Malcolm X by Library of Congress is licensed under CC-CC0 1.0

#1 – Malcolm X – Malcom X lived a controversial life. I remember reading his autobiography in high school and again in college and was always moved by his story and his message. Even though after his conversion his philosophies of bordered on what would be considered today “hate speech” he eventually found after his pilgrimage to Mecca that racism was a false ideology and that not all people of any one ethnicity are necessarily bad. His untimely death at the hands of a jealous Elijah Muhammed was a great loss for the country and oppressed people everywhere. “There is no better teacher than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time.”

Malcolm X – Click link for more Malcolm X quotes

Statue of Thomas Paine by N Chadwick is licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0

#2 – Thomas Paine – Thomas Paine epitomized the good qualities of the American Revolution. Paine the child of an Anglican mother and Quaker father struggled in his early years to find success being fired regularly and going through two marriages before coming to the colonies (Biography of Thomas Paine) after a fateful meeting with Benjamin Franklin, during one of his trips to England. After arriving in Philadelphia Paine picked up the pen and wrote articles that were far ahead of their time for the Pennsylvania Magazine. He denounced slavery, criticized England over its excessive harassment and taxation of the colonists and made the all important argument for independence in the famous “Common Sense”. He went on to write the historic “Rights of Man” arguing for a class based result in France against the monarchy. A true revolutionary, voice of social equality, in a time when this was a very dangerous thing to do. “Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best ste is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one (Thomas Paine Quotes).

#3 – Harriet Tubman – Harriet Tubman the famous leader of the “Underground Railroad” was an extreme badass. Tubman, born a slave, escaped slavery to help slaves escape to the North….on foot. This was a very perilous journey especially as Tubman gained notoriety and became sought after by the authorities. When the Civil War erupted Tubman continued this work, but also marshalled her own military unit to fight against the South. They fought as a guerilla army wreaking havoc behind enemy lines freeing over 700 people from slavery (Biography of Harriet Tubman). This was unprecedented in American History as women did not lead men in battle, let alone former slaves. By all accounts Tubman was an inspirational leader who’s strategic brilliance was only matched by her desire to see slavery end. “I have heard their groans and sighs, and seen their tears, and I would give every drop of blood in my veins to free them. (Harriet Tubman Quotes).”

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Discussion Questions

  1. Who are your favorite American Historical Figures?
  2. Why do you like them?

Song from the series “Stand Up” about the life of Harriet Tubman

2 responses to “Three Timeless Voices of Equity in American History”

  1. The Autobiography of Malcolm X is one of my all-times favorite books!

    1. It is a fantastic book! I have read it multiple times!

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