Arab American Heritage Month 2023: Stories That Matter

Post publish date: April 12, 2023

According to the Arab American Institute, there are nearly 3.7 million Americans who have ancestry that can be traced back to an Arab country. A majority of Arab American community members were born in America. However, regardless of where they were born—in America or elsewhere for those who immigrated to the U.S.—Arab Americans have valuable creative experiences and perspectives that only they can tell through their creative works.

This month, we’re celebrating the history of Arab Americans throughout Arab American Heritage Month and highlighting several creators who have shared their brilliant works for the world to enjoy.

History of Arab American Heritage Month

Starting in the 1990s, Arab American Heritage was celebrated in some states in the U.S. However, there was no formal national initiative until 2017 when the celebration started to gain momentum nationally. Then, on April 30, 2019, Michigan Representatives Debbie Dingell and Rashida Tlaib led a resolution to recognize Arab American Heritage nationally each year during the month of April. Michigan Representatives Haley Stevens and Andy Levin cosponsored this resolution, and it was formally introduced by Florida Representative Donna Shalala.

Ultimately, April 2021 marked the first year that the United States officially recognized Arab American Heritage Month. Since then, it has become a month to recognize the history, culture, and creative contributions that the Arab American community has shared with the world, including countless inspiring works of art and creations. Recently, on March 21, 2023, President Joe Biden reflected on National Arab American Heritage Month (NAAHM) and stated that “the Arab American story is the American story.”

Noteworthy Arab American Creators

There’s no question that the Arab American community has impacted all creative industries in many ways. Below are several Arab American creators who have contributed significantly by sharing their artistic and creative works.

Tony Shalhoub: Actor

Tony Shalhoub is a Lebanese American who has had a very successful career as an Actor. Shalhoub has won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series and two SAG awards for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor for his work in Marvelous Mrs. Maisel where he plays Abe Weissman. He also played the role of Adrian Monk in the TV series Monk, which he received a Golden Globe, two SAG Awards, and three Primetime Emmy Awards for. On top of his onscreen success, he also made his Broadway debut in the 1985 for the production of The Odd Couple. He was also in The Heidi Chronicles, The Golden Boy, and many more.

To learn more about Shalhoub, you can watch PBS’ series Finding Your Roots where they feature him in Season 7, Episode 4. They cover everything from how Shalhoub’s family contributed to his success to anti-immigrant sentiments.

Naomi Shihab Nye: Poet, Editor, Songwriter, and Novelist

Naomi Shihab Nye is a Palestinian American who wears many hats. She’s a poet, editor, songwriter, and novelist. In many areas of her career, she works to give a voice to her Arab American experiences. An example is in her book 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East. In this book, she explores how the life of Middle Eastern civilians changed after 9/11 occurred.

Nye has received countless awards for her written works, including four Pushcart Prizes, the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Lifetime Achievement Award. Naomi has also been a Lannan Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, and a Witter Bynner Fellow, which is a fellowship awarded by the Library of Congress. On top of her numerous awards and fellowships, she also travels often to promote international goodwill through the arts.

Alicia Sams: Film Producer and Director

Alicia Sams is the producer and director of the award-winning series Arab American Stories, which aired in 2012 on PBS. Every week, Arab American Stories featured three different Arab Americans from a variety of backgrounds. They may be an artist, chef, educator, or from another profession. Sams and the rest of the crew on set found a way to discuss immigration, diversity, culture, and so much more in an innovative way.

In addition to Alicia’s work on Arab American, she also won an Emmy for her film By The People: The Election of Barack Obama, which premiered on HBO in 2009. There’s no question that Alicia has made an impact on the film and television industry. She continues to encourage and educate others by appearing as a guest lecturer at a number of colleges around the country. She’s currently the Director of Fellows Program at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics and continues to freelance as a Director and Producer.

Moustafa Bayoumi: Author

Moustafa Bayoumi is an award-winning author. His book How Does It Feel To Be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America won an American Book Award and the Arab American Book Award for Non-Fiction. His book follows seven young Arab Americans as they go through post-9-11 life. It highlights the stereotypes and the ongoing discrimination they face after that traumatic event.

In addition to publishing award-winning non-fiction books, Bayoumi has also been a successful journalist. He has been published in The New York Times, The Daily Beast, and many other noteworthy news publications. Bayoumi is currently a professor at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, where he teaches English to aspiring creators like himself.

Sam Maloof: Furniture Designer and Woodworker

Sam Maloof was a Lebanese American furniture designer and woodworker who handcrafted more than 5,000 chairs in his lifetime. Maloof was the first craftsman to receive a MacArthur fellowship, and in 1985, he was also awarded a MacArthur “Genius” grant. There is no other twentieth-century studio furniture maker that has received as many awards as Maloof did.

His collections are featured in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. He had a large following of fans of his work, including former President Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, who both owned one of his rockers.

Before Maloof passed away, he wrote an autobiography of his life titled Sam Maloof: Woodworker where he talks about how he got into woodworking following World War II once he realized there was a high demand for handmade chairs. Maloof’s legacy continues to live on, as his partner Mike Johnson has continued their business.

Yasmine Nasser Diaz: Multidisciplinary Artist

Yasmine Nasser Diaz is a Yemeni American multidisciplinary artist currently living in Los Angeles. Diaz uses “mixed media collage, photo-based fiber etching, immersive installation, and video to explore connections between personal experience and larger social and political structures.” She has had a number of solo exhibitions as well as selected group exhibitions throughout the country.

Diaz received the Harpo Visual Artists Grand and the 2019 California Community Foundation Visual Artist Fellowship. She has also been featured in a number of museums, including the Arab American National Museum’s first solo exhibition called “Soft Powers.”

Arab American National Museum

As seen through the few artists mentioned, it is clear that Arab American creators have made enormous contributions to American art and culture. The Arab American National Museum (AANM) highlights and displays these achievements.

Located in Dearboard, Michigan, the AANM is the only museum in the United States that actively collects Arab American artwork. The museum opened its doors back in 2005, and since then, it has continued to provide endless educational opportunities for visitors of all ages. AANM’s mission has been clear from the start, which is to “document, preserve and present the history, culture and contributions of Arab Americans.”

In addition to having in-person visitation, the museum also offers a virtual tour package. The AANM offers a great opportunity to all who are interested in learning more about Arab culture and the creative contributions made thus far to our society.


Arab Americans have contributed greatly to the creative community within the United States. From film and writing to musicians and woodworking, all are imperative to the growth and overall development of creativity in America. These contributions have unique experiences and perspectives that only they can communicate in their works.

In order for others to see and hear the truth and experiences shared by Arab Americans, people have to be willing to listen to the stories shared; and to listen to what they’ve been through and where they are going. We hope that you will be among those who listen and enjoy the creations shared by the Arab American creator community and appreciate their contributions!

If you aren’t already a member of the Copyright Alliance, you can join today by completing our Individual Creator Members membership form! Members gain access to monthly newsletters, educational webinars, and so much more — all for free!

