Anwar Sadat assumed power in Egypt after his most trusted friend and president, Gamal Nasir, died. Because Nasir was a highly popular and charismatic leader, Sadat’s ascendancy to presidency faced heated opinions that he was weak and ought to be removed immediately.
In the face of this, Sadat began his “Corrective Revolution.” He decentralized the Egyptian economy and changed the entire political structure. He intentionally distanced Egypt from their Soviet relationships and continually hinted that he wanted to strengthen relations with the U.S.Unexpectedly, in 1973, Egypt and Syria attacked Israel. Their joint forces gained considerable ground until the U.S. began to provide aid for Israel. This move, although extremely risky and ultimately unsuccessful, put Sadat in the limelight as a prestigious Arab leader who had dared to prove that Israel was not militarily invincible. After gaining the trust of the people, however, Sadat then made shocking moves for peace with Israel. In 1978, he met with Jimmy Carter and Israeli Prime Minister Begin. The bilateral peace treaty was signed in 1979 and both Sadat and Begin received the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize.Sadat returned home to be chastised by the entire Arab world. Although the rest of the world acknowledged his efforts for peace, the Arab countries withdrew their financial aid and broke off all ties, even relocating the capital from Cairo to Tunis. In 1981, in the midst of political chaos in Egypt, Sadat was assassinated by members of the fundamentalist Muslim organization.
Mahmood, Iftekhar, ed. Islam Beyond Terrorists and Terrorism: Biographies of the Most Influential Muslims in History. Maryland: University Press of America, 2002.
Known as “Mother Hale,” Clara’s life mission has been to care for young children born to addicted mothers. Clara’s tumultuous beginnings led her to the triumphant life and work that she now leads. Her father died when she was an infant, and her mother provided for her by running a boarding house. Clara married soon after high school and had a job cleaning theaters until her husband died when she was twenty-seven. She was left to rear three small children on her own. Little did she know that she would be changing the lives of far more than just these three.Until retirement, Clara decided to foster over forty children, receiving only two dollars a week per child. Soon after she retired, Clara’s grown daughter stumbled upon a mother addicted to heroine trying to care for her baby in Harlem’s Park. At this time, Clara decided to open her home to addicted babies. Mothers would bring Clara their drug-dependent babies while they tried to complete a drug treatment program. Clara watched over and cared for hundreds of babies suffering through the symptoms of withdrawal- namely diarrhea, vomiting, and stiff legs and backs. After the mother finished her drug rehabilitation, she and the baby would be reunited. Since 1969, the Hale House and loving Mother Hale have nurtured nearly eight hundred unwanted babies.
Holley, Mary R. “Clara Hale.” Epic Lives: One Hundred Black Woman Who Made a Difference. Ed. Jessica Carney Smith. Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1993. pp 230-233.
Faye Wattleton shocked many people in 1978, when she stepped in as the first black person, first woman, and youngest individual to ever be president of the PPFA (Planned Parenthood Federation of America). She had started out as an only child in a poor home and had taken bold steps to get to the position she was in. She entered nursing school when she was only sixteen years old and became a maternity-nursing instructor for two years in which she witnessed the brutal aftermath of illegal abortions. At the age of twenty-seven, Faye was asked to be the executive director of her local Planned Parenthood board. The number of clients tripled, and the budget grew from less than four hundred thousand dollars to nearly a million. Faye was in labor when she was elected to be national executive director.As president of the entire PPFA, the demands on Faye became even greater. The individuals who appointed her took heated criticism for finding “a little nurse from Dayton” with no national experience. Faye did not let the criticism faze her. The magic she worked in the field proved all her critics wrong. Faye’s passion for her work drew time away from her struggling marriage and she and her husband divorced. Even through the divorce, Faye continued to work calmly for public advocacy of sex-ed with contraceptive information. Faye retired eleven years later in 1992. Her contributions to Planned Parenthood and reproductive rights activism have won numerous awards, but her powerful presence is still deeply missed by the choice community.
