Portrait of Malcolm X, Clarion Alley, San Francisco, Ca 2015

11 Beautiful Minds of The 20th Century

Eleven brilliant and courageous men and women.

1.

Pablo Neruda
July 12, 1904-September 23, 1973

Art by Rob Goldstein
Pablo Neruda Ricardo Reyes as a young man

I want to eat the sunbeam flaring in your lovely body,
the sovereign nose of your arrogant face,
I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes,

and I pace around hungry, sniffing the twilight,
hunting for you, for your hot heart,
like a puma in the barrens of Quitratue.

~ Pablo Neruda

2.

Norma Jeane Mortenson
June 1, 1926-August 5, 1962

Art by Rob Goldstein
Portrait of Norma Jeane Mortenson

I am not a victim of emotional conflicts. I am human.
Norma Jeane Mortenson

3.

Harvey Milk
May 22, 1930 – November 27, 1978

 

Art By Rob Goldstein

“All men are created equal. No matter how hard they try, they can never erase those words. That is what America is about.”
Harvey Milk, The Harvey Milk Interviews: In His Own Words

4.

el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz
May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965

 

Art by Rob Goldstein
Malcolm X


“I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.”
Malcolm X

5.

Nina Simone

February 21, 1933 – April 21, 2003

Art by Rob Goldstein
Nina Simone

“I am just one of the people who is sick of the social order, sick of the establishment, sick to my soul of it all. To me, America’s society is nothing but a cancer, and it must be exposed before it can be cured. I am not the doctor to cure it. All I can do is expose the sickness.”
Nina Simone

6.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy
May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963

Art by Rob Goldstein
John Fitzgerald Kennedy

“If by a “Liberal” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people-their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights and their civil liberties-someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a “Liberal”, then I’m proud to say I’m a “Liberal.”
John F. Kennedy, Profiles in Courage

7.

Martin Luther King, Jr.
January 15, 1929- April 4, 1968

Art By Rob Goldstein
Dr. Martin Luther King

There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right.  Martin Luther King, Jr.

8.

Jean Maurice Eugène Clément Cocteau
July 5, 1889 – 11 October 11, 1963

Art by Rob Goldstein
Jean Cocteau

The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth.
Jean Cocteau

9.

Frank O’Hara
March 27, 1926 – July 25, 1966

 

Art by Rob Goldstein
Frank O’Hara


“I wonder if the course of narcissism through the ages would have been any different had Narcissus first peered into a cesspool. He probably did.”
Frank O’Hara, Early Writing

10.

Simone de Beauvoir
January 9, 1908 – April 14, 1986

 

Art by Rob Goldstein
Simone de Beauvoir


Life is occupied in both perpetuating itself and in surpassing itself; if all it does is maintain itself, then living is only not dying. Simone de Beauvoir

11.

Jean Genet
December 19, 1910-April 15, 1986

 

Art by Rob Goldstein
Jean Genet

What I did not yet know so intensely was the hatred of the white American for the black, a hatred so deep that I wonder if every white man in this country, when he plants a tree, doesn’t see Negroes hanging from its branches.  Jean Genet

 

Disclaimer: To the best of my knowledge the images on this page are in the public domain.

Header photo, Portrait of Malcolm X, by Rob Goldstein (c) 2016

Blog post update July, 2018

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31 thoughts on “11 Beautiful Minds of The 20th Century

  1. Rob, that is quite the list. Only in the last few years have I discovered Nina Simone. It is a shame her voice was not louder during her time. But, I do remember southern white stations not playing music played by African-American artists in the 1960s, so her voice was squelched.

    MLK is another voice that we were lucky to have. He and Gandhi are the two towering voices of the last century. In this century, Pope Francis is one that stands out over other leaders, thus far.

    Nice work, Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s baffling to see that people can’t even learn from videotaped and filmed history. We can watch Hitler’s rise and fall from beginning to end. We can hear Franklin Roosevelt deliver his Four Freedoms speech, we can see how regulated capitalism and fully funded education increased the personal wealth of every day Americans.

      Yet many Americans prefer to run with their uninformed prejudices rather than spend an hour or two watching history.

      It’s a bit discouraging.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. The genius of American democracy is it unleashes creative genius in general because it empowers average people to learn how to participate in making the decisions that affect the quality of their lives. At least eight of these 11 people would have lived and died in ignorance and poverty in a feudal system.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Robert, this moved me deeply. I cannot explain why but it did. Such great people indeed. All left something wonderful for us and changed something in this world. I find it great that you used Monroe’s real name and a photo without the glamor.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Erika. I’m glad you found the post moving. These people represent the brilliance of our species and gifts that all of us have. Genet is one of the World’s great writers; he started life as a petty thief and took up writing in prison.

      Liked by 1 person

I appreciate your comments, though I can’t always reply immediately

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