Ordinary people who have changed the world have been around since the beginning of civilization. Some acted out of necessity, some out of heroism, and sometimes it was simply about being in the right place at the right time. Many of these ordinary people who have changed the world remain as part of history, forever remembered for their remarkable acts.
1. Rosa Parks
One of the ordinary people who have changed the world we absolutely have to mention here is Rosa Parks. In 1955, her legendary act of refusing to give up her bus seat for a white passenger sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a pivotal moment in history, and the birth of the Civil Rights Movement.
2. Frank Willis and Watergate
In 1972, Frank Willis, a security guard, spotted tape placed over the lock of a basement door at the Washington DC Watergate office building. His simple act of calling the police at the right time has led to the discovery of the Watergate break-in. Richard Nixon later resigned in disgrace after news got out of his efforts to cover it up.
3. Todd Beamer and the Passengers of Flight 93
Flight 93 was seized by terrorists during the 9/11 events. That day, Todd Beamer and the hijacked aircraft’s passengers became some of the most well-known ordinary people who have changed the world by fighting off the terrorists. The plan worked, and instead of being used as part of the terrorist scheme, the airplane reportedly crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.
4. Ryan White Promoting AIDS Awareness
Ryan White’s case showed the world a glimpse of the true nature of AIDS for the first time. The teenager contracted the disease and died of it at age 18 with his family by his bedside. The case opened people's eyes, showing that AIDS was not simply a disease associated with drug users or those indulging in sexual promiscuity.
5. Irena Sendler’s Acts during WW2
During World War 2, Irena Sendler was a member of Zegota, a secret organization seeking to help the Jewish people in Poland after the Germans conquered the country. Along with other members, Irena saved more than 2,500 Jewish children from the Polish ghetto and, despite being captured and severely tortured by the Germans, she did not reveal the identity of the children she’d saved. She later escaped to continue her work until the war ended.
6. Candy Lightner
In the early 80s, Candy Lightner became one of the few ordinary people who changed the world after her 13 year old daughter was tragically killed by a DUI offender. Lightner founded Mothers Against Drunk Driving in June 1980. Her efforts changing the way in which America approached people guilty of DUI offenses.
7. Lois Gibbs – “Mother of the Superfund”
Lois Gibbs was one of the first people who spoke out against chemical waste dumping in the United States. During the late 70s, shy and without prior experience in any type of activism, Gibbs, a simple housewife in the Niagara Falls area, managed to organize her neighbors, founding the Love Canal Homeowners Association to fight against local and federal government entities. She was later nicknamed “Mother of the Superfund” due to her exceptional acts in aiding environmental efforts in the US.
As you can see, sometimes you don’t need to have great talent or skill, or even be well-known in order to make a difference and change the world. Who is your ordinary hero or heroine who has made a difference in this world? Do you know of any other historic figures worth mentioning here?