Champions of Social Justice

There are a variety of definitions for “Social justice,” but they all include the core values of equal rights, equal opportunity and equal treatment. It has often referred to the process of ensuring that individuals fulfill their societal roles and receive what was their due from society. These are brief organizational descriptions of social justice.

     ●  Social justice may be broadly understood as the fair and compassionate distribution of the fruits of economic growth. (United Nations)
     ●  Social justice is the view that everyone deserves equal economic, political and social rights and opportunities. Social workers aim to open the doors of access and opportunity for everyone, particularly those in greatest need. (National Association of Social Workers)      
     ●  Social justice encompasses economic justice. Social justice is the virtue which guides us in creating those organized human interactions we call institutions. In turn, social institutions, when justly organized, provide us with access to what is good for the person, both individually and in our associations with others. Social justice also imposes on each of us a personal responsibility to work with others to design and continually perfect our institutions as tools for personal and social development. (Center for Economic and Social Justice)
     ●  Social justice is fairness as it manifests in society. That includes fairness in healthcare, employment, housing, and more. Discrimination and social justice are not compatible. (Human Rights Careers)
     ●  Social justice is a political and philosophical theory which asserts that there are dimensions to the concept of justice beyond those embodied in the principles of civil or criminal law, economic supply and demand, or traditional moral frameworks. Social justice tends to focus more on just relations between groups within society as opposed to the justice of individual conduct or justice for individuals. (Investopedia)

Collectively, these individuals, who are or were from different walks of life, have devoted much of their lives confronting and addressing specific areas of injustice. These injustices include, but are not limited to anti-semitism, bigotry, civil rights, classism, discrimination, heterosexism, homophobia, lynching, racism, segregation, sexism, white supremacy and voting rights.

Legacy Stories from the Americans All Heritage Honor Roll

We are pleased to host and share these legacy stories created by honorees’ family, friends and associates. They, like us, appreciate that heritage and culture are an integral part of our nation's social fabric and want to help students participate effectively in our nation's economy, workforce and democracy.

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Last Name of Individual
First Name of Individual
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Summary of Americans All: Tools to Build a More Perfect Union (c.1986 - ?)

Today, Americans All remains true to its mission to honor the contributions that all immigrants, both forced and voluntary, have made—and continue to make—to our nation. A second goal is to help schools and small businesses prosper. Our 35-year-old nonprofit foundation’s education resources have been used in more than 2,000 schools and libraries nationwide, helping to highlight the values that unite, rather than divide, the American people.

Brief Biographies of Champions of Social Justice, Part 1 (? - ?) Susan B. Anthony, Ida B. Wells Barnett, Cesar Chavez, Frederick Douglass, Ruth B. Ginsburg, Martin Luther King, Lewis, Marshall, Rosa Parks, Chief Plenty Coups, Jack Robinson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bayard Rustin, Harry Truman, Helen Zia

Social justice is a political and philosophical theory which asserts that there are dimensions to the concept of justice beyond those embodied in the principles of civil or criminal law, economic supply and demand, or traditional moral frameworks. Social justice tends to focus more on just relations between groups within society as opposed to the justice of individual conduct or justice for individuals. In short, Social justice means equal rights and equitable opportunities for all.

Jane Addams Illinois (September 6, 1860 - May 21, 1935) Social Worker, Settlement House Founder, Author

Jane Addams received national recognition as a feminist, a social worker and the founder of the settlement house movement. She was born in Cedarville, Illinois, the eighth of nine children. Her father was a successful miller as well as a state senator and an officer in the Civil War.

Edgar S. Cahn Ph.D. District of Columbia (March 23, 1935 - ?) Community Health, Co-Production, Educator, Jewish, Juvenile Justice, Hunger, Law School, Legal Education, Native Americans, Scholar, Self-Help, Social Justice, Social Welfare, Speech Writer, TimeBanks, Time Dollars

Dr. Edgar S. Cahn is the originator of Time Dollars and the founder TimeBanks USA, as well as the co-founder of the National Legal Services Program and the Antioch School of Law (now the David A. Clarke School of Law). A compelling speaker, Dr. Cahn possesses the eloquence, passion, and sense of humor to inspire in his audiences a sense not only that social justice matters, but that it calls for immediate action.

