Gauri Lankesh was a political activist and journalist in India who led the fight to end old and outdated cultural norms within her country, which ultimately led to her death by an opposition group in front of her home in 2017. In her articles she criticized Hinduism, India’s main religion for its lack of inclusivity and sought for a resolution. Additionally, Lankesh condemned the orthodox demand that women be subservient to men, with Indian society going as far as to still treat women as second-class. Lastly, she spoke out against the caste system, which although illegal still witnessed the discrimination of lower castes. Lankesh’s work continues on in her students who she inspired at Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Fred T. Korematsu January 30, 1919 - March 30, 2005
Fred T. Korematsu was a political and social activist who spoke out against the internment of Japanese citizen during the Second World War. Korematsu is one of the least known activist within the country, why this is can be anyone’s guess, but he was a cause of a lot of headaches within the judicial system. His resistance to Order 9066 included plastic surgery and a complete overhaul of his name, changing it to Clyde Sarah professing to be of Spanish and Hawaiian heritage. While he was eventually captured and tired for resisting the order, he continued to argue for his rights that had been stolen from him by his government. While he was not a lawyer Korematsu often stood out in the courts system with the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) in the hopes of returning the rights to the many Japanese Americans who had them taken from them with the start of the Second World War. While the war ended and Japanese American were able to return to some form of normality, Korematsu still fought for the United States to recognize that it had committed a wrong. It was not until 1988 when President Reagan proclaimed that Order 9066 and the resulting treatment of Japanese Americans was unconstitutional and recompensed all Japanese Americans who had endured internment during the war. Korematsu was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Clinton in 1998. After his death in 2005, Korematsu’s birthday was declared as a day of remembrance for his actions.
Heather Mills January 12, 1968-Present
Heather Mills is best known for her marriage to Paul McCartney of Beatles fame. However, what is less known is her philanthropic endeavors to provide the means to remove landmines form war-torn countries, and for providing prosthetic limbs to those who cannot afford them. The loss of her own leg from a collision with a police motorcycle being a heavy influence on her charitable work. The majority of her funding comes from her own income as a model and of course from donations from others. The money granted to her from her accident being used to startup her charity known as the “Heather Mills Health Trust.”
Shifting Narratives: The Strength of Women Survivors
The Los Angeles Commission on the Status of Women and Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Gender Equity Team are partnering to host an art exhibit commemorating Women’s History Month, March 2019. The exhibit will center on the strength of women who have experienced homelessness, domestic violence, and human trafficking through the theme “Shifting Narratives: The Strength of Women Survivors.” The launch of the art exhibit and a special event in recognition of the artists will take place on Friday, March 8, 2019, International Women’s Day. The goal of the exhibit is to celebrate art that:
Raises awareness of the strength of women survivors of homelessness, domestic violence, and human trafficking;
Draws attention to the intersection of female homelessness, domestic violence, and human trafficking;
Increases public understanding of a survivor’s journey while addressing misleading narratives and perceptions;
Mobilizes support and resources to address the specific needs of survivors and unsheltered women.
Sojourner Truth (Isabella Baumfree) December 1, 1797 to November 26, 1883
Best known for her speech Ain’t I a Woman? delivered at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in 1851. However, before this, Truth had already lived an extraordinary life, escaping slavery on her own initiative and suing for the freedom of her children in 1827 with the aid of the “New York State Emancipation act” of the same year. Soon after she had a spiritual experience that led her to take on the name she is best known by, but more importantly she took to preaching for the abolition of slavery. In 1844, she joined the Northampton Association of Education and Industry, alongside notables, such as Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison. During the Civil War she led the movement to recruit black soldiers to aid the Union with her grandson leading the movement by joining the 54th Massachusetts Regiment. After the war she continued her activism for both women of color and for all black Americans until she passed away from old age in 1883.
Ronan Farrow December 19, 1987 to Present
By all accounts a child prodigy, Farrow received a degree from Bard’s College at the age of fifteen and studied law at Yale Law School at the age of sixteen. Afterwards he studied international relations at Oxford University. During President Obama’s first administration, Farrow served as one of his foreign policies advisors and during his time he established the State Department’s ‘Office of Global Youth Issues.’ His work mostly focused on the needs of women and children in third world countries, most notable Sudan. On top of his work within the government, he is also a notable reporter whose focus is on human rights and foreign policy. For his efforts he was awarded Refugees International’s McCall-Pierpaoli Humanitarian Award and the Cronkite Award.
Ryan Wayne White December 6, 1971 to April 8, 1990
An activist more by circumstance than by choice, because it is never anyone’s choice to contract the AIDs virus. White was the first “poster-child” to end discrimination and ignorance related to the virus. Around the time he contracted the virus he was expelled from his middle school in Indiana, this was overturned after a lengthy lawsuit that ended with a victory for White and his family. His case was special in that it ended the long time belief that only gays, minorities, and the poor could contract the disease. His struggles doubled since he had to fight both the virus and the stigma that the disease brought with it. His story gained national attention and support, and because of his efforts and in his memory Congress passed the “Ryan White Care Act” that to this day is the largest provider of aid and education in the United States.