Last month, we contemplated our favorite royals, but what about non-royal people we respect? Rich or poor, famous or not – these individuals are who the Stiletto Gang members most respect and why.
A.B. Plum: Michelle Obama: quintessential mother and First Lady and apparently a damned good lawyer as well. The President was lucky to have her at his side watching his back, imo. I think she’s done a lot to encourage women to speak out against sexual harassment.
Juliana Aragon Fatula: Hillary Clinton put cracks in the glass ceiling and she put up with many fools who wanted to tear her down. She taught us that it takes a village to raise a child.
Bethany Maines: Warren Buffet, Melinda Gates, and anyone who publicly admits that they have changed their mind on a topic after hearing new information. Buffet and Gates seem interested in raising up the human condition and I find that admirable. But the person who admits that they have listed to facts and changed their opinion is some sort of saint. In this world of entrenched view points and never admitting to being wrong unless you think it will prevent you from going to jail, changing your mind is some sort of sin and takes courage.
Anita Carter: My Grandmother. When she lost her first husband, she uprooted her 6 young children and moved them from Homer, New York to Yuba City, California. She opened a restaurant and raised her family for many years (10+) before she remarried. She was spunky, determined, and a prayer warrior. She was an amazing lady.
Mary Lee Woods: There are so many to think about that this is a difficult choice. Someone I greatly admire is Jimmy Carter. Though he could have enjoyed a leisurely retirement, since his time as president, this man has continued to contribute to the world in a very positive way. His work with Habitat for Humanity has, I’m sure, made a difference for many families. Many families who never dreamed they could have a home of their own. To me, he seems to be the embodiment of what we should strive for – to continue doing, to continue to believe in causes we feel are important, to continue to make a difference in whatever way we can. This is one of my favorite quotes from our 39th president: We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams.
Kay Kendall: I respect President Obama for his steady and intelligent hand in guiding our nation during eight years, for his withstanding racism and horribly unfair attack on his sterling character, and for maintaining a fine and loving family life despite constant and intense political pressures.
Judy Penz Sheluk: I’m going to go with my favorite Canadian – my husband, Mike. He is by no means perfect, and he doesn’t suffer fools gladly, but you will never find a more loyal friend or anyone with more integrity.
Linda Rodriguez: Dolores Huerta is an amazing leader and public servant, a charismatic speaker and gifted community organizer – who actually began what would become the United Farmworkers Movement before Cesar Chavez ever showed up and did most of the actual work for it while he was out doing the publicity – and I’ve been fortunate enough to know her and taok to her, leading to tremendous respect for her. Wilma Mankiller was the first Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma in modern times (we say that because, before Europeans came and made them stop, the Cherokee always had women in leadership with men). Wilma was honored by the Cherokee Nation, the United States, and the United Nations for the work she did for may years on behalf of poor people, women, children, and other marginalized communities, and she’s been my role model for decades. My dear friend Sandra Cisneros, is one of the most spiritually enlightened people I know and a fabulous writer and mentor/organizer/benefactor of writers, plus being funny and fun. It’s hard to choose just one person. I’ve been so lucky to know so many remarkable people. And then there’s Diane Glancy, Linda Hogan, Joy Harjo, Deborah Miranda, Luis J. Rodriguez, Patricia Spears Jones, Lucha Corpi, Luis Alberto Urrea, and Marjorie Agosin, beloved friends, fabulous writers, and all doing major work for other writers and for their own communities and others. I find myself gravitating to writers of color for this answer because they not only write incredible books, but mentor other writers and work hard to build up the communities they come from and the communities where they now find themselves, as well as the country as a whole.
T.K. Thorne: Benjamin Franklin. He was certainly not perfect, but he was brilliant and prolific and eccentric, affecting the shape of our country and customs in many ways.
Dru Ann Love: Obama because he stood up to the naysayers and showed that a black man can indeed be president, something I never thought I would see in my lifetime.
Jennae Phillippe: The first names that come to mind are all the activists that have fought to make changes in our country- including the Founding Fathers, who are the original activists. Our country always seems to move ahead through an act of revolution (even if the modern ones are all political). And when I think of “American Royals” I think of our rich history of activism.
Shari Randall: So may historical figures fascinate me – I just finished Lincoln in the Bardo and would love to meet Lincoln. Also many brave women fascinate – Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman – and artists like Emily Dickinson. Too many to list!
Debra H. Goldstein: My mother, Erica Green, because she was the quintessential example of what the politicians, national leaders, teachers, writers, entertainers, and others I admire tell us America is. A Holocaust survivor orphaned at ten, she was an immigrant who came to the United States through Ellis Island. She learned perfect English and while gaining an education, worked from the age of fourteen. After marrying the love of her life and having children, she instilled in them the confidence to embrace everything our country offers, to understand one’s name and word reflects one’s integrity, that putting family and others first is necessary, and that survival necessitates thinking outside the box.