3 exceptional women in 20th century


We are going to continue to discover together these women who have marked history and today we are going to approach the story of 3 exceptional women.

Josephine Baker

Now we will talk about another woman, Josephine Baker. Let’s be clear, Josephine Baker is a symbol of the struggle for women’s rights. She was born in 1906 into a very poor African-American and Native American family. She started working at an early age to help her family, but soon she was hired as a dresser in a Broadway musical. Thanks to this, she was able to leave the United States and arrive in France at the age of 19. At that time, she became a singer and dancer herself.

Her popularity is rising. She makes a European tour with the musical show called « revue nègre » and then becomes the star of the shepherd follies. Her success was quite disturbing at the time. The racists rise, the Catholic Church is indignant about these shows but instead of being destabilized, she will become a true symbol of struggle. During the Second World War, she enters in resistance by hiding engaged messages in her songs. Thanks to her success as an artist, she traveled to all the cities of Europe and thus became an essential asset of the resistance.

She commits herself to the Red Cross and adopts 12 children, all of different nationalities. She calls her children « her rainbow tribe ». She wants to show that fraternity is possible between all countries. After the war, she will also return a lot to the United States, her native country. She is committed against segregation, she walks for civil rights alongside Martin Luther King. She will even be at his side during the famous « I have a dream » in front of 250 thousand people in Washington in 1963.

Anna Politkovskaya

Now we come to another woman but in the 20th century, I named Anna Politkovskaya. Anna Politkovskaya is a Russian journalist but not just any journalist, she is really an exceptional journalist and she was known for her fights for human rights. She was murdered in the elevator of her building on October 7, 2006 probably for her work as a journalist. Anna Politkovskaya was disturbing.

She was one of the only journalists covering the Russian-Chechen conflict. Simply put, the Russian region of Chechnya wanted independence and Russia was opposed to it. It became one of the deadliest conflicts in Europe since World War II. There was a lot of abuse on both sides. Torture, horrible acts, and that’s what Anna denounced, but obviously not everybody liked it. On top of that, she was strongly opposed to Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin and often revealed the violation of human rights.

She regularly received death threats, yet despite repeated imprisonment for her investigations, she continued her work because they « had to » and these are her words « tell what she saw ». Her life, as you have understood, was constantly in danger but for her ideas she continued to inform again and again until her death at the age of 44.

Margrethe Hamilton

We end with Margaret Hamilton who is the only woman still alive in this article. Margrethe Hamilton is an American computer scientist but beware not just any computer scientist, she is the one who made it possible for man to land on the moon. At the time of NASA, two years after graduating in mathematics at the age of 22, Margaret Hamilton entered a very prestigious American university, MIT.

She joined the Sage Project, a team working on a defense computer system. When you get to the Sage Project, you are asked to work on a program that is trapped in Greek and Latin that nobody knows how to run. Think of it as the incomprehensible thing that everyone has been busting their teeth on for years, but Margrethe Hamilton managed to make it work and she was the first.

Two years later, in 1963, NASA heard about her talents as a developer and asked her to design the computer system that would be embarked on the Apollo missions. In the America of the 1960s, women were even more marginalized than they are today. Margaret Hamilton had a little girl at that time and it bothers a lot of men who don’t understand that a woman can pursue a professional career and still be a mother, but no matter what, Margaret will even take her daughter back to the lab when she goes to work evenings and weekends.

During these years of hard work, Margaret Hamilton will develop a system that allows the onboard computer to prioritize tasks. She organizes vital and non-vital tasks on the one hand, and non-vital tasks on the other. This organization could prove very useful a few thousand kilometers from earth and her work paid off, as Apollo 11 landed on the moon on January 21, 1969. In spite of the overload of his onboard computer, without Margaret Hamilton, Man would surely not have been able to do the same without her.