Human societies are shaped by people who take leadership roles or who promote ideas about change. These people inspire others to take action or to think of ideas that facilitate change.
Decades before human rights became a global language, there were people who worked for societal change based on ideas that we now consider as human rights. These people pioneered such ideas or led movements to realize them. They have been hailed as heroines/heroes. They have been cited as icons, making them bigger than life figures in history.
But before they were put on the pedestal, they lived lives that portrayed their transformation into personalities that would influence their respective societies. Their personal histories are important, probably equal in significance in some cases to their public lives.
Knowing these icons beyond their public images prevents the temptation of projecting them as perfect human beings. The more they are seen as ordinary mortals, the greater the chance that their ideas and actions will be recognized with critical yet appreciative perspective.
Their contribution to the betterment of human society being already established, it is important to see them not simply with a sense of awe but more importantly with a sense of realism.