Jacobs -- who died in Toronto on April 25, 2006 -- was a true "public intellectual" who put her ideas into practice. She loved cities and urban neighborhoods. She was fearless and feisty. She was a moralist, who believed that people have a responsibility to the greater good, and that societies and cities exist to bring out the best in people.
The Pope follows in the tradition of Martin Luther King and others in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Keenly aware of the power of southern segregationists, they advanced a politics aimed at winning over the broad middle of American society.
As I argued recently, Pope Francis' climate encyclical, Laudato Si, shows powerful resources in Catholic and other faith traditions for addressing the challenge of climate change. But in immediate terms, it does little to affect the pessimistic public mood.
Although none of these 20 women were elected to office, they all had a great influence on public opinion and public policy. The reformers profiled below exercised influence not only because of the number of people they mobilized, but also because of the moral force of their ideas.
In 1964, at the height of the civil rights movement, the great organizer Ella Baker said: "Until the killing of black men, black mothers' sons, becomes as important to the rest of the country as the killing of a white mother's sons, we who believe in freedom cannot rest."
Through daily moral consciousness we must all counter the proliferating voices of racial and ethnic and religious division that are regaining too much respectability over the land.
'Is This America?': 50 Years Ago Sharecroppers Challenged Mississippi Apartheid, LBJ, and the Nation
This question of citizenship and political representation is as important today as it was then -- yet the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party is not even mentioned in many major U.S. history textbooks.
The eerie parallels between the shooting of Trayvon Martin and the murder of Emmett Till 58 years ago -- including the outrageous acquittals of their killers -- remind us that despite many years of racial progress, our criminal justice system remains a bastion of bias and bigotry.