Sally Ride soared into outer space on the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1983, the youngest astronaut and the first U.S. woman in space. Just 32 years old that year, this California girl was already an accomplished astrophysicist when NASA chose her. Since then, she has written several books introducing young readers to the subject of space exploration and encouraging them to study the sciences.
Irena Sendler was born into a Catholic family in Poland in 1910. Throughout the German occupation in World War II, Irena worked tirelessly to help save Polands Jews from the Nazi horror. Irena saved at least 2,500 Jewish children from certain death during the Holocaust. By the time of her death in 2008, Irena had been honored by the governments of Poland and Israel, Pope John Paul II, and many of those she had rescued.
With the founding of his own newspaper, Garrison used the paper and his association with other abolitionists to advocate for the immediate and complete freeing of all slaves. Through his editorials, he became a symbol of the abolitionist movement by pointing out the hypocrisy of the countrys actions versus the ideals set out by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
Harriet Tubman served as an abolitionist, emancipator of slaves, military spy, and advocate for womens rights. Tubman helped lead more than seventy slaves out of captivity and guide them to freedom along the Underground Railroad. When Civil War broke out, Tubman guided an expedition of Union soldiers on a raid in South Carolina that freed over seven hundred slaves.
Sojourner Truth lived a truly remarkable life. She had the ear of President Abraham Lincoln and fellow abolitionists Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and William Lloyd Garrison. One of the most persuasive and influential activists of her day, Truth was also an effective recruiter of African Americans into the Union army during the Civil War.
John Brown joined the side of free-staters in the conflict in the Kansas Territory, fighting to have Kansas enter the Union as an anti-slavery state. History has shown that his actions and the reactions to them were among the most potent precursors of the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861.
Following the passage of a law that made it a crime to aid in the escape of slaves, Stowe lent her actions and her words to the effort to help slaves and put an end to slavery. She actively aided fugitive slaves and, with the publication of the anti-slavery novel Uncle Toms Cabin, focused the nations consciousness on the inhumanity of slavery.
Born into slavery, Douglass became an eloquent spokesperson for both blacks and womens rights. During and after the Civil War, Douglass became a confidant of presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson. Douglass also argued for African Americans to be allowed to join the Union army in the fight for their own freedom.
In the days before performance-enhancing substances, the great Hank Aaron hit a career-record 755 home runs, a mark he held for 33 years. Hammerin' Hank began his baseball career in the Negro Leagues when black players were still banned from Major League Baseball. Hank played for 23 years in Milwaukee and Atlanta and made the All-Star team in both the National and American Leagues for 20 straight years.
Dolores Huerta grew up in a climate charged by political activism. Fueled by her own contact with migrant farm workers, most of them Mexican immigrants with virtually no access to the system of labor laws and conditions under which they lived and worked, Dolores became an outspoken activist and organizer. She founded the United Farm Workers in 1962 with legendary Mexican American labor leader Cesar Chavez, and also worked toward improving the lives of workers, voters, immigrants, and women.