FIDEL CASTRO

One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter best epitomizes Fidel Castro at the beginning of his 26th of July Movement, a grand experiment in regime change which deteriorated into a dictatorship. This was a dictatorship that showed beneficence to its friends, but sadly, killed and oppressed some its own people who opposed them. Fulgencio Batista the deposed dictator, had made himself an enemy of the Cuban people, who were happy to be rid of him. Rich Cubans did not agree and his overthrow angered them as it did the USA, but the revolution prospered for a while, until it started collapsing under its own hubris – enter the Soviet Union and the resulting nuclear missile crisis. Oppression and suppression became an option of control rather than a choice and the seeds of an otherwise ambitious revolution began to wither and die. I once romanticized Fidel and Che because the revolution began the year I started high school and I was fascinated by the audacity of the rebels and their cause to rid the Cuban people of oppression, a promise they themselves violated. I still mourn an imperfect man in an imperfect world and trust that the Cuban people under a Trump administration will receive diplomatic priority and cooperation in determining their own destiny.

MUHAMMAD ALI

The sports world is yet to produce another athlete with the global recognition and goodwill that Muhammad Ali inspires, he’s simply larger than life and remains so after death. Those of us who understand and admire the “sweet science” that others call boxing or fighting know him to be the preeminent expositor of that art form. Ali’s influence on American politics, values, charity and sports was pervasive and productive, his religious persuasion gave dignity and pride to those who still continue to be stigmatized for being Muslim. His major distinction is his rise from being one of the most hated rebels in America, to being the most loved ambassador of goodwill throughout the world.

GWEN IFILL

The presence of Gwen Ifill as a journalist and television personality inspired confidence and the assurance that we were getting real news and information without the spin. This very dignified and beautiful lady was an inspiration to not only fellow Black journalists, but to her White colleagues as well. Gwen incidentally was born in Queens, New York and distinguished herself in her field by becoming co-anchor and co- managing editor of PBS News Hour while becoming an author and millionaire.