History of Eva Peron for Kids

Imagine that you are living in South America in the 1940s.  Life is fun in Argentina, the country where you live, but also hard for your family and for many people you know.  Most people are poor and cannot find jobs that pay well.  The jobs that your aunts, uncles and parents have don’t pay very much.  And so people are not feeling very hopeful about their futures.  There is a lot of talk in the evenings about what people can do to make life better.  

You listen to what the adults talk about and one day, you go into the city with your mother and hear someone speaking on stage.  It is a famous woman who comes out.  She is dressed well and speaks with great passion about what should be done to make the lives of regular people better.  “Who is that?” you ask your mother.  “It is the president’s wife,” your mother responds.  “Her name is Eva Peron and she is a great saviour of our country, Argentina.”

Eva Peron was the wife of the president of Argentina in the 1940s.  She became very famous because she was good at speaking in public and she was passionate about helping poor people of her country.  People loved her and felt that she played a big role in improving the lives of the people of the time.  But Eva Peron was not always rich and famous.  She was actually born into a poor family, which helped her to understand the struggles of being poor. 

Eva Peron was born in May 1919 in Los Toldos, Argentina.  When she was born, her name was actually Maria Eva Duarte.  She was born to a poor family.  She grew up in poverty, meaning that she didn’t have a lot of money or access to good things in life.  She had three siblings, but her closest was a sister named Erminda and together, the two girls dreamt of becoming famous actresses.  They made up plays together and put them on for their parents and friends. 

Her mother was named Juana Ibaguren and her father was named Juan Duarte.  Unfortunately, when Eva was 7 years old, her dad died suddenly.  Everyone was very upset and their money problems suddenly got much worse.  Eva’s dad had previously been married and when he died, all of his money went to his first wife and children. Juana Ibaguren and her children were now even more poor than before.

Eva and her family struggled to have enough to eat and pay rent for their home.  So the older children had to get jobs to help earn money.  The family moved to Junin, a city in the Province of Buenos Aires in 1930.  The older children took jobs as teachers and cooks.  Eva’s mother also started taking in boarders, or people who pay money to stay at a home and be fed meals.  Eva’s mother also earned money by cooking and sewing clothes.

When Eva was 15 years old, she needed to get a job as well to contribute and bring in money.  But instead of taking one of the jobs that were available in their town, Eva did not lose sight of her dream to become an actress.  She decided to move to the big city of Buenos Aires to become an actress.  She packed her bags and caught a bus into the city.  There she found a cheap boarding house to stay at and she started trying out at various theatre houses for auditions.  

Eva was a talented actress and a beautiful young girl.  She found work at a number of theatre companies and landed roles in plays that they were performing.  While she was a teenager, Eva was in many plays and theatre productions and and even landed her first film role, or role on TV.  She also got a contract, or paid position, performing as a voice actress on the radio. 

Eva made a good amount of money as an actress and when she was about 20 years old, she decided to invest her money in starting a business.  To invest means to use your money to try to make more money.  Eva’s new business was an entertainment business called “the Company of the Theatre of the Air.”  In her new business, Eva produced radio programs like the ones she had acted in. 

At first business was difficult and stressful, but over time Eva had great success: she made a deal to create a special radio series in which she would act like famous women in history.  She was very excited to get the chance to play famous historical figures like Queen Elizabeth I and Catherine the Great.

When Eva was in her early 20s, she met a man that would dramatically change her life.  He was an older man named Juan Peron.  Juan was a colonel in the army and a government official.  They met in Buenos Aires and fell in love.  It wasn’t long before Juan asked Eva to marry him and they got married in 1945.  

Only one year later, Juan became the president of Argentina!  Can you imagine what it would be like to go from being an actress with a radio program to the president’s wife within one year?  That must certainly have been a wild time for Eva.  

Eva became a very powerful influence on Juan’s politics.  Influence means the power to shape how things are. Eva used her position as first lady to fight for causes she believed in.  This included fighting for women to have the right to vote and improving the lives of poor people in her country.  She also had a lot of influence over health andworker’s policies in the government while Juan was president. 

Because Eva was a voice actress on the radio, she was very good at speaking .. and very good at speaking in front of crowds. People who heard her speak liked listening to her a lot.  She spoke about all the ways that she wanted to help poor people make their lives better.  Eva started giving speeches while her husband was president.. And people loved her!  She was very easy to listen to and poor people who heard her speak loved to hear her message about how the president planned to help them.  

Eva became very popular.  Everywhere she went, people knew who she was and were very excited about her messages of hope for the future.  She became even more famous and she used her fame to continue spreading her message around the country of Argentina.  She spent about 5 years doing this and her popularity grew and grew.

Unfortunately, Eva started to experience health problems.  She wanted to continue working to help her fellow people of Argentina and to help poor people.  But unfortunately she got sicker and sicker and soon she was not able to work.  The people of Argentina were very sad when they learned that she was sick.  They brought her flowers and chanted her name.  They knew that she had helped them so much and they wished she would get well and stay with them for years to come. 

Eva made her last appearance in front of a crowd June 1952, when her husband was elected president for a second term.  She passed away the following month from cancer.  She was given a large funeral and millions of people showed up to say farewell.  It showed how much support Eva had from the Argentine people at the time. 

Eva Peron is a famous person in her home country of Argentina and around the world still today.  Many people are fascinated by the story of how a poor girl became a famous political power house.  Her life story has been made into a number of books, films and plays.  This includes a famous play called Evita in 1979. The most famous song is “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” and made her legacy even more known across the world.

Spend some time thinking about Eva and her life. Growing up, her life wasn’t easy but rather than sitting around and feeling sorry for herself, she started working and practicing to become an actress. It took time for her skills to grow and for her business to take off, but she stuck with it until it became successful. And when Eva became successful and the wife of the President, she used her power and influence for good. She spoke out for people who had less people, those who couldn’t vote or who were poor. Even though most of us don’t have the same power as Eva, we can use what we have to help others. This may mean donating clothes or food or money to help those in need. Our family likes to go to a place where we prepare and box food for people in need. Ask your parents if there’s a place like this near you where you can volunteer your time. Every little bit helps and makes the world a better place like Eva Peron strived for herself!

History of Storytelling and the Oral Tradition for Kids

Have you ever gone camping? When you camp, you’re usually in a place where there isn’t wifi or cell reception, or even electricity. You have to figure out ways to entertain yourself that don’t involve movies, TV, or the internet. If you haven’t been in that situation, take a moment to imagine what you would do. You could take a walk and explore nature, read a book, or play a board or card game. 

But what about when it gets dark? If you’ve been camping, you know that once it’s dark, you can’t really do any of those things easily. Instead, you might build a fire and take turns telling stories– stories about your past, characters you’ve made up, or even ghost stories. 

If you’ve had this experience, then you know something about the topic of today’s episode. Today, we’re going to talk about how people entertained themselves, and learned, before there was electricity for things like lights, cellphones, and TVs. Before there were many books. And, in some cases, before there was even writing. Although humans have had writing for thousands of years, until the last few hundreds of year, most people in the world couldn’t even read. Books were also expensive and hard to find for a very long time, so even if you could read, you probably wouldn’t own a lot of books. 

Instead, people told each other stories. People have probably been telling stories to each other for as long as they’ve been talking. Since humans have always lived in groups, the really good stories would be told over and over again. They would be passed down from parents or grandparents to children, generation after generation. And over time they would change. Each person who told the story might add their own details, while keeping the basic plot and characters in place. Every culture in the world has stories that are passed down orally, which means they are telling them by speaking and by memory. Some stories are written down later, but many never are.  

Today we call this “oral tradition.” The “oral” part means it’s spoken–not written down– and the “tradition” part means it’s something that people pass down from generation to generation over a long time.  But this is just a modern way of talking about something that people have been doing for tens of thousands of years. 

We also just call it “storytelling.”

As you probably know, people still do this, any time someone tells a story from memory, without reading it from a book. Maybe it’s one that they’ve made up. Maybe they heard someone else tell it. Maybe their great-great-great- grandmother was the first to tell it, and it was so good, the family has been telling it to their children ever since.  

Many religious stories were passed down as oral traditions for hundreds of years before being written down. Many people today still memorize and re-tell them, even though they’re written down. The Christian Bible, the Jewish Torah, the Hindu Vedas – all of these religious teachings were passed down by people who memorized them and re-told them to the young in their families or communities. They wanted to keep the stories about their beliefs and morals alive.   

Families have their own stories as well. Some families have stories about a great-grandparent or aunt or other ancestor who did something exciting or remarkable, and these stories might be passed down orally too. 

Often, traditional stories would start out as real history. Imagine listening to a live Bedtime History podcast while sitting around a campfire!  A war would be fought, or a king would rule wisely and make sacrifices for his people. People who lived through the actual events would tell their families about them. As time went on, the children would grow and tell the stories to their children and grandchildren. 

Different storytellers would add things. They might change things in order to teach a lesson. A god might come into the story to help the wise king, or punish a bad ruler. A war might last ten years instead of two and start because of a quarrel between the gods. Magic and miracles would make their way in.

These stories would grow more exciting and fantastic over the years. There would be arguments between gods and people. Heroes would go on daring voyages and fight evil monsters. They would become stronger or larger than real-life people. They were a lot like the superheroes you find in comics or movies now. In fact, gods and heroes that started out in traditional stories do come up in modern superhero movies – Thor and Loki from the Marvel universe were originally Norse gods! Just like in the Marvel-universe, the same characters would come up again and again. They’d have their own habits and personalities. They would repeat the same mistakes. People would get to know them as if they were real.

But these stories didn’t just talk about history made by humans. Many traditional stories tell about the land and our planet as well. They tell people how to find food or water and survive where they live. Sometimes, stories talk about meteors, floods, and volcanic eruptions. Many of you have probably heard the story of Noah’s ark and the flood in the bible. This isn’t the only story about a flood though. The ancient Mesopotamians, who lived in what is now Iraq, had a story about a giant flood too. It’s part of the story of the hero-king Gilgamesh. The ancient Chinese, Native Americans, Australian Aborigines, and many other cultures also have flood stories.  

Some traditional stories talk about specific natural events in Earth’s past. The Klamath people, a Native American tribe from the northwestern United States, have a story about how a specific mountain lake formed. The story tells about a god who lived under a mountain, who wanted to marry a woman from a nearby village. When she refused him, he began raging, throwing rocks and fire out of the mountain. Finally, another god helped the village people by pushing the mountain god and his fire back down under the ground, leaving a deep crater that became a lake. 

Stories like this give us an idea about how long oral traditions can be passed down. The lake, which is in Oregon, is now called Crater Lake. Scientists have discovered that the eruption that created the lake happened over 7 thousand years ago. It hasn’t erupted again since, which means this story may have been passed down from generation to generation for a very long time!

Often, a person in a community had a job to memorize and tell stories. These storytellers, sometimes called bards or rhapsodes, did their best to make the stories interesting and exciting. Sometimes, they would dance, wear masks, act out the action, or clown around while telling the stories. 

You may be wondering how on earth a storyteller could remember so many stories without writing them down. Today, we are very used to having things written down. Reading and writing are part of school, and we’re told they are very important skills. And they are. But in the past, before writing was invented, and then before most people could read, memory was just as important. People had to be able to remember a lot of information just to be able to survive – to find food and water, and make shelters. Stories helped them do this, and they also helped people learn about their culture’s history and beliefs. 

Still, some stories that were passed down orally were very long! Many of these stories were told as poems. They are often called epic poems. For the most part, the stories that went into these poems weren’t told all at once, and one bard probably wouldn’t memorize all of them. But still, many did memorize poems as long as books. 

Telling the stories as poems made them easier to memorize, because poems have a regular rhythm. Sometimes they were even set to music. They would also repeat certain lines over and over. For example, an epic poem might always describe the sunrise on a new day with a particular line, such as:

  Dawn stretched her rosy fingers over the sea.

A line like this might be in several different stories, and be repeated many times in one story. All this would help others remember as well, so they could go on to tell the stories later. 

Many stories have been collected and written down as epics. A Finnish epic poem called the Kalevala was told for hundreds of years before being written down in the 19th century. It tells the traditional Finnish myth of the creation of the earth and the life of the first man.

The most famous epics are probably the poems the Iliad and the Odyssey, from ancient Greece. The Iliad tells the story of a war the Greeks fought over a woman named Helen, who was said to be the most beautiful in the world. It focuses on the hero Achilles, who must put aside his argument with a friend in order to help win the war. The Odyssey tells the story of the journey another king, Odysseus, took to get home after the war. Both of these poems are hundreds of pages long.

But that’s nothing compared to the longest epic poem! That title goes to the Mahabharata, from India. It tells the story of a war between two royal families that took place in the 8th or 9th century BCE, and was written down in the 4th century BCE. Can you guess how long it was? The length of a poem is usually talked about in terms of number of lines. The Mahabharata is over one hundred thousand lines! As a book, that’s close to one thousand pages.

Every culture on Earth has its own set of stories that has been passed down over hundreds, if not thousands of years. The Australian Indigineous people have traditional stories about their coasts being flooded as the last ice age ended about 10 thousand years ago. Stories of a Swahili hero-king named Liyongo have survived since the middle ages. Many fairy tales that you likely know, like Little Red Riding Hood or Hansel and Gretel come from German stories that were passed down orally for a long time before being written down. These are just a few examples – there are hundreds more!

Take a few minutes to think about someone important to you who’s lived a lot longer than you. Maybe a parent or grandparent, a neighbor or a teacher. Take some time soon to sit down with them and ask them to tell you a story about what things were like when they were young. You might ask about an important event that they lived through, or how they played when they were children, what their house was like or if they had any pets. You never know what you’ll learn! Maybe when you get older, you can tell your children or grandchildren these stories. Or, you might like them so much, you decide to write them down. You will be continuing the oral tradition, but more importantly, you will hear some wonderful stories and be entertained and learn from them, too!

Sources

https://scroll.in/article/806662/the-mahabharata-how-an-oral-narrative-of-the-bards-became-the-didactic-text-of-the-brahmins

https://africanpoems.net/epic/introduction-to-epics/

https://www.britannica.com/topic/oral-tradition

Nunn, Patrick, 2018. The Edge of Memory: Ancient Stories, Oral Tradition and the Post-Glacial World. Bloomsbury Sigma, London. 

https://www.neh.gov/humanities/2015/marchapril/feature/how-the-grimm-brothers-saved-the-fairy-tale

The Mae Jemison Story for Kids & Families

Have you ever sat outside on a dark night and stared up at the stars, wondering what’s out there? It’s not always possible in the city, but if you get away from the lights, on a very dark and clear night, you can see thousands of stars. People have watched the stars and wondered about them for as long as there have been people. What are they made of? How many are there? How far away are they? Why do they seem to move to different parts of the sky? Why do they twinkle? 

As other people have looked up at the stars like you, they have dreamed about visiting these far away places. As a child, Mae Jemison was one of them. Mae lived in a city, but during the summers as a child she went to camp. There, outside the city, it was dark enough to see the stars, and like you she wondered about other planets and stars and space. Then, she began to dream about what it would be like to go there.  And as Mae grew older she didn’t stop dreaming of going to space. 

Mae Jemison was born in 1956 in Alabama. At this time, Alabama still had many laws that were unfair to African Americans like Mae’s family. So, when she was three years old, her parents moved the family to the South Side of Chicago, Illinois. They thought they would be able to find better work for Mae’s mother and give their children a better education there. Her father was a roofer and carpenter, and her mother was a school teacher. 

The 1960s were an exciting time for space exploration. These years began with the first humans being launched into space! Yuri Gagarin, a Russian astronaut, was first and then Alan Shepherd, an American, was also launched into space. These years ended with humans landing on the moon for the first time: Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in 1969. 

But, as Mae watched all of these exciting events unfold, what she didn’t see in the space programs were people like herself or her family: African Americans and women. She followed every detail of the Apollo missions that brought humans to the moon. She enjoyed stargazing and imagining what it would be like to be in space. She went to the library and read everything she could find about space and science. But Mae wanted to see women a part of these programs, too. Still, Mae didn’t stop thinking and dreaming about space. On TV she found inspiration in the sci-fi show Star Trek, where one of the crew was a black woman doing important work as part of a starship crew.  And, her parents encouraged her to explore her interests. She studied earth history, chemistry, dance, and theater all in addition to space.

Growing up, Mae once told her teacher that she wanted to be a scientist. The teacher responded by asking if she meant to say “nurse.” Although being a nurse is a very important job, Mae stood firm and corrected her teacher, saying she really did want to be a scientist. She wasn’t about to have someone tell her what she should be. 

Later, other grown-ups encouraged Mae, such as a middle school teacher who helped her research different space and science related jobs. Different people in your life may encourage or discourage you, but you should never be afraid to say what you think or pursue a subject that interests you! Be sure to pay the most attention to people who care about you and encourage you and build you up! 

In college, Mae studied chemical engineering, but was also involved in dance and theater productions. In fact, she even considered trying to become a dancer! But Mae decided to continue studying science and went to medical school. From there, she studied in Cuba and Kenya, and also worked in a refugee camp in Thailand. A refugee camp is where people fleeing a war go to be safe, and Cambodia had just ended a long civil war. After medical school, Mae went on to work for the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone and Liberia. She speaks Swahili, Japanese, Russian, and, of course, English.

But through all this, Mae never stopped thinking about her dream to go to space. In 1985 she applied to the space program led by NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Association. To her joy, they accepted her, making Mae the first African American woman to enter the astronaut training program! During her training, Mae had to learn astronomy, engineering, space shuttle systems and many other subjects that help astronauts do their jobs. She trained physically, which can be very hard on the body. Astronauts must be very strong and healthy, because being in zero gravity puts a lot of stress on the human body. Zero gravity means you are floating because there is little to no gravity in space. One of Mae’s obstacles was also a fear of heights! Do you have a fear of heights? If so, Mae can relate to you. We all have fears but this was Mae’s. She had t o overcome her fear of heights to complete parachute training, but later said there was no question that it was worth it. She either had to face her fears, or not go to space. 

After training, Mae spent a few years helping with space shuttle launches at Kennedy Space Center. Then in September 1992, Mae joined six other astronauts on the space shuttle named Endeavor. Her job was a mission specialist, in some ways like her hero from the Star Trek TV show! She spent eight days in space. There, she performed experiments such as the effects of weightlessness and motion sickness on the crew. 

Not only did her childhood dream come true, Mae became the first African American woman in space. She took with her reminders of people who had been excluded in the past: a portrait of Judith Jamison, a famous African American dancer with the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater; a west African statue; and a photo of Bessie Coleman, the first African American woman to earn a pilot’s license. If you remember, we learned about Bessie Coleman in a past episode! 

Mae left NASA in 1993, but is alive today and has continued to work on space-related projects. She started a camp for youth who are interested in space, and wrote a book for young people about her life. She often talks to young people who are interested in careers in space and science. She tells them to find a career they really enjoy and are good at, but also learn about lots of different subjects. Mae certainly followed her own advice by studying dance, medicine, and engineering, and then learning all about space science and shuttle systems in her astronaut training. 

Mae hasn’t stopped working on big, ambitious goals for space travel either. She leads a project called 100 Year Starship. The goal of this project is to make travel to other star systems possible within the next 100 years! Isn’t that amazing! This is a huge challenge! So far we’ve only sent people as far as Earth’s moon, and unmanned probes to the other planets in our solar system.  Going to another solar system would take thousands of times longer. That’s because distances in space are vast. At current rocket speeds, travel to the closest star outside our solar system would take 70 thousand years! It would be nice not to have to wait so long for something that exciting, don’t you think? 

The 100 Year Starship project is exploring new technologies that could speed things up. They are also looking at ways to solve other problems that interstellar travellers would face on their trip, such as having enough food and energy, keeping people healthy, tools to fix things that break, and making sure everyone is happy and entertained!

The vastness of space has inspired us to dream about the stars since the first humans looked up at the night sky. They wondered what was out there, made up stories and watched closely to try to explain it. The unknown can be scary, but it’s also the thing that motivates us to learn and challenge ourselves to do bigger and better things. We want to know what’s out there, to make discoveries. We don’t know what we’ll find, but as Mae Jemison learned after her mission to space, we’re already a part of it. We are part of the universe, just like the stars and moon, the planets and asteroids. So it’s only natural that we want to explore it. 

Many people didn’t believe Americans could get a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s, a project that President John F. Kennedy proposed in 1962. But as the young Mae Jemison watched and tracked those missions from the South Side of Chicago, she and the world saw that enormous, seemingly impossible goals can be reached. They are reached by many people working together with a common purpose and vision. Mae Jemison helped show that race and gender do not matter when it comes to achieving these big goals. What matters is having passion, purpose, and determination. These are the kind of people like you who will build a better future for our world and beyond it in the stars. 

Sources

https://100yss.org/mission/challenges

https://www.biography.com/astronaut/mae-c-jemison

https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/mae-jemison

https://www.today.com/video/dr-mae-c-jemison-on-breaking-barriers-as-first-black-woman-in-space-101574725699

http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/545.html 

https://www.startrek.com/database_article/jemison

Jemison, Mae. 2001. Find Where the Wind Goes: Moments from my life. Scholastic Press. New York.

History of the Leaning Tower of Pisa for Kids

Take a minute to imagine that you have traveled with your family to Italy.  You visit a popular tourist spot to check out one of the most famous buildings in the world: the leaning Tower of Pisa.  As you approach the tower, you can see that it is leaning over at a strange tilt.  How is this tower even standing?  It has white pillars and arches.  It leans at an angle that is scary, but you can see that it is held up by large metal wires pulling against its weight.  Your family decides that they are going to go inside to explore. It sounds a little risky to go inside a leaning tower.  Will you go inside too?

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of the most famous buildings in the world.  It is a freestanding bell tower in the cathedral of the Italian city of Pisa.  A cathedral means a church that has a section where a religious leader, a bishop, lives inside.  The tower is known around the world for its strong lean.  The tower leans at an angle of four-degrees.  The lean is due to a foundation that is not stable.  This means that the base of the tower that holds the tower up is likely to fall.

The Tower of Pisa is 183 feet from the ground on the low side and 186 feet on the high side.  It has 295 steps to the top level. 

The Tower first began to lean during the time it was built in the 12th century.  This happened because the ground that the Tower was built on was soft and could not properly support the weight of the huge tower. Throughout the building of the tower, the leaning only got worse. Oops! And it continued to lean more over the next few hundred years. By 1990, the tilt had reached 5 ½ degrees!  This was so far over that the Italian government decided to add extra support beams to help stabilize the tower.  Their work was successful and after 8 years of extra work the tilt of the building was reduced to 4 degrees. 

There is some mystery around who designed the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  For many years, people thought that the architect was a man named Bonanno Pisano.  This was based on a piece of metal found in the earth at the base of the tower.  But later scientists concluded that a different man named Diotisalvi was that actual architect and that Pisano likely just made the door frame.  This was due to the fact that the tower is very similar to at least two other buildings that Diotisalvi designed in Pisa. 

The Tower of Pisa was built in three stages over almost 200 years. In the year 1172, a woman named Donna Berta di Bernardo inherited a large sum of money from her husband.  She gave some of this money to the local Opera house in Pisa and she used the rest towards buying a few stones that are still part of the base of the bell tower.

One year later, the government had enough money to hire a crew of workers to continue to build the tower.  The government had more money than in recent years due to the fact that the army had successfully taken over some additional areas.  The crews started by building the foundations of the tower.  Later that year, they laid the ground floor of the tower with white marble. This ground floor has a “blind arcade”.  This means that the bottom had columns with classical looking arches but the other side of the arches have no actual openings.  Instead, it is just a hard surface of a wall with arches that are decorative, or there to make it look nice.  

The arches also aren’t “load-bearing”.  This means that they do not support the weight of the structure. 

About 400 years later, a man named Giorgio Vasari wrote that Guglielma together with sculptor Bonanno laid the foundation, or base, of the bell tower in the tower of Pisa.

The tower began to sink after construction had progressed to the second floor in 1178. The reason was because the foundation was not built to be high enough.  It was only three-metres high, which was very low for a tower of that height.  

Unfortunately, the tower was set in weak, unstable soil or dirt.  This was a problem that was there right from the beginning. Because the tower started to sink, the people who were building the tower stopped construction.  The tower then sat there for almost 100 years with nothing being done.  The country that the tower was in was called the Republic of Pisa. The Republic was almost constantly battling with the neighbouring countries of Genoa, Lucca and Florence. 

The 100 years that the tower sat there was actually a good thing.  This allowed time for the soil underneath the tower to settle, or become more stable. If the original construction crew had carried on building the tower, the tower would have almost definitely fallen over.

In the year 1233, a father and son started to do further construction work on the tower to try to finish it.  They eventually had to pass the project on to another builder and then yet another took over.  

In 1264, the tower construction had finally moved along far enough that the main architect at the time, hired 23 workers to go into the mountains close to Pisa and cut marble. After the marble was cut out of the mountain, they used it on the tower. In order to compensate, or counter-balance, for the tilt, the designers build the upper floors of the tower with one side taller than the other.  For this reason, the tower is actually curved today.  

The seventh floor was finished in 1319 and then the bell-chamber was finally added in the year 1372.  The bell-chamber, or room holding the bell, was built by a man named Tommaso di Andrea Pisano. He used Gothic elements and a Romanesque style of the tower. These are different historic styles of buildings that were popular at different times in Europe’s history. There are seven bells in the bell-chamber, one for each note of the musical major scale.  

After the tower of Pisa was finished, the tower was admired by many people and has had some famous visitors.  A famous astronomer _______ dropped cannonballs off of the tower to show the law of free fall, a famous law in physics.  Physics is the study of matter and motion, or things and movement. 

During World War 2, the Allies, Americans and English, thought that the Germans were using the tower of Pisa as a watch post. A U.S. Army sergeant was sent to find out if German troops were in the tower.  He was so impressed by the beauty of the tower, that even though he found that there were Germans in there he held back on ordering an air attack to save the tower from being destroyed.

There have been many attempts to restore the tower to a straight, standing, position or at least keep it from falling over. Unfortunately, most of these efforts failed.  And some of these attempts even made the tower worse.  

In 1964, the Italian government raised money to restore the tower again and stop it from falling over.  The government wanted it to become more stable, but it still wanted the tower to have a tilt. They realized that the tilt was what made it famous! It helped attract tourists, or visitors from other places, to visit Pisa, so why fix it?

The Tower was closed to visitors in January 1990 due to the collapse of another tower nearby.  The collapse scared the Italian government that the same things might happen to the tower of Pisa.  They removed the bells to take some of the weight out of the towers.  They also cinched cables around the third level of the tower and anchored the cables hundreds of metres away. People who lived in home nearby were told to leave to make sure they wouldn’t be hurt if the tower fell over. 

In 1993, the Italian government added almost 900 tonnes of lead counterweights, or weights on the other side of the tower to counter-balance the weight of the leaning side.  This helped straighten the tower a bit. They also removed soil underneath the raised side of the tower to help prevent the collapse of the tower. This helped to make the tilt of the tower a safer angle. This method worked!   The tower’s tilt was reduced by almost 18 inches, returning to its 1838 position. 

Finally, after 10 years of work to rebuild the tower and make it more stable, the tower was re-opened to the public in December 2001.  The government declared that it was now stable for at least another 200 years.  

Would you like to visit the leaning tower of Pisa one day?  If you do visit, would you brave enough to go inside?

The History of Easter Island for Kids

Have you ever heard of Easter Island?  Many movies talk about it and some even say that is where the Easter Bunny lives.  But in fact, it is a real place that has nothing to do with the holiday of Easter. But many people know of Easter Island from the large famous face statues that are often seen in pictures of the place.  So why does Easter Island have this name?

Easter Island is a large island that covers nearly 65 square miles.  It is located in the South Pacific Ocean, far off of the west coast of the country of Chile in South America.  It is also an almost equal number of miles to the east of the island of Tahiti.  

Easter Island is the shape of a triangle and measures 14 miles long by 7 miles wide. It was formed by a series of volcano eruptions over time.  The island has many hills and caves within the rocks that go way back into the mountains.  Because much of the rock on the island is made of volcanic rock, it is easy for the rock to form caves and holes over time. 

Easter Island’s largest volcano is called Rano Kao.  It has a highest point that is called Mount Terevaka that reaches 1,665 feet (or 508 meters) above the sea.  The island is sub-tropical, which means it is located below the mid-point of the Earth called the equator and has sunny and dry weather. 

Many people have been confused about the name “Easter Island” and have wondered whether the island has something to do with the holiday of Easter. Is this where the Easter Bunny lives when he is not hopping around the world delivering eggs?  Let’s find out. 

The first people to live on Easter Island arrived on the island around the year 400 A.D. about 1,500 years ago. They were from another Polynesian island close by and they came to Easter Island looking for a new place to live.  These first people called the island “Rapa Nui”.  Because of its remote, or far away, location. The first peoples of Rapa Nui lived there on their own for hundreds of years before there were any other visitors from other countries. 

The traditions and stories of the Polynesian people say that the first king of Rapa Nui was named “Hoto-Matua”.  He was a ruler of a group of people that traveled around many islands in the area.  The group of explorers led by Hoto-Matua was searching for a new place to make their home. The story says that after traveling thousands of miles, the exploring group landed at a sandy beach on the island.  The island of Rapa Nui is actually quite rocky on the coast, or edge of the land near the water.

The traditional Polynesian story says that the group, led by their leader, Hoto-Matua, landed on the sandy beach, which was one of the only sandy spots on the coast. The group explored the island and found that it was a great place to live.  It was abundant with many fish and other types of food, and had a good climate or weather.  They decided to stay and build their home on this newly found island.  This is the start of the first peoples living on Rapa Nui, or Easter Island. The first peoples learned how to harvest food and fish on the island, including native fruit and plants.   They grew in size over time and developed a long and rich culture over the hundreds of years since the first group arrived.

One of the best pieces of evidence of the early people that lived on the island is the giant stone statues that have been found around Easter Island.  These statues are called “moai” and are part of what makes Easter Island famous.  You may have even seen pictures of these statues before.  They look like giant stone heads sticking out of the ground. 

There are over 900 moai statues all over Easter Island!  The statues are all around 13 feet (or 4 meters) high, with a weight of 13 tons!  They are huge faces and chests carved out of a type of rock called “tuff”.  Tuff is a light and porous rock, or rock with holes in it, that was made from volcanic ashes.  One thing that many people don’t know about the statues is that they actually go into the ground and continue at least partly underground.  They are a mystery that no one has yet to solve. 

No one today knows why these statues were made and why there are so many.  It is also a mystery why they were built so big and how they were moved around the island. This would have been an amazing feat of engineering by people living at that time!

One thing is for sure: the statues show that their creators, the early people of Easter Island, were very good craftsmen and engineers. They were very skilled at design and making strong structures.  

In modern times, researchers have determined that there were three different cultural phases, or separate times in human history there.  During the early and middle periods, statues were built and torn down and then rebuilt in the same places.  In the later period, the statues were built even bigger than before and are the statues that you can see pictures of today. 

The first European person to visit Easter Island was a Dutch explorer named Jacob Roggeveen.  He came exploring the area in the year 1722. Captain Roggeveen and his crew arrived on the island on the holiday of Easter.  To help remember the day and celebrate it, the Dutch named the island Paaseiland, which means “Easter Island” in Dutch. This is where the island gets its name! 

In 1770, the Spanish government in Peru sent a group of explorers to Easter Island. The explorers spent four days on the island.  They found that there were about 3,000 native people living on the island. 

Unfortunately, as more and more explorers started visiting the island, they also had diseases that the local islanders had not been around before.  As a result, many of the native islanders died and by 1877, there were only 111 native people living on the island. 

By 1877, Catholic explorers had come to the island to convert, or teach and change the local people to, Christianity.  By the late 19th century, almost all of the people living on the island were Christians. 

In 1888, Chile started using the land to raise sheep.  The government of Chile also appointed a governor to be in charge of Easter Island in 1965, and the island’s people all became Chilean citizens. 

Easter Island does not have any natural bays to form harbors that are places for boats to be parked away from the harsh weather of the ocean. The island’s largest village is called Hanga Roa. It was made into a World Heritage site in 1995, so it will not be developed into a tourist place full of hotels and other developments. 

Today, Easter Island is home to a mixed group of people.  Many of the people living on the island have Polynesian ancestors, or older relatives. The locals now mostly speak Spanish and there are some tourists that visit during the year. 

The History of Rosa Parks for Kids

Rosa was born on February 4, 1913 in Tuskagee, Alabama. When she was a child she was often sick and sadly had to spend a lot of time in bed. Then when she was two their family moved to live with their grandparents on a farm in a town called Pine Level. Rosa loved being on the farm with her family. It gave her and her siblings lots of room to play and spend time with each other. They explored the woods and streams nearby and she enjoyed the school there. 

Rosa was safe in Pine Level, but this wasn’t the case in other places in Alabama. Rosa and her family were African American and this was a time when black people were treated poorly in Alabama. They were forced attend separate schools, used separate bathrooms, and to drink from different drinking fountains. This is called segregation. They were often called mean names or abused.

When Rosa was eleven, she moved to Montogomery, Alabama to go to a better school. It was called the Montgomery Industrial School for Girls. The head of the school was a white woman named Alice White. She didn’t go easy on the girls, but this wasn’t because she was mean, it was because she wanted them to learn and grow. Often people who love you, do this because they want to see you be your best you. This motivated Rosa to try her best in school and learn as much as she could. She wanted to become a teacher like Ms. Alice someday. 

Rosa stayed at the school until her grandmother became sick, so she moved back to Pine Level to help. There she found jobs to help earn money for her family. She worked very hard to support them. 

When Rosa was 28, she met a young man named Raymond. Raymond inspired her to take even more interest in the problems black people were facing in Alabama and other places in the South. He was part of the NAACP, the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People. Rosa was proud of Raymond’s interest in helping this cause. He often put himself in danger for it. Rosa and Raymond fell in love and were married in 1932.

In 1934 Rosa finished high school, then started working as a nurse’s assistant and later at an army air force base. On her way home from work she rode a bus, but like all African Americans at the time she had to ride in the back of the bus. It made her very upset to be treated differently. She didn’t say anything at the time, but she was very angry deep inside. 

Around this time Rosa joined the NAACP and helped as a secretary for several years. She also registered to vote. At the time the government in Alabama made it very hard for black people to vote. Rosa had to take a difficult test and pay a tax that was very expensive. When she was finally able to vote she was very happy but also upset that so many of her friends and family were prevented from voting.

Rosa worked very hard for her family through these years and continued to help the NAACP. She was never able to have her own children, but helped the youth through the NAACP. She wanted them to have good lives and took the time to care for them. 

To get to and from work, Rosa rode the bus every day. Like other buses in Alabama, this one was segregated which means anyone who was black had to enter the bus from the back and sit at the back of the bus. This day, Rosa took courage and got on the bus through the front. The driver told her to get off and get on through the back. Rosa refused! The driver told her to get off again. She said she would not. The driver grabbed her by the coat and pulled her toward the front of the bus. She sat down again. The driver continued to yell at her. Rosa finally got off the bus, but she had stood up for herself and made her point.

In 1954 Rosa made friends with a white woman named Virginia Durr, who wanted to help her and other African Americans. Virginia encouraged Rosa to attend a workshop in Tennessee that trained people to fight for equal rights for blacks and workers who were treated unfairly. People of all races and different states came together to learn how to make the world a better place. There she met Martin Luther King and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. a black congressman from New York City. There she began thinking about ways to fight racism in her own city.

On December 1st 1955, Rosa left home to catch the Cleveland Avenue bus to go to work. When she got on the bus she realized the driver was the same one who had forced her off the bus a few years earlier. Rosa went to the back of the bus and sat down. As the bus went drover further and more people got on the bus, the bus driver told Rosa and the others in the back up to stand up so the white passengers could sit down. Rosa refused to get up. The driver yelled at her to get up, but she did not. The driver threatened to have her arrested. “You may do that,” Rosa replied. Soon, the police officers arrived and took Rosa to jail! She was very afraid. Fortunately, her friends at the NAACP were able to pay to have her released until her trial. She was going to be put on trial for not giving up her seat. Can you believe that?

Rosa and lawyers at the NAACP decided they would sue the bus company for not letting her sit down. Suing is when lawyers use the law to try to punish a company like the bus company by getting money from them. If they won the lawsuit then hopefully the unfair laws would be done away with. 

Rosa and her friends also decided to boycott buses that treated them unfairly. A boycott is when you refuse to use something and pay for it, so it punishes the company. If no one paid for bus rides, the bus company would see how much it cost to treat African Americans unfairly. During the days leading up to the boycott, Rosa and others passed out notes urging others to not ride buses on December 5th. If enough people didn’t ride the buses it would send a message to the bus companies. Rosa was nervous about whether it would work.

On December 5, 1955, to Rosa’s excitement, she saw that the buses were empty and thousands of people were walking to work and school instead of riding the buses! They were inspired by Rosa’s actions! Rosa set the example by refusing to give in to the unfair treatment of the city and bus companies. And the boycott didn’t only happen for a day — it went on for an entire year! Never before had so many people in the community come together to fight for civil rights. And the bus companies lost money because very few people rode the buses. 

Rosa’s trial also started on December 5, 1955. She lost the trial, but didn’t mind because they wanted it to go to a higher court. People around the country were watching the boycott and knew about Rosa’s trial. They started to send money to her and to the NAACP to support their fight for equality. She began spending all of her time writing and speaking about civil rights. She met other famous leaders and Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was also believed in her cause. 

On November 13, 1956 Rosa’s trial went all the way to the United States Supreme Court, the most important court in the country. The Supreme Court is located in Washington, D.C. The Supreme Court judges ruled that not allowing people sit where they want on a bus because of their race was against the Constitution — and not legal. Rosa Parks and her friends had scored a huge victory!

Soon after the trial, Rosa rode in the front of the bus and a famous photograph was taken of her to memorialize the event and her bravery in standing up to an unfair system. 

While there was still much work to do, Rosa’s act of courage and the result of the trial is often considered one of the first big events in the Civil Rights Movement. In August 1963 over 200,000 people marched in Washington, D.C. to show their support for Civil Rights. There Dr. Martin Luther King gave his famous “I Have a Dream Speech.” Rosa was excited to see so many others speaking out about Civil Rights. Then in 1964, the President signed the Civil Rights Act that made it illegal to treat people differently because of their race.

Eventually, Rosa and her husband moved to Detroit and lived a quiet life there. In 1966 Rosa was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bill Clinton. She received many other awards over the years for her bravery. She wrote books and spoke about her life and passed away at the age of 92. 

Spend some time thinking about Rosa and her decision to stand up for herself and for her rights. She was afraid and knew that she might get in trouble for it, but doing what was right was more important than her feelings. She refused to move when the driver told her to move. She knew it was wrong and didn’t back down. There will be times in your life when you will have the chance to stand up for yourself and others. Take courage even when you are afraid. Speak up when something wrong is happening! If not you, then who? You can make a difference in the world by speaking up and taking action. 

History of Jackie Robinson for Kids

Close your eyes and imagine you’re in a baseball stadium and stepping up to bat. Dodger stadium is packed full of cheering fans. Some are cheering you on, others are calling you horrible names from the stands. You take a deep breath and try to ignore them. You hold up your bat and look at the pitcher, who is preparing to throw the ball. He pulls back, then throws the ball and it comes flying toward at full speed. You swing your bat and hit the ball. With a crack it flies high over the field as you sprint from first base, then on to second, third and home. It’s a homerun! Your teammates congratulate you, but some in the stands are still calling you mean names. This is what happened to Jackie Robinson, the famous baseball player. But who was Jackie Ronbinson? How did he end up playing for the Dodgers? And why was the crowd calling him horrible names? 

Jackie Roosevelt Robinson was born January 31, 1919 in Cairo, Georgia. His father left the family when he was little, leaving his mother, Mallie, to raise him and his four other siblings. Soon after this they moved to Pasadena, California. In California Jackie and his family lived in a neighborhood where they were treated differently. They had come from Georgia where most of the other families were African-American, but in California families in their new neighborhood were not and were white. This was a time when racial discrimination was common. Racial discrimination is when a group of people are treated differently because of their race and color of skin in this case. For example, they aren’t able to have the same jobs — or they are segregated, which means they have to go to different schools or use different bathrooms or restaurants. Jackie loved sports, but because he was black wasn’t able to play in the same leagues as the other kids.

But this didn’t keep Jackie from playing his favorite sports anyway. Two of his favorites were basketball and baseball. He spent a lot of time practicing and became better and better. 

In high school, Jackie’s older brothers Frank and Mack, saw how good Jackie’s was and urged him try out for the school teams. At his high school fortunately there was no segregation and Jackie was able to play alongside his white classmates. There Jackie ended up playing football, baseball, basketball and track and did very well in all of them. On the baseball team he was the catcher and in football he was the quarterback. For the basketball team he was a guard. In track and field his best skill was the broad jump. Oh, and he also played tennis. As you can tell, Jackie loved sports! 

After high school, Jackie moved onto junior college where he continued to play all of his favorite sports and do very well. He broke several records there, but later switched schools and moved to Los Angeles to attend UCLA. At UCLA the teams were also racially integrated, which means Jackie was able to play on the same teams as the white athletes. In football their team went undefeated. In track and field he won the national championship for long jump, jumping over 24 feet! He also played baseball at UCLA and there met his future wife, Rachel. 

After college, Jackie played semi-professional football for a short while, but his career was cut short when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941. Soon after this Jackie joined the army and applied for Officer Candidate School. At the time Jackie and others who were black were not typically allowed to be officers, leadership in the military, but eventually they were accepted. He and his wife moved to Fort Hood, Texas to start Officer Training School. One day at Fort Hood, Jackie was waiting for the bus to arrive. When it did arrive, he climbed on the bus and sat at the front, but the driver told him he had to sit at the back because of the color of his skin. Jackie refused and would not move. He did these knowing he knew he might be hurt or put in jail for his actions. The driver called the police and they took Jackie away. Tragically, Jackie wasn’t able to continue Officer Training School, because of his choice to stand up against discrimination.

Jackie was transferred from Fort Hood to a base in Kentucky where he became a coach for the army until the war ended. 

A few years later, Jackie was at the airport and stood in a part of the airport that was segregated. He was asked to leave, but did not. This was another example where Jackie refused to be treated differently, defied the law and put himself in harm’s way by doing so.

One of Jackie Robinson’s famous quotes was: “I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking me… all I ask is that you respect me as a human being.” He also said: “There’s not an American in this country free until every one of us is free.” More than anything, Jackie wanted to be treated fairly and for segregation between people of different skin color to end. 

