You could easily fill volumes with sung -- and unsung -- female heroes of American history. Thus, it was a real challenge for Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl, author and illustrator, respectively, of Rad American Women A - Z, to winnow the list to 26.
"Narrowing down the women was really the most challenging part about the project," Schatz tells KQED. About the only thing already decided was that Z was going to be for Zora Neale Hurston, a no-brainer, she says.
"Beyond that, we wanted to have a real mix," Schatz adds. "I wanted to prioritize women of color and maybe people who weren't as familiar. So right off the bat, some of the more heavy hitters of women's history were off the list. No disrespect to Susan B. Anthony, but she's in all the books. We wanted to go beyond that."
Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries Who Shaped Our History offers an exhilarating run through artists, musicians, scientists, activists and athletes who have influenced life in America today. The women represented comprise a vibrant list spanning race, class and sexuality, including Patti Smith, Odetta, Angela Davis, Kate Bornstein, Lucy Parsons, Ursula K. LeGuin, Hazel Scott, the Grimke Sisters, Billie Jean King, Sonia Sotomayor, Temple Grandin, Wilma Mankiller, Jovita Idar, Maya Lin, Dolores Huerta, Carol Burnett and Ella Baker.
"It's obviously just a jumping-off point, and it could have been a list of 26,000 women," says Schatz. (Yes, a sequel is in the works.)