• Erik Fogel

This Day in Speech & Debate History! Happy Birthday to Barbra Streisand! Actress! Singer! Activist!

Barbra Streisand was born on April 24th 1942 and devoted over six decades as an American artist, actress, singer, activist, and filmmaker. She has won two Academy Awards, ten Grammy Awards including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and the Grammy Legend Award, five Emmy Awards including one Daytime Emmy, a Special Tony Award, an American Film Institute award, a Kennedy Center Honors prize, four Peabody Awards, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, nine Golden Globes - and those are only a few awards and do not include all her humanitarian, academic, and philanthropic awards and honors over the years which are too long to cover in this entire website!

Streisand was born in Brooklyn, New York. Her father was actually a member of the debate team at his school. But sadly a few months after her first birthday, her father passed at the age of 34 from a seizure and the family fell into poverty. At an early age she discovered singing and would sing everywhere - in her room, porch, walk to school, school hallways - wherever she could. “I was considered the girl on the block with the good voice.” She made her debut at a Parent Teacher Assembly where she became a hit and was invited to sing at weddings, summer camp and other events. “As a young woman, I wanted nothing more than to see my name in lights.”

But her ultimate goal was to be an actress. When she graduated she moved to the Theater District and rented a small apartment on 48th street and took any job she could find. And gradually she was winning performances at bars, clubs, and eventually television. And the rest is history, she became a star in theater, movies, and music.

As a singer, she is one of the best selling recording artists of all time with nearly 70 million albums in the United States and 150+ million worldwide. According to Billboard, she holds the record for the female with the most number one albums. Billboard also recognizes her as the greatest female of all time on its 200 chart and one of the greatest artists of all time on its Hot 100 chart. Streisand is the only recording artist to have a number-one album in each of the last six decades. (Wikipedia).

Streisand was also very involved in politics and protest. She was very involved as an activist for LGBTQ rights, anti-nuclear movement, the Democratic Party, Israel, and Women’s Rights Movement. She was also very involved in philanthropy. She established the Streisand Foundation which provides grants to organizations working for the preservation of the environment, voter education, civil liberties, civil rights, women’s issues, and nuclear disarmament. On LGBTQ rights she stated, “Nobody on this earth has the right to tell anyone that their love for another human being is morally wrong.”

“I guess if you have an original take on life, or something about you is original, you don't have to study people who came before you. You don't have to mimic anybody. You just have a gut feeling inside, an instinct that tells you what's right for you, and you can't do it in any other way.” - Barbra Streisand

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