World War II pushed many women into the workforce. Traditionally finding jobs as teachers and nurses, this war created opportunities few women considered possible. Shining a light on women of African descent during this period, these women encountered even greater challenges. Integration of the military did not occur until Truman issued his executive order in 1948. Brown vs. the Board of Education, decided by the Supreme Court in 1954, declared segregated schools unconstitutional. Kennedy led the charge to establish the Civil Rights bill of 1963, which made clear that discrimination based upon race, color, religion, sex or national origin was illegal.
Before any of these seminal decisions, women of African descent worked against the grain to take pivotal positions in the workforce. Highlighting the accomplishments of a few incredibly intelligent women, Margot Lee Shetterly penned the book behind the movie Hidden Figures. First of the women upon which she focuses is Dorothy Johnson Vaughn.
Dorothy Johnson Vaughn attended Wilberforce University (Wilberforce, Ohio) on a full scholarship. She graduated in 1929 with a degree in mathematics. Howard University (Washington D.C.) offered the opportunity to complete a masters in mathematics, but she elected a masters in education in order to help her family financially.
In October 1958, the US government combined all competing space operations into NACA, and changed its name from NACA to NASA.
Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel broke rules and rank and expectations at every turn. A seamstress turned hat maker turned designer, she rose from a life plagued by poverty and pain. Albert Chanel, a peddler by trade, left Gabrielle and her two sisters at an orphanage in Aubazine, France after the death of her mother; she was 11-years-old. Learning to sew from the Catholic nuns who ran the orphanage likely changed her fate, as this skill eventually propelled her to fashion stardom.
Love affairs with aristocrats and high-ranking officials are woven into her history, although she never married. Some of these men embraced Coco’s talent, helping her get established as a designer. Using the connections these men provided, Coco’s designs wound up on many wealthy women, a fact that simply increased the demand for her work. She loved haute couture, but reveled in the fact that her designs could be replicated and worn by all. Most who wear Chanel now simply equate her name with high fashion. But to those who have studied her life, it is clear she wanted ubiquity – to be known and worn by all.
Without explanation, she closed all of her shops in 1940, shortly after WWII began. Questions about her relationships with the Nazis abound. Some say Coco got involved with the Nazis to secure the release of Andre Pelasse, a young man related to one of her former suitors. Others say she joined ranks with the Nazis because of her anti-Jewish beliefs. Whatever the reason, Coco enjoyed the protections of the Nazis during the war. Also during this time, she unsuccessfully attempted to wrest control of her company from the Wertheimers, brothers of Jewish descent who underwrote her involvement in the perfume industry.
Eight years after the war, Coco announced her return to fashion. Although Parisians initially rejected her fashions as backward looking, Americans fully embraced her fashion, a fact that prompted French critics to dial back their criticism. In December 1953, she formally announced her intention to return to fashion – having strategically maneuvered the Wertheimers into backing her new venture and giving her increased profits (her departure from fashion caused an eventual downturn in profits from the Parfums Chanel).
Read more about Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel in Rhonda Garelick's book "Mademoiselle; Coco Chanel and Pulse of History."
Why Premier Amelia Earhart??
Because this is the maiden voyage of Power of the Flowers. To breathe life into this resource, who better than a female aviator who shattered all concepts of what was expected of a woman. She did what she loved. If she could do this at a time when the odds were against her, there is no reason why we can't succeed now.
A Little About Amelia....
She flew when few women would even consider it, and by her own admission, she flew for the love of it. What she did leading up to the year she attempted to fly around the world is nothing less than remarkable. Here are just a few of those accomplishments:
Born in July 1897 to parents who never discouraged her active nature, Amelia Earhart spent her younger years finding adventure where other young women would not. Riding horses without saddles, sleigh riding, playing football and with popguns were among the activities Amelia and her younger sister enjoyed. Ruminating about her younger years in her autobiography, “The Fun of It,” Amelia made clear that she lived “at a time when girls were still girls. Though reading was still considered proper, many of my other outdoor exercises were not.”
Her interest in flying began in 1918 while working in a hospital in Toronto during the First World War, watching as the officers trained in fields around the city. By 1920, Amelia was flying out of an airport in Los Angeles, working for a telephone company during the week to pay for her lessons and flight time. By her own admission, Amelia never thought of flying as other than “a means to anything but having fun.” For this reason, she worked many jobs until she received the call in 1928 inviting her to be the first woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean in an airplane. Having found what she did well, her persistence and love of flying eventually translated into numerous opportunities to work in the field she loved.
Read more about Amelia Earhart at ameliaearhart.com.
Quotes by Amelia Earhart: