On this week’s episode, we’re celebrating a major moment from Inauguration Day, the swearing in of Kamala Harris — our country’s first woman vice president, and the first Black and South Asian person to hold that office — by highlighting stories from other women who also found ways to pioneer change.
Women like Dr. Olivia J. Hooker, who at the age of 6, was witness to one of the worst acts of racial violence in American history: the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921. After surviving that destruction, she and her family relocated from Oklahoma to Kansas. Dr. Hooker then went on to earn her bachelor’s degree from Ohio State University, and in 1945, became the first Black woman to enter the Coast Guard. At the age of 103, she sat down for StoryCorps to remember her time in the military.
Photo: Dr. Olivia J. Hooker (right) and her goddaughter, Janis Porter. Photo by Afi Yellow-Duke for StoryCorps.
Next, we hear from Monica Harwell and her daughter Andrea Cleveland. When Monica started working as a line constructor for Con Edison in the early 90s, she was predominantly in the company of men; many of whom doubted that she’d be able to do her job successfully, if at all. But at StoryCorps, she told her daughter about the first time she climbed to the top of the utility pole, and swiftly laid their doubts to rest.
Photo: Monica Harwell and Andrea Cleveland at their StoryCorps interview in NYC, New York. Photo by Erika Romero for StoryCorps
Barbara Moore spent more than 40 years working as a bricklayer in Baltimore. She helped lay the foundation for some of the city’s most famous landmarks, including Camden Yards, home to the Baltimore Orioles. At StoryCorps, Barbara remembered how she built a unique career for herself, and a legacy for her daughter.
Photo: Barbara Moore. Courtesy of Barbara Moore.
Finally, we hear from Dr. Jenna Lester and her mom, Dr. Sharon Brangman. Both women were inspired to pursue careers in medicine after Sharon’s mother (Jenna’s grandmother), Ruby Brangman, became one of the first Black nurse practitioners in New York state during the 1970s.
Photo: Sharon Brangman and Jenna Lester at their StoryCorps interview in New York City. Photo by Mia Warren for StoryCorps.
Top photo: Artwork by Lindsay Mound.
Released on January 26, 2021.