MARIAN WRIGHT EDELMAN
Marian Wright Edelman grew up as the youngest of five children. With her father’s low income as a minister, Marian insists that she and her family never felt poor. Marian’s father died when she was fourteen. After graduating from high school, Marian attended college and incorporated nearly a year and two summers of traveling in Europe. After her travels, Marian returned to America unwilling to “go back to a segregated existence.” She began taking part in the civil rights movement and was arrested in1960 for her participation in an Atlanta sit-in. Immediately after, Marian decided to attend law school.Initially, the bulk of Marian’s work involved getting students out of jail. Waves of opposition rose against Marian; she was threatened by dogs, thrown into jail, and refused entry into a state courthouse. In the face of all this, Marian became the first black woman to pass the bar in Mississippi. Marian then refocused her efforts on children’s rights and became known as “the children’s crusader.” In 1973, she began the Children’s Defense Fund. Based in Washington D.C, the CDF ran a major campaign to prevent teen pregnancy, provide positive life options for youth, and teach the nation about the needs of children, especially the poorest children. Marian is currently serving on several boards, among which are the US Committee for UNICEF and the Council of Foreign Relations.
Guy-Sheftall, Beverley. “Marian Wright Edelman.” Epic Lives: One Hundred Black Woman Who Made a Difference. Ed. Jessica Carney Smith. Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1993. pp. 165-171.
“Education is like a religion to me. I believe totally in its ability to empower every man to explore the limits of his potential.”Carl Elliott was born in 1913 as the oldest of nine children. As an aspiring politician in college, he took a risk in his student body president campaign and threw a dance for non-sorority girls. With eight hundred and fifty girls in attendance, Carl had embarked on a long career of caring for those less noticed. In his last semester of school, Carl went before Congress to testify on behalf of federal scholarships for college students. He ended up in the Oval Office with President Franklin Roosevelt. Together they discussed the tragedy of brilliant young people whose family’s low income could not support their college education.When Carl became a congressman in 1949, he had the means to do something about it. Although he was encouraged by President Harry Truman to “get a dam built somewhere” to insure reelection, Carl kept his vision of federal aid for education close to heart. For the next ten years, Carl proposed aid for students in every congressional session. At last, in 1958, he and Senator Lister hill championed the passage of the National Defense Education Act-a $900 million first attempt by the government to help kids who wanted an education. With Brown vs. Board of Education passing soon after, Carl faced heated accusations that his education act was a “nigger-loving” bill.Embroiled in the racial tension of the times, Carl’s campaign for governor of Alabama went badly. His persistence in being “moderate” during a moderate-less time resulted in shots fired at his campaign workers and hateful Ku Klux Klan messages sprayed across his billboards. Faced with defeat, Carl opened a law partnership that fought for damages for coal miners with black lung disease. Beyond this, Carl’s life was a tormented one. In 1974, a tornado ripped through his home and killed his son and wife. After sustaining a heart attack, Carl was confined to a wheelchair and began to go blind. At the age of eighty-five, Carl Elliot Sr. passed away. With all his failed ambitions, Carl Elliot Sr. was a hero for the nation’s youth-his hard work and desire to improve education has helped fifteen million Americans go to college.