Women Creators Advocating for Underrepresented Communities

Post publish date: March 7, 2023

Women make up only 25% of all directors, writers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers working on the 250 top-grossing films; 2.8% of all producers within the music industry; and over the last decade, 12.4% of all songwriter jobs. The lack of representation is not because women are not qualified or inspired to break into the entertainment industry, but because they aren’t given equal opportunity to show how talented they are. Given how difficult it is for women to make it within the creative industry, it’s admirable when you see women who have seen success use their platform to uplift other women, as well as other underrepresented communities. That’s why during Women’s History Month, we will be highlighting women creators who have helped empower fellow creators looking to also make it within their chosen creative field, just like those profiled below.

Keke Palmer

Lauren Keyana “Keke” Palmer is an American singer, actress, author, and television personality. Some of her roles include starring as True Jackson in the Nickelodeon hit TV show True Jackson VP; Akeelah in the movie Akeelah and the Bee; and Ella in the Broadway show Rogers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella. In fact, Keke was the first Black woman to ever play Cinderella on Broadway, and the first Black woman to host the Video Music Awards (VMAs). These are only a few of the many accomplishments Keke has achieved. Her continued success has awarded her a Primetime Emmy, five NAACP Image Awards, and in both 2019 and 2022, she made the TIME100 Next list.

Keke Instills Confidence and Diversifies Narratives for Young Women of Color

While performing on Broadway, Keke invited young women with multicultural backgrounds from the Bronx and Queens, New York to see her on stage. This kicked off the official launch of Keke’s Saving Our Cinderellas, which is a special program within the organization Saving Our Children. The program’s mission is to instill self-confidence and leadership into young women who are part of the BIPOC community. Keke continues to work toward changing the mindset of young women by publishing her book I Don’t Belong to You: Quiet the Noise and Find Your Voice. This book addresses tough topics like race, success, bullying, and more. Keke’s advocacy for women, and other underrepresented communities, doesn’t stop there as she recently launched KeyTV. KeyTV gives Black creators a platform to showcase their talents to a wider audience.

In addition to creating Saving Our Cinderellas and KeyTV, Keke also uses her platform to address how Black people are being portrayed in films. In an interview with Glamour, Keke explains the importance of “normalizing and putting Black [people] and people of color at the forefront” in a way that allows them to tell “their narratives and stories effortlessly that includes their culture, but doesn’t tie their identity to being Black in a way that’s victimized or subservient.”

Keke is truly an inspiration to so many young women and Black creators, and it’s only fitting that we acknowledge and celebrate all of the wonderful advocacy work she has done over the course of her career.

Lulu Wang

Awarded the Independent Spirit Award for Best Feature in 2020, Lulu Wang is a Chinese American filmmaker making her mark within the creative industry. She is best known for her films Posthumous (2014) and The Farewell (2019). In addition to creating short films, Lulu has directed music videos and television series, and serves as one of the executive producers for Amazon Prime’s upcoming show, Expats

Lulu Advocates for Asian American Representation

Diversity and authenticity are both very important to filmmaker Lulu Wang. While pitching her story The Farewell, she would not let anyone deter her from casting authentically, regardless of the interest of American audiences. She was set on having the entire cast be Chinese American, and she refused to work with anyone who tried to change her vision. Her resilience paid off and, in the process, showcased the talents of several Chinese American actors starring in the film.

In an interview with Rough Cut Films, Lulu explained that she “didn’t grow up having that representation, and so – as a kid, you just want to fit in, and you think: There’s nobody that looks like me, so I have to fit in over here or over there.”  That’s why Lulu wants to be an artist who contributes to the representation of Asian Americans on the big screen, and while casting for her film The Farewell, it gave her the perfect opportunity to make that happen.

Additionally, during Lulu’s acceptance speech for the Independent Spirit Award for her film The Farewell, Lulu used her time to address the lack of female nominees at the award ceremony and how the entertainment industry needs to work toward hiring more women. She goes on to speak out about the fact that women don’t need to be encouraged to join the film industry because that drive is already out there, but women deserve equal employment opportunity within the industry itself.

Lulu’s advocacy work has been, and will continue to be, extremely impactful for the representation of Asian Americans and women within the entertainment industry.  

Gloria Calderón Kellett

Gloria Calderón Kellett, also known as Tía Glo, is an award-winning writer, producer, director, and actress. She is a seven-time Grammy Award winner and a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient. She was the first female singer to receive the Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year Award, and in 2018, she was also the first Cuban American to receive a Kennedy Center Honors award. This year, Gloria became the first Latina to be nominated for induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Gloria Gives a Voice to Latinx and LGBTQIA+ Creators

Gloria is all about representing both the Latinx and LGBTQIA+ communities within the entertainment industry accurately. While writing the show One Day at a Time, Gloria and her co-producer Mike Royce created characters that identified as gay, as well as some who are part of the Afro-Latinx community. To ensure accurate representation, Gloria made it her mission to fill her writer’s room with Black writers, as well as those who identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community.

In Gloria’s interview with the Washington Post discussing One Day at a Time, she says, “I am a cis straight woman, so I needed to have those writers in there to give their specific point of view and to really highlight things that would never have occurred to me, as good of a writer as I am.”

Gloria’s work not only gives actors, writers, and other creators who are underrepresented a chance to showcase their talent within the entertainment industry, but she also setting an example of how Hollywood should approach film and tv writing and the power of authenticity and diversity.

Gloria states that she will continue to advocate for Latino representation in film one project at a time, and for that, we thank her.

To All Women Creators and Advocates

A huge thank you goes out to all women creators who continuously help empower others within the creative community. It’s so important for everyone to acknowledge that the creative community, which has made some progress in recent years, still has a long way to go when it comes to the inclusion of women and other underrepresented communities. The more creators that step up and speak about the importance of fair and equal representation within their creative industry, the louder the collective voice becomes and the greater chance there is for change.

If you aren’t already a member of the Copyright Alliance, you can join today by completing our Individual Creator Members membership form! Members gain access to monthly newsletters, educational webinars, and so much more — all for free!

The Beauty and Resistance of Black Poetry Throughout History

The beauty and resistance of black poetry throughout history Post publish date: February 7, 2023

Poetry has rung out across the nation throughout times of turmoil and injustice, galvanizing change and inspiring humanity through language. From the powerful social commentary of Langston Hughes to the soulful musings of Dr. Maya Angelou, Black poets have used their works to inspire, educate, and empower generations of readers and amplify their voice during historical resistances such as the Harlem Renaissance and Civil Rights Movement. Under the theme of Black History Month 2023, Black Resistance, we’re discussing Black poets and their legacy of beauty, resistance, and strength whose inspiration has carried into today and will continue to shape the future.

The Harlem Renaissance

Through rhyme and rhythm, poets have voiced complex emotions and experiences during times of uncertainty. This has never been truer than in the case of Black poetry, which has been a critical tool in the fight for equality and justice in America. The Harlem Renaissance through the 1910s and 1930s saw a flowering of Black artistic expression, with poets such as Langston Hughes and Georgia Douglas Johnson at the forefront.

Langston Hughes (1901-1967) is remembered for his powerful and evocative verse that spoke to the experiences of working-class Black Americans and challenged the racial inequalities of the day. His works, such as Daybreak in Alabama and Black Maria, reflect his vision of a future in which Black pride pervades the country across diverse cultures and aesthetics. Hughes penned a tone that brought profound sincerity to the realities of the African American experience, including all its joys and sorrows. Throughout his lifetime Langston Hughes went on to write roughly 868 poems, 12 novels and short stories, 11 major plays, eight children’s books, and a series of essays, leaving an immeasurable mark on the literary world.

