Claude Bailey on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is the person who gives me the strength and inspiration to help create a better world. No one else in history has so eloquently articulated why this country has a moral obligation to live up to its professed ideal that all men and women are created equal. Through his words and actions, he changed the way Black people are treated. His work and that of so many unnamed others laid the foundation for the struggle for equality not just for Black people but also women, the LGBTQ community, and other oppressed groups. I always remember one of his lesser-known quotes: 'We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.'"
Roger Meertins on Rosa Parks
Rosa Parks is my source of inspiration, reminding me that small acts of courage against oppression can trigger significant change. In that pivotal moment when she chose not to give up her seat, her strength and resolve inspired a movement that changed the world.
Dom Conde on Eleanor Roosevelt
"Known as the 'First Lady of the World' for her human rights achievements, Eleanor Roosevelt was an inspirational figure throughout her life. From being the first presidential spouse to hold her own press conferences to becoming the first chair of the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women in the Kennedy administration, she was a tireless advocate for women and minorities."
"Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an inspiration to me because of her fight for gender rights. At a time when it seemed there was little hope for such rights, she was wise enough to carry on the battle in a methodical way, often using instances of discrimination against men to demonstrate her point."
"St. John Paul II’s commitment to promoting religious freedom, bringing down the Iron Curtain, and protecting the most vulnerable inspires me to think about how to help others, to walk in others’ shoes, and to work to bring about justice in the world."
Belinda Vega on Justice Sonia Sotomayor
"Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor inspires me every day to work hard and persevere. The daughter of Puerto Rican parents, she made history as the first Latinx justice, and she has also weighed in on a number of game-changing cases, such as Obergefell v. Hodges. In that historic decision, Justice Sotomayor, alongside Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anthony Kennedy, Stephen Breyer, and Elena Kagan, voted to make same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. She is a beacon of hope for me, because she shows that we still have warriors fighting for justice, equality, and love."
Jenn Reddien on Sylvia Mendez
"I have always admired Sylvia Mendez and her parents for their bravery and persistence in fighting for school desegregation. By working to remove some of the barriers that denied minorities equal access to education, they helped pave the way for the pivotal Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education."
Lisa Tavares on Dovey Johnson Roundtree
"I admire attorney and activist Dovey Johnson Roundtree, who championed civil rights for all Americans. Aside from having secured a law degree in the late 1940s at a time when few women, let alone Black women, had access to higher education, she managed to win a ground-breaking case involving segregated bus travel just five years into her practice. Later she became the first Black woman to be admitted to the all-white Women's Bar Association of Washington, DC. Her capacity to break barriers despite the limitations placed on her gender and race throughout her lifetime is an inspiration."
"I have huge admiration for Thurgood Marshall, who as the founder of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in 1940 did so much to advance the cause of racial equality in the United States. Marshall is best known for being the first African American to sit on the Supreme Court, a huge achievement by any standards. But it is the tireless work he did as a young lawyer, fighting injustice in small and dusty courtrooms throughout the Deep South, that cemented his legacy as one of the leading legal architects of the civil rights movement."
Savannah Parrish on Ruth Bader Ginsburg
"For me, Ruth Bader Ginsburg epitomizes the idea of fighting for what you believe in. She believed in the ideology of equality for all and fought hard for LGBTQIA+ rights. Her memory still echoes and inspires us all to this day."
"Elouise Cobell, an activist and leader of the Blackfoot Nation, filed a class action lawsuit against the U.S. government for mismanaging Indian trust funds. Thirteen years of tenacious litigation resulted in a multi-billion-dollar settlement, which helped fund land consolidation and educational scholarships. Cobell was a true trailblazer."