5 People Who Changed the World in the 20th Century

We often go a little too far in our fascination with celebrities and famous people. From a young age, kids get in the habit of looking to athletes, entertainers, and even billionaire moguls as examples of people they aspire to be like.

Many famous people have changed the world and deserve recognition for their influence on society. These people inspire others to achieve great things in their own lives.

From the Model T Ford, a Henry Ford invention, to the expansion of sports like basketball because of Michael Jordan, there are many ways that the world changed forever in the 20th century. We’ll cover these people and many others who altered the course of history for the foreseeable future.

1. Shigeru Miyamoto

Source: ign.com

Whether you are a video game fan or not, you are familiar with Shigeru Miyamoto’s presence in the entertainment culture that has dominated the world since the 1980s. He has been the lead game designer for video game giant Nintendo for years.

Characters he created such as Mario, Donkey Kong, Link, Zelda, and Kirby have become synonymous with fun and excitement for decades.

Parents may not like the way video games have become one of the most popular forms of entertainment, but they know that when they put in one of Nintendo’s popular games, they’re getting family-friendly entertainment, not blood and gore.

Shigeru Miyamoto has changed the world because he has proven that people are passionate about video games and they can stimulate children’s brains, not ruin them. Gaming is an incredibly stimulating activity that encourages creativity, problem-solving, abstract thinking, and more.

Video games are much more interactive than other media such as television and film. Because of Shigeru Miyamoto’s famous characters and games, generations of people can enjoy the pleasures and benefits of playing video games.

2. Michael Jordan

Athletes are often made fun of for being too rich, too entitled, and not important enough to society to warrant the attention they get. Michael Jordan is an entirely different story, though. A six-time NBA champion with the Chicago Bulls throughout the 1990s, Jordan redefined what it meant to be great in any endeavor in life.

Jordan became one of the most famous people on Earth and inspired millions of children to try their best in whatever they wanted to accomplish. His various endorsement deals with Nike, Gatorade, McDonald’s, and more allowed him to be on everyone’s TV screen no matter what they were watching. He transcended basketball and became a cultural icon.

Jordan proved that athletes were more than just what they did on the field. Athletics teaches concepts like competitiveness, teamwork, communication, and humility. These things are all needed to succeed in sports, and Jordan used these same qualities to expand his reach, whether he was playing basketball or selling shoes.

For these reasons and so many others, Michael Jordan became the most successful athlete of the 20th century and someone that people could be proud to emulate.

3. Henry Ford

Source: thoughtco.com

The founder of the car company Ford, Henry Ford is one of the most influential and important businessmen who ever lived. He invented the Model T automobile, the simple car that was an affordable and reliable car for all Americans. This allowed people of all income levels to buy a car and travel by motor vehicle. Before the Model T, cars were only for the richest people in society.

Henry Ford was also the inventor of the assembly line, which allowed cars to be made quickly and efficiently. This forever changed the auto industry and allowed the American economy to flourish in the early part of the 1900s.

Ford was one of the main distributors of military vehicles during World War II, helping the U.S. and its allies win the conflict. This means Ford indirectly shaped the political landscape of the latter half of the 20th century.

Cars and transportation are some of the most important industries in this country, and Henry Ford’s revolutionary techniques and ideas allowed for huge growth in so many areas of the U.S. Ford as a company was one of the main job providers in the nation throughout the 20th century.

The company continues to be a forward-thinking powerhouse, developing electric vehicles such as the Ford F-150 Lightning, considered one of the top electric trucks.

4.  Martin Luther King Jr.

What else can be said about Martin Luther King Jr.? Dr. King was the most famous civil rights activist of the 20th century. His memory is honored every January with a national holiday because of what he did to advance society and make everyone more accepting of one another.

King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech is arguably the most important public speech of the century. Almost 60 years later, we are still trying to abide by the eloquence and sensitivity of King’s words.

Unfortunately, people are still struggling with being victimized by racism and other forms of discrimination today. We all need to remember some of the most famous quotes from Dr. King. It truly doesn’t matter what the color of your skin is. Who you are on the inside is what makes you a great person.

5. Ellen Degeneres

Source: nytimes.com

Ellen Degeneres became one of the most influential people of the 20th century when she came out as a lesbian in 1997. She used her sitcom as a vehicle for this coming out, as her character revealed her sexuality to co-star Laura Dern right after she did. Degeneres’ courage opened the floodgates for other celebrities to reveal their sexuality.

This is when the power celebrities have to inspire comes to light. People who are part of the LGBTQ+ community have been discriminated against for centuries. If important public figures show the world that it’s OK to be non-straight, then the rest of us can also accept ourselves.

Ellen Degeneres continued to inspire people on her talk show, which ended in 2022. Her success in so many different parts of the entertainment world shows other queer people that they can also succeed.

As you can see, there were a lot of people throughout the 20th century who changed the world forever. From inventors to athletes to social justice activists, famous people have brought light to the world that has allowed us all to live more fulfilling lives.