Frederick Douglass Maryland (February 1818 - February 20, 1895) Abolitionist, African Americans, Author, Black, Civil Rights, Civil Servant, Civil War, Diplomat, North Star, Orator, Slavery, Social Reformer, Statesman, Underground Railroad, Women’s Suffrage, Writer

Frederick Douglass was an American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman. After escaping from slavery in Maryland, he became a national leader of the abolitionist movement in Massachusetts and New York, becoming famous for his oratory and incisive antislavery writings. His brilliant words and brave actions continue to shape the ways that we think about race, democracy, and the meaning of freedom.

Jovita Idár Texas (September 7, 1885 - June 15, 1946) Methodist, Hispanic, Teacher, Journalist, Political Activist, Idar

Jovita Idár, teacher, journalist, and political activist was born in Laredo in 1885, one of eight children of Jovita and Nicasio Idár. She attended the Holding Institute (a Methodist school) in Laredo, from which she earned a teaching certificate in 1903. She then taught at a small school in Ojuelos. Inadequate equipment and poor conditions, as well as her inability to improve them, frustrated her, so she resigned and joined . . .

Mary Harris "Mother" Jones Colorado (c.1837 - November 30, 1930) Irish, Ireland, Labor Organizer, Orator, Children's Crusade

Few would argue with this feisty little Irish lady for, although she was known as the Miner’s Angel, she was also known as the Mother of All Agitators. Born in Cork City, Ireland, her family fled the Great Hunger to Toronto, Canada, when she was a child. She trained as a teacher and worked briefly as a teacher and as a dressmaker. In 1861, Mary married George Jones, an iron molder and union organizer in Memphis, Tennessee.

Honorable John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy Massachusetts (May 29, 1917 - November 22, 1963) Irish, Catholic, Ireland, Politician, Author, War Hero, President of the U.S.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was named in honor of his mother Rose’s father, John Francis Fitzgerald, the Boston Mayor popularly known as Honey Fitz. Before long, family and friends called this small blue-eyed baby, Jack. He was not a very healthy baby, and Rose recorded on his notecard [which she kept for each child] the childhood diseases from which he suffered, such as: "whooping cough, measles, chicken pox."

Honorable Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy Massachusetts (November 20, 1925 - June 6, 1968) Irish, Catholic, Ireland, Politician, U.S. Attorney General and U.S. Senator

Robert Francis Kennedy was born on November 20, 1925, in Brookline, Massachusetts, the seventh child in the closely knit and competitive family of Rose and Joseph P. Kennedy. "I was the seventh of nine children," he later recalled, "and when you come from that far down you have to struggle to survive."

Honorable Edward Moore "Teddy" Kennedy Massachusetts (February 22, 1932 - August 25, 2009) Irish, Catholic. Ireland, Politician, U.S. Senator

Edward M. Kennedy, born February 22, 1932, to Joseph Patrick and Rose (Fitzgerald) Kennedy in Boston, MA., was, at his death, the third longest-serving member of the U.S. Senate in American history, having been elected to the Senate nine times. He called health care “the cause of my life,” and succeeded in bringing quality and affordable health care for countless Americans, including children, seniors and Americans with disabilities.

Honorable John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy: Presidential Years Massachusetts (May 29, 1917 - November 22, 1963) Irish, Catholic, Ireland, Politician, War Hero, Author, Member of Congress, President of the U.S.

John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy, often referred to by his initials JFK was an American War hero, served as a Democratic member of the U.S. House and Senate and then elected as the 35th president of the United States, serving from January 1961 until his assassination in November 1963. He was the author of three books, A Nation of Immigrants, Profiles in Courage and Why England Slept.

Allan S. Kullen Maryland (February 20, 1942 - ?) Author, Businessman, Golfer, Inventor, Jewish, Marketing, Mergers-Acquisitions, Poland, Printer, Social Entrepreneur, Traveler

“Her name is Ester Baumgartner. Do you know her? She's a pretty Swiss girl who sings beautifully, and I think she lives near here." Allan had posed the question in a broken mixture of Hebrew and English to whoever would listen and could understand him. Allan had met Ester while on an archaeological dig at Masada in the Negev, Israel. All he knew by the time they parted ways was her name and that she was staying in Tel Aviv.

