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Sanjeev Bhaskar explore the lives of the 20th century's greatest activists, examining the lives of Emmeline Pankhurst, Mahatma Gandhi, Helen Keller and Martin Luther King Jr. He'll assess the quali...ties that made them great, and the groundbreaking ways in which each of them fought for their causes. The 20th Century was the century of activism. It was a century in which a series of extraordinarily brave individuals encouraged whole swathes of society to throw off the shackles of oppression and get the rights they deserved. These activists spoke for those without a voice, often prepared to lay down their lives for the causes they believed in. At the beginning of the century, most women couldn't vote, empires ruled much of the planet and marginalised people across the world were being persecuted. The work of these four icons would help society take huge leaps forward. Clearly, there is much more to do in a pursuit of a world in which everyone is equal, but today's activists stand on the shoulders of these giants. Each of these four greats dared to step outside the expectations society had of them. They changed what the world thought possible for women, the subjugated, disabled people and African Americans, and in doing so advanced their causes exponentially. If it weren't for these four icons, history would be very different. Often softened and sanitised by history, this documentary reminds us that these people were firebrands, revolutionaries who were unafraid to risk everything for the advancement of their causes. Emmeline Pankhurst rallied women in one of the largest protests London had ever seen, before leading them in a campaign of militancy and vandalism, which would see her cause placed firmly at the top of the social agenda. Mahatma Gandhi employed non violent tactics of passive resistance in the face of the largest empire the world had ever known, he not only helped to secure independence for India, he created the blueprint for generations of activists to follow. Helen Keller became deaf and blind as a child, and was famous for learning to master language in spite of her disabilities. She used her fame to fight for the rights, not only of disabled people, but marginalised people everywhere. Martin Luther King Jr was arguably the most influential figure of the civil rights movement, King masterminded a campaign which fought not only to win rights for America's black population, but crucially, to enshrine them in law. He went on to launch the Poor People's Campaign, tackling the economic factors he felt were the root cause of inequality. At the end of the programme, the public can vote for the greatest activist of the century who, along with the finalists from the other categories, is put through to the live final at the end of the series.
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Series: Icons
Episode 5
First transmission date: 21-01-2019
Original broadcast channel: BBC 2
Published: 2019
Rights Statement: Rights owned or controlled by The Open University
Restrictions on use: This material can be used in accordance with The Open University conditions of use. A link to the conditions can be found at the bottom of all OUDA web pages.
Duration: 00:58:05
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Contributors: Sanjeev Bhaskar; Diane Atkinson; Tushar Gandhi; Sucheta Mahajan; Kim Nielsen; Helen Pankhurst; Wornie Reed; Helen Selsdon
Link to related site: BBC 2:
Master spool number: FKJD095B
Production number: FKJD095B
Videofinder number: 232835
Available to public: no