Sometimes I have to remind myself of the power of thinking different for the common good, and some of us designed our lives around it.

Steve Jobs

1955 – 2011
“Think Different” was one of my favorite Apple campaigns. I didn’t follow Steve Jobs as a personality like some people follow George Clooney. Or maybe I followed Jobs the way Clooney fans follow his latest arm candy; in Job’s case, it was the latest Apple gadget. I’m typing this on my iMac now. Jobs’s set the bar not for computers but for his product. Apple became it’s own opponent, and a worthy one at that. I’ve had discussions about artists who reach a point where the only person they have to top is him/herself. There’s no looking in the rearview mirror anymore. It can be scary place when it comes to product, but Jobs made that theory work. And the world was never the same.

In a May 8, 1963 file photo, civil rights leaders, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., left, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, center, and Rev. Ralph Abernathy hold a news conference. (AP Photo, File)

Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth

1922 – 2011
Some people are determined to live to see specific outcomes. In 2008 I remember overhearing elders say they were holding on to vote in an historic election. Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth took the beatings, the bombings, and the blows until the perpetrator, legal segregation, finally fell to its knees. One thing they don’t teach about the civil rights movement is how subversive people like Shuttleworth were in the eyes of both white and black people of the times. Why stir the pot? But these were different kind of “Mad Men.” And the saga continues.

Wangari Maathai

1940 – 2011
Yes, I did hear a tree fall in the forest when news came that Wangari Maathai had died from cancer. Who would’ve thought planting trees was subversive, protest, liberating. Wangari Maathai thought different. We’ll all breath better for it.

Derrick Bell

1930 – 2011
Years ago I read Derrick Bell’s Ethical Ambition: Living a Life of Meaning and Worth. Something was definitely on this legal mind at the time.

If our goal is greater than ourselves, our own comfort or gain, and we continue to strive for it, then as feminist leaders proclaimed, failure becomes impossible. Even the end of an individual life is no proof of failure, if others share your goals and continue to work toward them.