Profiles of Courage

"Tomorrow belongs to those of us who conceive of it as
belonging to everyone; who lend the best of ourselves to it,
and with joy."
Audre Lorde


Research has found that learning about the heroic actions of people who stood up against injustice can be very important. It has a positive impact on individuals’ attitudes toward groups about which they hold negative views. It can even inspire learners to resist injustice.

Many historical narratives can simplify complex social movements and the individuals who led them. For example, the heroic efforts of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks are admirable, but they are only a piece of a multilayered story of courage. We want to shed light on individuals whose acts of courage linger in the background. Their efforts, large and small, allow all of us to shine.

Photo of Sylvia Mendez
Sylvia Mendez
Defendant in Landmark School Desegregation Case
Mendez v. Westminster
Ultimately, we hope these stories pique a student’s interest in unsung heroes, highlight the great efforts of people similar to and different from them, and encourage students to make changes in their own communities.
Applicable Learning Standards

Virginia Department of Education

Social Studies

  • USII.1 
  • USII.9 
  • V.U.S. 13 

Common Core

Ella Baker

Elementary School

Profiles of Courage

Highlander School

Middle & High School

Profiles of Courage