They Were Very Young When They Changed the World

Categories: Labor

Did you know that several leaders of the labor and civil rights movements helped change the course of their communities and our collective history when they were only in their twenties and thirties?

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was 34 when he delivered his historic “I have a dream” speech. Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis was 25 when he walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge from Selma to Montgomery on Bloody Sunday. Two years earlier, he helped organize the March on Washington and was the youngest speaker at the event. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka was 33 when he became president of the United Mine Workers of America. AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. was 37 when he became president of the largest AFGE VA local in the country – Local 1738 in North Carolina. 

Many people who were the driving force during our nation’s times of change were young folks. Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence when he was 33. Alexander Hamilton was 34 when he became the country’s first secretary of the Treasury. William Lloyd Garrison was 27 when he helped found the American Anti-Slavery Society. Susan B. Anthony was 31 when she began a campaign for women’s suffrage.


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