“I swore that no matter whom it offended, or anything, I would never vote out of fear again.” — on his vote for the Gulf of Tonkin resolutionFrom the time he was a young boy, Henry Gonzalez loved reading books about great men. Within his lifetime, Henry then became one.Henry’s illustrious career began as a member of San Antonio’s City Council, where his call for desegregated swimming facilities was met with gunshots fired at his car. With his motto “Fear Not,” Henry pushed harder to a victory and found success when he then entered Texas State Senate. Henry was the first Hispanic Representative from Texas, and ended up serving in Congress longer than any other Hispanic, a term of thirty-seven years. During this long tenure, Henry achieved a brilliant amount. On a national scale, Henry is best known for the leadership role he took directly after the Kennedy assassination. He was not only sitting by Jackie Kennedy’s side in the hospital, but he proceeded to become Chairman of the House Assassinations Committee. The committee’s purpose was to investigate the murders of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. After a short time, Henry realized that powerful forces in organized crime were involved and he returned to legislative work.Stalwart themes in Henry’s legislative work were the support of public housing, the opposition of nuclear power, an improvement in the welfare of Hispanics, and the prevention and prosecution of financial crimes. Within Congress, one of Henry’s crowning moments was his deliverance of a monumental filibuster intended to thwart segregationist lawmakers. It was a true testament to Henry’s experience in the field that he was able to speak knowledgeably for a full 36 hours, with only cough drops and water to save him. It proved to be the longest filibuster in Texas’s history. Not only was it long, but Henry’s filibuster prevented the passage of eight out of the ten presented segregation bills. Had they passed, the decision at Brown vs. Board of Education would have been neatly sidestepped.In 1992, Henry again stepped into the limelight. With a tremendous amount of gall, Henry requested an investigation of the Bush administration’s involvement in loans to Iraq. Known as Iraqgate, Gonzalez then unveiled his speculations that the U.S. was issuing more than $3 billion in loans to the Iraqi government under the guise of support for agricultural products. Henry speculated what was eventually found true: in reality, the money was being spent to buy nuclear and chemical weapons. Henry was warned by the Attorney General to stop his investigation, but Henry continued to seek answers. He called publicly for the impeachment of Bush until the Democrats lost control of the House.Although bent on retirement, Henry stayed until the end of his term in order to spare his taxpayers the costs of a special election. At a ripe old age, Henry Gonzalez laid to rest.
Hamill, Pete. “Henry B. Gonzalez.” Profiles in Courage for Our Time. Ed. Caroline Kennedy. New York: Hyperions Books, 2002. pp 89-107.”Hispanic Americans in Congress.”
Bianca Jagger is most famously known for her failed marriage with celebrity Mick Jagger. Less known, however, is Bianca’s tremendous humanitarian work. As a human rights activist, Bianca’s presence has been a strong supportive force in upheavals across Latin America. In a constant fight for social justice, Bianca has worked with organizations such as Amnesty International, the Washington Office for Latin America, and the Human Rights Watch. Her care and attention is spread from people as varied as those on death row, to indigenous peoples, to those afflicted with AIDS. On one trip as part of a U.S. Congress delegation to a Honduras refugee camp, death squads entered her camp and herded the refugees into a group to be marched away and killed.Bianca and the rest of the delegation followed behind in hopes that their presence would dissuade the death squads from firing upon the refugees. Luckily, they hoped right. Bianca returned to report on the conflict. From then on, Bianca continued to write op-eds for the New York Times and testify before Congress on international conflicts. Another high-impact project Bianca embarked on was in Bosnia. In 1993, Bianca was sent there by Congress to document the mass rape and poor living conditions of women there. She visited hundreds of women and listened to their testimonies of victimization and brutality. After this experience, Bianca realized that the UN needed to be reformed. She lobbied UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to set up a commission of inquiry on the actions of UN personnel. Although she never received credit for it, the report Bianca requested was prepared and eventually presented in censored version. In 2003, Bianca traveled with another U.S. peace delegation to Baghdad to voice her strong opposition to the impending war.Widely varied as Bianca’s works were, it is impossible to grasp her world impact without taking a look at her awards. In recognition of her efforts against the death penalty, the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty awarded her with the Abolitionist of the Year award. Within three years of each other, Bianca was then honored for her environmentalist work with the Green Globe Award from the Rainforest Alliance and the United Nations Earth Day Award.Currently, Bianca is not only in leadership positions in Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, but she is on the Advisory Board of the Coalition for International Justice and the Twentieth Century Task Force to Apprehend War Criminals.
Jacobsen, Kurt. Maverick Voices: Conversations with Political and Cultural Rebels. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2004. pp. 121-137.
Emmanuel Jal born in southern Sudan, as an ex child solider exploits the inside of war. After the death of his mother, from the war, at approximately around the age of seven, he was lured into the war with the promise of education. Wanting to be a pilot to gain his father’s approval Emmanuel explains how the SPLA made empty promises and persuaded many children his age to fight against Arabs. In his time as a soldier he learned the effects of war, witnessed death of family and children his own age, and was taught that a gun became his only friend and family. With all that he also learned of his ability and enjoyment of entertainment, which was also exploited. The SPLA rebel group knowing his ability to be charismatic used Emmanuel to persuade organizations dedicated to end the war and poverty, to donate more money only to monopolize the funds use the money to fuel the war.After being smuggled out of the war, Emmanuel dedicates his time to sharing his story and giving children of Kenya and Sudan the opportunity of education, something that every child has the right to have. He also raps to raise funds for the development of schools and raise awareness of the ongoing situation and war. His work now aims a focus on stopping the use of children soldiers and the illegal selling and trading of guns.
