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Helen Keller on optimism, education and never giving up
Amidst her activism, Kellers belief that persistent education can change hearts, minds and the world may be her most lasting legacy. - photo by JJ Feinauer
In 1987, Congress passed a resolution designating the month of March as "Women's History Month," a tradition that each president since Ronald Reagan has honored.

"Throughout history, extraordinary women have fought tirelessly to broaden our democracy's reach and help perfect our Union," President Barack Obama said in his "Presidential Proclamation" on Feb. 27 declaring March 2015 once again as Women's History Month.

"Through protest and activism," Obama continued, "generations of women have appealed to the values at the heart of our nation and fought to give meaning to the idea that we are all created equal."

But well before 1987, March served as an important month for one of the most captivating figures in American women's history.

On March 3, 1887, Helen Keller was first introduced to her teacher and life mentor Anne Sullivan. With the help of Sullivan, Keller, who was both blind and deaf as the result of a childhood illness, went on to become the first deaf-blind person to graduate from college. Her experiences in learning to communicate as a deaf-blind individual was immortalized in William Gibsons 1957 play, The Miracle Worker.

But while many Americans are well versed in Kellers early years, as dramatized by Gibson, Keller is also notable for her intellectual pursuits she authored over a dozen books and her political and social activism as a suffragist, advocate for the poor and a vocal pacifist.

Helen Keller is the eighth wonder of the world, Mark Twain declared after meeting her. She was born with a fine mind and a bright wit, and by help of Miss Sullivans amazing gifts as a teacher this mental endowment has been developed until the result is what we see to-day a wonderful creature who sees without eyes, hears without ears, and speaks with dumb lips. She stands alone in history.

Amidst her activism, Kellers belief that persistent education can change hearts, minds and the world may be her most lasting legacy.

To celebrate such a towering figure in the history of American women, weve compiled a list of 20 quotes that show Kellers love and reverence for the pursuit of knowledge.

"One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar."

From "The Story of My Life"

"No effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost. Sometime, somewhere, somehow we shall find that which we seek."

From "The Story of My Life"

"The bulk of the worlds knowledge is an imaginary construction."

From "The World I Live In"

"Self-culture has been loudly and boastfully proclaimed as sufficient for all our ideals of perfection. But if we listen to the best men and women everywhere they will say that science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all the apathy of human beings."

From "My Religion" / "Light in My Darkness"

"Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold."

From "Let Us Have Faith"

"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing."

From "The Open Door"

"No doubt the reason is that character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved."

From "Helen Keller's Journal: 1936-1937"

"Tyranny cannot defeat the power of ideas."

Said in response to Nazi censorship.

"The most important day I remember in all my life is the one on which my teacher, Anne Mansfield Sullivan, came to me."

From "The Story of My Life"

"The Bible gives me a deep, comforting sense that "things seen are temporal and things unseen are eternal."

From "The Story of My Life"

"I do not remember a time since I have been capable of loving books that I have not loved Shakespeare."

From "The Story of My Life"

"Literature is my Utopia. Here I am not disenfranchised. No barrier of the senses shuts me out from the sweet, gracious discourse of my book friends."

From "The Story of My Life"

"If it is true that the violin is the most perfect of musical instruments, then Greek is the violin of human thought."

From "The Story of My Life"

"Toleration is the greatest gift of the mind; it requires the same effort of the brain that it takes to balance oneself on a bicycle."

From "The Story of My Life"

"It is a mistake always to contemplate the good and ignore the evil, because by making people neglectful it lets in disaster. There is a dangerous optimism of ignorance and indifference."

From "Optimism"

"Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it."

From "Optimism"

"To know the history of philosophy is to know that the highest thinkers of the ages, the seers of the tribes and the nations, have been optimists. The growth of philosophy is the story of man's spiritual life."

From "Optimism"

"The highest result of education is tolerance. Long ago men fought and died for their faith; but it took ages to teach them the other kind of courage, the courage to recognize the faiths of their brethren and their rights of conscience."

From "Optimism"

"Happiness is the final and perfect fruit of obedience to the laws of life."

From "The Simplest Way to be Happy"

"A happy life consists not in the absence, but in the mastery of hardships."

From "The Simplest Way to be Happy"
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