Imprisoned for 27 years, Nelson Mandela became a symbol in the fight against the oppression of the black majority by South Africa's apartheid government. The first in his family to attend school, Mandela was given the English name Nelson by his teacher on his first day. As Mandela moved up the educational ladder, he became more and more involved in social justice. When he became a lawyer, he joined the African National Congress (ANC), an organization whose purpose was to increase the rights of black South Africans. In 1961, Mandela helped found a military branch of the ANC that used guerrilla attacks against the government. His imprisonment became a rallying point for black South Africansand eventually the world. International pressure against the government helped bring about the end of apartheid and Mandela's release in 1990. Mandela was elected president, serving from 1994 to 1999, and remains a figure revered and loved by his grateful nation.
Rachel Carson was a marine writer, biologist, and ecologist whose work inspired millions to take seriously the danger that human activity poses to the environment. She both revealed the wonders of the natural world and exposed the sinister threat to that world posed by DDT and other pesticides.
Politician Al Gore has lent both his voice and his political influence in the fight against global warming. His work and creative energy have earned him numerous forms of public recognition, most notably the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.
David Suzuki is a prominent environmental activist. Throughout his adult life, he has been the creative force behind numerous television shows on science and the environment. He has used his voice to advocate for the environment and to take to task political leaders whose action and inaction have been part of the problem behind the global warming crisis.
Ed Begley, Jr. is a Hollywood actor, who inspires, entertains, and motivates a new generation of environmental activists, fans, and consumers with his all-encompassing green lifestyle. Whether he is promoting his own line of green products, lending his voice to further environmental awareness and action, or walking the walk of the life he touts in his own solar-powered home the star of Living with Ed is constantly on the lookout for ways to live more green - and get others onboard in the process.
At a time when much of the United States was still racially segregated, Jackie Robinson smashed the color barrier to become the first African-American player in Major League Baseball. Born in 1919 to a family of sharecroppers, Robinson excelled in sports throughout his school years. After serving briefly in the army during WWII, he briefly played ball in the Negro Leagues. At about the same time, a handful of all-white Major League teams paid lip service to trying out black players. But it was when Robinson played his first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 that he became a part of what would be called "The Noble Experiment." Outspoken in the past when it came to racial injustice, Robinson endured racist jeers from fans and players, and even death threats, with dignity and composure. His historic feat of crossing baseball's "color line" became a symbol in the American civil rights movement in the decades that followed.
Muhammad Ali was born as Cassius Clay in Louisville, Kentucky. Early in his life, his skills developed from those he needed to stand up to a playground bully into the championship form that earned him a gold medal in the 1960 Olympics. As a professional fighter, Ali became known not just for the speed and agility with which he won three world heavyweight championships, but also for his charm, wit, and showmanship. Outside the ring, the courage of his stand against the military draft made him both a revered cultural hero and a lightning rod for the issues that divided Americans during the Vietnam War. In the decades following his boxing career, Ali has become regarded as one of the most recognized people on the planet. He has lent his name, influence, and generosity to a host of humanitarian causes. Today, having earned the affection of billions of people worldwide, the peoples champ is, as ever, The Greatest.