Who Did It First? 50 Politicians, Activists, and Entrepreneurs Who Revolutionized the World, edited by Alex Hart, written by Jay Leslie & illustrated by Nneka Myers,

Who Did It First? 50 
Politicians, Activists, and Entrepreneurs 
Who Revolutionized the World
Edited by Alex Hart, written by Jay Leslie, 
illustrated by Nneka Myers
Review Copy from MacMillan Kids

Who Did It First? 50 Politicians, Activists, and Entrepreneurs Who Revolutionized the World is a truly inspirational, diverse, superb collection of human beings young readers deserve to know about. The introduction tells readers, "When you chase your dreams, you make it possible for other people to achieve theirs, too." And, reading stories of how these fifty people "overcame enormous challenges to achieve their dreams and make their communities a better place" will definitely invite readers to think about how their own accomplishments will inspire someone else. As I read through Who Did It First? I was deeply moved by the bravery, perseverance, compassion and commitment of every activist, politician and entrepreneur featured, the majority of whom I have never heard of and found myself researching further.
Who Did It First?, as you might expect, predominately features BIPOC and women. From being the first to attend university, earn degrees and make a million, people like Ed Roberts, the first person with quadriplegia to attend UC Berkeley, the first Native American woman to publish a book and the first person to form a women's suffrage organization in China, this book is a window to the world and the many ways people have been and continue to be oppressed, overlooked and ignored. Bonus sections on "Women Who Ruled" and "Young Activists" turn the 50 into 65. I was especially impressed by the variety of experience brought to the page, like the first female rabbi in the U.S., the first deafblind graduate of Harvard Law School, and the first head of state to take maternity leave - Jacinda Arden, current prime minister of New Zealand. The LGBTQIA+ community is well represented, with Althea Gibson, the first transgender lawmaker in the U.S., Kasha Nabagesera, the first person to found a lesbian, bisexual, and transgender rights organization in Uganda, a country where you can receive the death penalty for repeatedly having same-sex relations, Janet Mock, the first transgender woman of color to publish a book, and Schuyler Bailar, the first openly transgender NCAA Division 1 swimmer who was recruited to Harvard University's women's swim team and was offered a spot on the men's team after he transitioned.

Among entrepreneurs are Sarah Breedlove, the first self-made female millionaire in the U.S. and George Shima, the first Japanese American millionaire. Being married to a rock climber, I was excited to see Yvon Chouinard, founder of Chouinard Equipment and the more familiar Patagonia clothing company, made the list as the first person to found a major clothing company focused on environmental activism. Steve Jobs made the list as the first person to introduce a mass market personal computer with a graphical interface (a technical way of saying he's the reason we click on icons instead of typing commands. And oh yeah, he invented the iPod and iPhone...) as did Melinda Gates, as the first woman to give away more than $40 billion to charity. Occasionally the person makes sense even when the "first" seems clunky or contrived, like Joan Ganz Cooney and her honor of being the "first female non-performer inducted into the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame," and Lebron James, the "first NBA star to open a public school." That said, overall, these firsts are unforgettable and feel like true landmark events. I'll end with my favorite (among many from the 50), Muhammad Yunus, the first person to pioneer microfinance on a massive scale and the first Bangladeshi to jointly win a Noble Peace Prize, and a quote from him that I think we need a lot more of in America right now:

There are two kinds of business in the world. One is a business which makes money, and the other solves the problems of the world.

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