United States’ first prima ballerina.
The Fire that Sparked a Workplace Revolution
The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Tragedy took the lives of 146 workers – and exposed a shocking lack of workplace health and safety laws in New York State.
What Makes The Wonderful Wizard of Oz a Classic?
Published at the dawn of the 20th Century, L Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was far from a traditional children's story. A feminist fairytale with a radical message, it struck a chord with readers across the United States.
What Makes Gulliver's Travels a Classic?
Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels is the story of one man's adventures in fantastical lands. First published in 1726, it's a book that asks a timeless question: can a perfect society ever be achieved?
The Notorious RBG
One of the most recognizable justices on the U.S. Supreme Court - Ruth Bader Ginsburg spent her career fighting for women’s and civil rights, helping to change the United States of America for the better.
Caretakers and Confidants: Presidential Valets
Presidential valets have been a mainstay at the White House since its earliest days. They not only perform vital tasks for the President, but act as confidantes and companions in the most trying of circumstances.
James Lafayette: Revolutionary Spy
Born enslaved, James Lafayette became one of the most important Patriot spies of the American Revolution, helping to gather vital information on the British Army. His work helped the United States secure independence.
Shirley Chisholm: Confronting the Political Machine
As the first Black woman elected to Congress, Shirley Chisholm made history in her lifelong struggle to empower minorities and change the United States.
Courage: Elizabeth Eckford
Elizabeth Eckford's lone walk to Little Rock High School, amid fierce protests, became a symbol of courage in the fight against racial segregation.
Richard Wright
At a time when Jim Crow laws made racial segregation legal across much of the United States, author Richard Wright gave voice to a struggle – as the first African American author to achieve widespread critical and commercial success.
Mark Twain
Known as the Father of American Literature, Mark Twain used satire and a sharp wit to explore and reveal the realities of US society in the 19th century. In doing so he developed an all-new “American style” of writing.
Ray Bradbury
Awarded a Pulitzer Prize Special Citation, recognizing a lifetime of influential literary works, Ray Bradbury wrote from a desire to “live forever”. Through sci fi, fantasy, horror and mystery to themes of death, loneliness and the dark side of human nature.
Amanda Gorman
The youngest inaugural poet in history, Amanda Gorman introduced a new generation to the lyrical power of poetry and became a modern-day icon in the process.
Elizabeth Freeman: Abolition Pioneer
Elizabeth Freeman played a critical role in the fight to end slavery in the United States.
Thomas(ine) Hall: Gender Non-conforming in Colonial Virginia
Thomas(ine) Hall was a 17th century intersex person who ran afoul of a small community in colonial Virginia.
Zitkala-Ša: Advocate for the Rights of Native People
Gertrude Simmons Bonnin, aka Zitkala-Sa, fought against the US government as it forced Native Americans to assimilate into Anglo-American culture.
Lyndon B. Johnson: The Great Society Speech
In 1964, 36th U.S. President, Lyndon B. Johnson commanded the heart of the nation while delivering his "The Great Society" speech. Can you hear any parallels to modern-day America?
Newton Knight: Fighting the Confederacy
Newton Knight was a Confederate soldier in the American Civil War who went AWOL to form a guerrilla force of fellow deserters and escaped slaves, who fought against the Confederacy.
Mercy Otis Warren: Blowing the Whistle on British Rule
Mercy Otis Warren was a poet, playwright and ‘whistleblower’ who used her words to throw some serious shade on British Colonial rule.
Patrick Henry: Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death
With the country on the brink of war, lawyer and patriot Patrick Henry delivers a speech on the rights of the colonies before the Second Virginia Assembly. His words ‘give me liberty or give me death’ would become the war cry of the revolution.
Catalina Trico: New Netherland's Founding Mother
Catalina Trico was a young trailblazer and the first European mother in what would become New York State.
Toypurina: Rebelling Against the Mission System
Toypurina, a Tongva woman who led a rebellion against a Spanish mission in Alta California.
Opening the Oval with David Rubenstein: The Road to Women's Suffrage
In this episode, David Rubenstein explores the road to women's suffrage with journalists Elaine Weiss and the late Cokie Roberts.
Frida Kahlo: Self-Awareness
In a time where women struggled to find their voice, Frida was becoming one of the most influential artists of the 20th Century. But how did Kahlo's vibrant art change the world?
Stephen Hawking: Curiosity
He changed how we see the universe and our place in it. But how did Stephen Hawking’s brilliant mind free him from his physical constraints?
Charles Willson Peale: Artist of the Revolution
Charles Willson Peale was not just a painter; he was also a soldier, politician, and educator. His life and work offer us a vivid snapshot of Revolutionary America and its heroes.