For a brief time, Jackie played for a segregated league, with other players who were black like himself, but more than anything he wanted to play for the Major Leagues, but most teams wouldn’t allow him because of segregation.

Fortunately, the Brooklyn Dodgers were interested in including black players. The manager of the Dodgers, Branch Rickey, called Jackie and met with him asking if he was interested and also whether he’d be able to be strong even when others treated him poorly. Jackie agreed and began playing for the Dodgers international team, the Montreal Royals. The Royals were a minor league, but a big step forward in his goal to play in the Major Leagues. Jackie traveled with the team and struggled at first, but began to improve and eventually became the MVP (or Most Valuable Player) in his league. 

April 18, 1946 was a momentous day when the Royals played against the Jersey City Giants making it the first time players of different skin color in a minor league competed against each other. 

In 1947 Jackie Robinson was finally invited to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the Major Leagues. He played first baseman to a crowd of more than 26,000 spectators which included spectators who were black and white. At first, Jackie’s own team was unsure whether they were ready to play with him. They had come from families who believed in segregation, so it was new for them to welcome and become teammates and friends with someone who was black. But over time they became close and eventually supported him. During one game when the other team was harassing Jackie, a teammate Pee Wee Reese saw what was happening and put his arm around Jackie to comfort him.

Jackie finished the season with the Dodgers with 151 games. He had a batting average of 297, an on-base percentage of 373, and a 427 slugging percentage. He had 175 hits (scoring 125 runs) including 31 doubles, 5 triples, and 12 home runs, driving in 48 runs for the year. Jackie also led the league in sacrifice hits, with 28, and in stolen bases, with 29.

He ended up winning the Major League Rookie of the Year award. A rookie is someone who is new to the major leagues. 

Over the years, Jackie continued to improve at his game and in 1949 joined the all-star team. In 1955 the Dodgers went to the world series and beat the Yankees for the championship. 

Later after retiring from baseball, Jackie Robinson was active in politics and later continued to speak out about equality in Major League baseball. He later had a baseball stadium named after him and the Rookie of the Year award was later called “The Jackie Robinson” award. In 1997 his jersey number “42” was retired, which means no one was able to use the same number because it would also be reserved for Jackie. 

Jackie once said: “”A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” Think about what that means for a moment. What does it mean to have an impact or make a difference in the lives of others for good? How can you make a difference in the lives of others for good? 

He also said: “Life is not a spectator sport. If you’re going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion you’re wasting your life.” A spectator means just watching others. It’s fun to watch others, but Jackie’s saying it’s even better to get out and play yourself. Think of something you like to watch? Have you ever considered doing it yourself? 

Spend some time thinking about what Jackie Robinson experienced in his life as he dealt with racial discrimination. Racial discrimination is when someone treats someone else differently due to their race, which means where they come from, the color of their skin, and what they look like. It was very hard for Jackie to be called names and treated poorly due to his race — to be forced to sit at the back of the bus, for example. But Jackie knew that all people are the same on the inside. We are all human, and all want to be treated equally and loved and cared for. We all have the same hopes and dreams and desires to lead a happy life. Jackie wasn’t afraid to stand up for himself and tell others that they were wrong. Often it takes time for people to change, but many people around Jackie did change. His teammates eventually accepted him and those watching baseball realized Jackie was the same as any other player and should be treated that way. Take the time to think about someone you know who might be a different race or appear to be different than you in other ways. As you get to know them you’ll realize you have more in common than is different. It’s also important to let others know they should be respectful of all people. If you hear someone say something mean about a different race or tell a joke, let them know those words can be hurtful and are not ok. 

The History of Harriet Tubman for Kids

Have you ever looked at money and wondered about the people whose pictures are on the bills in your country?  Most countries have images of important people from history on their coins and bills.  In America, most of the bills contain images of past presidents who did important things.  But as you know, from listening to this podcast, there are many people throughout history who have done important things that are not presidents!

This is why right now, in the United States, the government is working on plans to have the $20 bill redesigned.  The new version of the bill will have a picture of a woman that not everyone knows.  But she was an important person in American history.  Her name is Harriet Tubman.  When the bill goes into circulation, she will be the first African-American woman to be featured on American money. 

So who was Harriet Tubman?  Harriet Tubman was a human rights activist and former slave.  She fought during her lifetime for the end of slavery.  This is known as “abolition.”  She helped many people escape slavery during her lifetime.  She helped them get to freedom through a secret route called the “Underground Railroad.”  But let’s go back in time and see how she became such an amazing woman.

Harriet Tubman was born in 1820 in Maryland.  Her original name when she was born was Araminta Harriet Ross.  She had 8 brothers and sisters and her parents were slaves.  Her parents gave her the nickname “Minty” which was short for Araminta.  

Minty’s life as a child was hard because she lived in slave conditions.  A “slave” is legal property of another person and forced to obey them.  Minty loved her family, but they were separated when she was young.  Three of her sisters were sold to a different family and moved to the south to work on cotton plantation farms.  As slaves, Minty and her family often suffered violence.  Minty was beaten as a child by her “owners” which caused her to have injuries that lasted her whole life. 

Minty was inspired by her father, who spoke out when their “owners” wanted to separate their family even further.  They were planning to sell Minty’s younger brother to a different family to work on their farm, by Minty’s dad didn’t want anymore of his children sent away.  Her father resisted this and was successful.  To “resist” means to stand up against an action that you don’t believe in. Watching her father stand up for his family set a strong example that inspired Minty. 

When she was a teenager, Minty was hurt very badly.  She had been sent to the store to buy supplies for the farm and she came across a slave that had left the fields where he worked without permission.  The man’s “overseer” told Minty to help him get the runaway slave back.  She would not help.  The man threw a large weight at her and it hit her in the head.  She had headaches and trouble sleeping for the rest of her life. 

These experiences as a child and seeing how African-American people around her were treated inspired Minty to want to help end slavery as an adult. 

In 1844, Minty met a free black man named John Tubman.  Around that time, around half of the  African-American people in Maryland were free.  There is not much that is known about John Tubman, but Minty married him and changed her name to Harriet Tubman when she did.  The couple lived together for a number of years and were together when Harriet began her work with the Underground Railway.

In 1849, Harriet’s owner died.  She decided that she would escape slavery in Maryland and move to Philadelphia.  Two of her brothers, Ben and Harry, decided to come with her.  Her husband did not decide to go along.  On their way to Philadelphia, the three siblings saw a “wanted” poster with their pictures on it.  It offered a $300 reward if anyone captured and returned the three of them.  

The brothers were scared by this poster and decided to return to their owners plantation.  Harriet, however, refused to go back to living as a slave.  Instead she continued heading north towards Pennsylvania.  

Harriet travelled along a network known as the Underground Railroad.  The Underground Railroad wasn’t an actual railroad for a train, it was a path that ran from states that had slavery to states where all people were free. Harriet travelled this path for nearly 90 miles to get to Philadelphia.  She is quoted as saying, “When I found I had crossed [the line into Pennsylvania], I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person.  There was such a glory over everything; the sun came like gold through the trees, and over the fields, and I felt like I was in Heaven.”

Harriet was truly happy to be free in a free state.  But rather than remaining safely in the North, Harriet decided that it was her mission in life to rescue her family and others living in slavery back home. 

In 1850, Harriet helped much of her family make the journey to Philadelphia via the Underground Railway. This was the first of many trips that Harriet made along the route to help guide others.  

Because of her work and leadership guiding others to safety and freedom, she was given the nickname “Moses” by the people that she helped.  This was a reference to the leader in the Old Testament who led the people of Israel out of slavery. Over time Harriet was able to help guide her parents, most of her siblings and approximately 60 other people to Pennsylvania where they could live free. 

Because so many slaves had escaped, the States passed laws allowing for former slaves that had escaped their home state to be captured and returned to slavery.  So Harriet changed the route of the Underground Railroad to Canada, where slavery was not allowed.

Harriet continued to help others during the Civil War in America.  She worked for the Union Army as a cook and a nurse, and later an armed scout and spy.  Harriet was the first woman to lead soldiers in the war. She led a raid at the Combahee River that liberated more than 700 slaves in South Carolina.  Liberated means freed from imprisonment or slavery.

In 1859, a Senator who was also an abolitionist sold Harriet a small piece of land in Auburn, New York. Harriet moved there after the war and got remarried and raised children there.  Much of her family came to live with her there as well. 

Even though Harriet became famous for her work to lead slaves to freedom, she did not have a lot of money.  Others who believed in her cause gave money to her to help her live and she shared this money generously with her family and others who needed help. 