Jal, Emmanuel. War Child: A Child Soldier’s Story. St. Martin’s Press. New York, NY. 2009
Contributed by Elain Lopez
David Kuriniec was born with cerebral palsy, a condition that negatively affects nervous system functions usually caused by brain damage at or before birth. Throughout his childhood, Kuriniec struggled with muscular impairments and poor coordination. However, these physical challenges did not make him pessimistic. Kuriniec claims in an interview with ABC7 Chicago news that “I don’t consider myself limited at all”.Inspired by golfer Casey Martin, Kuriniec wanted to enact change and make the lives of those disabled easier. Kurinec believed that disabled Americans deserved improvements in their quality of life. He also wanted to establish that disabled people have similar needs, and are just like everyone else despite their physical differences.To enact these changes, Kuriniec, who was a freshman at the time, fought for accessibility improvements at his high school. Not only did he achieve his goal, but Congressman Mark Kirk also recognized him for his work and dedication to the cause. Kuriniec did not allow his physical disability to affect his desire to enact change. He stood courageously and bravely, fighting for the changes he believed were just. As a result, he, at a very young age, helped generate awareness for disabled Americans. Now a student at Lake Forest College, Kurinec hopes to continue his work, and eventually make legislative changes to protect the rights of disabled Americans.
Contributed by Lily Saadat
TEK NATH RIZAL
Bhutan, a small country, has been responsible for generating one of the highest numbers of refugees per capita in the world. As of March 2001, approximately 98,886 Bhutanese refugees were living in seven refugee camps in eastern Nepal. Estimates claim that nearly one sixth of the total population were forced to leave the country or were forcibly evicted by the government. The majority of these refugees were Lhotshampas, an ethnic group who were forced to leave in the early 1990s.Tek Nath Rizal, the leader of the Bhutanese People’s Party in Bhutan, played an instrumental role in the movement against the ethnic cleansing policies of the Bhutanese government. Rizal’s protests were in response to the Bhutanese government’s approach to the Bhutanese refugee problem.Rizal was abducted from Nepal by the Bhutanese government in 1989 for his opposition to governmental policies regarding members of the Nepali-speaking community in southern Bhutan. He was accused of sedition and treason. Although he was imprisoned for his governmental opposition in 1989, he was released in 1999.Rizal is today an Amnesty International declared Prisoner of Conscience and a recipient of an International Human Rights Award. He represents opposition to rights violations in Bhutan, and has often been titled the “Nelson Mandela of Bhutan”. He risked his own safety and security to fight for the rights and democracy of refuges living in Bhutan.
Contributed by Lily Saadat
At the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1942, Japanese individuals living in California were forced to evacuate into internment camps. While many complied with this governmental decree, Fred Korematsu refused, claiming that he did not believe that as an American he should be held under suspicious solely because of his heritage and last name.To prove his patriotism, Korematsu attempted to join the military, but was instead refused and categorized as an enemy alien. During his captivity, he challenged the U.S. governmental decree that forced him into the internment camp. While the case came before the Supreme Court, Korematsu did not win.In 1988, however, the conviction was overturned; the Supreme Court declared that the internment orders were not based on military necessity but rather on a series of racial stereotyping and profiling. This legal proceeding quickly led to a formal apology to the internees, which included a formal payment of reparations.Although Korematsu continued to live his life normally after his internment, he remained very involved in politics to ensure that injustices were minimized. Korematsu took a chance during the time of World War II – standing for what he believed was right and just. Today, Korematsu remains involved in the constitutionality of various internments, including that of Guantanamo Bay. In his brief, which challenged the constitutionality of the internment of those captives, he claimed, “the extreme nature of the government’s position is all too familiar.” By standing for what he believed in and continuing to fight for justice, in the face of the U.S. government, Korematsu proved that justice can overcome any obstacle. Taking risks, following Korematsu’s example, may have negative immediate consequences, but will eventually lead to a stronger and more unified world, free of all prejudices.
