The front man for the alternative metal band System of the Down, Serj Tankian is best known for his musical talents in the United States as a singer, songwriter, keyboardist, and guitarist. He is widely acclaimed for his vocal talents and is nationally ranked as one of the few for “having the best voice in metal,” ranked at #26 by Hit Parader out of 100. Tankian, is also well known for his political activism, focusing on the human rights and fighting for the global recognition of the Armenian Genocide that occurred in 1915. This is reflected in his musical career, especially during his tenure with System of the Down; such songs include Prison Song,Holy Mountains, and Empty Walls. Respectively each song highlights either over population of the American Prison system, genocide, and of course the United States’ unpopular “War on Terror.” Serj Tankian has created a nonprofit organization with co-founder Tom Morello known as Axis of Justice that works to bring fans of music and musicians together to challenge issues facing the world today.
Mary Harris Jones (Mother Jones) August 1, 1837 to November 30, 1930
Mary Harris Jones, or Mother Jones as the miners she lead called her, was one of the bravest organizers for the rights of laborers during the first two decades of the 20th century. Her own life being one of hardship and strife, Mrs. Jones migrated to Canada during the Irish Famine with her family. As a young woman she lost both her husband and children to Yellow Fever and suffered the loss of her home during the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. It was then that she took to marching for better labor conditions, starting with forming a political group against child labor, known as the Children's Crusade. Soon she lead more and more marchers, causing such a havoc in the day to day lives of those in the higher crust that a US District Attorney once called her “the most dangerous woman in America.” Mrs. Jones demonstrated her ability to lead and motivate people.
Dr. Mary Temple Grandin (Temple Grandin) August 29, 1947 to present
Dr. Grandin is a well-respected and celebrated expert on animals and on developing care and emotional treatment for autistic children. Suffering from this disability herself, she was able with the help of her mother and a few close academic supporters to complete her education and become a world renowned researcher for the better care of animals. However her greatest contribution to humanity was her invention of the “Hug Box,” which has been an essential tool in aiding children with autism. Dr. Grandin has also spent much of her time in aiding parents with autistic children. She has written a number of books on the subject, such titles include, The Autistic Brain and Emergence: Labeled Autistic.
Best known for his work to end the apartheid state of affairs of his home country of South Africa, Nelson Mandela is a political icon of the last century that captivated the world. While a strong believer in the practices of Mahatma Gandhi, he shifted to a more direct form of struggle once he found that the pacifistic nature of his political hero did not produce results in a timely manner. For his political resistance and upsets he spent a total of twenty-seven years in prison, with many other minor arrest preceding this lengthy sentence. However his sixty-seven yearlong political career and many brushes with the law proved fruitful for in 1994 the apartheid system of his country was removed and South Africa held the first multiracial elections in the country's history. Due to his hard work and popularity Mandela was also South Africa’s first elected president alongside being the first black president of the country.
Malala Yousafzai July 12, 1997 to Present
The youngest person in history to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, Malala Yousafzai is a woman’s right activist from Pakistan who through an anonymous blog expressed her animosity towards the sexist traditions of organizations that prevented women and girls from receiving an education as men and boys were allowed. She was aware of this issue at the young age of eleven and from there she grew in popularity. For her actions the Taliban (the main focus of her scorn) targeted her in a failed assassination attempt that caused her to redouble her efforts for social change in her home country and for all women who are denied an education.
Peace Pilgrim (Mildred Lisette Norman) July 18, 1908 - July 7, 1981
Peace Pilgrim was an orator for peace and love, and most famous for her six completed cross country journeys across the United States, passing away while on her seventh in 1981. While she had no formal backing she had come of age during the first major conflict of the 20th century and had lived through many more such conflicts and made it her life mission to pilgrimage across the United States until “men knew peace.” Her method of operation was that of the peaceful nomad who would discuss the ideals of peace to whomever she may have come across. She adopted the name Peace Pilgrim in 1953 to aid her in spreading her message of peace. She was a rather popular figure in the United States during her solo campaign and after her death, to this day the organization known as “Friends of Peace Pilgrim” maintain a website answering any question about her extraordinary life.
A feminist and suffragette form the United Kingdom, Fawcett was a founder of the biggest suffragette organization known as National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS). Her philosophy was non-violent and her work ethic was a key to her success. Fawcett advocated for the right to vote for all women worldwide, but for women to be educated and treated fairly in the workplace. It is her writings and speeches that have made her world famous, in which argued for the rights deserved by herself and all women.
Charles Perkins June 16, 1936 - October 18, 2000
An aboriginal from Australia, Perkins lived through a time where people of the aboriginal lineage could not move around the country freely. This blatant discrimination left Perkins with a bitter resolve and used his fame as a football player (soccer) to achieve civil rights for aboriginals. He served as a leading member of what was called the “Freedom Ride” that lead to amendments to the Australian Constitution and placed aboriginals on the census. However, Perkins kept his disdain for white Australians that kept to their racist tendencies. With that in mind he is well renowned for his work even after his death.
Jeannette Rankin June 11, 1880 - May 18, 1973
The first woman to be elected to the United States Congress, she started from the bottom of the political barrel to one of the highest position of power that any woman in the United States had achieved during her time. She began her political career as a social worker aid, from there became a lobbyist for the suffragette movement in the United States, and in 1916 was elected to the House of Representatives. While her career in congress was filled with ridiculed for her pacifistic nature she was a source of inspiration for women to strive for higher political power.