A hundred years ago, any soapbox orator who called for women's suffrage, laws protecting the environment, an end to lynching, or a federal minimum wage was considered a utopian dreamer or a dangerous socialist. Now we take these ideas for granted - because the radical ideas of one generation are often the common sense of the next. Unfortunately, most Americans know little of this progressive history. It isn't taught in most high schools and you can't find it on the major television networks. The 100 greatest Americans of the 20th century, a colorful and witty history of the most influential progressive leaders of the twentieth century and beyond, is the perfect antidote.
Peter Dreier is E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics and Director of the Urban and Environmental Policy Program at Occidental College. He writes regularly for the Nation, American Prospect, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Times, and Talking Points Memo. He lives in Los Angeles.
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