My Hero Project – Fred Korematsu
Presidential Medal of Freedom page
Contributed by Lily Saadat
JORGE JULIO LOPEZ
From 1976 until 1983, Argentina was plagued by the Dirty War, a period of state-sponsored violence which targeted left-wing activists, students, Marxists, journalists and others. Over 30,000 people were kidnapped, tortured and killed during the “Dirty War”. It was not until 1983, when civilian rule returned to Argentina, that many of those governmental officials, responsible for the violence, were tried. Despite threats against his life, Jorge Julio Lopez testified against members of Argentina’s dictatorship, who were responsible for various kidnappings and murders of political dissidents.Lopez, who was a critical witness in the trial of Miguel Etchecolatz, a senior police officer who worked under the military dictatorship, testified against him in court. A former torture victim, Lopez strived for justice, fighting for the human rights that had not universally existed during the dictatorship.On September 18, 2006, however, right before he was to give his final testimony against the former police investigator, Lopez disappeared. Although he was last seen at his home, there have still been no leads on his whereabouts.Although Lopez was not able to finally testify against the police officer, his work in the Etchecolatz case was critical. Lopez courageously told his story, in a country that will still very fragmented due to the change in regimes. Lopez’ story is powerful, as it inspires individuals to stand for what they believe in, despite any potential obstacles they may face.
BBC.com, “Argentine missing witness rally” (Oct 7 2006)
Worldpress.org, “Missing Witness Awakens Dark Past” (Oct 22 2006)
Time magazine, “Are Argentina’s Death Squads Making a Comeback?” (Oct 4 2006)
Contributed by: Lily Saadat
LUIS CARLOS GALAN
Luis Carlos Galan (1943-1989), a Colombian journalist and liberal politician, ran for the presidency of Colombia on two separate occasions. As part of the Liberalism Party, Galan campaigned against corruption in his country. As such, when drug kingpin Pablo Escobar attempted to win his favor, Galan quickly rejected his support. This rejection, however, led to his assassination.On August 18, 1989, Escobar, who could not win Galan’s favor, planned a skilled assassination at a campaign appearance in Soacha. Until his own assassination in 1993 by the special police unit in Colombia, Escobar was responsible for the deaths of more governmental officials, who opposed his political stance.Galan’s stance against drug trafficking shaped his legacy. Throughout his life and political career, Galan stood against everything that Escobar represents: drugs and corruption. Taking a strong stance eventually led to his death, but also helped catalyze the destruction of the drug cartel Escobar had created. Galan acted based on his beliefs, not his fears: a sign of a truly courageous individual.
1. “The Autumn of the Drug Lord”, NYTimes, June 15 1997
2. Pablo Escobar profile on Biography.com
3. Bowden, Mark. Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the Richest, Most Powerful Criminal in History, Atlantic Books (2002), 384p. excerpted in “Killing Pablo”, The Guardian, UK, 29 Apr 2001
Contributed by Lily Saadat
Susan Burton has dedicated herself to helping women released from prison engage in a positive life. Having been to jail herself, Burton was well aware of relapse tendencies. Today, Burton, with the help of private foundations, has five houses, which can support up to 22 women. Her mission is simple: she picks up recently released prisoners, who have previously written her asking for a place to stay, at the bus station or prison gates, and welcomes them into her home. She provides these women with food, clothing and transportation, creating an environment that would be conducive to their rehabilitation. In return for her assistance and shelter, these women are asked to stay clean, attend 12-step workshops, and search for jobs or educational programs. According to Burton, the system works: 75 percent of women have stayed clean, not returning to prison for at least 18 months.With state budget cuts, Burton’s program is becoming more and more critical. More inmates are being released every year, as California’s prisons are overcrowded and rehabilitation programs are being cut.For Burton, woman’s empowerment is of utmost importance. She believes that women should realize they have “something to contribute” to the society in which they live. She hopes to “give life, hope, courage to people to give back to the world”. Opening her home to these inmates, Burton takes a big risk, investing her trust in human nature. But her acts of kindness have completely transformed the lives of many of these women and have helped society at large as well.