Audre Lorde
Audre Lorde, a trailblazing Black feminist, poet, and essayist, passionately explored intersectionality, identity, and activism, leaving an enduring impact on literature and social justice.
Laurie Halse Anderson
For author Laurie Halse Anderson, a survivor of trauma, putting pen to paper allowed her to make sense of the world. Discover how the acclaimed Young Adult author has connected with readers across the globe.
Julia Alvarez
Julia Alvarez's remarkable contributions to Hispanic literature explore immigrant experiences, cultural identity, and resistance against injustice.
Shirley Chisholm: Equal Rights for Women
In 1969 Shirley Chisholm, the first African American Woman elected to Congress spoke to the US House of Representatives to argue in support of a controversial women’s rights bill; the Equal Rights Amendment.
What was one of America's first fairy tales?
Fairy tales are children’s stories set in magical places that teach us about the world. So how did L. Frank's Baum's children's story, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, come to be considered the United States’ first fairytale? David Rubenstein answers that question in a fact-filled history minute.
How did one woman's beauty empire change America?
In the early 20th century, most hair products on the market were designed for caucasian hair. So how did one Black female entrepreneur, Madam C.J. Walker show America how business could be done? David Rubenstein answers that question in a fact-filled history minute.
María Ruiz de Burton: Chicano Activist Writer
Latina author María Ruiz de Burton raised the plight of Mexicans in America with two satirical and revealing books at a time when female authors were few and far between.
Sandra Day O’Connor: “Don’t Take the Bait”
The first female justice in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 191-year history, Sandra Day O’Connor succeeded in a man’s world by never letting sexism stand in her way.
Mary Anning
This Rebel Girl dug her way into the history books. A dinosaur hunter whose fossil discoveries helped prove that there was life on Earth millions of years before the human race. So, who was Mary Anning?
Florence Nightingale
This Rebel Girl revolutionized health care. A British Nurse whose work saved millions of lives, by the simple act of encouraging us to wash our hands. We discover who Florence Nightingale was. Based on the best-selling book series 'Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls'.
The Blowouts
In 1968, thousands of Latino students walked out of school in Los Angeles to protest against racial inequality in the classroom. Their collective action, known as the Blowouts, was a defining moment of the Chicano Movement.
Wilma Mankiller
Wilma Mankiller, a Native American activist who became the first female chief of her tribe, dedicated her life to the Cherokee Nation and the expansion of Indigenous rights.
Whiskey Rebellion
Whiskey fanned the flames of a Pennsylvanian tax uprising that lasted for three years!
The Largest Slave Uprising in Colonial America
The Stono Rebellion of 1739 saw enslaved people rise up using coded sounds that sowed the seeds of jazz, blues and hip hop.
The Enslaved Chef Who Revolutionized American Cuisine
James Hemings was an enslaved man and the first American to learn classic French cuisine. He helped popularise many of the dishes you know and love today.
Thurgood Marshall: From School Suspension to Supreme Court
Thurgood Marshall, the most successful civil rights lawyer of all time and America’s first Supreme court Justice, was instrumental in the fight for equality in the United States.
Thomas Garrett and the Underground Railroad
By day he worked as an iron merchant – but by night, Thomas Garrett helped thousands escape slavery as a station master on the Underground Railroad.
Martha Moore Ballard: Diary of a Midwife
Written over 25 years, Martha Moore Ballard’s diary gives us a unique perspective into the midwifery profession, and the lives of women in the newly independent United States of America.
What Makes Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde a Classic?
First published in 1886, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jeykll and Mr Hyde struck fear into the heart of Victorian readers. A sinister story of a split personality, its psychological themes still resonate today.
The Unusual Presidency of William Taft
One-term Presidents are often overlooked – but what makes William Taft’s time in office memorable is the fact that it was defined by a series of unusual firsts.
Dolores Huerta: "Yes we can!"
The brains behind the political slogan “Yes we can!”, Mexican-American labor leader Dolores Huerta fought for the rights of immigrant workers in the 1960s.
What Makes The Tempest a Classic?
Completed around 1611, The Tempest is thought to be the last play that William Shakespeare ever wrote. Set on an enchanted island, its themes of power and betrayal have captivated audiences for centuries.
Muckrakers... or Investigative Journalists?
An essential part of any functioning democracy - the press helps to make governments accountable for their actions; but when the first investigative reporters started working in the United States, not everyone saw them as a good thing.
Madeleine Albright's Brooches
The U.S.’s first female Secretary of State used her collection of brooches to get her point across when meeting with foreign leaders, a practice that became known as “Pin Diplomacy.”
Whose portrait went viral in the 1800s?