This poem is in the public domain.

Georgia Douglas Johnson (1880-1966) began to write poetry after she moved to Washington, DC, with her husband and two sons, inspired by a poem written by William Stanley Braithwaite. Her first poetry collection was published in 1916, titled The Heart of a Woman, followed by her collection Bronze. Both collections explored her identity as a woman, mother, and woman of color, calling upon the emotions of pain and love that traversed her everyday life. Her activism rested primarily in her anti-lynching efforts expressed throughout her plays, such as Sunday Morning in the South and The Ordeal. Johnson also participated in multiple NAACP campaigns and was a part of the “Writers League Against Lynching,” which fought to bring forth a federal anti-lynching bill. After her husband’s death, Johnson began hosting “Saturday Salons,” opening her doors to authors and artists that became significant contributors to the Harlem Renaissance, such as Langston Hughes, Alain Locke, and Anne Spencer. Her home became a cultural hub of joy and creativity, opening its doors as a “Halfway House,” as described by Johnson, for all to be welcome.

The Civil Rights Movement 

The artistry and activism showcased by Black poets during the Harlem Renaissance stretched into The Civil Rights Movement throughout the 1950s and 1960s. These prominent voices continued their resistance and called for justice while setting the stage for poets like Dr. Maya Angelou and Audre Lorde.

Dr. Maya Angelou (1928-2014) was a world-renowned author, poet, memoirist, performer, and activist known as the “black woman’s poet laureate.” While she is well known for her autobiographies, mainly I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings; she published roughly 167 poems, which are the fruit of her poetry studies and writings from a young age. Perhaps her most famous poem, Still I Rise, illustrates Black women’s beauty, strength, and perseverance amidst the toils of discrimination. Dr. Angelou worked directly with Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr., founded the “Cultural Association for Women of African Heritage”, and held more than 30 honorary degrees for her contributions to education and literature. As the fight for equality in America continues, Dr. Angelou’s words live on as a beacon of hope and a call to action, reminding us of the power of language in the face of oppression.

Audre Lorde (1934-1992) is a poet who drew upon her unique experience as a Black woman, lesbian, mother, activist, and theorist. Her contributions to poetry are united alongside her work in feminism, race, and queer theory. Her works, such as AfterimagesFrom a Land Where Other People Live, and The Black Unicorn, address the complexities of identity and protest against racial and social injustice. Lorde’s celebration of herself illuminated her work and commitment to black feminism, which she saw as a distinct variation of feminist theory that considered how racism perpetuated oppression and the patriarchy. Lorde coined this concept “intersectionality” and is attributed as the creator of the term. In addition to her poems, Lorde’s essays, speeches, and other writings have been widely read and continue to influence and shape discussions about race, gender, sexuality, and social justice.

This poem is in the public domain.

Black Poets Today

From Langston Hughes to Audre Lorde, these poets have used their words to challenge systemic injustice and give voice to Black Americans’ experiences. Their beautiful and thought-provoking works are a testament to the enduring spirit of Black resistance and a call to action for us all. I would be remiss not to mention a few poets that have answered that call, using their poetry to join the long legacy of activists forging a brighter future.

Amanda Gorman is a groundbreaking American poet, activist, and the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history. Gorman was the first person to be named National Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles in 2014 at 16 years old, and the first poet to perform at the Super Bowl with her poem Chorus of the Captains. One year later, Gorman published her book of poetry titled The One for Whom Food is Not Enough. In 2021 she delivered her poem The Hill We Climb at the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden. Her poetry and activism center on issues of oppression, feminism, reproductive rights, race, and the African diaspora. Gorman has been featured on the cover of Time magazine and is the first poet ever to be featured in Vogue. With an ever-growing resume of accomplishments at only 24 years old, Amanda Gorman has quickly established herself as a poetic paragon of her generation.

Jericho Brown is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of poems, The Tradition. His first book, Please, won the American Book Award, and his second book, The New Testament receiving the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. Brown writes in a unique and original poetic form he has titled a “duplex,” a “combination of the sonnet, the ghazal, and the blues,” defined as a series of couplets that play off each other, mirroring previous lines to introduce new images or ideas. He holds writers’ fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation, and is currently the director of the Creative Writing Program at Emory University.

Tracy K. Smith is a poet and educator who currently teaches English and African American Studies at Harvard and was named the 22nd U.S. poet laureate from 2017-2019. Her four books of poetry have won numerous awards, including; the Cave Canem prize for her first book, The Body’s Question, and the James Laughlin Award and Essence Literary Award for her book Life on Mars. Her Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry collection, Wade in the Water, captures the truth of living as an artist and Black woman in a patriarchal, colonialist, and capitalist world. In addition to poetry, Smith is a radio host for the daily program and podcast, The Slowdown, which shares poems with the goal of reflection, connection, and mindfulness. 

The timeless nature of the works of Black poets is a testament to their enduring impact and influence. From the Harlem Renaissance to the Civil Rights Movement and beyond, these poets have used their words to challenge systems of oppression and demand justice. Their voices inspire and inform new generations, serving as a guiding light in the ongoing fight for equality. Their poetry is a constant reminder of the work yet to be done, but it also provides hope and a blueprint for how change can be achieved through the power of language.

If you aren’t already a member of the Copyright Alliance, you can join today by completing our Individual Creator Members membership form! Members gain access to monthly newsletters, educational webinars, and so much more — all for free!

Protecting Indigenous Artists Against Infringement and Appropriation

Post publish date: November 17, 2022

The Copyright Alliance is thrilled to celebrate Native American Heritage Month 2022 by honoring the diverse history, heritage, and culture of Native American and Indigenous Peoples. Copyright is rooted in the philosophy of protecting and enabling creators’ works and livelihoods to enrich American culture and art. Yet, at the intersection of Native American heritage and copyright, many question how our laws protect the works that represent the culture itself.

In our 2022 Native American Heritage Month blog, we’ll explore how copyright law and other laws protect Indigenous peoples from infringement, and what to look to for the future of copyright and copyright-related protections for cultural expression.

What Protections Are Currently in Place?

To begin, it’s important to note that there are non-copyright laws that are brought into the discussion of protecting Native American art and culture—the primary one being the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990. This truth-in-advertising law states that:   

“It is unlawful to offer or display for sale or sell any good, with or without a government  trademark, in a manner that falsely suggests it is Indian produced, an Indian product, or the product of a particular Indian or Indian tribe or Indian arts and crafts organization, resident within the United States.” 

Meaning, if someone were to sell, display to sell, or offer to sell a product and falsely suggest that it originated from or was produced by a U.S. tribe, they could be held accountable in a court of law. This law, most recently amended in 2010, protects Indigenous artists and creators’ crafts and traditions as well as consumers from misrepresentation, preserving the cultural significance of authentic Indigenous art, traditions, and craftmanship. However, this law does not protect against works that are copies or inspirations that are not advertised as being produced by a member of an Indian tribe (as defined in federal regulations), permitting the myriad of culturally appropriative manufactured goods that distort and exploit Indigenous symbols, patterns, and messages.

How can copyright law work in tandem to prevent these issues? Admittedly, there have been very few cases related to copyright that examine the infringement and appropriation of longstanding Native American traditions. However, because copyright protects minimal creative expressions, it protects the creativity authored by members of Native American tribes who imbue their culture into such works.

