I think even today people undervalue the power of the pen when it comes to provoking social change. On this Martin Luther King’s Day, I’m reminded of authors who contributed to Civil Rights, especially since I’ve been watching PBS’ The Abolitionists special. Just think about all the writers and artists who have swayed people’s minds in a way that any other force of will could.
Fredrick Douglass’ slave narrative and autobiography helped awaken the conscience of a nation. Subsequent authors from W.E.B. Du Bois to Langston Hughes continued to contribute to the movement. And of course Dr. King’s own speeches are masterpieces of oratory, worthy of admiration by any artist or activist.
Which authors, reporters, or orators have altered the way you perceive the world? Do you find yourself swayed by the arguments of people long past as well as contemporary artists? How have these people affected your own writing and your daily life?