Throughout our lives, each of us learns about many famous people who have shaped history. Draw on this knowledge and name a person from each category (living or dead) who are (or were):
a. Upper Class
b. Lower Class
c. Gay or Lesbian
e. Native American
Which were the “easiest” and “hardest” to come up with a person for? What made you choose who you did? If you didn’t know someone in a category, how did you “research” someone for your answer?
A. Upper Class: John D. Rockefeller – his name bears a well-known philanthropic organization, still active long after his death. Rockefeller not only pioneered modern philanthropy but also was a revolutionary industrialist and one of the first businesspeople to achieve a monopoly. His legacy has been looked up to as many shrewd businesspeople have engaged in similar corporate tactics (i.e. investing in specific sectors of an industry) and even funded their own public organizations for certain hospitable causes.
B. Lower Class: Abraham Lincoln – born to very subpar living standards, Lincoln eventually rose to prominence after engaging in small business work and politics. And who is to say that Lincoln is one of the most important presidents, let alone people to have ever lived due to his contributions in keeping the U.S. intact during the Civil War?
C. Gay or Lesbian: Ellen DeGeneres – LBGT groups have been existent before her presence but their coming of the closet was severely frowned upon. DeGeneres became one of the first (if not the first) to publically come out and encourage others in the entertainment / broadcast field to do the same after her sexuality was exploited in her eponymous sitcom, that of which was a milestone in just the entertainment industry alone.
D. Asian-American: Jackie Chan – although many Asian-Americans have shaped history just as well, Chan is noteworthy for bringing about his style of martial arts film work to a larger, more mainstream audience, to the point where his movies were huge hits (even among casuals as movies in this genre are mainly sought by a smaller, cult-ier and more older audiences due to harsh violence).
E. Native American: Sacagawea – a very famous and notable Native American woman who joined and helped the Lewis and Clark expedition in journeying to the Pacific coast. Her contributions (including being an interpreter and environmental guide) were significant and vital for the safety of the explorers. Her legacy was told in folklores and Sacagawea ultimately became a symbol for women leadership and self-worth.
F. Female: Susan B. Anthony – regarded as a symbol for women’s suffrage, Anthony would work towards the fight for women to obtain voting rights all the way until her death. Her influence and movement however would continue (before being inevitably split into two camps) but nonetheless succeeded in having the U.S. grant women’s the right to vote in 1920. As part of Anthony’s legacy, she is featured on the U.S. dollar coin.
G. Male: Christopher Columbus – although not the first to discover the Americas (Leif Ericsson had landed in Newfoundland 500 years earlier), his “accidental” discovery was crucial toward the interest, growth, and development of what is today, Western civilization (excluding Europe) or the New World. Columbus’s contribution to history therefore was and remains important, if not controversial at times.
H. Disabled: Michael J. Fox – famous as an actor but even more so as a patient of Parkinson’s Disease. Through his acting fame, Fox has been a supporter of stem-cell research, advocates for the fight of and is a spokesperson for raising awareness of the disease; he has even created a foundation to help find a cure for Parkinson’s. And despite his struggle of the disease, Fox has continued with acting, inspiring many who cope with hardship to continue in leading an active life.
Overall, these choices were very easy to come up with and being a voracious learner, I knew about all of these people and their contributions to history, past and present.