Women of the Century: Six trailblazing women to share personal stories in special event

Visionaries. Iconoclasts. Founders.

On Aug. 18, the USA TODAY Network will mark the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment with a storytelling event featuring six powerful women, from national leaders to hometown sheroes.

The USA TODAY Network assembled expert panels representing the 50 states, Washington, D.C., and the five permanently inhabited territories, to select more than 500 women who’ve made a major difference in American life since the amendment passed. From those, a national panel of experts selected 100 who best exemplify the progress, grit and courage that have advanced women’s lives for the past 100 years. 

WATCH: Americans tell entertaining and illuminating personal stories

“I hope that this project exposes people to women they didn’t read about in their history books or see on television,” project director and one of USA TODAY’s managing editors Philana Patterson told Nicole Carroll, editor in chief of USA TODAY. “We’ve got many famous women…, but I find myself most inspired by many of the women I didn’t know who work in our communities to make them better.”

Storytellers are Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, who spoke up to protect children being poisoned in Flint, Michigan; linguist Jessie Little Doe Baird and immigration advocate Cristina Jiménez, both recipients of the MacArthur Fellowship, often called the “Genius” grant. 

Also joining the storytelling event are Helen Zia, LGBTQ human rights advocate, author and journalist who helped launch an Asian American civil rights movement;” Nancy Brinker, founder of the Susan G. Komen Foundation and former U.S. ambassador to Hungary; and Margaret Carter, the first Black woman elected to Oregon’s legislature. 

The event, which will be livestreamed at 8 p.m. ET on Facebook and YouTube, is part of the USA TODAY Network’s coverage marking 100 years since some women earned the right to vote. The “Women of the Century” series includes interviews and profiles of extraordinary women from across the country, from well-known activists, icons and trailblazers to community leaders fighting to advance women’s causes.

“It is such a blessing to work with the six women on our show,” said Megan Finnerty, founder and director of the Storytellers Project, an arm of the USA TODAY Network that produces and streams shows featuring true, first-person stories. “These women are culture- and community- and country-changers and their thoughtfulness and grace in telling these stories in service of our country is just incredible.”

Hanna-Attisha, the pediatrician who sounded the alarm during the Flint water crisis, will talk about finding the science that provided proof that children were being poisoned by lead in the drinking water and her role in the community activism required to force change. 

Jessie Little Doe Baird, one of the Genius grant recipients, revitalized her tribe’s language after no one had spoken it for 150 years, and has a story about how one’s vision and life’s passion can lead to healing and hope for others, and a feeling of gratitude.

Cristina Jimenez, the other Genius grant recipient, founded United We Dream, the nation’s largest youth immigrant organization, will talk about significant moments in her life that propelled her to speak against injustice.

“I’ve witnessed the power of individual and community transformation,” Jimenez said, “as I went from being an undocumented young woman of color who was afraid and ashamed of my color and immigration status, to feeling unafraid and proud of my roots and immigrant experience.”

“My hope is that my story can inspire young people across the world, especially young women of color, to love themselves deeply — so deeply that they will raise their voices, speak up against injustice, and fight for the change this world desperately needs. 

“Because those closest to the pain are closest to the solutions, innovations and breakthroughs.”

The Storytellers Project pivoted from in-person shows in 20 cities to an online series, called “LIVE, In Your House!,” in April, when the COVID-19 pandemic started closing down venues across the country. Viewers can now tune in twice monthly to watch and comment live.

Upcoming shows

  • Aug. 20: Lessons Learned
  • Sept. 3: Stories About Stories
  • Sept. 17: School Stories
  • Sept. 24: Uprisings: Stories of the Struggle for Civil Rights
  • Oct. 1: Entrepreneurship and Hustle
  • Oct. 15: Far from Alone
  • Oct. 29: I Am An American
  • Nov. 12: Food & Family



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