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THE 100 GREATEST AMERICANS OF THE 20TH CENTURY by Peter Dreier

THE 100 GREATEST AMERICANS OF THE 20TH CENTURY

A Social Justice Hall of Fame

By Peter Dreier

Pub Date: June 26th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-56858-681-6
Publisher: Nation Books/Perseus

Crisp, snappy bios of important progressive Americans in recent history.

This educational resource originated as an article for the Nation by journalist and scholar Dreier (Politics, Urban and Environmental Policy/Occidental Coll.; co-editor: Up Against the Sprawl: Public Policy and the Making of Southern California, 2004, etc.). The chosen 100 were and are the radicals of their day who challenged injustice wherever they saw it: the monopoly and corruption of big business, exploitation of workers, U.S. militarism, legal inequity for women, blacks and minorities, degradation of the environment, voter restrictions on African-Americans, the gross discrepancy between haves and have-nots, etc. Among the men and women who achieved progressive milestones: Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis ruled to protect free speech and check corporate abuses; Florence Kelley spearheaded labor laws in Illinois for women and children, paving the way for national reform; John Dewey helped overhaul an antiquated education system; Alice Hamilton galvanized the new laboratory science of toxicology by observing the result of lead poisoning in working-class families; Lewis Hine exposed the plight of working children in his documentary photography; Margaret Sanger endured prosecution and jail for the right to disseminate birth-control information; David Brower of the Sierra Club raised public awareness about saving the wilderness; and Harvey Milk urged gays to come out of the closet and lost his life for it. Many of the subjects are well known—e.g., Pete Seeger, Betty Friedan, Billy Jean King, Muhammad Ali and Bill Moyers—but some are not: Vito Marcantonio, Abraham Joshua Heschel and Bayard Rustin, among others.

A provocative collection that includes a timeline and a roster of up-and-coming contenders for a new century already showing signs of progress.