Biographies to Consider: Community

Biographies to Consider: Community

Rosa Parks (1913-2005)

“At the time I was arrested, I had no idea it would turn into this. It was just a day like any other day.  The only thing that made it significant was that the masses of people joined in.”

Rosa Louise Parks was an African- American civil rights activist, whom the United States Congress called “the First Lady of Civil Rights” and “the Mother of the Freedom Movement.  Rosa is known for the Montgomery Bus Boycott in which she refused to obey a bus drivers order that she give up her seat in the colored section to a white passenger, after the white section was filled.  Parks’ act of defiance and the Montgomery Bus Boycott became important symbols of the modern Civil Rights Movement.

For more Inspiration:

Would you move?  Or would you stay seated as Rosa did?

Dorothy Day (1897-1980)

Food for the body is not enough. There must be food for the soul.”

Dorothy Day was a journalist, social activist, and a devout Catholic convert. In the late 1930’s she established the Catholic Worker Movement that continues to combine direct aid for the poor and homeless. Day has been recognized by the Catholic Church as a woman eligible for sainthood.

For more Inspiration:

What is your ‘food for the soul.’

Jane Addams (1860-1935)

“Action indeed is the sole medium of expression for ethics.”

Addams was one of the most prominent reformers of the Progressive Era.  She was a pioneer settlement social worker, sociologist, author, and leader in women’s suffrage and world peace.  In 1931 she became the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and is recognized as the founder of the social work profession in the United States.

For more

What might Jane ask us to consider on social justice issues?

Helen Keller(1880-1968)

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt within the heart.”

Helen Adams Keller was an American author, political activist, and lecturer. She was the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. Her birthday on June 27 is celebrated as Helen Keller Day in Pennsylvania. 

 For more Inspiration: Helen Keller-Facts and Summary

What would Helen ask us to reflect on the beauty of?

Clara Barton: (1821-1912) 

“While soldiers can stand and fight.  I can fight and feed them.”

Clarissa Harlowe “Clara” Barton was a pioneer nurse who founded the American Red Cross.  She was nicknamed “the angel of the battlefield” for her work with soldiers at war.  She was also a teacher, patent clerk, and a humanitarian.  Barton built a career working outside the home helping others.

For more Inspiration:

What might Clara ask us to consider as we consider serving others?

Juliette Gordon Low(1860-1927)

”The work today is the history of tomorrow, and we are its makers.”

Juliette Gordon Low was the founder of Girl Scouts of the USA.  The first troop formed in Scotland in 1911, but in 1912 Low formed a Girl Scout troop in Savannah, Georgia.  Low became the first president, and remained active until the time of her death.
For more Inspiration:

What would Juliette ask us to consider if we wanted to start up a small community of women to serve the bigger society?

Susan B. Anthony(1820-1906) 

Independence is happiness.”

Susan Brownell Anthony was born into a Quaker family who were committed to social equality. At the age of 17, Anthony collected anti-slavery petitions. In 1856, she became the New York state agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society.  Anthony traveled extensively in support of women’s suffrage; she worked internationally for women’s rights.

 For more Inspiration:

 What would Susan B. Anthony ask us to consider because we are women?


Billie Jean King(1943-)

”I wanted to use sports for social change.”

One of the greatest female athletes Billie Jean King was one of the greatest female tennis champions who battled  for equal pay for women.  She won 67 professional titles including 20 titles at Wimbledon.

For more Inspiration:

What would Billie Jean ask you to reflect on to make a social change?


The Samaritan Woman at the Well:  John’s Gospel 

The woman, shunned by her community because she had been married numerous times and was judged to live a ‘scorned’ life is the first person Jesus reveals himself to. He tells her he is the Messiah.  She has faith enough in him and his words to change her life around and spreads the word to those in her town and community about who he was.

For more Inspiration:

What does the Woman at the well ask us to reflect on about those who are looked down upon in society?


Esther is a Jewish woman who marries the Persian king in this Old Testament story. Esther’s story is the basis for the Jewish holiday of Purim. This story and this Jewish holiday remind us of how Esther put her life on the line to save her Jewish people.

For more Inspiration:

Would you consider putting your life on the line to save someone?  Who would that someone be?  Why?

Sister Dorothy Stang (1931-2005)

”You men are armed,” she said.  “I am not.  The only defense I carry is the Word of God.”  She began to read from scripture; the Beatitudes, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  As she was reading, she was shot to death.

Dorothy Stang worked as an advocate for the rural poor in the early ‘70’s.  She helped peasants make a living by farming small plots of land and extracting forest products without deforestation. She also worked to protect peasants from criminal gangs working on behalf of ranchers who were after their plots.  She was murdered in Anapu, a city in the Amazon Basin of Brazil.

For more

What does  “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven mean to you?

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton:  (1774-1821)

“Cheerfulness prepares the glorious mind for all the noblest acts.”

Elizabeth Seton was the first native-born citizen of the United States to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church. She established the first Catholic school in the nation. She founded the first American congregation of religious sisters, the Sisters of Charity.

For more Inspiration:

What would Elizabeth Seton ask you to consider about your own education and sharing your knowledge with others?

Elizabeth Catherine Ferard-first deaconess of the Church of England 

Deaconesses of the Early Christian Churches:  Women in the early church who were ordained to the order of deacon. Deaconesses trace their roots from the time of Jesus Christ through the 13th century.
For more Inspiration:

What might the Deaconesses ask us to consider about beginning a new religious or spiritual movement in or society?