Contributed by Lily Saadat
Trokosi is a traditional practice in some parts of Ghana, Togo, and Benin, which is thought by many to be a form of sexual slavery. In this practice, young girls are given to village shrine priests in return for favors sought from the shrine. Many families who have committed certain societal offenses trade their young daughters to the shrine to make amends for their misbehavior.Juliana Dogbadzi, a native of Ghana, was one of these slaves. As a young child, Juliana was forced to work without pay, food, or clothing; her duties included both physical labor and sexual services for the head priest of the shrine she was sent to. Seventeen years after arriving at the shrine, she managed to escape at the age of twenty-three. After she escaped, Juliana was committed to denounce the Trokosi system. Her commitment led to the eventual banning of the practice in Ghana. Dogbadzi continues to travel and speak against Trokosi, standing courageously against a traditional practice.In her own words, Juliana describes the fear instilled by the system as her “weapon”. She claims to “help to diminish the women’s fears by telling them my story. I tell them what I am presently doing, that I am still alive, not dead, as they have been made to believe. I try to help the priests to understand the pain that the women have endured. Some do not allow me to enter their shrines any longer. When I am in the city, I educate people about life in the shrines and advocate for an end to the practice.”Dogbadzi’s work against Trotsi is dangerous. She is often confronted with threats in the forms of letters, as she has taken a stand against a generally accepted cultural phenomenon. But, she stands strong, claiming that she is “prepared to die for a good cause”. In October 1988, Juliana began the International Needs Ghana, a human rights organization, which works to release the victims of the Trokosi practice. Through her commitment to the cause, Juliana has been responsible for the liberation of over 1,000 slaves from various shrines across Ghana. Taking a risk in the name of justice and women’s rights, Juliana has changed history, proactively fighting against traditional norms to establish freedom for all.
Contributed by Lily Saadat
MUHAMMAD ADMED ABDULLAH
In 2003, at the start of the Darfur conflict in Sudan, the Sudanese government backed by the Janjaweed militia inflicted murder, torture, and rape upon the people. Many tortured and wounded were unable to access medical support, as doctors were banned by the government, unless they had specific governmental permission. During this time, many doctors, who feared the government and potential ramifications of rebelling, turned a blind eye to those victims who were truly in need of help. Dr. Muhammad Ahmed Abdullah courageously rebelled by aiding those who were wounded, noting that, “We invented this network [of physicians] and the members treat survivors in a very decent way without asking for any money. That dignifies our patient and survivor.”Mohammed Ahmed Abdallah, a physician and Professor of Medicine at el-Fasher University in Darfur, was born in the western region of Darfur. In 1976, he graduated from Khartoum University Medical School, becoming the first from his village to become a physician. In response to torture inflicted by the Janjaweed during the Darfur conflict, Dr. Muhammad Ahmed Abdallah joined and became medical director the Amel Center for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture in Sudan. Throughout the years of the conflict, he worked as both a doctor and a human rights activist, bringing cases of rape, mutiliation and murder to court.Through the ongoing crisis, the rape of women became even more prevalent. In response, Dr. Abdullah opened the Amel Center to rape victims, not only providing himself with medical treatment but also psychological counseling. Furthermore, he kept a detailed record of human abuses. Through his work in Darfur, Dr. Abdullah displays courage. He has consistently taken risks, as his work has directly opposed Sudanese government decrees. While he has been publicly ostracized by governmental officials, Dr. Abdullah continues his work against injustices and rights violations. Through his effort he has restored hope to many Sudanese victims. Stated succinctly by Dr. Abdallah, “There is no single paved road in Darfur, it’s an area of chaos. We need to exert the maximum effort to rebuild the villages which have been burned and destroyed completely.” (3) Through his work, which won him the 2007 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, Dr. Abdullah has helped led his country on a path towards recovery.
Contributed by Lily Saadat