July Nominees

July 1: William Strunk, Jr., the English professor and writer whose short and vital book, later amplified by E.B. White, remains perhaps the single most essential (if definitely controversial) writing guide.
July 5: P.T. Barnum, whose most famous achievements and ideas tended to reflect some of America’s darker and nastier sides, but who nonetheless revolutionized American leisure and entertainment in a variety of ways.
July 6: Sylvester Stallone—perhaps the most debatable of all my nominees, but a man who created or helped create, in Rocky Balboa and John Rambo, two of the most iconic American cultural figures of the last half-century.
July 7: Margaret Walker, the Alabama-born writer and poet who followed the Great Migration to Chicago, worked there for the Federal Writers Project and with Richard Wright, and published some of the most powerful political and social poetry and fiction of the late 20th century.
July 8: George Antheil, the Modernist avant garde composer who had a hugely prolific career, was also a talented writer, philosopher, and critic, and with actress Hedy Lamarr helped invent an innovative communications system that’s still in use today.
July 9: Fanny Fern!
July 10: Mary McLeod Bethune, the pioneering civil rights leader, activist, and educator who started the National Council of Negro Women, founded Bethune-Cookman College, and served for nearly a decade in Franklin Roosevelt’s administration, among many other achievements.
July 11: Jhumpa Lahiri, author of some of the 21st century’s best American short stories and one of its best novels, and a singular talent whose next steps I can’t wait to follow!
July 13: Stewart Culin, the museum researcher, archivist, and ethnographer whose work on games, language, and objects, particularly in Native American cultures but also around the world, profoundly impacted our understandings of those elements and cultures.
July 16: Ida B. Wells (Barnett), for the reasons detailed in that post and many, many others.
July 17: Erle Stanley Gardner, the lawyer and king of the pulp writers who created in Perry Mason one of American literature and television's most iconic solvers of mysteries.
July 18: A tie between two very different American legends who together embody much of post-war American culture and society: John Glenn and Hunter S. Thompson.
July 22: Another tie, this time between two unique and interesting American artists, Emma Lazarus and Alexander Calder.
July 31: Whitney Young, the Civil Rights leader whose educational, political, and social efforts to combat urban poverty, employment discrimination, and many other ills continued well beyond his tragic 1971 death.

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