If there’s one thing history has taught us (time and time again) it’s this: inclusivity is the best policy. Currently, diversity is a valued commodity, seen as type of currency that is increasingly valuable in a growing global community. Whether it’s food, culture, expertise or innovation, fresh eyes are always a positive when it comes to the progression of society, especially far-flung immigrants who relocate to new shores, starry-eyed at the potential that waits for them on new land and they use that inspiration to contribute something that forever alters the status quo. In light of the news that President Trump has made a quick-handed decision to refuse entry to even green-card holding citizens, we thought we’d shed some light on the amazing lives of immigrants that have made an irrefutably important impact in American, and further, global society, despite having a background that began outside of the US borders.
Here are the diverse backgrounds of some of America’s most influential people both past and present:
Madeleine Albright, born in the former Czechoslovakia
Born in Prague in 1937, Madeleine migrated to the US as a child and was later given political asylum. Once she became a US citizen, Madeleine made use of the abundance of opportunity provided to her, pursuing an academic career by first gaining a scholarship at Wellesey College, and then graduating with an international affairs degree from Columbia University. Following her passion for politics, Madeleine became the first woman to hold the position as the United States Secretary of State in 1997. Not only holding rank as one of the highest-ranking women in US politics, she also began a peace mission in the Middle East shortly after being sworn in, meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders urging peace. Since news has broken out about the President-elects decision on immigration laws, Madeleine has promised that, though not a Muslim, if a federal registry of US Muslims is made, she will register herself in solidarity.
Steve Jobs, son of Syrian immigrant
A formidable designer, thinker and innovator, a quick look at least one of your Apple devices will prove the impact Steve Jobs has had on global innovation. A little known fact about Jobs is that he was also the son of Syrian immigrant, Abdulfattah John Jandali, who moved to the US in the 1950s to further his education. It seems that Steve has become the poster child for inclusion in the wake of Trumps latest decisions, with the Twittersphere using him as a shining beacon of potential that comes with welcoming people on the shores of America.
Albert Einstein, born in Germany
Born in Ulm, Germany, it wasn’t long before the physicist’s work became globally respected – he did conceive of the general theory of relativity, after all. After several visits to the California Institute of Technology, Einstein was offered a position at the newly erected Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton Massachusetts in 1933, the same year Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany. Soon after his move, he became key to research in the US, a formidable figure known – and often questioned – for his radical views. His time in the US was marked with great significance, particularly in his (famous) co-written letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt advising him about the possibilities of inventing an atomic bomb, his legacy remains as not only an advocate for pioneering thought, but also nuclear disarmament and international cooperation.
Ang Lee, born in Taiwan
Originally from Taiwan, Ang Lee moved to the US in the 1970s to study theatre at the University of Illinois, then moving to New York University to delve into cinema studies. After constant rejection from Hollywood, Lee melded his interracial and cultural experience when entering two scripts into a screenplay contest back in his hometown. Winning first and second place for both pieces, Ang was able to get his work funded and produced. This was just the beginning for the then hidden talent, his first win quickly leading to three features that creatively represented intergenerational conflict. Tui Shou (1992; Pushing Hands), Hsi Yen (1993; The Wedding Banquet), and Yinshi nan nu (1994; Eat Drink Man Woman). His big break came in 1995, when he was chosen to direct Sense and Sensibility, a turning point in Lee’s career which has since seen him as the mind behind other Hollywood successes like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, The Hulk, Brokeback Mountain and Life of Pi.
Louis C.K, from Mexican-American heritage
Born by the name of Louis Szekely, the comedian’s father was of Mexican and Hungarian descent, his mother Irish Catholic. After meeting at Harvard University, Louis’ parents soon relocated to Mexico City. Since first picking up the mic at the ripe age of 17, his break came in the 1990s when he scored a job as a staff writer for a cable comedy show, he then found traction as a writer on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, helping craft the talk-show host’s very first sketch. Louis recently made headlines early last year, when he wrote an open letter to his fans who supported Trump stating of the election, “we should choose based on what direction we want the country to go.”