Sealaska Heritage Institute v. Neiman Marcus Group

In 2020, the Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) filed a lawsuit against the Neiman Marcus Group for the unlawful sale of a $2,500 “Ravenstail Knitted Coat.” SHI alleged that the defendants’ coat infringed upon the copyright of a robe created by National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellow and famed weaver Clarissa Rizal’s creation in 1996 titled “Discovering the Angles of an Electrified Heart,” which displayed the intricate and highly distinctive, 200-year tradition of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian Ravenstail weaving, and pattern associated with Alaska Native and Northwest Coast peoples.

After Rizal’s death, the copyright to the work was passed to her heirs, seeking to protect and enforce Rizal’s work. Neiman Marcus had allegedly been selling copies of their own version of Rizal’s work since August 30, 2019. SHI argued that by using the term “Ravenstail” and replicating the copyrighted robe, the Neiman Marcus Group was in violation of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1991 and the Indian Arts and Crafts Enforcement Act of 2000, and infringed Rizal’s copyright. The defendants responded, claiming that the term and design were in the public domain.

The court never got to rule on the copyright infringement, or any other claims made in the lawsuit, since in 2021 SHI and Neiman Marcus settled the lawsuit with SHI stating:

“Though the parties disagree on the merits of the lawsuit, they acknowledge the cultural significance of the issues underlying the development, sustainability, and survival of Native cultures, as well as the importance of encouraging creative endeavors through freedom of expression and artistic design. The parties have agreed on terms to resolve all disputes between them under U.S. and Tlingit law.” 

What About Overseas?

One of the most influential overseas Indigenous copyright cases is Milpurrurru v. Indofurn Pty Ltd from the Federal Court of Australia in 1993. The National Indigenous Arts Advocacy Association (NIAAA) discovered that a company, Indofurn, imported and sold carpets reproducing the work of several Aboriginal artists. Most of the works copied were created by three prominent artists, George Milpurrurru, Tim Payungka Tjapangarti (both deceased at the time of trial), and Banduk Marika. Banduk brought action against Indofurn along with the Public Trustee of the Northern Territory, who represented the two deceased artists. Banduk, a well-recognized Aboriginal artist and the first Aboriginal appointed to the Board of the National Gallery of Australia, was outraged to find her artwork replicated and manufactured without permission. Her work was initially featured in the Australian National Gallery portfolio, meant to educate on Indigenous culture, and featured images and messages long associated with the Rirratingu clan; images and messages which were distorted by Indofurns commercial process. Banduk did not consider this work solely her own, as during trial she noted:

“My artwork, which has been reproduced on carpets by the respondents herein, is known as the “Djanda Sacred Waterhole.” The image is an image [that] belongs to my clan, the Rirratjingu, and forms part of the mythology of the Djangkawu creation story. The image is of great importance to my clan and also has importance to clans in neighboring areas, which have rights in this image.” 

Beyond having her work stolen, the misuse of the artwork had severe spiritual and cultural implications that could have resulted in repercussions against Banduk. She explained that these repercussions range from removing her right to create designs relating to her clan’s story, removing ceremonial participation rights, being outcasted from her clan, or being required to pay damages.

The court found that the carpet manufacturers infringed upon the copyrighted work and ordered Indofurn to release all unsold carpets and pay damages of approximately $188,640, distributed as a collective award among the artists. Unfortunately, the artists received only part of the award due to Infodurns executives appealing and declaring bankruptcy. However, this case has served as a building block toward a greater scope of Indigenous copyright protections. In the years following the trial, the original works were toured nationally, and Banduk now stands as an influential advocate for Indigenous artists protecting their rights under copyright.

What Progress Has Been Made?

Internally, many tribes have enacted self-governing principles to guide the rights and expression of cultural trademarks and art. Nationally, many activists and movements are surrounding the expansion of copyright protections for Indigenous peoples. On a global scale, the 2007 United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, now adopted by 147 countries, including the U.S., references copyright protections in Article 11 declaring,

1. “Indigenous peoples have the right to practice and revitalize their cultural traditions and customs. This includes the right to maintain, protect, and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures, such as archaeological and historical sites, artifacts, designs, ceremonies, technologies and visual and performing arts and literature.”

2. “States shall provide redress through effective mechanisms, which may include restitution, developed in conjunction with indigenous peoples, with respect to their cultural, intellectual, religious and spiritual property taken without their free, prior and informed consent or in violation of their laws, traditions and customs.”

This document, although largely presentational, shows a promising interest in protecting Indigenous intellectual property and copyright.

A Look to The Future

For Indigenous communities battling on the front lines of environmentalism, appropriation, and sovereignty, copyright protections can serve as an avenue for justice. Although we inch ever closer, current copyright protections do not cover the wide variety of cultural and communal intricacies that reside with Indigenous art, history, and traditions. Some advocates push for a framework of protections within intellectual property law, specifically ones covering oral and non-assigned community works. Others suggest something akin to a registry or database to handle royalties and protections for Indigenous work. Regardless, all of these proposals come with the quarry of fitting the complex needs of Indigenous culture into our western ideas and systems of intellectual property. I suspect there is not a perfect fit around the corner; however, I remain hopeful that we can continue to explore ways in which our intellectual property laws can wholly encompass the freedom of expression and culture for Indigenous creators. Until then, the copyright and creative communities remain steadfast in support of Indigenous and Native American creators everywhere.

Further Reading

Join the Copyright Alliance in celebrating Native American Heritage Month 2022 by immersing yourself in additional educational material:

If you aren’t already a member of the Copyright Alliance, you can join today by completing our Individual Creator Members membership form! Members gain access to monthly newsletters, educational webinars, and so much more — all for free!

Mexican Muralism—The Origins and Revolution of Street Art

mexican muralism Post publish date: September 20, 2022

Art integrates so naturally into our lives and surroundings that it can often go unappreciated or unnoticed. From the playlist at your local coffee shop to the chalk drawings on the sidewalk, we repeatedly encounter cultural influences, the origins of which may be unknown or lost to time.

During Hispanic Heritage Month 2022, the Copyright Alliance is pleased to delve into the roots and impact of Mexican Muralism, an artistic movement that has influenced countless artists such as Jackson Pollock and Pablo Picasso. This movement is the creative cornerstone that shaped one of the most expansive art forms seen across cities in America today—murals and street art.

The History

Mexican Muralism emerged in the 1920s following the Mexican Revolution. It began as an effort by the government to unify its citizens who were living in a fractured, post-revolutionary state. During this time, the Mexican government looked to restore itself by building a rich legacy of nationalism and culture through art. This movement then grew to inspire generations of artists to turn infrastructure into canvas.

As Mexican society unfolded following the revolution, the government sought to promote political and social ideologies by modernizing its rich history of mural and fresco paintings. Murals proved an effective medium for Mexico to strengthen cultural identifiers as well as communicate with citizens who could not read or write.

The government commissioned multiple artists to depict classical scenes and images on public and historical buildings. Many of the artists were given free creative control allowing them to reflect their personal values and beliefs alongside the worldview they felt represented the citizenry at the time. From this pool of artists emerged “Los Tres Grandes” (the three great ones)—José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, and David Alfaro Siqueiros. These artists created some of the most famous pieces from this period, including “The Creation” (1923, Diego Rivera), “Prometheus” (1930, José Clemente Orozco), and “Portrait of the Bourgeoisie” (1939, David Alfaro Siqueiros). Los Tres Grandes used their art to elevate others, speaking through their murals by highlighting the socio-political issues facing the country and its people.

