The internationally acclaimed contralto, Marian Anderson, was thrust into the public spotlight after a controversial rejection from one of the nation’s prominent concert houses. The incident garnered the attention of the First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, and spiraled into a must-see event on Easter Sunday in 1939, which sparked further action in the Civil Rights movement, and eventually, Anderson's landmark debut as the first black singer at the Metropolitan Opera.
At a time when women were not able to hold positions of power, Hildegard von Bingen achieved great success as prioress and abbess, founding two convents in addition to being an author, composer, visionary, and prophet. Gaining recognition as a prominent female scholar in just one of these subjects during the 12th century would have been noteworthy; Hildegard carved out a place of significance by achieving in them all.
She defied her social status, her gender, and held firm in her faith that she was selected by God to win a war for France. A teenage girl received mystical visions from God, gained the confidence of a prince, and became a warrioress that led a nation to victory. Joan’s story sounds more akin to fiction than fact, but because she was such a controversial figure there are many court records of her interviews and trials that have provided solid evidence for her biography.