Inciting bad attitudes for a better America

Nominate your favorite bad-attitude role model! Your choice can be someone living or dead, famous or obscure.  He or she will have challenged or exposed injustice, unfairness or wrongdoing.
Susan B. Anthony - 1820 to 1906; a teacher who campaigned for temperance and abolition of slavery before dedicating herself in 1852 to winning the right to vote for women. In 1868, she started a newspaper called The Revolution that advocated an 8-hour workday and equal pay for equal work.

Rachel Carson - 1907 to 1964; biologist, author and environmentalist. Her 1962 book,
Silent Spring, warned of the dangers of pesticides and helped launch today's
environmental protection movement. She was threatened with lawsuits from chemical
companies and called a Communist for her views.

Christine of Pizan - 1363 to ????; born in Venice, she was one of the first European women to earn a living as a writer. She argued for the equality of women in her book, The City of Women, published in 1405.

Stephen Colbert - born in 1964; comedian and TV show host. On the Comedy Channel's "Colbert Report," he adopts the character of a conservative commentator and mocks their inclination for pompous delivery of inaccurate statements presented as news.


                                           Eugene Debs - 1855 to 1926; a labor organizer and Socialist. He was jailed for
                             leading a strike against the Pullman railroad car company and for criticizing the 1917                                    Espionage Act. Debs ran for president five times as a Socialist.    

Barbara Ehrenreich - born in 1941; author, columnist and social critic. Ehrenreich researches and writes about such topics as the trials of ordinary Americans struggling in a hostile economy and how "positive thought" ideology enforces the status quo while blaming individuals for suffering from personal or societal ills.

Russ Feingold - born in 1953; U.S. senator from Wisconsin from 1993 to                                                 2011. With Sen. John McCain, he pushed through a federal campaign finance                                           reform law. In 2011, he formed Progressives United to fight corporate                                                   influence in government.

Betty Friedan - 1921 to 2006; author and women's rights activist. Friedan's 1963 book, The Feminine Mystique, destroyed the notion that women were happy restricting themselves to homemaking and child rearing. She co-founded the National Organization for Women and the National Women's Political Caucus.

Mohandas Gandhi - 1869 to 1948;  used nonviolent protests against British rule in India. Gandhi was a lawyer whose repeated mass campaigns of civil disobedience and fasting helped India gain independence.

Emma Goldman - 1869 to 1940; an anarchist and labor activist. She was jailed for publicly speaking about birth control, for inciting a riot by a speech to unemployed workers and for protesting military conscription during World War I.

  Bunnatine Greenhouse - born in 1944; formerly a senior Army procurement specialist.
                               Greenhouse was demoted after objecting to a $7 billion no-bid contract for work in                                      Iraq by Kellogg, Brown and Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton. She had pushed for                                         bids and a one-year contract subject to review.

Molly Ivins - 1944 to 2007; a journalist and political satirist. Her books and syndicated columns skewered knee-jerk conservatives such as Patrick Buchanan, whose ultra-right speech to the 1992 Republican National Convention she said "probably sounded better in the original German."

Jane Jacobs - 1916 to 2006; journalist and author. Jacobs' books and articles about cities challenged conventional urban planning by emphasizing diversity and the needs of pedestrians. She and her family moved to Canada in 1968 so her sons would not be drafted for the Vietnam war.

Jesus - 1BC to 36AD (approximately); reputed to have been a carpenter-turned-                                    preacher in what is now Israel. He supposedly was executed by crucifixion after urging people to love each other, treat others with respect and adopt nonviolence.

Martin Luther King, Jr. - 1929 to 1968; an African-American preacher and civil-rights leader. King won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for his successful, nonviolent protests against discrimination and segregation, and was assassinated four years later for the same reasons.

Mary Harris Jones - 1830 to 1930; a labor organizer for the United Mine Workers. Known as Mother Jones, she advocated laws to prohibit child labor and was one of the founders of both the Social Democratic Party (1898) and the International Workers of the World (1905).

John Lennon - 1940 to 1980; British pop star, composer and co-founder of the Beatles. His 1971 song Imagine, calling for a world with no nations or religions, remains an anthem for progressive causes. The Nixon administration tried unsuccessfully to deport him for denouncing the war in Vietnam.

                                                                  Almena Lomax - 1915 to 2011; African-American journalist and civil rights                                                   activist. In 1960, Lomax moved with her six children from Los Angeles to                                                      Alabama so she could document the struggle against segregation and                                                              discrimination.  

Bill Maher - born in 1956; comedian and moderator of TV talk shows about politics. ABC canceled his "Politically Incorrect" show after objections to his remark that the use of long-range weapons by the U.S. was more cowardly than the 9/11 suicide attackers. His 2008 documentary, Religulous, exposed superstition and fanaticism in major religions around the world.