José Clemente Orozco

Having fought in the war alongside Siqueiros, Orozco reflected a darker worldview throughout his murals, which were often formulated with muted color palettes and graphic images. Orozco’s art is often described as empathetic towards humanity yet skeptical of its future, built upon what Orozco saw as endless sacrifice. In 1923 Orozco was commissioned by The Escuela Nacional Preparatoria to create a series of murals that spanned across three floors of the building. The first-floor murals included pieces titled “The Trench,” “The Destruction of the Old Order,” and “The Banquet of the Rich,” among others. As the titles suggest, the murals represented themes of death, sacrifice, and oppression, criticizing the revolution for its impact on the people of Mexico. The second and third-floor murals continue in a similar fashion with pieces such as “Law and Justice,” “The Rich,” “The Farewell,” and “The Revolutionaries.” The third floor contains a culmination of the sacrifice and pain of the previous floors, expressing the inevitability and transcendence of death. From 1927-1934 Orozco lived and painted around the US, creating murals for places like Dartmouth in New Hampshire and what is now known as The New School in New York City. He then culminated his time in the US by competing in the 1932 Summer Olympics. After returning home to Mexico, he painted what would be his last mural in 1948, “Juárez Reborn”, and died peacefully in his sleep in 1949.

Diego Rivera

Commonly known for his marriage to Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera created an extensive catalog of murals and paintings. His murals often depicted historical scenes and figures utilizing bold colors and careful composition. Through these historical scenes, Rivera encompassed the narrative of the working class and attempted to dismantle the hierarchical view of the past. Like his counterparts, Rivera created social and political waves with his work. In 1933, he was commissioned by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. for his mural “Man at the Crossroads.” Because his mural included a portrait of Vladimir Lenin, the former leader of the Soviet Union, a controversy was stirred. Rivera, however, refused to remove the portrait and was later ordered to leave the U.S. In response, Rivera said he would use the remaining money from his commission to repaint the same mural wherever possible until his funds ran out. Rivera was later invited back to the U.S., where he painted “Pan American Unity” in front of attendees at the Golden Gate International Exposition. After painting throughout the U.S. and Mexico, Rivera died in 1957 from heart disease.

David Alfaro Siqueiros

Siqueiros, alongside many artists, was drawn to creating murals due to their egalitarian nature and created some of the most revolutionary pieces during this time. In 1923 he helped found the “Syndicate of Revolutionary Mexican Painters, Sculptors, and Engravers” to promote public access to art. His philosophy and manifestos galvanized his fellow artists to revitalize lost values originating from indigenous tradition and endow art with new values reflective of the people to carry into the future. His convictions left behind a legacy of insurgence that went past art. In 1960 Siqueiros was arrested for leading protests against the imprisonment of laborers on strike and for criticizing the President of Mexico, Adolfo López Mateos. Writers, artists, and international agencies flooded Mexican authorities with appeals and protests over his arrest. He was officially pardoned in the spring of 1964, yet he never stopped painting, even during his imprisonment. Siqueiros’ final and largest mural was the Polyforum Siqueiros, a building designed as a mural that stands as part of the World Trade Center in Mexico City. The outside consists of 12 panels with the inside displaying an interconnected mural titled “The March of Humanity on Earth and Toward the Cosmos.” Shortly after completion Siqueiros passed away in his home in Mexico in 1974.

Mexican Muralism Today

Mexican Muralism shifted national politics, influenced some of the most significant 20th-century artists, and broke barriers between creative communities. This revolutionary art form made a lasting impact on the art world but struggled against America’s shifting racial and political ideologies. In the 1930s, over a million Mexican identifying U.S. citizens and immigrants were deported, followed by nationwide racial violence and structured inequality. These anti-immigration sentiments and actions persist today, but we continue to see artists march forward, echoing the revolutionary voices of Los Tres Grandes.

As you celebrate this Hispanic Heritage Month 2022, take the time to explore and learn about the Hispanic/Latinx art and artists carrying the movement forward and shaping street art across the nation, including those listed below.

Modern Hispanic/Latinx Street Artists Making an Impact

  • Eduardo Kobra: Current record holder for largest graffiti mural in the world
  • Panmela Castro: Brazilian artist focused in human rights and gender equality
  • Sentrock: Self-taught street artists and community activist
  • Lady Pink: New York based graffiti artist and cult figure in hip-hop subculture
  • Seher One: Muralist and graphic artist leading the rebirth of Mexican Muralism
  • Paola Delfin: Mexican monochromatic muralist and visual artist

If you aren’t already a member of the Copyright Alliance, you can join today by completing our Individual Creator Members membership form! Members gain access to monthly newsletters, educational webinars, and so much more — all for free!

Seven LGBTQ+ Changemakers in Film and Television

Post publish date: June 21, 2022

According to Glaad, in 2022, almost 12% of regular characters on broadcast TV programs and series are members of the LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, and more) community, a record high. However, Hollywood still has a long way to go to achieve equality in all aspects of film and TV production, specifically in roles behind the camera. There are a scarce number of studio executives, directors, cinematographers, and producers that are openly gay. Having actors and actresses that are proudly out is great, but it’s also important to know that there are still a minority of LGBTQ+ people that are in creative positions of power beyond the screen and stage. 

For that reason, we at the Copyright Alliance are featuring seven LGBTQ+ changemakers, ranging from directors to producers, to highlight representations at the highest level of power in entertainment in celebration of 2022’s Pride Month. 

Megan Ellison 

Megan Ellison is arguably one of the most important independent film producers of the past fifteen years, and a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community. Ellison founded Annapurna Pictures, an independent production company that specializes in director driven feature films. Her first breakthrough as a producer came with 2010’s True Grit, a remake of a classic western film directed by the Cohen Brothers and starring Jeff Bridges. The mid budget feature would go on to make 250 million dollars at the global box office and receive ten Academy Award nominations. 

Following this initial success, Ellison became the first openly lesbian woman to receive two Academy Award nominations for Best Picture in the same year, with 2013’s Her and American Hustle. Ellison also became known for collaborating with filmmakers among the best of their generation, including Barry Jenkins, Kathryn Bigelow, and Paul Thomas Anderson. The 36 year old has since proudly used her platform to grant women and LGBTQ+ writers and directors the opportunities to make their features, with their visions uncompromised.

The Wachowskis

Lily and Lana Wachowski are some of the first openly transgender directors in Hollywood and continue to be ambassadors for LGBTQ+ storytelling on a massive scale. The siblings are primarily known for their work on The Matrix films, an action science fiction series noted as a widely accepted example of trans allegory. Following their box office success with The Matrix, Lily and Lana went on to produce more widely successful action films, with the latter transitioning in 2016 and the former in 2010.

Since the mid 2010’s, the pair have shifted into TV work, with both siblings writing, directing, and producing Netflix’s Sense 8. The two season mini-series has been noted for its advances in LGBTQ+ focused storytelling, as well as representing queerness from a variety of perspectives. Lily also went on to direct and produce lesbian dramedy series Work in Progress, with Lana returning to film work on 2021’s The Matrix: Resurrections.

