#1 “Breaking the Marathon Ceiling: Bobbi Gibb’s Defiant Run”
“When she applied to run in the Boston Marathon in 1966 they rejected her saying: “Women are not physiologically able to run a marathon, and we can’t take the liability.”
Then exactly 50 years ago today, on the day of the marathon, Bobbi Gibb hid in the bushes and waited for the race to begin. When about half of the runners had gone past she jumped in.
She wore her brother’s Bermuda shorts, a pair of boy’s sneakers, a bathing suit, and a sweatshirt. As she took off into the swarm of runners, Gibb started to feel overheated, but she didn’t remove her hoodie. “I knew if they saw me, they were going to try to stop me,” she said. “I even thought I might be arrested.”
It didn’t take long for male runners in Gibb’s vicinity to realize that she was not another man. Gibb expected them to shoulder her off the road, or call out to the police. Instead, the other runners told her that if anyone tried to interfere with her race, they would put a stop to it. Finally feeling secure and assured, Gibb took off her sweatshirt.
As soon as it became clear that there was a woman running in the marathon, the crowd erupted—not with anger or righteousness, but with pure joy, she recalled. Men cheered. Women cried.
By the time she reached Wellesley College, the news of her run had spread, and the female students were waiting for her, jumping and screaming. The governor of Massachusetts met her at the finish line and shook her hand. The first woman to ever run the marathon had finished in the top third.”
#2″Melodies in the Dark: The Extraordinary Life of Blind Tom Wiggins”
Once upon a time, in the deep South of the United States, there lived a young boy named Thomas Greene Wiggins. Born on a Georgia plantation in 1849, Tom faced a life filled with hardships from the very beginning. He was not only born into slavery, but also faced the challenges of being both blind and autistic. However, what set Tom apart was his extraordinary gift for music.
Tom’s parents, Mungo and Charity Wiggins, recognized his talent at an early age. Even as a little boy, he could hear the melodies that danced through the air and effortlessly recreate them on a piano. By the tender age of four, Tom could already play tunes that captivated those around him.
In 1850, fate took an unexpected turn for Tom and his family when they were sold to James Neil Bethune, a prominent lawyer and newspaper editor in Columbus, Georgia. Bethune saw the unique talent in young Tom and immediately recognized its potential.
Tom’s first taste of recognition came when he made his debut at the age of eight, performing in Atlanta. The audience was left awe-struck as his nimble fingers effortlessly danced across the keys, producing a symphony of breathtaking melodies. It was clear that Tom possessed a musical genius that was unparalleled.
In 1859, at the age of ten, Tom became the first African American performer to play at the White House. President James Buchanan, upon witnessing Tom’s remarkable talent, was entranced. The young prodigy’s piano pieces, “Oliver Galop” and “Virginia Polka,” were even published the following year.
The horrors of the Civil War brought changes to Tom’s life. He was now hired out as a slave-musician, valued at the staggering price of $15,000. Despite the tumultuous times, Tom’s music brought solace and hope to all those who listened.
By 1865, at the age of sixteen, Tom’s musical prowess knew no bounds. He could flawlessly perform the works of renowned composers such as Bach, Chopin, Liszt, Beethoven, and Thalberg. Astonishingly, Tom could even play a complex piece after hearing it only once. His memory was just as prodigious as his musical ability, as he effortlessly memorized poems and text in foreign languages.
Tom’s talents soon took him far beyond the United States. James Neil Bethune, recognizing the opportunity, took Tom to Europe to showcase his immense talent. With glowing testimonials from renowned music critics Ignaz Moscheles and Charles Halle, Tom’s reputation as a musical prodigy spread across the continent. He became an international sensation, enchanting audiences with his extraordinary performances.
Despite his success, Tom’s life was far from easy. James Bethune eventually lost custody of him, and Tom became the ward of his late son’s ex-wife, Eliza Bethune. Tom’s mother, Charity Wiggins, fought to gain control over her son’s fate, but her efforts were in vain. The power to decide Tom’s future remained in the hands of others.
Years passed, and Tom continued to charm audiences around the world. His mesmerizing performances brought in an annual income of $50,000, a remarkable sum for any era. Yet, the weight of his circumstances remained heavy on his shoulders.
Tom Wiggins gave his final performance in 1905, leaving behind an extraordinary legacy. He passed away three years later, in 1908, at the age of fifty-nine, in the cozy confines of his manager’s home in Hoboken, New Jersey. Tom’s story showcases not only his unparalleled musical talent but also the resilience and determination of a young boy born into a world of adversity.
Today, Blind Tom Wiggins lives on in the annals of history as a testament to the power of passion, talent, and a relentless spirit. His music continues to inspire, reminding us all of the boundless potential that lies within each of us, regardless of the challenges we may face.