Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.
I'm Doug Johnson. This week ...
show about prizes, awards, honors -- and about some people who have won them
Plus, the answer to a listener question about an
American Nobel laureate from many years ago.
National Women's Hall of Fame
Forty years ago, the community of Seneca Falls, New
York, decided to create a hall of fame for women. The town was the birthplace of the women's
rights movement. Shirley Griffith tells
about the National Women's Hall of Fame and some of its new members.
eighteen forty-eight, three hundred women and men gathered in Seneca Falls for
the first Women's Rights Convention. Among them were feminist leaders Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia
delegates passed a declaration calling for voting rights for women, among other
demands. Seventy-two years later the
nineteenth amendment to the United States Constitution gave women the right to
In nineteen sixty-nine, the people of Seneca Falls
wanted to honor the women who took part in the struggle. So they established the National Women's Hall
of Fame. Ten years later, the group had
raised enough money to buy a historic bank building to house the Hall of Fame.
are more than two hundred women in the National Women's Hall of Fame
today. They include teachers, doctors,
artists and athletes. There are also
pilots, social activists, comedians, politicians, poets and builders.
National Women's Hall of Fame announced ten new members on March second to
honor National Women's History Month. They will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in October.
of them is Louise Bourgeois, a ninety-seven year old artist in New York
City. Her best known works are huge
sculptures of spiders. Her art has been exhibited in major museum collections around
new member of the Hall of Fame has been fighting to help victims of abuse for
more than thirty years. Susan
Kelly-Dreiss grew up in a violent home. She started her career by helping to
set up a shelter for abused women. Later
she helped gain passage of the first law against domestic violence in the state
of Pennsylvania. Now, Miz Kelly-Dreiss
works on the issue at the national level.
Solomon is an international leader in atmospheric science. She developed the theory explaining how and
why the ozone hole happens over Antarctica. She also got some of the first chemical measurements that showed
man-made chlorofluorocarbons caused the hole. Miz Solomon served as one of the
leaders of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This group shared the
Nobel Peace Prize with former American Vice President Al Gore in two thousand
new members include Emma Lazarus, the great nineteenth century Jewish
poet. Her famous poem is on the base of
the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. Scientist Mildred Cohen also will be inducted into the National Women's
Hall of Fame. Her biological research
has won many awards including a National Medal of Science.
Lewis and the Nobel Prize
listener question this week comes from Bosnia. Danijel Djordjic wants to know
who was the first American to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.
That prize was awarded to
Sinclair Lewis in nineteen thirty. Lewis
wrote novels, plays and short stories. He was honored for his art of
description and his ability to create, with wit and humor, new kinds of
novels are darkly funny examinations of American society and culture. "Main
Street," from nineteen twenty, tells about the conflict and cooperation among
people in a small town and the rural community around it. The Nobel Prize
committee said the book provides one of the best descriptions of small town
life ever written.
from nineteen twenty-two, humorously criticizes America's desire for goods and
its sales industry. The Nobel committee
called George Babbitt the popular hero of the American middle class.
Lewis' novel "Elmer Gantry" is about a Christian clergyman who does not obey
the morals he professes. He uses religion to get women and make himself rich.
The Nobel committee said the book "is like a surgical operation on one of the
most delicate parts of the social body."
books were hugely popular. One hundred eighty thousand copies of "Main Street"
were sold in the first six months after it was published. Millions more were sold in the years that
followed. However, the way the writer
presented Americans and their values angered some American religious leaders
and literary critics.
Lewis discussed this criticism in the speech he gave when accepting the Nobel
Prize. He said most American writers and
readers were "still afraid of any literature which is not a glorification of
everything American, a glorification of our faults as well as our
virtues." But, he also said he had
"every hope and eager belief" for the future of American literature. He named many young American writers at the
time who he said were working without fear of the critic. He said these writers were true to themselves
in their work and were full of passion for it.
Stevie Wonder and the Gershwin Prize
Last month, President Obama presented Stevie Wonder the
Library of Congress' Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. The celebration of Stevie Wonder's music was
held at the White House. Katherine Cole has more.
President Obama and his wife have been fans of Stevie
Wonder's music since they were very young. In fact, Mister Obama told the gathering that Michelle probably would
not have dated him if they had not agreed on Stevie Wonder.
The musician has been writing, singing, and playing
music almost all his life. He was born in Saginaw, Michigan, in nineteen fifty
and became blind shortly after birth. His family moved to Detroit when he was three. He learned to play
harmonica, drums and piano at a very young age. Stevie first sang in church.
He was signed by Motown Records and began his recording
career at age twelve as "little Stevie Wonder." Here is "Uptight (Everything's Alright)," a hit from his late teenage
Many musical stars came out to celebrate Stevie Wonder
and perform his music at a special concert at the White House on February
twenty-fifth. Among them were jazz musician
Diana Krall, who sang "Blame It On the Sun." Hip-hop artist will.i.am performed
"Master Blaster (Jammin')." Paul Simon, who won the first Gershwin Prize in two
thousand seven, performed "If It's Magic." Here is Stevie Wonder with that same song from nineteen seventy-six.
Gershwin Prize for Popular Song is named for the songwriting team of George and
Ira Gershwin. It honors an American composer or performer. The Librarian of Congress James Billington
said Stevie Wonder has crossed musical and cultural borders and given to
humanity in ways far beyond entertainment.
leave you with Stevie Wonder performing "Superstition," from his nineteen
seventy-two album "Talking Book."
Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.
was written and produced by Caty Weaver. Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in