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50+ Inspirational People Changing the World

inspirational people

One person can change the world. Although you might feel like you are powerless, you have more agency than you realize. To prove it, take a look at the people out there who are already trying their hardest to create a better world. Here are some inspirational people who will motivate you to make a change and make it through difficult circumstances:

Inspirational People in History

Inspiring people come in all shapes and sizes. They might be actors, composers, scientists, or political figures. However, they have one thing in common. They all contributed to our society in positive ways.

Here are some of the most inspirational men and women throughout human history:

Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo was a painter, sculptor, draughtsman, engineer, scientist, theorist, and architect. He invented the idea of the parachute, the helicopter, and the calculator. He also painted the Mona Lisa, the Vitruvian Man, and the Last Supper.

Charles Darwin

Darwin published On The Origin of Species, which discussed the concept of evolution. Darwin’s theory of natural selection was incredibly controversial at the time because it went against religious teachings. However, he stood by his theory and exposed it to the world. This required an immense amount of bravery.

Albert Einstein

Einstein is a name everyone knows. He developed the theories of relativity and created the famous equation, E = mc 2. His scientific advancements are still helping us to this day. Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921. Throughout his lifetime, he published more than 300 papers.

Tenzin Gyatso

Gyatso is the fourteenth Dalai Lama. He is a political activist involved in peaceful protest movements. Gyatso is known for his inspirational speeches on women’s rights, the environment, and economics. He believes in peace and compassion. Gyatso received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for non-violent resistance to Chinese rule in Tibet.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

Gandhi is one of the most famous names in the world. He was an Indian lawyer, an anti-colonial nationalist, and a political ethicist. His beliefs inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.

Isaac Newton

Most people know that Newton discovered gravity. However, he was also the first person to calculate the speed of sound. Newton was knowledgeable in multiple fields. He was skilled in mathematics, theology, physics, and astronomy.

Winston Churchill

Churchill is the reason Britain was victorious in the Second World War. He was also an author who won a Nobel Prize for Literature. Churchill gave many inspiring speeches that have been heard by millions of people around the world.


Akbar, who is also known as Akbar the Great, was the third Mughal emperor. He reigned from 1556 to 1605 and united India under his rule. Akbar encouraged representatives of different religions to come to his court. He also created a powerful military system.

Dan Ariely

Ariely is the co-founder of BEworks, the first commercial consulting team dedicated to the application of Behavioral Economics to real-world challenges. He is also a multiple New York Times best-selling author. He has given several TED talks.

Edward Jenner

Jenner was an English physician and scientist. He is known for his pioneering work on the development of the inoculation against smallpox. This was the first vaccine to ever be created. His work saved millions of lives around the globe.

Inspirational People for Kids

Your kids need excellent role models, so they have someone to look up to in life. Here are some inspirational people that would make a great role model for any child. Some are in the entertainment industry, some are in politics, and some are famous figures throughout history.

Jane Fonda

Jane Fonda is best known for her acting roles in movies and television shows. However, she became a peace activist during the Vietnam War. She is a passionate climate activist who is trying to create a more peaceful world. Although she’s been arrested multiple times, she hasn’t let it stop her from fighting for equal rights and justice.

Sir David Attenborough

Attenborough is a historian, author, and broadcaster. For decades, he has been trying his best to protect the environment. His first nature documentary came out in 1954. Although his work was originally about the wonder of the natural world, his more recent work supports environmental causes.

Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale is the most inspirational person in medicine. She volunteered to nurse soldiers during the Crimean War and organized care for wounded soldiers at Constantinople. She is the founder of modern nursing.

Martin Luther King Jr.

King was an American Baptist minister and activist. He participated in the American civil rights movement from 1955 until his assassination. His famous I Have A Dream speech was an important part of the equal rights movement. He was such a true inspiration that now, every third Monday in January is celebrated as Martin Luther King Jr. day.

Harriet Tubman

Tubman was an abolitionist and political activist. She helped lead slaves to freedom using the Underground Railroad. Throughout her life, she made a total of nineteen trips into the South. She escorted over 300 slaves to freedom.

Nelson Mandela

Mandela spent twenty-seven years in prison. However, he used that time to his advantage. He earned a degree, held hunger strikes, met with political leaders, and wrote an autobiography. When he was released from prison, he was elected President of South Africa. He became the country’s first black leader.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Mozart was a prodigy who started composing music at the age of five. He created the framework for future musicians, like Beethoven and Chopin. Mozart will always be known as one of the most influential composers of the Classical period.

Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa lived a selfless life. She dedicated herself to helping others. She even founded the Missionaries of Charity, which is a Roman Catholic congregation. It dedicates itself to helping people who are suffering from HIV, AIDS, leprosy, and tuberculosis.

William Shakespeare

Shakespeare is the most famous playwright and poet in the world. He created famous works like Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He also coined plenty of words and phrases that we still use to this day like lonely, lackluster, bandit, dauntless, and critic.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis has been the head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State since 2013. He believes in humility and modesty. Francis is trying to reform the Vatican and the Catholic church in order to make it more open and accepting. He wants his people to treat each other with respect and has expressed concern for the poor.

Desmond Tutu

Tutu was the first Black man to become the Bishop of Johannesburg from 1985 to 1986. Then he was the first Black man to become the Archbishop of Cape Town from 1986 to 1996. He dedicated his life’s work to becoming an anti-apartheid and human rights activist.

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist. She received over thirty honorary degrees from universities across the world. She also wrote several books, but the most famous is I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

Malala Yousafzai

Malala is a Pakistani activist for female education. She is the youngest Nobel laureate and the youngest from Pakistan. Her advocacy has grown into an international movement, which is why she’s one of the most inspirational people in history.

Michelle Obama

Michelle is the former first lady who is married to Barack Obama. She was the first African-American woman to serve in this position. Michelle is also an attorney and wrote a best-selling book, Becoming. She is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School.

Bill Gates

Gates is a software developer, investor, author, and philanthropist. He co-founded the Microsoft Corporation, which made him rich. He uses his billions to change the world and fight against climate change.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt was married to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. She served as the first lady from 1933 to 1945, which made her the longest-serving first lady in history. However, she was also a political figure, diplomat, and activist. She gave most of her earnings to charity.

Inspirational People with Disabilities

Stories are powerful. They show you what’s possible and remind you that you can accomplish whatever you set out to do. Here are some inspirational people with disabilities who have a compelling story to tell. They will inspire you to achieve your own goals!

Franklin Roosevelt

FDR was the thirty-second president of the United States. After getting sick with polio, Roosevelt ended up with paralyzed legs and used a wheelchair. He went on to lead the country through the Great Depression and World War II.

Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, when he was twenty-one years old. Doctors claimed he wouldn’t live past the age of twenty-five, but he is still alive to this day. Hawking became a professor of mathematics at Cambridge University. He also wrote the popular book, A Brief History in Time.

Helen Keller

Helen Keller lost her sight and hearing at the age of nineteen months. She was the first deaf and blind person to earn a bachelor’s degree. She was also the winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Christopher Reeve

Christopher Reeve is known for playing Superman in the seventies and eighties. He was paralyzed in a horse-riding accident in 1995. After his accident, he started the Christopher Reeve Foundation and started working with the American Paralysis Association.

Ludwig van Beethoven

Although Beethoven was deaf, he went on to become one of the best composers in history. His repertoire spans the transition from the classical period to the romantic era in classical music. Seven of his concertos are well known. There was one violin concerto, five piano concertos, and one triple concerto for violin, piano, and cello.

Michael J. Fox

Michael J. Fox is best known for his role as Marty McFly in the Back To The Future trilogy. However, he is also the founder of The Michael J Fox Foundation to help fund Parkinson’s research. He also wrote the bestselling book, Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist.

Nicholas James Vujicic

Vujicic is a motivational speaker born with tetra-amelia syndrome. This is a rare disorder characterized by the absence of arms and legs. His first book, Life Without Limits: Inspiration for a Ridiculously Good Life, has been translated into thirty languages.

Bethany Meilani Hamilton

Hamilton is a professional surfer and actress who survived a shark attack. Although her left arm was bitten off, she returned to competitive surfing. She insists that the biggest fears and challenges in life can be overcome.

Jessica Cox

Cox is a philanthropist, writer, and motivational speaker. She was born without arms and taught herself how to drive and raise her kids using her feet. She is in the Guinness Book of World Records and is an anti-bullying activist.

