Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

AMERICAN MASTERS – UNLADYLIKE2020: THE CHANGEMAKERS Premieres Next Week On PBS

Article Pixel

AMERICAN MASTERS – UNLADYLIKE2020: THE CHANGEMAKERS Premieres Next Week On PBS

AMERICAN MASTERS - UNLADYLIKE2020: THE CHANGEMAKERS. Highlights women in the U. S. who fought for Civil Rights and Women's Suffrage, and premieres nationwide July 10, 2020 on PBS

The program spotlights women who pioneered social change and equal rights 100 years ago - including the first women in the U.S. Congress and State Senate, and a co-founder of the NAACP - as part of PBS' summer celebration of women trailblazers

Timed with the 2020 presidential election and the women's suffrage centennial, AMERICAN MASTERS - Unladylike2020: The Changemakers, narrated by award-winning actor Julianna Margulies (ER, The Good Wife, Billions), and featuring THE VOICE of Lorraine Toussaint (Selma, Orange is the New Black, The Glorias), premieres nationwide Friday July 10 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings) pbs.org/unladylike2020 and the PBS Video app, as part of PBS' summer celebration of women trailblazers. This hour-long documentary focuses on political change, examining the ways women accomplished amazing milestones over 100 years ago, overcoming incredible odds and great resistance, to map a national future of equality and to improve life for Americans. It features the rich biographies of five little-known trailblazers, including some of the first women to hold elected office, and women who fought to ensure that citizens are treated equally and protected by the same rights. The lives of these unsung heroes are brought back to life through captivating original artwork and animation; rare archival imagery; and interviews with historians, descendants, and accomplished women and modern-day thought leaders, who reflect on the influence of these pioneers, and the status of suffrage and equality today.

A little over a century ago, women in the United States did not have universal suffrage. From the 1890s to 1920s, the country experienced rapid industrialization, urbanization, technological innovation, and reform that resulted in increased opportunities for women, including their participation in political institutions. It was also a time of resistance to change, defined by the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, racial violence and Jim Crow, efforts to limit immigration from non-Anglo nations, and campaigns to assimilate American Indians and immigrants. Overcoming unthinkable challenges, some women used their voices and power to become changemakers - running for elected office, organizing for civil rights, citizenship rights and anti-lynching campaigns, and fighting for the right to vote.

The women highlighted in AMERICAN MASTERS - Unladylike2020: The Changemakers are Martha Hughes Cannon, the country's first female state senator; Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress; Mary Church Terrell, a leader in the anti-lynching movement and a founder of the NAACP; Jovita Idar, a journalist, and president of the first Mexican American women's civil rights organization; and Zitkála-Šá, also known as Gertrude Simmons Bonnin, who lobbied for U.S. citizenship, voting rights, and sovereignty for American Indians a century ago.

The hour concludes with the perspectives of contemporary women thought leaders, who consider the lasting impact of these trailblazers' accomplishments on our nation, and the work they began 100 years ago that is unfinished today. Interviewees include Rep. Deb Haaland (NM-01), one of the first American Indian women in Congress; former Rep. Mia Love (UT-04), the first African American Republican woman in Congress; Ai-jen Poo, executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance; and Brittany Packnett-Cunningham, member of the Ferguson Commission formed following the police shooting death of Michael Brown, Jr. in Ferguson, Missouri.

Unladylike2020 Executive Producer and series creator Charlotte Mangin describes the history featured in the special as timely and current: "Our Unladylike2020 changemakers were critical to making the equality agenda part of the national fabric of this nation." Executive Producer Sandra Rattley also states, "Two of our heroines, Mary Church Terrell and Jovita Idar, took a stand against lynching. In 2020, Congress is still debating the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act after 120 years of trying to make lynching a federal crime. I have no doubt these unladylike women would be protesting for justice today."

Charlotte Mangin and Sandra Rattley directed, wrote and produced the special which is based on the Unladylike2020 multimedia series of 26 documentary shorts that launched in March on the American Masters Youtube channel and continues Wednesdays through August 26, Women's Equality Day. Executive Producer for AMERICAN MASTERS is Michael Kantor.


Related Articles View More TV Stories

More Hot Stories For You