Margaret Sanger September 14, 1879 to September 6, 1966
Autonomy is a right that most in the western world take for granted, however in terms of biological autonomy it is something that the United States tends to be inconsistent about. In parts of the country abortion and contraceptives are either denied or punishable (abortion mostly) to any that seek them. While the former should not be considered as an option for birth control it is still a right that should be granted to those who do not wish to have a child. This is a struggle that dates to the 19th-20th century with ladies like Margaret Sanger who fought hard for the rights of women to be able to control their own bodies in terms of reproduction. In terms of modern history Ms. Sanger should be considered a legend and a reason to continue fighting for the rights of women’s reproductive rights. She was the reason for Sexual Education classes and the proper use of contraceptive and led the fight to end “back ally” abortions (an issue that may be again a reality). It was her work that contraceptives became legal in the United States. Sanger had also done a lot of work for Black Americans, opening the first Clinic in Harlem.
Megan Leslie September 29, 1973 to Present
A former Member of the Canadian Parliament, Megan Leslie has been an active advocate for the issues of the modern day. This includes issues on healthcare, LGBT rights, and environmental concerns. After gaining her law degree she joined the Dalhousie Legal Aid Service where she became a legal advocate for the impoverished members of Halifax. Her political career began when shewas elected to the deputy leadership of New Democratic Party in 2012, where she served till 2015. In this position she worked for both environmental and health improvements. At the end of her political career she continued her advocacy in other countries, this included the LGBT community and gaining them the right to gender reassignment surgery supplemented by the government in Nova Scotia. Leslie continues her advocacy work to this day.
Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas de Caritat (Marquis de Condorcet) September 17, 1743 to March 28, 1794
A philosopher and mathematician Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas de Caritat was a respected Frenchman of the enlightened era who spent much of his time preaching for the rights of all people despite race, gender, or social standing. Ideas he may as well have died for since during the period of the French Revolution he was arrested and found dead in his cell under “mysterious circumstances.” To this day the works of de Caritat hold relevance to the current events of our time, much of which includes race relations and the need for the divide between rich and poor to be balanced if not wholly eliminated. History shows that nothing that produces progression is done cleanly. It is a messy process that history shows that those who advocate for it had suffered for it to be a present idea in the modern period. The importance of course being that knowing the history of former activists and philosophers is an important aspect of understanding how to move forward as a species.
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.
Dr. Mary Temple Grandin (Temple Grandin) August 29, 1947-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.
Mary Harris Jones (Mother Jones) August 1, 1837-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.
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 year- long 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 - Present
Brought to prominence by her work in advocating the rights for women and girls in her native country of Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai has started her work as early as 2008. The main target of her fight was the religiously motivated group known as the Taliban and their dated view of the world. Her work as an activist for women's rights and her constant mention of the Taliban brought her to the attention of the world. This popularity brought the wrath of the ad for mentioned group. The majority of her activism took place online where she spoke about her experiences and her desired outcome for girls and women in an anonymous blog, until 2009 when she was discovered and asked to give speeches. In recognition of her service for the rights of women and girls she was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 2014, she is currently the youngest person to ever hold the award.
Walter F. White July 1, 1883 - March 21, 1955
A leader of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Walter Francis White is best known for his nearly 25 years of service to the organization and working with President Truman at the end of the World War II to desegregate the armed forces, along with more civilian based segregation. He started his career with the NAACP as an investigator in 1918 at the invitation of the then leader James W. Johnson. In the capacity of an investigator, White went to the Southern states to report on lynchings and other atrocities that occurred to people of color. As a person of mixed heritage, White was able to achieve his objectives with little harassment to his own being. In 1929, White took over as head of the NAACP after Johnson. As head of the organization he worked closely with varying levels of the United States government in order to make change. White also built up the NAACP’s ability to fight cases through funding and member recruiting, which allowed him to aid in the case of Brown v. Board of Education (1954) taking place during his last full year of service to the NAACP.