Jerrod Carmichael 

In 2022, Jerrod Carmichael released Rothaniel, a comedy special where he detailed the process of coming out as gay, while being a Black man in an American household. Notably, he did so for the first time publicly in front of the audience, an incredible display of vulnerability as he talked about the hardship of revealing his sexuality to his mother. 

Carmichael is a former network television actor, producer, director, documentary filmmaker, and critically acclaimed stand-up comedian. He also accomplished the majority of this while still being closeted and feeling unable to be fully open with his own sexuality. Now, the 35-year-old is slated to star in and produce two upcoming film/TV projects and continues to make strides toward a more inclusive attitude for LGBTQ+ black men in comedy.

Jeremy O. Harris 

Jeremy O. Harris is an openly gay playwright known for bringing his personal identity into his works through inventive methods. His sophomore production Slave Play holds the record for most nominations for a nonmusical show at Tony’s with ten and has been lauded as a scathing critique of racial and sexual politics in the United States. 

Following his success on the stage, Harris’s work has gravitated toward the screen; he served as a consultant for season one of HBO’s Euphoria and became a formal producer on its second. The 32-year-old received an Independent Spirit award nomination for his work on Janzica Bravo’s Zola, the first film and script to be adapted directly from social media. He has since signed a deal with HBO that will allow him to produce a pilot for the network, in addition to working on other programming. 

Isabel Sandoval 

Isabel Sandoval is a trans Filipina filmmaker, with a bright future in front of her. Initially immigrating to New York in pursuit of her M.B.A, Sandoval instead decided to pursue a much less stable, but more creatively fulfilling career in the film industry. After making a variety of acclaimed short films, the 40-year-old director broke out at the Venice Film Festival in 2019 with the release of the trans led drama Lingua Franca. 

A complex romantic drama discussing the issues of trans identity and immigration in Tandem, Lingua Franca made Sandoval the first trans woman of color to ever have work displayed at Venice. The film went on to be acquired by Netflix and ARRAY, Ava DuVernay’s distributor, and provided huge opportunities for the promising director. Sandoval is currently directing an episode of FX’s Under the Banner of Heaven, starring Andrew Garfield, and has announced her intentions to focus on directing and producing feature films centering on trans people of color.

Christine Vachon 

In 1991, Todd Haynes’ directorial debut Poison made waves at film festivals across the globe for its openly gay themes and innovative storytelling. This lauded piece LGBTQ+ filmmaking was largely made possible due to the hard work of Christine Vachon, one of American cinema’s few openly lesbian producers. Vachon is the co-founder of Killer Films, an independent production company that has produced and financed several LGBTQ+ productions since 1996. 

Vachon is a credited producer on over 70 feature films, boasting Oscar nominations for the likes of First Reformed, Boys Don’t Cry, I’m Not There, and Carol. The Brown University graduate also published Shooting to Kill, her memoir and a crash course on the ins and outs of independent producing, which is used as a valuable teaching tool across American film schools. Vachon has given voices to dozens of LGBTQ+ filmmakers over her career and continues to do so today.

Roberto Aguire-Sacasa 

Roberto Aguire-Sacasa is the creator of the CW’s hit series Riverdale, and credited as one of the most successful TV showrunners of the late 2010’s. He also has the proud distinction of being one of cable television’s first openly gay lead producers, following in the footsteps of his former coworker Ryan Murphy. In addition to his credits on Riverdale, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and Glee, Sacasa is also known for his work as a comic book artist and playwright. The Nicaraguan American creative had a critically acclaimed run as a story artist for Marvel’s Fantastic Four comics, as well as drawing for multiple of “The Spectacular Spider Man.” 

This work on the page would eventually lead him to bringing stories to the screen, as he used his work on a series of Archie comics to help pitch an adaptation of the character for television via The CW. Sacasa continues to be a vocal advocate for LGBTQ+ inclusion and representation in television, as well as advocating for increased opportunities in the space for Hispanic writers and producers. 

Closing Words

While each of these figures represent huge leaps in representation for LGBTQ+ creators in powerful corners of entertainment, it’s important to recognize we still have a long way to go. June is a month where we celebrate and recognize the achievements of LGBTQ+ people everywhere, but they continue to struggle in the professional world because of their identities every day. These folks navigated industries full of homophobia and transphobia to get where they are today, and one must hope that their work and the advocacy of creators around the world will craft a more inclusive, and welcoming environment for all—both in front of the camera and behind the scenes.

AAPI Heritage Month 2022: Celebrating Asian American Pacific Islander Creators

Post publish date: May 26, 2022

Art is often molded by its creator’s personal experiences—a large part of which is influenced by the creator’s cultural background and heritage, whether the creator is aware of it or embraces it. Art created by people of certain heritages and cultural backgrounds can educate and refine public knowledge on various topics or can provide fresh perspectives to move an artistic field forward. No less is true about the impact of the works created by Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) artists.

No matter the creative field, AAPI artists have persisted and excelled in their crafts, which opened up the chance for audiences to hear and learn from a set of diverse voices. During AAPI Month 2022, we’ve highlighted some creators within the AAPI community who have made amazing contributions to American creativity and innovation. In this blog, we will celebrate the accomplishments and the impact of several other AAPI creators who have shared their unique thoughts and perspectives with the world.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson: Actor, Producer, Wrestler

There is no denying that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has been an influential presence in the sports and entertainment industries. Johnson had a successful and illustrious career as a professional wrestler in World Wrestling Entertainment for several years before turning to a career in acting and producing in the film and television industry.

Johnson proudly identifies as Black and Samoan, continually finding ways to incorporate parts of his Samoan background and heritage into his professional projects. In Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, Johnson was able to bring the Samoan culture to the big screens by exploring the Samoan heritage of his fictional character, Hobbs. From casting all Polynesian actors to performing the siva tau, the Samoan war dance, in a particular scene, the film shined the spotlight and exposed audiences to Samoan culture on not only a national, but also a global scale.

Johnson stated: “It was our way of paying homage and honoring a culture that I’m very proud of and that has been responsible for teaching me defining values throughout the years.” Johnson even recounted in several interviews that his Samoan mother was particularly overwhelmed during the filming of the movie because the world would finally experience Samoan culture in a mainstream setting.

Further speaking of the importance of showcasing diverse perspectives and cultures on the big screen, Johnson stated: “if we can, in our small way, showcase inclusivity, showcase culture, and love others—and again, in our small way show that there is power in putting your differences aside, and there is power in lateral thinking and remaining big picture and accepting of all cultures—I think there is something important in that.”

Aparna Nancherla: Comedian, Actor, Writer

The world of comedy has seen a steady increase in diverse voices, and there have been increased recognition of talented comedians from the AAPI community who are paving the way for other AAPI comedians. Aparna Nancherla is one of these comedians. She started her standup comedy career in Washington D.C. and eventually moved on to hone her craft in Los Angeles and New York City. Since then, she wrote as a staff writer for Late Night with Seth Meyers and lent her comedic and voice talents in The Standups, Corporate, Mira Royal Detective, Steven Universe, Bob’s Burger’s, and BoJack Horseman.

