Dispatches From the Internets

Lizzo Is All About Self-acceptance and Empowerment

I can’t remember exactly when I discovered Lizzo, but I do remember how refreshing I found her work. A self-professed “big girl with a cute face,” Lizzo is incredibly empowered and comfortable in her own skin. Having struggled with my own body image issues—including dealing with a decent amount of body shaming—I’ve found her ability to find beauty in everyone—including herself—inspirational.

Nina Simone “said It” When Others Couldn’t

Nina Simone’s performance of “My Baby Just Cares for Me” has long been one of my favorite songs. Her hands slink across the piano keys as her unmistakable voice seems to dance in, out and, around the melody they produce. It’s a joy to listen to and still gives me those this-is-amazing shivers that only the best music does. I don’t recall my first introduction to Nina Simone, but I remember how striking her voice was. And she used that voice to say the things others couldn’t.

Bayard Rustin Advocated for Marginalized People Everywhere

During Black History Month, there is, understandably, a great deal of focus placed on the folks who risked their lives (and, in some cases, lost them) in the fight for the civil rights of their fellow Black Americans. Growing up, however, I never heard about Bayard Rustin and his incredible legacy of standing up for marginalized people, both here in the U.S. and abroad.

Anna Arnold Hedgeman Was the Glue for the Civil Rights Movement

A few weeks back, Marcy Sutton shared a slide deck by Tanya Reilly with me. The talk was “Being Glue” and it discussed the incredibly important (and shamefully undervalued) role of being the “glue” that holds a team together and makes them successful. That talk was concerned with technical teams, but this role is universal to any organization, collaboration, or project. In many ways, Anna Arnold Hedgeman was glue for the civil rights movement and I don’t think she gets enough credit for it.

He Invented the Search Engine, but You Don’t Know His Name

Have you ever heard the name Alan Emtage? Probably not. He didn’t start a nearly trillion-dollar company. He isn’t digging massive tunnels under cities. His pet project isn’t putting people on Mars. But he wrote the first search engine, way back in 1990. The thing is, he doesn’t brag about this accomplishment.

Thomas Jennings Put His Money on the Line

I hadn’t heard about Thomas Jennings until recently, but his story is a pretty impressive one. Did you know he invented dry cleaning? Yeah, a white man is often credited with the invention of modern dry cleaning, but Thomas Jennings invented the “dry scouring” technique that gave birth to modern dry cleaning. He also successfully patented the idea, becoming the first black man to be awarded a patent for his invention. In 1821, a full 42 years before the Emancipation Proclamation!

Harriet Really Was a Spy

While the history of slavery in America was covered in my schooling, that education was largely superficial. I do have vivid memories of learning about Harriet Tubman and the “underground railroad” that helped smuggle slaves out of the slave-owning Confederacy into freedom (such as it was) in the United States and Canada during the Civil War. What I didn’t know is that there is so much more to Harriet Tubman. She was the first woman to lead a U.S. military expedition and she was a spy (and recruiter) for the Union army!