Nelson Mandela - born in 1918; first black president of South Africa. Mandela
spent 36 years in prison for acts of sabotage against apartheid. Released in
1990, he negotiated apartheid's end with President F.W. de Klerk, for which
both men won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

Michael Moore - born in 1954; documentary filmmaker, author and political activist. Moore's movies expose the people and powers behind joblessness, gun violence, the Iraq war, health care and predatory capitalism. His films have won an Academy Award and a Golden Palm at the Cannes film festival.

                               Vivian Myerson - 1911 TO 2011; peace activist who won a lawsuit against a Los                                               Angeles police unit that spied on leftists. Vivian organized Southern California                                             chapters of peace organizations and her husband, Seymour, was a Hollywood set                                            designer blacklisted for union activities.

Ralph Nader - born in 1934; lawyer, consumer advocate and four-time candidate for president. Nader's book, Unsafe At Any Speed, exposed the dangers of American automobiles and led to a federal law allowing the government to set safety standards for all cars sold in the United States.

Richard O'Barry - born in 1939; a former dolphin trainer who also helped capture them for the Miami Seaquarium. O'Barry repented after one of his trainees died and has devoted the past 40 years to campaigning against the hunting, captivity and slaughter of dolphins.

Thomas Paine - 1737 to 1809; considered the most influential political writer of all time. His pamphlet Common Sense urged Americans to revolt for independence from Great Britain. He also wrote a condemnation of the slave trade in America and a defense of the French Revolution.

Franklin D. Roosevelt - 1882 to 1945; president of the United States between 1933 and 1945. Roosevelt, born into wealth and privilege, pushed through laws for old-age pensions, minimum wages, collective bargaining, job creation and higher taxes for the wealthy and corporations.

Margaret Sanger - 1879 to 1966; a nurse and contraception activist.  Sanger
coined the term "birth control," opened the first family planning clinic in
the U.S. and was jailed for mailing information about contraception.

Cindy Sheehan - born in 1957; anti-war activist. After Sheehan's son died in the Iraq war in 2004, Sheehan began campaigning against the war, leading demonstrations outside the Crawford, Texas getaway of then-President George Bush.

Karen Silkwood - 1946 to 1974; a lab technician at a plutonium processing plant.                                      Silkwood compiled evidence that her employer manipulated safety data to hide                                        hairline cracks in nuclear fuel rods. She died in a one-car accident the night she 
tried to deliver this evidence to a New York Times reporter.

Gloria Steinem - born in 1934; writer, author and women's rights activist. As a freelance writer, Steinem got a job as a Playboy bunny in 1963 and wrote about the experience. In 1971, she led the launch of Ms magazine.

Jon Stewart - born in 1962; comedian and TV show host. Although "The Daily Show" is hosted by the Comedy Channel, Stewart uses his wit to critique the follies of politics and the shortcomings of the mainstream news media.

Tank Man - identity unknown; an ordinary Chinese citizen. In June 1989,
he stepped in front of tanks on their way to confront unarmed
demonstrators in Beijing's Tiananmen  Square, who were calling
for democracy. The democracy movement was crushed. Tank Man's
fate is not known. Photo by Jeff Widener (Associated Press).
                                                                         click here for a video. 

Ida Tarbell - 1857 to 1944; a magazine writer and investigative journalist. Her serial, The History of the Standard Oil Company, exposed in detail the merciless tactics John D. Rockefeller used to wipe out competition and gain a business monopoly.

Harriet Tubman - 1820 to 1913; born a slave in the American South. After she                                        escaped to Maryland, she returned to the South 19 times and led roughly 300                                         slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad. She also served as a scout for                                        Union forces in South Carolina during the Civil War.

Mark Twain - 1835 TO 1910; reporter, novelist and essayist. Although best known as a humorist, his work criticized slavery, anti-Semitism, lynching, imperialism and concentrated wealth.

Ida B. Wells - 1862 to 1931; an African-American journalist who crusaded                                                  against lynching. Wells risked her life investigating and documenting lynchings in the United States.

Mary Wollsonecraft - 1759 to 1797; an English writer whose 1792 book, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, argued for women to be equally well educated as men.

Malcolm X - 1925 to 1965; a leader in the African-American Nation of Islam and proponent of black nationalism. He criticized nonviolence and urged African-Americans to defend themselves "by any means necessary." After he converted to Sunni Islam, he was assassinated by Nation of Islam followers.





If you see an error in these listings, let me know so I can correct it.
Vivian Myerson and her husband, Seymour, holding rocks they say Los Angeles police threw through their windows.
Los Angeles Times file photo
“Courage is never to let your actions be influenced by    your fears.”
-Arthur Koestler