When Harriet was an old woman, the head injuries she had gotten as a child became more painful.  She went to a hospital in Boston to get brain surgery to help relieve the pain and the “buzzing” that she had regularly in her ears.  Unfortunately she because sick with pneumonia following the surgery and died in 1913. Harriet was buried with military honours at Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn.

Harriet was known very far and wide while she was alive and she became an American hero and icon after she died.  An icon is a person or thing that is regarded as a symbol. Today, she continues to inspire Americans struggling for civil rights and their allies with her bravery and actions.  Because of her amazing legacy, the U.S. Treasury Department announced in April 2016 that she would replace Andrew Jackson on the new $20 bill.  She was a freed slave and a freedom fighter, and for that, she emerged as the top choice for the first American woman to appear on U.S. currency. 

From Harriet Tubman, we can learn a great deal about overcoming hardships and the impact that an individual person can have.  Harriet dedicated her life to helping others.  She believed strongly in the cause she was working for, to free slaves, and took action and worked tirelessly to bring about her dream. 

Are there injustices that you have experienced or that you can see in the world around you?  What are some ways that you can take action to make the world a better place for all and to improve the lives of those who may be suffering?

History of Cleopatra for Kids

Egypt was home to one of the most powerful civilizations of all time. They built the gigantic pyramids that are still standing today. They were led by a king, who they called a pharoah. They believed he was a god and worshipped him. They used advanced math, astronomy, created a system of writing, their own paper and were able to farm the land and build on a massive scale. Their armies were powerful and dangerous and controlled all the land in Northeast Africa for thousands of years! It can be hard to imagine just how long Egypt was in power compared to countries today, but it was much, much longer than British Empire was in power or the United States has been a global power, for example. 

But over time other civilizations became powerful. Eventually, it was the Greeks under Alexander the Great. Alexander the Great was a skilled military hero, who conquered lands all across the Medeterranean and eventually took Egypt. From this time forward Egypt was controlled by the Greeks. When Alexander the Great died, one of his captains named Ptolemy became the new King of Egypt or Pharoah. Ptolemy and his children ruled Egypt from the city of Alexandria for many, many years. And this is where our story about Cleopatra begins. 

Cleopatra was born 69 BCE in the city of Alexandra, Egypt as a princess to the current pharoah, Ptolemy the 7th. Like Alexander the Great, who had conquered Egypt, Cleopatra and her family were Greek, even though they ruled the Egyptian people. She had an older sister named Berenice, a younger sister named Arsinoe and two younger brothers who also had their father’s name of Ptolemy. 

Cleopatra had a good and safe childhood as a princess of Egypt. She probably played dice games popular in Egypt and with carved wooden dolls. Because she might be the pharoah herself someday, she was given a very good education. She had very good teachers and was able to study in the grand library of Alexandria, one of the best libraries in the history of the ancient world. Smart people from all over the world gathered at Alexandria and her library to study and learn from each other. 

At school she memorized long poems and lists of gods, goddesses and heroes. She was taught to speak in front of other people, an important skill as a queen. Cleopatra dressed in beautiful silk robes, wore lots of jewelry and makeup, and made to look like a goddess, since that’s what the people believed she was, as the daughter of a god.  

Unfortunate for Cleopatra, she was born during a time when there were many problems going on in her family and in Egypt. Her father and the pharaohs before him had been poor leaders, so the Egyptian people no longer wanted him as their ruler. When Cleopatra was 11, the people finally made her father, Ptolemy, leave Egypt. 

After Ptolemy left, Cleopatra’s older sister, Berenice became the new pharoah. In order to take power, Berenice had to do some horrible things and Cleopatra watched as all of this happened. The struggles going on her family made her want to stay out of the fighting, but she also watched carefully knowing that someday she may be the one having to take control and rule Egypt. She was very smart and probably already started thinking about what the right moves might be when she was in the same position as her older sister. She also learned that the best rulers were the ones who had the support of their people, unlike her father. She decided the best way to do this was to find ways for the Egyptian people to like her. Cleopatra learned everything she could about the Egyptian people and learned their language. She started dressing like their goddess Isis to gain their support. 

Another great civilization that rose to power after the Greeks was the Roman Empire. They were the most powerful empire during the lifetime of Cleopatra. Cleopatra’s father, Ptolemy, after being run out of Egypt, fled to Rome and convinced the Romans to join him and retake control of Egypt. A battle broke out between the fearsome Roman Army and the Egyptians of Alexandria. The Roman Army won the battle and Ptolemy once again became the pharaoh of Egypt. But even though her father was in control again, Cleopatra knew if she made the right moves, she could become the next ruler once he was gone.

And by 51 BCE, Ptolemy died and Cleopatra became the new queen, the Pharoah of Egypt. She was only 18 at the time, but had been preparing for her entire life for the job. She knew she’d have to be very careful and win over the people if she wanted to stay in power. One of her first moves was to take a trip to the city of Thebes by boat in a grand ceremony and declare herself the goddess Isis. Isis was worshipped by the Egyptian people, so she hoped in turn they would worship and honor her.

Sadly, luck turned against Cleopatra though and the Nile River didn’t flood for the first two years she was pharaoh. The Nile River was how the Egyptian people survived when once a year it flooded and watered their farmlands. The people wondered why if Cleopatra was a goddess she wasn’t able to control the Nile. Soon the people were going hungry, because their crops weren’t growing. Guess who they blamed? Yes, Cleopatra. Seeing that the people were growing angry, she decided to leave before they forced her out. But did Cleopatra give up easily? No. Right away she started plans for how she would return to power. In the desert she used her mastery of language to start making allies, which means friends with those who she could join with, warriors who could help her become pharaoh again.

Around this time a war was going on in Rome between two generals, Pompey and Julius Caesar. Julius Caesar won and after beating Pompey and taking control over the entire Roman Empire as its first emperor, he headed to Egypt to make sure it was also under his control. When he arrived, Cleopatra’s younger brother, Ptolemy, was the pharaoh. Caesar wanted Ptolemy and Cleopatra to work together to figure out who should rule Egypt, but Cleopatra was afraid her brother might try to harm her when she returned from the desert. So she came up with a very cunning plan. Cunning means to be very tricky and smart. With the help of her friend, Apollodorus, Cleopatra put on a disguise and rowed up the Nile River to Alexandria in a small boat. After reaching the palace, she climbed into a big sack and had Apollodorus carry her over his shoulder. No one knew he was carrying Cleopatra as he walked across the grounds of the palace and right into the room where Julius Caesar was waiting. Next, Cleopatra climbed out of the bag to Caesar’s great surprise! 

Cleopatra then used her great skills of talking and persuasion to convince Julius Caesar to let her be the Pharaoh of Egypt in place of her brother. Caesar agreed to let her rule with her brother, who was angry with the decision. Her brother, Ptolemy’s army later attacked too, but Ceasar’s army was more powerful and won The Alexandrian War and Ptolemy did not survive, leaving Cleopatra once again in control of Egypt. After the war Julius Caesar stayed in Egypt and Cleopatra became his wife. They travelled up and down the Nile and had a child together and named him Caesarion, which means “Little Caesar.” Eventually, they returned to Rome together. 

The Roman people liked Caesar, but the other leaders did not. They did not like that he had become an emperor and also did not like that he had married a woman who was not Roman. While in Rome, one of Julius Caesar’s friends, Brutus, and the other leaders turned against him and Caesar did not survive their attacks. The reign of Emperor Caesar was over, so Cleopatra left Rome and returned to Egypt.

While Cleopatra was in Egypt, a new war in Rome began over who would lead the empire. The battle was fought between one of Caesar’s generals, Mark Antony and Brutus and Cassius. This was called the Roman Civil War. Mark Antony eventually sailed to Rome to gain Cleopatra’s support. At first she was unsure if she should befriend him, because she wasn’t sure which side would win the war. Eventually, she met him on the Nile in one of her huge, decorated boats. She was dressed as the goddesses Isis, the boat was covered in flowers, small torches, and purple sails making it a beautiful sight to behold. When Mark Antony met Cleopatra he was stunned by her beauty and her power of speech and persuasion. Soon, he and Cleopatra were a couple and spent the next several months sailing together along the Nile and throwing huge parties together at Cleopatra’s palace. They paid for huge feasts and dancers and acrobats. These were some of the biggest parties Egypt had ever seen!

While Mark Antony was away from Rome, Julius Caesar’s nephew, Octavian had risen to power. Mark Antony knew it was time for him to give up the parties and his time with Cleopatra and return to battle to conquer his own lands. He left Egypt and fought far away while Octavian won the Civil War and now wanted to make sure Mark Antony wasn’t a threat. He sailed to Egypt to finish him off. In Egypt, Cleopatra and Mark Antony joined forces to fight Octavian. Their ships and soldiers battled on the ocean, but Octavian’s navy was stronger and he beat Cleopatra and Mark Antony. They retreated to the big city of Alexandria and waited for Octavian to come after them. Cleopatra and Mark Antony loved each other and refused to be separated during their final days. They passed away in Alexandria together, where a funeral was also held in honor of them. The Egyptian people were sad to see their goddess queen, their pharaoh go.

