June 27th is known as Helen Keller Day. This is the day that Helen Keller’s legacy is celebrated. She was a notable humanitarian activist for economic justice, women’s rights and people with disabilities. She asserted her right “to feel at home in the great world” through her activism for the same rights on behalf of all people.
Hellen Keller Day was mandated on the 100th anniversary of Keller’s birth by President Jimmy Carter on June 27th, 1980 urging federal departments to recognize Keller’s achievements with ceremonies, programs and activities.
While many of the celebrations have passed, we have curated a list of the ways you can learn about Keller’s legacy and her life.
1. Read About Helen Keller’s Lasting Legacy
Keller is widely known for being deafblind, but she is not as well known for her humanitarian efforts. You can read more on her humanitarian activism from the Huffington Post. She was extremely progressive in comparison to the other contemporaries of her time: she advocated for women’s suffrage and donated money to the NAACP in the early 1900s, to sum up some of her efforts.
2. Watch A Helen Keller Documentary
There are many documentaries about Helen Keller. One is called Helen Keller in Her Story released in 1954, features Keller herself and other voices important in her history. You can watch the documentary on Amazon here.
Keep a lookout for the new Helen Keller documentary Becomming Helen Keller. It is still in production, but will air on PBS as part of the network’s “American Masters” series. Filmmaker, Laurie Block of the documentary wants to “reclaim” Keller’s story. Check out Block’s interview with the Perkins School for the Blind here.
3. Check Out Keller’s Autobiography
Keller’s autobiography, The Story of My Life is a short read at 240 pages. The book was published when Keller was only 22-years-old and is an account of Keller’s frustrations and breakthroughs through her education. Check out more about the book on Goodreads.
4. Educate Yourself On Ableism
Ableism is the discrimination of someone based on their impairment. There are overt ways ableism plays out and more hidden ways that ableism plays out in daily life. Things that able-bodied people do not have to think about people with disabilities have to think about in their daily lives, not being afforded the lives in which are deserved.
Keller often faced ableism as a deafblind woman. People who would meet her and focus on her impairment as if it is a superpower or something that she has to overcome and therefore must be apolitical or aromantic. An important lesson that she taught throughout her life was one of not focusing on her disabilities and rather what she makes of it.
However you spend Helen Keller Day, we know that you will be honoring someone who made change and progressions and her legacy will continue on.