November 2: Conrad Weiser, the farmer, soldier, tanner, judge, and monk (they did a lot back in the 18th century) who also served as Pennsylvania’s chief diplomatic emissary to Native Americans for many decades of complex but important cross-cultural encounters.
November 3: A tie between William Cullen Bryant, whose poems and journalism helped establish and define American literature and identity in the Early Republic; and Walker Evans, whose photographs helped chart the worst and best of Depression-era America.
November 4: A tie between two 20th century figures who heavily influenced American culture and society, if in profoundly different ways, Will Rogers and Ruth Handler.
November 5: A tie between two controversial and inspiring Americans who came to embody much of their respective eras: Benjamin Butler, the Civil War General, Reconstruction leader, and civil rights activist; and Ida Tarbell, the Gilded Age and Progressive-era muckraker par excellence.
November 6: A tie between John Philip Sousa, whose compositions define America as much as any single musical voice and genre could; and Derrick Bell.
November 7: Herman Mankiewicz, in whose two best screenplays, for Citizen Kane and The Wizard of Oz, we have much of the darkest and the best in American identity.
November 8: Dorothy Day!
November 9: A tie between two very distinct but equally impressive, influential, and inspirational American astronomers, Benjamin Banneker and Carl Sagan.
November 10: A tie between two controversial, courageous, and influential American activists, Samuel Gridley Howe and Russell Means.
November 11: Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.!
November 12: A tie between two very different but equally impressive and inspiring, and I would argue equally American, women, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
November 13: Buck O’Neil, the Negro Leagues baseball star, Civil Rights activist, and all-around amazing American legend.
November 14: Aaron Copland, perhaps one of the first genuinely American classical composers and one whose best compositions continue to define our national landscape.
November 15: A tie between two pioneering, talented, and inspiring modernist artists, Marianne Moore and Georgia O’Keeffe.
November 16: W.C. Handy, the factory worker and son of ex-slaves who became one of America’s most pioneering and significant ragtime and blues musicians and composers.
November 17: A tie between two unique, influential, and very impressive American educators and activists, Yung Wing and Grace Abbott.
November 18: Wilma Mankiller, the first female Chief of the Cherokee Nation and a lifelong activist and voice for Native American rights and communities.
November 19: Allen Tate, whose perspective on America and race was as complex as for the rest of his fellow Agrarians, but whose poems and novel engage with great power with key regional and national questions of history and identity.
November 20: A tie between Robert F. Kennedy, who I would argue represents one of Massachusetts’ and the nation’s most inspiring figures; and Pauli Murray, who is without question one of the most impressive Americans in our history.
November 21: A tie between Lewis Henry Morgan, for his pioneering anthropology but also for his legal and political activism and his inspiring friendship; and Isaac Bashevis Singer, for his singular, cross-cultural, and profoundly American stories.
November 23: Theodore Dwight Weld, for his ardent abolitionism, his deeply progressive perspective, and his inspiring American marriage, among other things.
November 24: Scott Joplin!
November 25: Ben Lindsey, the jurist and social reformer who helped originate the idea of juvenile court and was a lifelong advocate for progressive ideas about children, family, and society.
November 26: A tie between two inspiring abolitionists and women’s rights activists, Sojourner Truth and Sarah Grimke.
November 27: A tie between two pioneering, talented, and influential 20th century American writers, Charles Beard and James Agee.
November 28: A tie between Helen Magill White, the first American woman to receive a PhD and an important educator and advocate; and Berry Gordy, Jr., the founder of Motown Records and one of the 20th century’s most significant cultural figures.
November 29: A tie between two members of one of America’s most impressive families and father-daughter combos, Bronson Alcott and Louisa May Alcott.November 30: A tie between Samuel Clemens (for all things Mark Twain, see that website!); and Shirley Chisholm, the politician, educator, and lifelong advocate for oppressed American communities.