Please join us in celebrating the birthdays of these notable figures and applaud them for their work in Social Justice.
*The Museum of Social Justice would like to hear from you! If there is a notable figure who was born in December and should be recognized in our Monthly Birthday posts, please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please submit by November 15, 2016. The winner will receive a prize.
Helen Suzman (November 7, 1917 to January 1 2009)
Helen Suzman was a South African anti-apartheid activist and politician. In 1944 she lectured at Witwatersrand Univerrsity and eventually entered the political environment. She was elected to the House of Assembly as a member of the United Party in Johannesburg in 1953. In 1959, Suzman along with eleven liberal members of the United Party formed the Progressive Party. She opposed apartheid and publically criticized the National Party’s apartheid policies. Her work gained respect ad praise from Nelson Mandela and she was awarded 27 honorary doctorates from universities from around the world.
Ishmael Beah (November, 23 1980)
Ishmael Beah is a Sierra Leonean author and human rights activist. He is most known for his memoir, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. This memoir is a first hand account of Beah’s time as a child soldier during the Sierra Leone Civil war. After his village was attacked he was separated from his family. He was forced to join an army unit and brainwashed into using drugs and weapons. At the age of 16, UNICEF removed him from the army unit and placed him into a rehabilitation program. Beah was then adopted by his uncle and eventually moved to the United States. His memoir was nominated for a Quill Award in 2007 and it was named one of the top ten nonfiction books of 2007 in Time magazine.
Rose Bird (November 2, 1936 to December 4, 1999)
Rose Bird was the first female justice of the court. Bird was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown and served for 10 years as the 25th Chief Justice of California. Her political career marked the first several firsts; she was the first female law clerk in the Supreme Court of Nevada, the first female deputy public defender in Santa Clara County, the first woman to hold a cabinet level job in California, and the first female Chief Justice of California. Bird oppose the death penalty and this may have led to her being the first female Chief Justice in California to be removed from office by voters.