In the 1800s, abolitionist Frederick Douglass made it his mission to become the most photographed man in America. So how did his image change the country? David Rubenstein investigates in a fact-filled history minute.
The Culper Spy Ring
With the Patriots at risk of defeat by the British during the American Revolution, Continental Army Commander George Washington relied on the Culper Spy Ring for timely and accurate information about the enemy's intentions.
Henrietta Lacks' Revolutionary HeLa Cells
The astonishing story of Henrietta Lacks' immortal cells, taken without consent, revolutionized medical research but also exposed ethical dilemmas, leading to crucial changes in consent laws to protect patients' rights in the scientific community.
Miss Major Griffin-Gracy: Activist for Transgender Rights
Present at the Stonewall Uprising of 1959, pioneering transgender activist Miss Major Griffin-Gracy lived through the HIV/AIDS epidemic to fight for LGBTQ+ rights in the United States and beyond.
Colson Whitehead
The first author to win the Pulitzer Prize for two consecutive novels, Colson Whitehead is one of the United States’ most versatile writers.
Lorraine Hansberry
The first African-American woman to have a play staged on Broadway, Lorraine Hansberry was a writer who broke down racial and gender barriers.
Chien-Shiung Wu: The First Lady of Physics
We hear a lot about famous scientists like Marie Curie and Albert Einstein, but have you ever heard of Chien-Shiung Wu and her work on the Manhattan Project?
Coverture severely restricted women’s political, financial, and personal rights and was imported to the American colonies as a part of English common law. It affected the lives of all American women and although it has been diminished over time vestiges of it remain even today.
Barbara Jordan: Statement on the Articles of Impeachment
In 1974, US House Representative for Texas, Barbara Jordan delivered an impassioned speech on the power and meaning of the U.S. Constitution. Delivered on primetime television to critical acclaim during the coverage of the infamous Watergate scandal.
Bayard Rustin: Martin Luther King Jr's 'Out and Proud' Advisor
The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was the biggest protest America had ever seen. It culminated in Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr’s iconic “I Have A Dream” speech. But the man who made it all possible, chief organiser Bayard Rustin, was almost written out of history not because he was black, but because he was gay.
John Rollin Ridge: the Native American Novelist Like No Other
We've had some great American Novelists? You've read some of them in school, right? But one writer you've probably never heard of is John Rollin Ridge, aka Yellow Bird: the first Native American to ever publish a novel about a fictitious Mexican folk hero no less!
Nelly Bly: Breaking Barriers from Asylums to the Skies
We've all got our favourite YouTubers, right? But everyone with a channel has this Pennsylvian lady, Nellie Bly, to thank. You could say she was the world’s first blogger.
Hedy Lamarr: Mother of WiFi
Did you know? The amazing technology behind Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS was the brainchild of Hollywood actor turned visionary inventor Hedy Lamarr - the Mother of Wi-Fi.
Linda Brown: The Schoolgirl who Changed America
Linda Brown was just 9-years-old when she was thrust into the national spotlight, as she fought - and won - against racial segregation in the American school system.
Garrett Morgan
Kentucky-born Garrett Morgan invented life saving gadgets, but despite facing racial prejudice all his life, Morgan was recognised as one of America’s most prolific and socially conscious inventors
Breaking Barriers: Constance Baker Motley
Breaking through the limits placed on women and people of color was all in a day’s work for Constance Baker Motley. She was a civil rights activist, lawyer, judge and state senator.
Sojourner Truth: Fierce Warrior for Social Justice
How an enslaved woman became one of the most important social justice activists in American history.
Fashionable Rebellion: Tignons: From Oppressive Attire to Creative Accoutrement
How free Black women in Spanish Louisiana turned an oppressive headscarf law into a celebration of individuality and culture.
Virginia Hall: Nazi Nemesis
They called her the Limping Lady. The Allied spy who topped the Nazis’ most wanted list. This is the story of Virginia Hall – one of the most decorated special agents of the Second World War.
Opening the Oval with David Rubenstein: Lincoln and Emancipation
In this episode, David Rubenstein explores the story of Abraham Lincoln and Emancipation with historians H.W. Brands, Eric Foner, David W. Blight, and Drew Gilpin Faust.
Opening the Oval with David Rubenstein: The Role of First Ladies
In this episode, David Rubenstein explores the role of First Ladies in the White House with historian Annette Gordon-Reed and journalists Jonathan Alter and the late Cokie Roberts.
George Brittain Lyttle: The Bandit who Couldn't Ride a Horse
History is full of criminal masterminds – people who used cunning and skill to outwit the law. And then there is George Brittain Lyttle, the notorious stagecoach robber who couldn’t ride a horse!
