1. Eugene Debs. Stalwart if unsuccessful socialist agitator for an alternative to devotion to the market.
2. H.L. Mencken. Merciless critic of religious, patriotic and other bullshit, with his own parochial prejudices to be sure, but a great writer who punched up, down, and sideways without apology.
3. A. Philip Randolph. The most important labor and civil rights leader of the century, who made MLK possible, and who always championed, from the beginning, the interdependence of racial and economic progress.
4. Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He betrayed his class and saved America from fascism and probably saved the world from the Nazis. The Reagan reaction of the last forty years was against his vision for social democracy.
5. Bayard Rustin. He organized the 1963 March on Washington, and worked with A. Philip Randolph on behalf of the same goals: Randolph and Rustin were a team. He did all this as a gay African-American, and in the face of enormous bigotry both within and outside the movement. A person of enormous dignity and courage, whom I had the privilege to interview in the early 1980s. I will never forget it.
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