Skip to main content

Become a KCTS 9 Passport member for just $5 a month to access thousands of hours of PBS programs and specials

Your donation supports an essential community service, is tax-deductible, and helps make the programs you depend on possible

American Masters

Mel Brooks: Make a Noise

American Masters

Mel Brooks: Make a Noise

1m 52s

After 60 years in show business, Mel Brooks has earned more major awards than any other living entertainer; he is one of 14 EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony) winners. Yet, the comedy giant has energetically avoided a documentary profile being made, even issuing an informal gag order on his friends until now.

Play
2m 15s

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist Nikole Hannah Jones

She created the 1619 Project on slavery for The New York Times Magazine and discusses how her work frequently explores the structural inequality created by racism in the U.S. “Journalism is one of the greatest and most empowering professions in the world,” she says. This extended interview is in addition to her appearance in our Unladylike2020 episode on newspaper editor Charlotta Spears Bass.

Play
9m 4s

Grace Abbott: Social Work Pioneer

Grace Abbott (1878-1939), an architect of social work and an activist in the immigrant rights movement, was the highest ranking woman in government from 1921 to 1934 as chief of the Department of Labor’s Children’s Bureau. She led the fight to end child labor and maternal and infant childbirth death, and also helped draft America's Social Security Act.

Play
12m 32s

The First Black Woman to Run for Vice President of The U.S.

Charlotta Spears Bass (1874-1969) one of the first African American women to own and operate a newspaper, and the first African American woman to run for Vice President of the United States, crusaded for over 40 years against racial violence, and discrimination in schools, housing, and the job market, in the pages of the California Eagle.

Play
1m 50s

An Interview with Activist Brittany Packnett Cunningham

Activist Brittany Packnett Cunningham, a member of the Ferguson Uprising and co-founder of Campaign Zero, discusses how issues of social justice are interconnected, and how those who benefit from privilege have the responsibility to fight for the rights of those impacted by systemic inequalities.

Play
12m 38s

Jeannette Rankin: The First Woman Member of U.S. Congress

Jeannette Rankin (1880-1973) made history as the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress and the only member of Congress to vote against U.S. participation in World War I and World War II. A determined suffragist, she helped women in her home state of Montana win the vote and introduced what later became the 19th Amendment to secure suffrage for women nationwide.

Play
12m 23s

Martha Hughes Cannon: The First Woman State Senator

Martha Hughes Cannon (1857-1932) completed medical school, became the fourth of six wives in a polygamous Mormon marriage, and joined the women’s suffrage movement. In 1896, she was elected the country’s first female state senator, defeating her own husband who was also on the ballot.

Play
11m 53s

She was a Civil Rights Activist and Co-Founder of the NAACP

Mary Church Terrell (1863-1954) became a national leader as founder of the National Association of Colored Women, coining its motto “Lifting As We Climb,” while also serving as a founding member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and actively wrote and spoke out about lynching and segregation throughout her life.

Play
10m 2s

She was a Daredevil Performer & Advocate for the Blind

After answering an ad seeking a "young woman who can swim and dive; likes horses; desires to travel," Sonora Webster Carver became one of the most famous horse divers in the world. She continued diving for 11 years after being blinded in 1931 as a result of one of her performances, and later in life engaged in activism for the visually impaired.

Play
11m 37s

The First American Indian Doctor

Susan La Flesche Picotte became the first American Indian woman to graduate from medical school, and is notable for founding an independently funded hospital on the Omaha reservation in Nebraska.

Play
11m 5s

Sissieretta Jones was a Trailblazing Black Opera Singer

Sissieretta Jones became the first Black woman to headline a concert on the main stage at Carnegie Hall in 1892. Jones was heralded as the greatest singer of her generation and a pioneer in the operatic tradition at a time when access to most classical concert halls in the U.S. were closed to black performers and patrons. She also performed at the White House and abroad.

Play
11m 54s

She was the First Woman to Swim Across the English Channel

Gertrude Ederle (1905-2003) made history and rocketed to international stardom in 1926 when, at age 20, she became the first woman to swim the English Channel, then considered one of the toughest endurance tests in the world, beating the fastest man's existing record by nearly two hours, and challenging notions about women being “the weaker sex.”

Play
12m 14s

Queen Lili‘uokalani - The First and Last Queen of Hawai‘i

Queen Lili‘uokalani (1838-1917) was the first sovereign queen, and the last monarch of Hawai‘i, who assumed the throne in the midst of a government takeover by American business owners supported by the U.S. military. After being deposed and placed under house arrest, she fought to preserve native Hawaiian rights and traditions.

Play
10m 40s

Annie Smith Peck: Record-Breaking Mountaineer

Annie Smith Peck, one of the first women in America to become a college professor in the fields of Latin, elocution, and archaeology, took up mountain climbing in her forties. She gained international fame in 1895 when she first summited the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps -- not for her daring ascent, but because she undertook the climb wearing pants rather than a cumbersome skirt.

Play
11m 51s

Gladys Bentley: Gender-Bending Performer and Musician

Gladys Bentley joined New York’s Harlem Renaissance jazz scene at age 16 and became an instant sensation and gender identity pioneer, performing piano and vocals at the most popular gay bars, wearing men’s clothing, and openly flirting with women in the audience.

Play
10m 18s

The First American-Born Chinese Woman Doctor

Margaret Chung (1889-1959) overcame great racism and sexism to become the first American-born Chinese female doctor in 1916. She also helped establish WAVES, the women’s naval reserves, paving the way for women’s integration into the U.S armed forces.

Supported by

KCTS 9 Celebrates 50 Years of PBS on October 5th

Help Fund 50 More! Your early gift will be matched up to $30,000!