As a Czech playwright, essayist, poet, dissident and politician, Vaclav Havel was the last president of Czechoslovakia and the first president of the Czech Republic. During his time, he was widely acclaimed for his human rights work across Eastern Europe and has been named one of the most influential figures of the 20th century.
Rather than support attacks on Israel, the way some of his fellow countrymen did, this Palestinian philosophy professor decided to focus on proactively helping his people in the midst of the bloodshed. His supporters believed that his passive “Ghandi-like” struggle was what warranted him the Noble Peace Prize.
More than just the first lady of a former U.S. president, Eleanor Roosevelt was as politically active as her husband. In fact, she was the one who led the first mission of the United States to the United Nations, allowing the U.S. to recognize how significant the UN was. As the woman behind the UN Commission on Human Rights as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the influence of Eleanor Roosevelt in the lives of many people remains today.
Pope John Paul II
John Paul II was acclaimed as one of the most influential leaders of the 20th century. He is credited with helping to end Communist rule in his native Poland and eventually all of Europe.
One of the most significant personalities during the Great Depression, Dorothy Day organized the Catholic Worker Movement, a pacifist movement during the Second World War. Her mission was to help families rebuild their lives and promote peace by means of communal living and distributed wealth. Her movements eventually spread to both Canada and Europe and are still active today.