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 2: A tie between two towering and inspiring Civil Rights leaders with tragically different storiesThurgood Marshall and Medgar Evers. 
July 3: A tie between John Singleton Copley, one of America’s first and most enduring prominent artists, whose works captured Revolutionary heroes and ordinary American citizens with equal talent and humanism; and one of my very favorite American authors, Maria Amparo Ruiz de Burton!
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 and telling 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, one of its best novels, and some of its most complex and compelling reflections on language & identity.
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 15: Clement Clarke Moore, who might or might not have written “A Visit from St. Nicholas”—which is pretty appropriate since the poem did more than any other single work to cement our images of perhaps our most mythic and frequently lied-about figure.
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 19: Rosalyn Sussman Yalow, the Nobel Prize-winning physician who worked her way up from stenography courses to become one of the most influential figures in American medicine and science.
July 20: Cormac McCarthy, a novelist whose works both engage with some of the darkest American narratives and histories and yet find, at times, hope for the nation and for humanity in our most enduring stories and identities.
July 22: Another tie, this time between two unique and interesting American artists, Emma Lazarus and Alexander Calder.
July 25: A tie between Thomas Eakins, whose realistic and humanistic paintings helped change American art, culture, and society as much as any single 19th century artist or figure; and the criminally under-rated and -appreciated Zelda Fitzgerald (who was so much more than F. Scott's partner).
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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