March 14 marks Write Your Story Day 2023 and provides us all with an opportunity to reflect on what makes us unique: our stories.
While the autobiographies we read might often be written by celebrities and produced on an industrial scale to be sold around the world, our stories (our own and those of our communities) are equally important—even if they are read by only a small number of people.
While we may not be able to write about how we rubbed shoulders with famous people, how we changed the world and had a global impact, or how our legacies will live on long after we are gone, we can inspire and engage others with our unique and personal stories of happiness and sadness, inspiration and motivation, and triumphs and tribulations.
To that end, the third NEHS Writing Contest (April 10-24, 2023) is dedicated to short personal narratives that focus on a unique event or experience in the life of the writer. We hope as many students and Chapter Advisors as possible will contribute to this contest and will share moments in their lives that can educate, entertain, and inform readers. Winning submissions will be published on our blog and sent to the 70,000 students and 1,600 Chapter Advisors that form the NEHS community.
Here are some of our favorite autobiographies, written by influential people from all over the world, to inspire you:
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave
Frederick Douglass (1845)
Douglass overcame the abuse and hardship of his youth as a slave in the American South, escaped to the North and become the leading spokesperson for the abolitionist movement in the USA. This autobiography was written by Douglass to disarm his critics, many of whom believed that he could not have been a slave because he was able to read and write. This is a must-read text for any students of American History and American Literature, giving first-hand insight into the lives of slaves and the legal and political systems that supported slavery for centuries.
Earl Lind (1918)
This autobiography is not as well-known as it should be and was never written for the general public to consume but rather was envisioned as a text for medical practitioners. Lind depicts their life as a non-binary person at the turn of the twentieth century through simple and clear language with the aim of providing doctors and nurses with the information they needed to end the discrimination and lack of recognition non-binary people faced when receiving medical care: a fight that still goes on today. Anyone who wants to learn about the history of the queer and transgender community should read Autobiography of an Androgyne.
Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A.
Luis Rodriguez (1993)
This autobiography was written by Rodriguez as a way of saving his son from the gang culture that pervaded his own youth. Drawn into gang culture as a child, Rodriguez witnessed numerous beatings, shooting and killings within his own neighborhood. His only way out was to educate himself and use his skills as a writer to free himself from the torment of his youth. If you want to read a truly inspirational story of overcoming great odds, this is for you.
All the texts discussed above can be purchased in-person or online from Tattered Cover Bookstore, an official partner of the Sigma Tau Delta 2023 Convention.
National English Honor Society
The National English Honor Society (NEHS), founded and sponsored by Sigma Tau Delta, is the only international organization exclusively for secondary students and faculty who, in the field of English, merit special note for past and current accomplishments. Individual secondary schools are invited to petition for a local chapter, through which individuals may be inducted into Society membership. Immediate benefits of affiliation include academic recognition, scholarship and award eligibility, and opportunities for networking with others who share enthusiasm for, and accomplishment in, the language arts.
America’s first honor society was founded in 1776, but high school students didn’t have access to such organizations for another 150 years. Since then, high school honor societies have been developed in leadership, drama, journalism, French, Spanish, mathematics, the sciences, and in various other fields, but not in English. In 2005, National English Honor Society launched and has been growing steadily since, becoming one of the largest academic societies for secondary schools.
As Joyce Carol Oates writes, “This is the time for which we have been waiting.” Or perhaps it was Shakespeare: “Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer . . .” we celebrate English studies through NEHS.
National English Honor Society accepts submissions to our blog, NEHS Museletter, from all membership categories (students, Advisors, and alumni). If you are interested in submitting a blog, please read the Suggested Guidelines on our website. Email any questions and all submissions to: email@example.com.