As I am working on my book project about the current socio-political climate, I have come across a lot of different written and artistic works, and viewpoints. Some of them have been a lot more thought-provoking than others, while some have been more emotionally charged than others. And I am grateful for the variety of perspectives available out there. Discovering diverse and varied perspectives helps me better formulate and articulate my own perspectives, as well as better understand the political world in which I live. 

Which well-known philosophers, activists, writers, artists, or politicians have had the greatest influence on how you view politics or political engagement over the years, for better or worse? Who has been able to change how you view things, or what you thought you knew, for better or worse?

I am always searching for diverse, shocking, and or notable viewpoints to enhance or better understand my own, even when I don’t agree with them. So, I created a list of who has influenced my understanding of politics and political engagement over the years, for better or worse. 

The individuals listed below have contributed to my political education in one way or another over the years. They aren’t listed in any particular order. Believe it or not, this isn’t even an exhaustive list–not even close. 

[Please note that the inclusion of someone on the list below does NOT mean that I am endorsing them, their philosophies or politics, or that I fully agree (or agree at all) with their political views, actions, and stances.] 

Frantz Fanon

Martin Luther King Jr. 

Nelson Mandela

Elizabeth Warren

Bernie Sanders

Mitch McConnell

Donald J. Trump

Vladimir Putin 

Saddam Hussein

Adolf Hitler

Osama Bin Laden

Brian Kemp

Stacey Abrams

Jacinda Ardern

Justin Trudeau

Barack Obama

Michelle Obama

George W. Bush

Ronald Reagan

Hillary Clinton

Bill Clinton

Hannah Arendt

Ayn Rand

Jean-Jacques Rousseau 

Karl Marx 

Mary Wollstonecraft

Angela Davis

Gloria Steinam 

Socrates

Plato

Aristotle

Simone de Beauvoir 

Noam Chomsky

Michel Foucault

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt 

Richard Nixon

Abraham Lincoln

Robert E. Lee

William Tecumseh Sherman

Frederick Douglas 

Ambrose Bierce 

Walt Whitman

Sinclair Lewis 

George Orwell

Kate Chopin

Sylvia Plath

Charles Dickens

William Shakespeare

Toni Morrison

Margaret Atwood

George Washington

Andrew Jackson

Ava DuVernay

Ken Burns

Anne Frank

Thomas Paine

Alexis deTocqueville

Mark Zuckerberg

Creedence Clearwater Revival 

Rage Against the Machine

Nas 

Tu Pac

Eminem 

Ken E. Nwadike, Jr.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg 

James Joyce

Sir Thomas More

Dante Alighieri

Niccolo Machiavelli 

Sigmund Freud 

Harriet Tubman

Mahatma Gandhi 

Brittany Kaiser

Ezra Klein

Rodin

Picasso 

Banksy 

There are certainly many more individuals I could add to this list. This is just a start. Some listed here might seem more obvious than others, regarding how they relate to my political education. In one way or another, for better or worse, they all forced me to grapple with and consider the socio-political world in which I currently live. 

Who would be on your list? Which philosophers, activists, writers, artists, or politicians have had the greatest influence on how you view politics or political engagement over the years, for better or worse? And why or why not would they be on your list? 

Once you start your own list, you might be surprised with what you uncover. 

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