By our Co-Artistic Director, and wannabe bad-ass, Rachael Abbey.
On this day (24th August) in 1932, Amelia Earhart became the first woman to make a transcontinental flight when she landed at the Newark Airport in New Jersey after a 19 hour flight from Los Angeles, CA. Why didn’t I learn about this at school? Why did I leave school at 18 with only to knowledge of Cleopatra and Emeline Pankhurst. Why aren’t we talking about this more? When I was choosing my GCSEs, my history teacher pulled me out of class to tell me that I was the only person in top set history (I was a nerd, deal with it) who wasn’t doing it for GCSE. At 14 I had already had enough of learning about old white men. Of learning about them abusing their power. We had learnt about slave owners (in America, absolutely no reference to the atrocities that the UK did), British Soldiers in the trenches, and now to tea stain a piece of printer paper to make a Blue Peter version of The Magna Carta. If we had actually looked at the history of people who weren’t white men, I think I’d have been more inclined to take my education further, because I love history, I just didn’t like what I was being taught. In Year 4 we did the Egyptians, the idea that there was Cleopatra, a woman in charge, the rich tapestry of Egyptian life that was captured and that there was a special language to decipher? Count me in. Learning about women’s suffrage and how passionately they fought for women to be equal? Hell yeah! Joan of Arc, this young woman who led soldiers into battle and a boss ass bitch? This is what I want to learn about. I wanted to learn about incredible women, flawed women, heroes. I want to learn what not to do and how to grow from the past. I wanted feminist history like Rosa Parks, Marie Curie, Ada Lovelace. I wanted black history, like Malcom X, Martin Luther King, and each of the main women from Hidden Figures. I wanted queer history, like Marsha P. Johnson, Alan Turing, Anne Lister. These are all people I had to properly research myself. To find out about them and how history remembers them. History is written by the perspective of the “winners”, by the perspective of the people who wrote the books. Mostly men, I mean, most women weren’t taught how to read pre-19th Century. I don’t know what the curriculum is like these days, but I really hope that its as diverse as the world is. Even if we’re just starting with Horrible History and Drunk History (10/10 would recommend both), I want to know the bits that often get left out, I love it. Incredible people have always existed, they’ve just been erased from the narrative. Before us there have been billions of stories, things that have been lost through time. Stories of amazing people that have changed the world, but were lost to the dying memories of the past. There is so much more to history than old kings and wars. There is so much more to learn, examples to empower others, to know that people who are like you have also made history.
Record breaking, bad-ass Amelia and her plane.