Helen Keller’s Forgotten Radicalism


There is no shortage of feel-good inspirational quotes attributed to Helen Keller. “Never bend your head, hold it high. Look the world straight in the eye,” one of them goes. “Keep your face in the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow,” instructs another. Or, “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement.”

Perhaps less catchy and sentimental, and certainly less well known, are the numerous observations on inequality, poverty and class that Keller made during her lifetime as a socialist activist. “Yours for the revolution!” she declared, in a 1919 letter to Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) founder Eugene Debs. “May it come swiftly,” she continued, “like a shaft sundering the dark!”

The popular narrative of Helen Keller—born 135 years ago this weekend, on June 27, 1880—is a classic American story about triumphing in the face of adversity, which emphasizes individual determination over political action. But Keller’s true…

View original post 611 more words


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s