Born into slavery, kidnapped as an infant with his mother by slave traders, ransomed and returned to the childless Carvers who raised him, he struggled to educate himself and succeeded. Booker T. Washington hired him to teach agriculture at the fledging Tuskeegee Institute (now Tuskeegee University). A brilliant, talented man, he also possessed a quiet humility and a sense of himself which stood him in good stead against those who disparaged him because of his race. His deep faith in God melded with his scientific mind to the benefit of all. This man has always been a particular hero of mine since I first read his story.
Daughter of a socialite mother and an alcoholic father, orphaned by the age of ten, the “ugly duckling” struggled to find her own identity. She married Franklin Delano Roosevelt and bore him 6 children (5 survived). When she discovered his infidelity, she offered him a divorce which never took place. Standing by him through the bout of polio which left him crippled, and his political career as governor of New York and four-time President of the United States, she became his eyes and ears in places his disabled body could not go. After his death she became a delegate to the United Nations and a human rights activist. She was not only a “survivor” but also someone who contributed to the world around her.
Born into a missionary family which later settled in the United States, she became a missionary herself and later married Jim Elliot, a missionary in Ecuador. When their daughter Valerie was less than a year old, Jim was speared along with four other missionaries attempting to make contact with the Auca Indians. When Valerie was about three, Elisabeth and the sister of Nate Saint, one of the martyred missionaries, went to live with the tribe responsible for the deaths of the men. She returned to the United States and became a prolific author and speaker. Widowed a second time, she married again and continued her ministry in America. She was the personification of a strong woman who also embraced her role as a wife and mother. The words she wrote and spoke touched more lives than all the marching, shouting feminist protestors ever did and ever will.
Who are the three people with whom you'd most like to sit down to dinner?