June Nominees

June 1: John Marshall Harlan, the Civil War veteran and long-serving Supreme Court Justice whose greatest legacy lies in his inspiring (if complex) dissents on the Civil Rights Cases (1883) and Plessy v. Ferguson (1896).
June 2: Betty Freeman, whose philanthropic support of contemporary composers and musicians profoundly influenced world music, and who was a talented photographer in her own right.
June 4: Dr. Ruth Westheimer, whose funny accent, quirky personality, and risqué recommendations shouldn’t disguise the revolutionary and liberating nature of her frank and unashamed embrace of sex and the power of mass media.
June 7: Louise Erdrich, the Chippewa and German American poet, storyteller, and novelist whose interconnected series of multi-generational novels comprise some of the most significant American fiction of the last thirty years.
June 9: Luis Kutner, the pioneering human rights lawyer who co-founded Amnesty International, founded World Habeas Corpus, represented the Dalai Lama and numerous other significant clients, and created the crucial modern concept of the “living will” (among other impressive accomplishments).
June 10: Maurice Sendak!
June 13: Dwight B. Waldo, the scholar and college president whose efforts on behalf of teachers, teachers colleges, and a democratic and public vision of higher education helped change American society for the better.
June 15: Josiah Henson, the escaped slave turned abolitionist, preacher, and activist whose inspiring life and compelling autobiography served as one of Stowe’s influences and remain unique and vital American texts (in every sense).
June 16: Geronimo, or Goyathlay, the Apache leader and warrior whose legendary life has inspired numerous cultural responses and texts, but should not blind us to the very real and often dark histories to which he also connects.
June 17: James Weldon Johnson, on whom see that post!
June 19: Pauline Kael, perhaps America’s greatest and most influential film critic, and a cultural commentator and critic whose voice and perspective helped shape our conversations and community throughout the late 20th century.
June 20: Charles Chesnutt, author of (to my mind) the greatest and most significant American novel, among his many other complex and important, and far too unremembered, literary and historical works.
June 21: Reinhold Niebuhr, the son of German immigrants who became one of 20th century America’s greatest theological, philosophical, and cultural thinkers and commentators, and whose voice and ideas continue to influence our national converations.
June 22: Billy Wilder, one of America’s most talented and successful film directors and screenwriters, and one who contributed some of the 20th century’s most pioneering and important (as well as popular and influential) films.
June 24: A tie between two almost diametrically opposed but equally influential 19th century Americans, Henry Ward Beecher and Ambrose Bierce.
June 25: James Meredith, the Civil Rights activist whose pioneering educational and social efforts were only the first acts in a long and complex American life and story.
June 26: A tie between two unique, talented, and influential 20th century American women, Pearl S. Buck and Babe Didrickson Zaharias.
June 27: A rare but well-deserved three-way tie between three passionate and inspiring activists, writers, and 20th century American women: Emma Goldman, Helen Keller, and Lucille Clifton.
June 29: A tie between two very distinct but equally courageous and influential 20th century political and social activists, Julia Lathrop and Stokely Carmichael.
June 30: Lena Horne, the unique, talented, and beautiful singer, actress, and performer whose civil rights activism helped change American culture and society.

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