History of Bessie Coleman for Kids

Imagine you’re a pilot, thousands of feet above the earth on an airplane. You look down from your cockpit at the patchwork of fields and tiny, Lego-sized houses below you. You’re planning your route, but you’re not trying to get from point A to point B. Instead of flying a straight line, you dive towards the ground, falling faster and faster until, just feet from the ground, you pull up the nose of the plane, thrilling the crowd of onlookers nearby. You corkscrew through the air, fly figure eights, and loop upside down as the crowds gasp and cheer below. You are a barnstormer, a stunt pilot in the 1920s, performing daredevil feats thousands of feet above your awestruck fans. 

Today we’re going to learn about a world-famous pilot, Bessie Coleman, who was remarkable but for many other reasons. She was not only a great pilot, she was also the first African American woman to earn a pilot’s license, and the first woman anywhere to have an international pilot’s license. Because her father was part Native American, she was also the first Native American female pilot. Not only that, she always tried to use her fame to help other black people and women. Sadly, at the time, both groups experienced a lot of discrimination in America. 

Bessie’s story begins before airplanes were even invented, and only 27 years after the end of slavery in the United States. She was born in 1892 to African American sharecroppers in Texas, one of nine children. As a child, and then teenager, she worked picking cotton and washing other people’s laundry. She attended segregated schools, but was a good student, especially in math. Under segregation, many states in the southern part of the United States had laws forcing blacks to go to different schools from whites, among other unfair rules. Even though she came from a poor background, and had to deal with unfair laws, Bessie had a goal of going to college, and as a young woman attended Langston University in Oklahoma. Unfortunately, she ran out of money and had to return home after one term. 

Soon after returning home, Bessie and two of her brothers decided to try to start a new life in Chicago. They moved north, where Bessie became a manicurist. She worked in a barber shop called the White Sox Barber Shop on the south side of Chicago. She became known for having the fastest hands in the city when it came to giving manicures.

She learned about piloting and airplanes from veterans, including her brothers, who had returned home from World War I. Bessie became fascinated by airplanes and flying. Her brothers would tease her though, saying she’d never be able to fly like some of the women they’d met in France during the war. 

But telling someone they can’t do something is often a sure-fire way to make them want to do it. So right then and there, Bessie decided she would become a pilot and prove her brothers wrong. But her brothers, weren’t the only people she’d have to prove wrong. At the time, there were no flight schools in the United States that would train women or African Americans. 

But there was France. Bessie didn’t have a lot of money, but she knew that if she could get to France, she could train as a pilot there. Her race and gender didn’t matter to the flight schools in France. To earn the money she would need, she began working a second job at a chili restaurant and learning French at night. She also began talking to some of the people who came to the barbershop. Many of the clients there were wealthy and influential.

It was at the barber shop that she met a lawyer and newspaper owner named Robert Abbot. Abbot published the Chicago Defender, one of the largest black-owned newspapers in the country. When he learned about Bessie’s passion to become a pilot, he decided to help. He published a story about her in his paper. His newspaper had more readers than any other black-owned newspaper in the country at the time, so the story got a lot of attention. A banker named Jesse Binga stepped up, and he and The newspaper helped pay for Bessie’s travel to Paris for pilot training. 

Since airplanes were so new, it was still not possible to fly across the Atlantic ocean from the US to France, so Bessie took a boat. She had been accepted to a flight school there, and completed her training in a biplane called a Nieuport 80. A biplane had two sets of wings, one on top of the other.

When Bessie returned to the US with her pilot’s license, she made headlines in black newspapers and aviation magazines across the country. She told reporters that she wanted to open a flight school for women and people of color. 

However, since aviation was so new, there weren’t many jobs for pilots at the time. There were no major airlines that flew people around the country like there are now. Most packages and mail were still moved by trains or ships. And again, Bessie faced discrimination because of her race and gender. She was unable to get one of the few piloting jobs there were.  

Instead of flying for airlines or shipping companies like they do now, many pilots in the 1920s earned money as barnstormers. They would fly to a new town, land in a farm, and ask the farmer to let them perform using their fields as runways. They performed stunts such as loops, dives, and figure eights. They also offered rides to people for money. Bessie decided to become a stunt pilot, and returned to France for more training. 

After Bessie returned to the US this time, she traveled around the country performing daredevil stunts for crowds of people. The Defender newspaper called her “the world’s greatest woman flyer.” She was nicknamed “Queen Bess” and “Brave Bess.”

Bessie loved her job, and used her growing fame to fight racism. In the 1920s, segregation and discrimination were still widespread in America, and were part of the law in many states. Bessie worked with other activists and gave interviews and speeches about ending racism. She refused to participate in any air show that didn’t allow black people to attend. In her hometown in Texas, she had to argue with the producers of an airshow to allow blacks and whites to come in through the same gate, but even then, they were forced to sit in a separate section.

Bessie became so well known, she was asked to star in a movie about a female pilot. Though the movie was to be made by a black-owned production company, Bessie was not happy with how they wanted to portray her. They asked her to wear rags and act as though she was uneducated, negative stereotypes of black people that were very common at the time. Bessie refused. She walked off the set and didn’t return. She wasn’t interested in being famous just for attention. She wanted to use her fame to improve conditions for other African Americans, and she realized  that this movie would not help her do that. 

But other opportunities awaited Bessie. A company that made tires in Oakland, California reached out to her. They wanted her to be their spokesperson and fly over the city dropping messages on paper about their tires. Bessie accepted the offer and went to California. There she flew and appeared in newspaper ads for the tire company. 

It was also in California that Bessie experienced another setback, this time a more serious one. In February 1923, she crashed her plane after the engine stopped working suddenly. She survived with a broken leg and ribs, as well as some cuts. The injuries didn’t stop her though: She said that as soon as she could walk again, she would fly. After several months, she fully recovered and went back to stunt flying. 

Bessie moved to Florida, where a preacher and his wife had offered to give her a room. She opened a beauty salon, still trying to earn enough money to replace the plane that had crashed. She began performing new types of stunts such as wing-walking and parachute jumps. Wing-walkers stunned their audiences by leaving the cockpit while another pilot controlled the plane, and walking out on the wings!   

Finally, in 1926, Bessie had earned enough money to buy her own plane! She had worked hard performing in airshows, giving lectures, and working at her beauty parlor. The new plane wasn’t fancy: an old biplane called a Curtiss JN-4, or “Jenny.” She hired a mechanic named William Wills to fly it from Texas to Florida. Sadly, the plane was not in good condition. During a test flight with the mechanic, the plane stalled and crashed. Bessie did not survive the crash.

News of Queen Bess’s passing was carried widely in African American newspapers. Ten thousand people attended her funeral in Chicago, where Ida B. Wells, a famous black activist, led the service. 

Bessie continued to inspire black aviators in the 1920s and beyond. William J Powell, another African American aviator and civil rights activist, started Bessie Coleman Aero Club in Los Angeles, fulfilling her dream of opening a flight school for African Americans and women. Powell later wrote in his book, Black Wings, that because of Bessie, “we have overcome that which was worse than racial barriers. We have overcome the barriers within ourselves and dared to dream.” 

She was also an inspiration to many of the Tuskegee Airmen. The Tuskegee Airmen were the first group of black aviators to fly for the United States Army. In 1992, Mae Jemison took a portrait of Bessie Coleman with her when she became the first black woman in space, saying that Bessie “exemplifies and serves as a model for all humanity, the very definition of strength, dignity, courage, integrity, and beauty.” The US postal service issued a Bessie Coleman stamp in 1995, and in 2006, she was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame. 

Bessie Coleman once said that “the air is the only place free of prejudices.” But, in order to get there, she had to shatter many barriers that were placed in her path by a society that was unwelcoming to people of her race and gender. Instead of accepting the place she was offered in this society, Bessie decided to pursue her own path and make her own opportunities. She didn’t let the lack of training or jobs for black, female pilots keep her from her dream of flying. She forged ahead with determination and held onto her principles, knowing that her race and gender were not barriers to her ability; that she could lift others up by her example; and there was a place for everybody in the sky! 

Sources

https://thekidshouldseethis.com/post/bessie-coleman-the-first-female-african-american-pilot
https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/bessie-coleman
https://www.cradleofaviation.org/history/history/women-in-aviation/bessie-coleman.html

http://www.bessiecoleman.org/bio-bessie-coleman.php