Great Humanitarian – Helen Keller

Day 51 of Colourisation Project – June 27

Today is Helen Keller Day, a commemorative holiday honoring Helen Keller as authorized by President Jimmy Carter in 1980, her 100th birthday. Helen Adams Keller was born on this day June 27, 1880.  She was an American author, political activist, and lecturer.  What makes her a standout is that she overcame the adversity of being blind and deaf to become one of the 20th century’s leading humanitarians, as well as co-founder of the (ACLU) The American Civil Liberties Union.

Not someone to be deterred, she was a prolific author and activist. Keller was a member of the Socialist Party of America and the Industrial Workers of the World. She campaigned for women’s suffrage, labor rights, socialism, and other radical left causes.

Helen Keller was born with the ability to see and hear but at 19 months old, she contracted an illness possisbly scarlet fever or meningitis which doctors at the time described as “an acute congestion of the stomach and the brain.”  The illness left her both deaf and blind.

At the age of six her parents took her to see Dr Alexander Graham Bell who introduced her to Anne Sullivan who was to become her teacher and life long companion. Anne Sullivan is remembered as “The Miracle Worker” for her lifetime dedication, patience and love to a child trapped in a vacuum of darkness. Keller went on to college, becoming the first deafblind person to earn a bachelor of arts degree in 1904. 

How Keller went on to learn to communicate has been the stuff of movie makers and writers suffice to say Keller stands a powerful example of triumph over adversity.  A simple google of her name will yield a wealth of information, (certainly not enough room in this blog to do her justice)

Helen Keller


           Photographer Unknown  –  Helen Keller with Anne Sullivan in 1888  –  Coloured by Loredana Crupi

During her lifetime, she received many honors in recognition of her accomplishments, including,

  • the Theodore Roosevelt Distinguished Service Medal in 1936,
  • the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964,
  • election to the Women’s Hall of Fame in 1965.
  • honorary doctoral degrees from Temple University, Harvard University and from the universities of Glasgow, Scotland; Berlin, Germany; Delhi, India; and Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.
  • was named an Honorary Fellow of the Educational Institute of Scotland.
  • was inducted into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame in 1971.

Keller died in her sleep on June 1, 1968, just just before her 88th birthday.


“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.Helen Keller

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