Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. January 15, 1929 - April 4, 1968
,One of the most influential historical figures of the United States, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is one of the leading activists who helped bring awareness to the nation for its inhuman treatment upon a minority population. One of his most famous political moves to achieve racial equality was in 1955 by leading the Montgomery bus boycott in response to the arrest of Rosa Parks. This boycott ended a practice that made it illegal for people of color to sit in the front of the bus and gave white passengers the right to take a seat occupied by a black passenger if the bus was full. The boycott was effective due to the corporation of its participants by either walking or carpooling. After this Dr. King was able to cement himself in American history by delivering his famous, I Have a Dream speech in August 28, 2963. A speech so revered that every child is taught it in grade school. Many of his actions helped to improve the lives African Americans and to improve race relations within the country. For his actions Dr. King was awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize in October 14, 1964 and was posthumously awarded both the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.
Muhammad Ali January 17, 1942 - June 3, 2016
Born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., Muhammad Ali is best known for his impressive boxing career and is a household name to those who do not even enjoy the sport. However, he is also famous for his refusal to fight in a war that he had seen as unjust and for a country that he saw as oppressive. This event took place in March of 1966 when Ali refused to be drafted to fight in the Vietnam War. As a result, he was exiled but came back later to face the United States government in a legal battle over his refusal to fight. While this action is legally a crime, he had used this slight against him to point out the growing racial inequality within his own country. This legal battle with the United States government helped fuel the fire that was building against the war. Due to his actions he was invited to speak in colleges across the country. Where he advocated for the improvement of black Americans and denounced the Vietnam War.
Fred T. Korematsu January 30, 1919 - March 30, 2005
An example of how diverse the United States is, Fred T. Korematsu was a political and social activist who spoke out against the internment of Japanese citizens during the Second World War. Korematsu is one of the least known activists 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 the 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 stolen 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 so that the United States would recognize that they 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 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.
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. After that he attended Oxford University to study international relations. During President Obama’s first administration Farrow served as one of his foreign policy 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 again was on human rights and foreign policy. For his efforts he was awarded ‘Refugees International’s McCall-Pierpaoli Humanitarian Award’ and the ‘Cronkite Award.’
Lola Van Wagenen December 1938 to Present
An activist and historian Van Wagmen is one of the co-founders of Consumer Action Now (CAN) and has led many movements trying to gain more funding for American History. She is also an environmentalist and a women's rights advocate. She has spent much of her adult life advocating for the education for others and using CAN as a tool for this education. Her main goal was to teach others how their actions affected the world around them. Her interest in the environment was what shaped her interest in both her studies and her activism. Moreover, Van Wagenen has produced several documentaries including Miss America in 2002. Currently Van Wagenen is working on the production of Lowell Thomas: The American Storyteller
Liu Xiaobo December 28 1955 to July 31, 2017
An outspoken activist who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 (still unclaimed). Xiaobo earned the prize while under detention (by the Chinese government) even being separated from his wife by force. Xiaobo has been placed in prison, placed under house arrest, and even just detained for periods of time. Xiaobo has attracted the Chinese government’s ire by his outspoken nature and harsh opinions of the one-party state. In this regard, the Chinese government has done what it could to silence him. However, nothing has stopped him from speaking his peace had published Charter 8 declaring the Chinese government restore human rights among other things. As of 2010 the manifesto has gained 10,000 signatures in support. He died in the First Hospital of China Medical University on July 31, 2017 from complications due to liver cancer. His death had stirred up controversy since the Chinese government is known to have treated him and his wife poorly.
Congratulations to Hugo Crosthwaite for winning the 2019 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition with his stop-motion drawing animation, "A Portrait of Berenice Sarmiento Chávez" (2018), which recounts a woman's journey from Tijuana, Mexico, to the United States in pursuit of the American dream. Hugo is the first Latinx artist to win the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition.
Learn more about Hugo's prize-winning stop-motion drawing animation, "A Portrait of Berenice Sarmiento Chávez" (2018) and the 2019 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition below.