Nancherla recalled in an interview that growing up, she didn’t really think standup comedy was really a career she could pursue, and that the entertainment industry was “another realm, where people who were Indian—people like me— had no access to.” But she recounted her first-time doing standup, stating: “[Doing standup] was a response to going on depression medication for the first time, like this initial euphoric boost—I felt like I could do anything. That’s the only reason I tried comedy.”

Nancherla’s stand-up routines have focused on the “mundane, everyday occurrences” and touches on serious topics like mental health, gun control, and sexism. But Nancherla understands the power of comedy and her artform and the need to be thoughtful about crafting certain jokes, especially when the topics concern race and racial stereotypes in America. In response to the harm of stereotypical jokes about Asian Americans, she stressed: “The idea that a joke is just a joke is ludicrous . . . your words matter . . .”

Nancherla has also been vocal about what increased diversity in her industry has meant to her. She was part of the first cartoon to feature an all-South Asian cast with a female lead in Disney’s Mira, Royal Detective. Noting that she would have loved to have seen a cartoon like this, she noted: “I’m so glad South Asian kids today are seeing themselves centered on screen more and more, not to mention witnessing their culture depicted as more than just a stereotype. Am I biased because I finally get to play a self-absorbed, vapid teenager? Maybe.”

She also gave a list detailing some of her favorite AAPI comedy pioneers and creators, in case you need some recommendations of some AAPI comedians who are sure to make you belt out a laugh or two.

Maya Lin: Architect

If you’ve ever visited the Vietnam War Memorial, you may have marveled at how simple, yet powerful this memorial is. Upon the surface of the onyx black walls of marble—walls which emerge from the earth in a V-formation—are carved the names of all the fallen soldiers of this bitter war, giving this memorial a befitting somber and stately impression. The simplicity and directness embodied in the memorial’s designs were some qualities picked up by some critics at the time, with one critic calling the monument “an Asian monument for an Asian war, the hint of a 4,000-year-old culture transmuted in the art of a Chinese-American girl from Athens, Ohio.”

Maya Lin was that Chinese American girl—the artist who created this memorial. Her proposal for the Vietnam War Memorial was chosen over 1,400 other contestants and sparked a great public debate at the time for its unconventional design. When a reporter asked Lin at her first press conference whether she thought it was ironic that the memorial is the Vietnam Memorial, and that Lin was of Asian descent. Lin responded: “Well, that’s irrelevant. You know, this is American.”

Though Lin correctly shifted the conversation back on the merits of her work, she realized later that her Chinese heritage had had a subtle but forceful impact in her creative visions as an artist. In an interview about her experiences in designing the memorial, Lin stated that despite the fact that she struggled to embrace her Chinese identity growing up, she did find it “ironic [that the Vietnam Memorial] is inspired as much by an eastern sensibility coming from my father and probably my mother” further stating that, “[the influence] is there but I’ve only recently become really aware of how in a strange way it percolated up. I think identity quietly percolated up.”

Lin has since then created other prized and lauded works as an artist and architect including the Civil Rights Memorial, the Peace Chapel, “Women’s Table,” “The Wave Field,” “2×4 Landscape,” and the Vancouver Land Bridge. Her experience in creating the Vietnam Memorial as a young Asian American girl in an older male-dominated field of architecture was the subject of the Academy Award winning documentary Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision. She was also rewarded with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016 for her trailblazing accomplishments and contributions in sculpture and landscape art.

Linda Sue Park: Children’s Book Author

I read a lot of books as a child and one author whose books I particularly enjoyed reading was Linda Sue Park. Many of Park’s works feature Korean history, culture, characters, and settings, including A Single Shard, Seesaw Girl, When My Name Was Keoko, and Kitefighters and her works have been well received with much praise and acclaim. In 2002, Park won the Newberry Medal, one of the highest awards in the field of children’s literature, for her book, A Single Shard, a story about a young orphan boy in historic Korea on his journey of becoming a master potter.

For me personally, reading Park’s books gave me a sense of comfort that there were writers out there who shared my cultural background, writing and creating stories and characters whose shoes I could really imagine myself fitting into. Park’s stories also helped me fill in knowledge gaps about my own heritage and culture since I didn’t grow up learning much about Korean history. But beyond just educating her audiences on the uniqueness of a different culture and history, Park’s stories are ultimately so impactful because readers ultimately bond to stories that explore core and universal human values, struggles, and emotions. In fact, Park stated once in an interview: “Historical fiction lets me explore how a setting and time are different, but how the emotions are the same.”

Park not only writes culturally distinct and diverse characters, but is also a passionate advocate for greater diversity in children’s literature, serving on the advisory board of We Need Diverse Books and even launching her kiBooka website in 2020, featuring Korean American children’s book creators. In an interview, she stated that her inspiration behind kiBooka was to continue addressing the problem that “bias and injustice flourish when not enough of us tell our stories, and when those stories are not shared widely enough.” She further noted that visibility of diverse voices is needed so that various communities can be “seen —as Americans, as creators of great books, as community builders and contributors to society.”

If you’re looking for children’s books recommendations, authors on kiBooka are currently recommending children’s books written by other authors of the Asian and Pacific Islander community in celebration of AAPI Heritage Month 2022.

We fortunately live in an era where we have been able to witness, read, and experience the incredible works created by all types of creators from the AAPI community. A tiny snapshot of the few AAPI creators described above shows the contributions these diverse voices have made to American culture. What we can hope is that we continue to remember the stories, emotions, and knowledge we gained from these experiences and to keep listening to and encouraging different voices to flourish and contribute to the American creative community.

Are you one of our Individual Creator Members? Participate in our Creator Spotlight series! Please email us at And if you aren’t already a member of the Alliance, you can join today by completing our Individual Creator Members membership form!

Women’s History Month 2022: The Queens Who Run the World

Post publish date: March 10, 2022

Women are incredible, and the list of accomplishments by women is unlimited. There are generations of women who have shaped life as we know it today, including many of the  innovations, creations, and overall contributions that we find valuable. I keep a personal list of women who consistently inspire me to be better, work harder, and reach further, so it was a very difficult feat for me to narrow down who to write about in this post.

Being a woman is an honor and writing about the accomplishments of women is something I am honored to do. This Women’s History Month, we’re covering many Queens throughout the female community and how they have inspired hope around the world.


Women’s History Month is an annual month-long celebration that highlights the contributions of women to both history and contemporary society. Women’s History Month began in 1978 as “Women’s History Day” in Sonoma County, California, and was championed by Gerda Lerner and the National Women’s History Alliance to be recognized as a national week in 1980 and then month in 1987 in the United States, spreading internationally after that. This year’s Women’s History theme is Providing Healing, Promoting Hope.

According to the National Women’s History Alliance, the 2022 theme is both a tribute to the ceaseless work of caregivers and frontline workers during the ongoing pandemic and also a recognition of the thousands of ways that women of all cultures have provided both healing and hope throughout history. This year, all of us at the Copyright Alliance will pay tribute to the women who have contributed to the many ways that current and future generations will experience their own kind of healing.

Dolly Parton: Singer, Songwriter, Actress, and Businesswoman

It’s not possible to acknowledge this year’s theme of Providing Healing, Promoting Hope without acknowledging Country Queen Dolly Parton. Dolly is a dedicated philanthropist and an incredibly humble human being. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Parton donated $1 million dollars toward research at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, which funded the critical early stages of development of the Moderna vaccine. Due to being so humble, Dolly has turned down the Presidential Medal of Freedom twice and contested a proposal by the Tennessee legislature to erect a statue of her, noting, “Given all that is going on in the world, I don’t think putting me on a pedestal is appropriate at this time.”

