Denise Sullivan

Author, Journalist, Culture Worker

Toni Stone: Making History on the Field and on Stage

This is an undated file photo of Toni Stone, the first woman baseball player in the Negro Leagues. (AP Photo/Courtesy of Negro Leagues Baseball Museum)

Playwright Lydia R. Diamond

Everyday a woman makes history somewhere in the world, often simply by surviving her circumstances, and other times achieving things that other women before her had yet to dream. When I heard about the life of Toni Stone, I was embarrassed to say, I had not heard of her or the women like her who played baseball among men, in the era when baseball was still a segregated sport in the United States.  But I was interested.  And while I’m not a sportswriter, it was on the occasion of award-winning playwright Lydia R. Diamond’s work, Toni Stone, staged by ACT in San Francisco, I had the opportunity to interview Davis, learn more about Stone, and write further into the lives of some other women based in the Bay Area whose stories and actions made history in their respective fields. I hope you’ll read more about Davis, Stone, and the other women’s history makers in my cover story for this week’s San Francisco Chronicle Datebook. Read the whole piece here>

Filed under: Arts and Culture, Women's issues, , , , , , , , , , ,

Happy International Women’s Day

Scottish songbird Annie Lennox wrote “Sisters are Doin’ it For Themselves” with her musical partner Dave Stewart of Eurythmics with the intention of the song becoming a feminist anthem. Nearly 30 years later, the song stands as a female-positive statement, bolstered by the vocal accompaniment of Aretha Franklin, the unheralded originator of feminist song. Before the women’s movement officially started to roll, in 1967, Franklin famously cut the Otis Redding tune, “Respect,” and turned it on its head when she sang, “all I ask for is a little respect when you come home.”  Sitting in with Lennox on “Sisters” was a sly way to acknowledge Franklin’s pioneering status as a strong, statement-maker in song. The accompanying video is visual verification of the idea that as women, we move forward together, or not at all. According to She’s A Rebel, The History of Women in Rock & Roll by Gillian Gaar, Lennox initially approached Tina Turner who reportedly called the song “too feminist.” Too bad:  “Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves” hit Top 20 and did no harm to Franklin whose Who’s Zoomin’ Who album brought her back after a long absence from the airwaves and yielded another high charting hit with “Freeway of Love.” Sisters did it again. Amen.

Filed under: video, Women's rights, , , , , ,

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