Inspirational People to Follow on Instagram

World leaders aren’t the only ones who can inspire an entire generation. There are inspirational, ordinary people who are creating positive change. There are also singers, actors, and musicians who have made it their mission to create a powerful impact. Here are some inspirational people to follow on Instagram:

Rupi Kaur

Kaur is a poet, photographer, and author. She has inspired millions with her poems. They will encourage you to pursue personal growth and learn to love yourself.

Tony Robbins

Tony Robbins is an author, coach, speaker, and philanthropist. He is most well-known for his infomercials, seminars, and self-help books. Robbins is the author of The Giant Within. He gives advice on business strategies and how to reach success.

Ashley Graham

Ashley is a model and television presenter. She was the first plus-size model to wear a bikini on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. Ashley talks about body positivity and wrote the bestselling book, A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty, and Power Really Look Like.

Emma Watson

Emma is more than a famous, beautiful, talented actress. She is also a feminist, a human rights activist, and a vegan. Emma helped launch the UN Women campaign HeForShe, which advocates for gender equality. She is also involved in creating sustainable fashion. She is an inspiration, especially for young girls.

Richard Branson

Branson is an entrepreneur who posts inspirational quotes on his social media accounts. He is an English business magnate, investor, and author. He founded the Virgin Group, which controls more than 400 companies in various fields.

Greta Thunberg

Greta is a human rights activist who has drawn attention to climate change. She started her activism when she was only a teenager. She skipped school to stand outside the Swedish Parliament, calling for action. Now, everyone knows her name.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah is a famous talk show host, television producer, actress, author, and philanthropist. She has won several awards throughout her career, including the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award and Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. She was also inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1994. For decades, she has been inspiring people around the globe.

Tamron Hall

Hall is an award-winning broadcast journalist, television talk show host, and author. She fights against domestic abuse and her fundraising efforts have raised over $40,000 for Day One New York, which helps end dating abuse. On Instagram, she posts inspirational messages for her followers.

Elon Musk

Elon is an entrepreneur and business magnate. He is one of the richest people in the world. He is the co-founder and leader of Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink, and The Boring Company. His aim is to invent new products that help the world.

More Inspirational People

There are plenty of inspirational people in this world who deserve to be admired for all of the wonderful things they’ve accomplished. Here are some more inspirational people who have tried their best to make the world a better place:

Hasan Minhaj

Hasan is an American comedian, writer, producer, political commentator, actor, and television host. He has won two Peabody Awards and two Webby Awards. He has his own show on Netflix called Patriot Act where he educates his audience about what is going on in the world.

Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks is one of the most famous names in the world. She refused to stand on a segregated passenger bus in Montgomery, Alabama and give her spot to a white person. After Parks was arrested for refusing to comply, The Montgomery Bus Boycott began.

Sheryl Sandberg

Sandberg is a brilliant mathematician with a Harvard education. She has worked for massive companies, like Google and Facebook. She also wrote the best-selling book, Lean In: Women, Work and Will To Lead, which is about women in STEM.

Sanna Mari

Mari became Sweden’s Prime Minister in December 2019 when she was only thirty-four years old. She made history as the world’s youngest prime minister. Her platform promoted equality and environmentalism. She has been fighting to make this world a safer place for everyone who inhabits it.

Susan B. Anthony

Anthony was an American civil rights activist, lecturer, teacher, author, and famed abolitionist. She played an important role during the women’s suffrage movement. She also collected anti-slavery petitions when she was only seventeen.

Jordan Peele

Peele is an actor, filmmaker, and comedian. He created famous movies, like Get Out, which contained stunning social commentary. In 2017, he was included on the Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world. This is because he tries his best to draw attention to problems in our society and create positive change.

Peter Diamandis

Peter is an award-winning innovator. He developed X PRIZE Foundation, which is a non-profit organization that hosts public competitions intended to encourage technological development to benefit humanity.

Lucy Liu

Lucy is an actor, activist, and artist. She has used her platform to create positive social change. Lucy has directed two documentaries to highlight the struggles women face around the world. She was also Lee the spokesperson for the National Denim Day fundraiser, which raises money for breast cancer research and education.

Emily Blunt

Emily is an actress who has won a Golden Globe Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award. While growing up, she had a stutter. Now, she works with a non-profit to help other children with stutters. She has made it her mission to help kids find their voice and their confidence.

Princess Diana

Diana was the first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales. She gave birth to Prince William and Prince Harry. Diana tried her hardest to make societal changes in the United Kingdom. She supported non-profit charity campaigns across the world.

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