Parton is also one of the most-honored female country performers of all time. She has had 26 songs reach no. 1 on the Billboard country charts, 42 career Top 10 country albums, and 110 career-charting singles over the past forty years. As of 2021, she had appeared on the country music charts in each of the seven decades of her career, the most of any artist. She is one of only six female artists to win the Country Music Association’s highest honor, Entertainer of the Year, in 1978.

One of Parton’s most notable charitable efforts is focused on literacy. Her literacy program, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a part of the Dollywood Foundation, mails one book per month to each child enrolled from the time of their birth until they enter kindergarten. Currently, over 1600 local communities provide the Imagination Library to almost 850,000 children each month across the U.S., Canada, the UK, Australia, and the Republic of Ireland.

The Dollywood Foundation, which is funded from Parton’s profits, has been noted for bringing jobs and tax revenue to previously depressed regions. Parton also has worked to raise money for several other causes, including the American Red Cross and HIV/AIDS-related charities. For all of these contributions, and many others, Dolly Parton is a commendable human being and a strong, remarkable woman.

Betty White: Actress and Comedian

Betty White, may she rest in peace, was an icon and the ultimate Screen Queen. There is no celebration of women’s history without the celebration of Betty White. In fact, White was one of the first women to work both in front of and behind the camera and was the first woman to produce a sitcom in the United States. She earned a Guinness World Record for “Longest TV Career by a Female Entertainer” in 2014 and again in 2018 for her long standing work in television.

White received eight Emmy Awards, three American Comedy Awards, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, and a Grammy Award. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was a 1995 Television Hall of Fame inductee. White was also the recipient of The Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters Golden Ike Award and the Genii Award from the Alliance for Women in Media, which is a nonprofit organization created by women to support women in the media. Betty is well known for her great love of animals and animal rights.

In 2010, White achieved one of her biggest dreams as she stood surrounded by uniformed forest rangers and a 7-foot-tall Smokey the Bear mascot while was named an honorary Forest Ranger. She was quoted as saying, “[My parents] would be more proud of this than of any other award I have won.” In an interview with ABC News, White said her family vacations in the High Sierras as a child cemented her desire to work with animals and one day become a forest ranger. “But,” she said, “back then, girls were not allowed to become forest rangers.” When White received the honor, more than one-third of Forest Service employees were women.

A 2011 poll conducted by Reuters and Ipsos revealed that White was considered the most popular and most trusted celebrity among Americans. She was in love with her career and animals, had a long and fruitful career due to her capabilities, talent, and charismatic personality. In sum, she made her way to infamy by being unapologetically herself and it shone so brightly that her recent passing was felt deeply by so many people all over the world.

Tina Turner: Singer, Songwriter, and Actress

Tina Turner was referred to as the “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll” as she rose to prominence as the lead singer of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue, before launching a successful career as a solo performer. Turner has sold over 100 million records worldwide and is one of the best-selling recording artists of all time. She has received 12 Grammy Awards, which include eight competitive awards, three Grammy Hall of Fame awards, and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. She is the first black artist and first female to be on the cover of Rolling Stone. She is also a 2005 recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors and Women of the Year award.

Despite early fame and fortune, Tina Turner did not have the easiest life during her marriage to Ike Turner. Her relationship with Ike had been widely known as unhealthy and toxic, and detrimental to her mental health; and her unfortunate experience with domestic assault was something that many women can relate to. But it has also become an inspiration to those in similar positions since Turner fled her abusive relationship with nothing but the shirt on her back and fought fiercely for her freedom, her children, and her ultimate success. Despite it being a dark period in Turner’s life, she bravely continued her career success and built a great life, and awards and accolades begin to pour in. Oprah Winfrey was quoted as saying, “We don’t need another hero. We need more heroines like you, Tina. You make me proud to spell my name w-o-m-a-n.”

Selena Quintanilla-Pérez: Singer

One of the most celebrated Mexican-American entertainers of the late 20th century and third place on Billboard’s list of “Greatest Latino Artists of All Time, is Selena Quintanilla-Perez, who is known simply by the name “Selena,” the Queen of Tejano music. Selena impacted millions at a young age and created a legacy that stretches far beyond what she likely imagined. Her music and career have been an inspiration to Latinx people, Latina girls, and women everywhere. She embodied the happy spirit and love for music and dancing that all great singers should have. Selena became an inspiration with the way she, too, was unapologetically herself in her singing, dancing, fashion, and love of life. It’s been 26 years since her unfortunate passing and yet her legacy remains stronger and more impactful than ever.

At the start of her career, she was often criticized and was refused bookings at venues across Texas for performing Tejano music, considered to be a male-dominated music genre. However, her youth and her exuberance drew the attention of fans across musical genres and of various ages. Selena said she never wanted to record explicit songs because of her upbringing and because her fan base consisted largely of children, who regarded her as a role model. She was determined to refrain from using explicit language in her music and avoided sexual themes. Her fashion sense was innovative and fresh. Because of her clothing and dance move choices, she was named by her fans as the “Mexican Madonna.” She has been an inspiration to little girls and women everywhere and showed that being your most authentic self is the path to true beauty and self-love.

Drew Afualo: TikTok Creator and Influencer

In a manner of speaking, Drew Afualo has become the Queen of TikTok. If there is a woman or man who hasn’t yet heard of her, it’s only a matter of time before they do. She has rocked on TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter due to her relentless desecration of misogynist men on social media. Her laugh alone inspires terror in the hearts of misanthropes and bigots everywhere. When she starts to laugh, you know a brutal reality check is on its way to the most deserving.

Afualo has used her platforms to inspire women to stand up against hate, sexism, racist, and fatphobia. Her social following has reached millions in such a short time, and she has made her way up to the ranks of celebrities with her content, which inspires courage and fire into the hearts of women everywhere who face hurtful remarks. It also focuses heavily on being unapologetically yourself as a woman; being strong and unrelenting in your personality and image.

Afualo’s social media pages are a source of inspiration for those looking for validation and confidence in themselves. And no hateful content or hate-speak is safe around Afualo, who has received messages of thanks on her social media pages from women who found courage to stand up for themselves because of her content. Her podcast, Two Idiot Girls, covers “all things women” and continues to be another source of endurance and fortitude. She is a proud Samoan who incorporates her culture and language into her content, providing representation to a community that does not always receive the commendation it should. Drew Afualo is a warrior for women everywhere.


Again, the list of incredible women—past and present—is endless, and those featured during our 2022 Women’s History Month blog are Queens admired by so many across their careers, industries, and beyond. Their impressive contributions and love for life set them apart as role models and heroes amongst women. This year’s theme of Providing Healing, Promoting Hope encompasses so much more than medical capabilities. It encompasses the ability to exist in a way that brings purpose and inspiration to people everywhere. Hope can be found where these women exist and can be found in their ways of life, and they carry incredible legacies that will not soon be forgotten. 

If you aren’t already a member of the Copyright Alliance, you can join today by completing our Individual Creator Members membership form! Members gain access to monthly newsletters, educational webinars, and so much more — all for free!