Viola Liuzzo

Viola Liuzzo

On March 16th, 1965, Viola Liuzzo “called her husband to tell him she would be traveling to Selma after hearing the Rev Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. call for people of all faiths to come and help, saying that the struggle ‘was everybody’s fight.'”

She was 39 at the time, living in Detroit. A housewife, a mother of five kids.

She had already taken part in the fight for civil rights. But her fight had always been in Michigan. Now she was heading to the south.

On Sunday, March 21, 1965 over 3,000 people began the march from Selma to Montgomery. There were blacks and whites, doctors and nurses, wealthy and working class, priests and nuns and rabbis, students and housewives, and there was Viola.

And it was there that four days later, after the march had ended and she was helping shuttle marchers home, that Viola was stopped at a red light. With her in the car a young black protester also helping shuttle marchers.

A car of local KKK members pulled up beside her. And when they saw a white woman and a black man in the car together they followed her. She tried to outrun, but she couldn’t. They caught up to her. They shot her. Twice in the head.

She died instantly.

Sources: http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2013/08/12/209595935/killed-for-taking-part-in-everybody-s-fight, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viola_Liuzzo

Witold Pilecki

Witold_Pilecki_in_color

“Together with a hundred other people, I at least reached the bathroom. Here we gave everything away into bags, to which respective numbers were tied. Here our hair of head and body were cut off, and we were slightly sprinkled by cold water. I got a blow in my jaw with a heavy rod. I spat out my two teeth. Bleeding began. From that moment we became mere numbers — I wore the number 4859.”

Witold Pilecki was a Polish resistance fighter who decided to enter Auschwitz to gather intelligence on the camp and organize an inmate resistance. This happened on September 19th, 1940 when he deliberately went out during a Warsaw street roundup and was caught by the Germans.

Until then little had been known about how the Germans ran the camp. It was thought that Auschwitz was more of an internment camp or large prison rather than a death camp.

But as Pilecki started to get messages out about what was happening inside the camp, “the underground army was completely in disbelief about the horrors. About ovens, about gas chambers, about injections to murder people — people didn’t believe him. They thought he was exaggerating.”

These reports became a principal source of intelligence on Auschwitz for the Western Allies.

After about two and a half years of imprisonment, Pilecki escaped, taking with him documents stolen from the Germans. He then published the first comprehensive Allied intelligence report on the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Note: this is a colorized photograph of Pilecki.

Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witold_Pilecki, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129956107

Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr was considered one of the most beautiful woman in Europe.

Born in Vienna in 1914, by the 1930s she was a film star. First in Europe and then in the U.S. But she didn’t stop with movies. Hedy became an inventor.

Inspired to help the U.S. effort in World War II, she worked to design a radio guidance system for Allied torpedoes that would defeat the threat of jamming.

Ultimately her innovation was not used in the war, but the principles of her work are now incorporated into modern Wi-Fi, CDMA and Bluetooth technology.

She was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedy_Lamarr

Hannah Szenes

Hannah

Hannah Szenes once wrote:

“There are stars whose radiance is visible on Earth though they have long been extinct. There are people whose brilliance continues to light the world even though they are no longer among the living. These lights are particularly bright when the night is dark. They light the way for humankind.”

She was a playwright and a poet, and she was a Special Operations Executive (SOE) paratrooper, one “of 37 Jewish parachutists of Mandate Palestine parachuted by the British Army into Yugoslavia during the Second World War to assist in the rescue of Hungarian Jews about to be deported to the German death camp at Auschwitz.”

She was only in her early 20s then.

And so it was on March 14, 1944 that she was parachuted into Yugoslavia. At the Hungarian border she was arrested by Hungarian gendarmes, “who found her British military transmitter, used to communicate with the SOE and other partisans.

Hannah was taken to a prison, stripped, tied to a chair, then whipped and clubbed for three days. She lost several teeth as a result of the beating. The guards wanted to know the code for her transmitter so they could find out who the parachutists were and trap others. Transferred to a Budapest prison, Szenes was repeatedly interrogated and cruelly tortured, but she only revealed her name and refused to provide the transmitter code.”

She was tried for treason on October 28th, 1944 and executed by firing squad on November 7th, 1944.

Three years earlier, in 1941, she wrote:

“To die,
so young to die.
No, no, not I,
I love the warm sunny skies,
light, song, shining eyes,
I want no war, no battle cry,
No, no, not I.”

Sources: Hannah Senesh: Her Life and Diary & https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hannah_Szenes

Josephine Baker

Freda Josephine

Freda Josephine McDonald, who would become known as Josephine Baker, was a dancer, a singer, an actress, the first African-American woman to star in a major motion picture.

She was also a mother of 12. To the rainbow tribe as she affectionately called her children.

For Josephine, growing her family started while she was active in the Civil Rights Movements. She stood for peace and equality, a believer that children of different ethnicities and religions could still be brothers and sisters. She wanted to show this principle with her own family. So she started adopting children from different backgrounds.

Albert Einstein and Marie Curie

Einstein and Curie

Albert Einstein was quite impressed by Marie Curie when he met her. So much so, that when Marie was dealing with a public attack on her persona for having exchanged love letters with a fellow scientist who was married, but at the time estranged from his wife, Einstein came to her defense.

He wrote her, “I am so enraged by the base manner in which the public is presently daring to concern itself with you that I absolutely must give vent to this feeling…I am impelled to tell you how much I have come to admire your intellect, your drive, and your honesty, and that I consider myself lucky to have made your personal acquaintance in Brussels…If the rabble continues to occupy itself with you, then simply don’t read that hogwash, but rather leave to the reptile for whom it has been fabricated.”

Norma Jeane

Norma Jeane, who would become known to the world as Marilyn Monroe, building a drone while working in a military factory in Van Nuys, California to help the U.S. war effort during WWII.

Dr. Seuss

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

– Dr. Seuss

Note: photograph is of Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, from 1925.

Elizabeth Keckley

Elizabeth Keckley

Elizabeth Keckley was born a slave in Dinwiddie Court-House, in Virginia.

But she was skilled at making relationships with the right people and for being business savvy, and the time came that Elizabeth was able to secure a loan to buy her freedom and the freedom of her son.

As a free woman, life would take her to Washington DC, where she became a dressmaker. The dressmaker of the city. For “her garments had extraordinary fit” and were worn by many notable women, including Varina Davis, the wife of Jefferson Davis, and Mary Todd Lincoln, the wife of Abraham Lincoln.

Sources: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/…/the-story-of-elizabeth-ke…/…https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Keckley