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.
The Museum had a special visit on Sunday, November 25, from artist Lynda, who created the exhibit camp of how she and many others live like on the streets for our current exhibition “One of Us.” Lynda is no longer homeless and is now living in permanent senior housing. During her visit, she shared with board member Betty and visitors about her 18 years of homelessness, how she paints using nail polish, and that it took 13 years of being homeless before someone asked her if she needed help. Thank you, Lynda for sharing your story through David Blumenkrantz's photography and through your words and art.
A painter, sculptor, architect, and activist Adolfo Pérez Esquivel was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to a Spanish fisherman who immigrated to Argentina from Poio, Galicia. His mother passed away when he was three and he grew up in extreme poverty, however despite this, he did well in school and attended the Manuel Belgrano School of Fine Arts and the National University of La Plata, where he trained as a painter and sculptor. He experienced a successful career as a sculptor, which granted him recognition. Following this he had an equally successful career as a teacher for 25 years teaching sculpture from primary schools to universities. During the 1960s, Pérez Esquivel began working with Latin America Christian pacifist groups, and in 1968 he formed a joint organization covering all non-violent elements throughout Latin America. In 1974, he co-founded the NGO Servicio Paz y Justicia (Service, Peace and Justice Foundation or SERPAJ), played a great role in promoting an international campaign to denounce the atrocities committed by the military regime. Being dedicated to the peace movement, Pérez Esquivel’s outspoken and courageous approach earned him many enemies, which found him detained by the Brazilian Military Police in 1975, jailed with Latin American and North American bishops in Ecuador in 1976, and detained and tortured by the Argentine Federal Police in 1977. On December 10, 1980, Pérez Esquivel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in the defense of human rights.
Rosalie Edge November 3, 1877 - November 20, 1962
A women’s rights and environment activist was born in New York City, to wealthy socialite parents. In 1913, during one of her Trans-Atlantic trips, Edge meet Sybil Margaret Thomas (a.k.a. Lady Rhondda) a prominent British women’s suffrage activists who taught Edge about the lacks of rights women had under men. This encounter affected Edge greatly and she immediately joined the women’s suffrage movement, where she became the member of the Equal Franchise Society to learn the basics of politics, to deliver speeches, and take part in debates. Subsequently, she was appointed the secretary-treasurer of the New York State Woman Suffrage Party, significantly helping in the enactment of the 19th Amendment of the United States Constitution in 1920, giving women the right to vote. After this victory, Edge turned her focus to wildlife and conservation. She took particular interest in bird watching and compiled a list of over 800 species of birds. After learning that the National Association of Audubon Societies (NAAS), a wildlife conservation organization was allowing hunting to take place on their land, Edge founded the Emergency Conservation Committee, which published numerous pamphlets questioning the work of various wildlife protection organizations. As founder and lifelong member of the association, Edge continuously fought for stronger measures to protect bird species and for creating laws that stressed humans to protect the wildlife and nature. In 1933, coming across photos of dying hawks in the Kittatinny Mountains of eastern Pennsylvania, Edge campaigned for a year to purchase the land, and in 1934 she did so, finding the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, the world’s first refuge for birds of prey. It still continuous to save birds, conduct research and run educational programs. Rosalie Edge remained the president of the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary until the day she died.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali November 13, 1969
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a Somali-born Dutch activist and feminist. The daughter of Hirsi Magan Isse, a well-known politician in Somalia's opposition party, Ali moved a lot before settling in Kenya with her family. In 1992, she sought and received political asylum in the Netherlands. In 2000, upon receiving her master’s degree in Political Science, she began her political career with the Netherlands’ Labor Party, as a researcher on immigration issues. In 2002, she changed political parties and began her work with the Liberal’s People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy. She was elected to the lower house of the Dutch Parliament in 2003, where she became known for her outspoken stance on the treatment of women in Islam, as well as, attacking Dutch immigration policy towards Muslims. In 2004, partnering with director Theo Van Gogh, Ali took her activism mainstream with a documentary entitled Submission, which highlighted the ways Islam supported the abuse of women. The documentary came with danger and grave results. Van Gogh was stabbed to death and upon his body a note threatening Ali’s life was found. In 2006, she traveled to the United States for the first time to promote her novel The Caged Virgin, highlighting her firsthand experience of the familial abuse endured by Muslim women, making it significant as the first anti-Islam works written by an Islamic women. She published her second Infidel and founded the Ayaan Hirsi Ali Foundation in Philadelphia in 2007. The organization's mission is to help western Islamic women escape abuse. Her third novel Nomad was published in 2010, and although a best-seller has caused Ali much opposition from Western Muslims. Ayaan Hirsi Ali has received numerous awards for her work on human rights. She received the Freedom Prize in Denmark (2004) for work on women’s rights, the Harriet Freezerring Emancipation prize (2005) by the magazine Opzij, the European Bellwether prize in Norway (2005) for her work on human rights, and the Anisfield-Wolf book award for her autobiography, Infidel (2008).