Patsy Mink: Changing the Rules
The first Asian American woman ever to be elected to Congress, Patsy Mink dedicated her life to participating in the democratic process and improving the lives of others.
The Woman Suffrage Procession
The Women’s Suffrage Procession of 1913 changed how Americans protest – by getting bigger, better and more creative than ever before.
Dalai Lama: Empathy
The Dalai Lama is known as being the spiritual leader of Tibet. But how does this humble Buddhist monk advocate for love, empathy and compassion all around the world?
Wangarĩ Maathai: Global-Mindedness
Born into a culture where a woman’s place was in the home, Wangarĩ Maathai went onto celebrate a Nobel Peace Prize for her Holistic Approach to Sustainable Development. Let's find out how!
Joseph Smith: American Prophet
Inspired by the religious fervor of the Second Great Awakening, Joseph Smith founded the most widely-practiced religion founded in the United States, the Mormon faith.
Julia Stockton Rush: Love and Family Amid War
Julia Stockton Rush's letters offer a unique glimpse into the lives of women during the American Revolution, capturing a nation's birth from a female perspective.
Gary Soto
Gary Soto, a Mexican-American author and poet, captures the essence of youth and Chicano experiences in his stories, blending humor and the magic of everyday life.
Kate Chopin
Kate Chopin's groundbreaking novels and short stories drew on her experiences of growing up and living in the multicultural South, and boldly explores taboo themes of race, class, and female sexuality in 19th century society.
Nic Stone
Author Nic Stone tried many jobs before finding passion in writing, when her travels abroad inspired her to write stories and novels that spotlight issues faced by marginalized groups across the globe.
Abdul Rahman Ibrahima Sori: A Prince Enslaved
Abdul Rahman Ibrahima Sori, a Fula prince and former slave, was determined to free his family. His extraordinary story and character caught America's attention at a complicated time in American history.
Josephine Baker: Actor, Singer, Spy
Actor and singer Josephine Baker spent her life resisting racial discrimination at home and abroad. During World War II, she bravely used her fame to fight back against the Nazis.
Yarrow Mamout: From Slavery to Financier
African Muslim Yarrow Mamout rose from a life of slavery to become a popular businessman in Washington, D.C. Artist Charles Willson Peale painted his portrait and discovered his incredible story.
Louis Brandeis: The First Jewish Supreme Court Justice
Louis Brandeis was the first Jewish associate justice to serve on the US Supreme Court. His appointment changed the legal landscape forever.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This Rebel Girl wanted the world to read stories that were a true reflection of life in Nigeria. So she wrote her own stories about Africa which inspired a new generation of readers around the world. We explore who Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is. Based on the best-selling book series 'Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls'.
Beatrix Potter
This Rebel Girl captured our imaginations with her much-loved tales. An English writer who took matters into her own hands when no one would publish her stories, And went on to become one of the world's bestselling children’s authors. We explore who Beatrix Potter was. Based on the best-selling book series 'Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls'.
Ernestine Rose
A pioneering suffragette and free thinker, Ernestine Rose was way ahead of her time. Described as the “first Jewish feminist”, she used her voice to campaign for women’s rights and improve the lives of millions.
Beverly LaHaye
At a time when many women in the United States were campaigning for greater rights, Beverly LaHaye raised her voice for traditional values. An expert activist and founder of Concerned Women for America, today she is admired and reviled in equal measure.
Elizabeth Blackwell: Trailblazer for Women in Medicine
The first woman to graduate from a U.S. medical college, Elizabeth Blackwell broke through gender barriers to make history. Her remarkable story of courage and perseverance serves as a testament to the strength of the human spirit.
Matilda Hughes: Fighting for Family
Enduring slavery and loss, Matilda Hughes's relentless quest to reunite and rebuild her family showcases the indomitable spirit of love amidst America's darkest chapters.
Edith Maude Eaton: Fostering Cultural Understanding Through Writing
In a time when Chinese immigrants in America faced discrimination in all walks of life – simply because of their race – author Edith Maude Eaton channeled the power of the pen to help make positive change.
Pauli Murray: Breaking Barriers of Race and Gender
As a queer Black lawyer, poet and civil rights activist, Pauli Murray understood how our different identities can overlap to create multiple levels of discrimination. Her groundbreaking work in championing equality for all helped change America for the better.
Sarah Winnemucca
The first Indigenous woman to publish a memoir, Paiute educator and activist Sarah Winnemucca campaigned tirelessly for the rights of Indigenous Americans.
What’s hidden at the foot of the Statue of Liberty?
A gift from France to the United States, the Statue of Liberty is bursting with symbolism. But why are there chains at Lady Liberty’s feet? David Rubenstein answers that question in a fact-filled history minute.