Alice Stokes Paul New Jersey (January 11, 1885 - July 9, 1977) American History, Discrimination, Feminist, 19th, Nineteenth Amendment, Quaker, Suffrage Movement, Suffragist, Women's Rights Activist

A vocal leader of the twentieth century women's suffrage movement, Alice Stokes Paul advocated for and helped secure passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting women the right to vote. She next authored the Equal Rights Amendment in 1923, which has yet to be adopted. Her life symbolizes the long struggle for justice in the U.S and around the world. Her vision was the ordinary notion that women and men should be equal partners in society.

Dr. Susan LaFlesche Picotte Nebraska (c.1865 - c.1915) Native American, French Canadian, Physician, Omaha Reservation

Susan La Flesche Picotte was the first person to receive federal aid for professional education, and the first American Indian woman in the United States to receive a medical degree. In her remarkable career, she served more than 1,300 people over 450 square miles, giving financial advice and resolving family disputes as well as providing medical care at all hours of the day and night.

Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson New York (January 31, 1919 - October 24, 1972) African-American, Baseball Player, Baseball Hall of Fame, Businessman, Color Line

“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” This, more than his on-the-field statistics, can be viewed as his enduring legacy. He was born in Cairo, Georgia, to a family of sharecroppers, the youngest of five children, and his mother moved the family to Pasadena, California, the following year. He grew up in relative poverty and the prejudice the family encountered . . .

Bayard Rustin New Jersey (March 17, 1912 - August 24, 1987) Activist, African American, Athlete, Black, Civil Rights, Desegregation, Economic Justice, Freedom Ride, Gay, Globalist, Jim Crow, March on Washington, Musician, Nonviolence, Pacifist, Prejudice, Quaker, Radical, Socialist, Strategist, Voting Rights

For more than 50 years, Bayard Rustin was a nonviolent activist and leading strategist in the struggle for human rights and economic justice. As a gay man with radical politics, he was often marginalized despite his major contributions to the struggle for African-American civil rights and his work for peace and disarmament. He was born in West Chester, PA . . . 

Elizabeth Cady Stanton New York (November 12, 1815 - October 26, 1902) Abolitionist, Anthony, Anti-Slavery, Declaration-of Sentiments, Equal Rights, Feminist, Our-Girls, Quaker, Seneca-Falls, Suffrage, Temperance, Women’s Bible, Women’s-Rights, Voting

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and her growing family lived in Seneca Falls from 1847 to 1862. During that time Stanton helped organize the 1848 First Woman’s Rights Convention and launched the reform movement for women’s rights to which she dedicated the rest of her life.

Emma Beatrice Tenayuca Texas (December 21, 1916 - July 23, 1999) Hispanic, Mexican-Comanche, Civil Rights Activist, Labor Organizer, Educator, Communist, Pecan Strike

Emma Beatrice Tenayuca, Mexican American labor organizer, civil rights activist, and educator was a central figure in the radical labor movement in Texas during the 1930s and a leading member of the Workers Alliance of America and Communist Party of Texas. She is perhaps best remembered for her role in organizing the largest strike in San Antonio history, the Pecan-Shellers’ Strike of 1938.

Sojourner Truth Michigan (c.1797 - November 26, 1883) African-American, Methodist, Abolitionist, Author, Women’s Rights Activist, Civil War, Detroit Housing Project

Sojourner Truth was born c. 1797 as “Isabella Baumfree” to Elizabeth and James Baumfree, slaves on a Dutch settlement owned by Colonel Johannes Hardenbaugh, in Swartekill, Ulster County, New York. One of 12 children, she spent her early years serving various masters and never learned to read and write. slave, Thomas, owned by the Dumonts.

Ida B. Wells-Barnett (July 16, 1862 - March 25, 1931) African American, author, civil rights advocate, feminist, journalist, leader of the anti-lynching crusade

Ida B. Wells-Barnett was an African American woman of striking courage and conviction. A civil rights advocate, journalist and feminist, she achieved nationwide attention as a leader of the anti-lynching crusade. She was born a slave on the Bolling Farm near Holly Springs, Mississippi on July 16,1862, the oldest daughter of James Madison and Elizabeth “Lizzie” Wells (Warrenton). James had been taken by his father . . .