In the midst of the electoral horse race, it’s easy to grow cynical about the capacity for change in US politics. But as Nation writer and author of The 100 Greatest Americans of the 21st Century Peter Dreier reminds us, social justice victories from Social Security to women’s enfranchisement are the legacy of a century of activists who inspired change. He joined MSNBC’s The Cycle to run down the list of 100, from Saul Alinsky to Malcolm X, and reinforce why justice and equality are the true American values (despite what Newt Gingrich might say).

—Christie Thompson