Monday, March 11, 2013

Makers: Women Who Make America

Over the last half-century, America has seen one of the most sweeping social revolutions in its history, as women have asserted their rights to a full and fair share of political power, economic opportunity, and personal autonomy. It’s a revolution that has unfolded in public and private, on grand stages like the Supreme Court and Congress, and in humbler ones like the boardroom and the bedroom. No individual and no aspect of American life has been unchanged.

MAKERS: Women Who Make America will tell this remarkable story for the first time in a comprehensive and innovative documentary Rhode Island PBS will air on March 21 starting at 8 p.m. Built on the extraordinary archive of stories already completed for, the film features the stories of those who led the fight, those who opposed it, and the unintentional trailblazers -- famous and unknown – who carried change to every corner of society.

Taking its cue from the motto of the movement – “the personal is political” – MAKERS delves deeply into the personal lives of its subjects. The film is not a top-down narrative of events over people. It is built, bottom-up, from the first-person, intimate accounts of women who were there, including movement leaders like Gloria Steinem and Naomi Wolf; opponents like Phyllis Schlafly and Beverly LaHaye; famous faces like Oprah Winfrey, Katie Couric and Hillary Clinton; and the many “ordinary” women confronted with what equality meant in their own lives.

Former Brown University President Ruth Simmons is profiled in the series:
In 2001, Ruth Simmons made history when she became the first African-American president of an Ivy League university, as well as Brown University’s first female president. Prior to this appointment, she served as the first African-American female president of a major college or university when she took the reins at Smith College in 1995. Yet growing up, Simmons had much more modest ambitions. “I had one goal,” she recalls, “if only I could one day work in an office, because every woman that I knew was a maid... The farthest I could think was working in an office. That was it.” 
Through the perspectives of those who lived through it, MAKERS recounts the seminal events of the organized women’s movement from the publication of The Feminine Mystique in 1963 to the Anita Hill vs. Clarence Thomas hearings in 1991. But it also goes much further, telling the surprising and unknown stories of women who broke down barriers in their own chosen fields, from the coal mines of West Virginia to the boardrooms of Madison Avenue. And it takes the story to today, when a new generation is both defending and confronting the reality of their mother’s legacy.

Throughout, the film captures with great period music, humor, and playful graphics the dizzying joy, aching frustration and ultimate triumph of a movement that turned America upside-down. is a dynamic digital platform produced by filmmakers Dyllan McGee, Betsy West, and Peter Kunhardt, developed by AOL, showcasing hundreds of compelling stories from women of today and tomorrow. This historic video initiative features exclusive access to trailblazing women - both known and unknown.

For a collection of individual videos, click here.