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. The story of how Keller's teacher, Anne Sullivan, broke through the isolation imposed by a near complete lack of language, allowing the girl to blossom as she learned to communicate, has become widely known through the dramatic depictions of the play and film The Miracle Worker. Her birthplace in West Tuscumbia, Alabama, is now a museum and sponsors an annual "Helen Keller Day". Her birthday on June 27 is commemorated as Helen Keller Day in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania and was authorized at the federal level by presidential proclamation by President Jimmy Carter in 1980, the 100th anniversary of her birth.
Margaret Eleanor Atwood, CC OOnt FRSC is a Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, inventor, and environmental activist. She has published seventeen books of poetry, sixteen novels, ten books of non-fiction, eight collections of short fiction, eight children’s books, and one graphic novel, as well as a number of small press editions in poetry and fiction. Atwood has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize five times, winning in 2000 for The Blind Assassin. She is a winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award,Prince of Asturias Award for Literature and the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade. She has been a finalist for the Governor General's Award 10 times, winning in 1966 for The Circle Game and 1985 for The Handmaid's Tale. In 2001, she was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame. Atwood is the 2016 recipient of The National Book Critics Circle’s Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award and the 2017 recipient of the PEN Center USA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Among innumerable contributions to Canadian literature, Atwood was a founding trustee of the Griffin Poetry Prize, as well as a founder of the Writers' Trust of Canada, a non-profit literary organization that seeks to encourage Canada's writing community.
Frederick Douglass was an African-American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman. After escaping from slavery in Maryland, he became a national leader of the abolitionist movement in Massachusetts and New York, gaining note for his dazzling oratory and incisive antislavery writings. In his time, he was described by abolitionists as a living counter-example to slaveholders' arguments that slaves lacked the intellectual capacity to function as independent American citizens. Northerners at the time found it hard to believe that such a great orator had once been a slave.