After college, Keller set out to learn more about the world and how she could help improve the lives of others. News of her story spread beyond Massachusetts and New England.
She became a well-known celebrity
and lecturer by sharing her experiences with audiences, and working on
behalf of others living with disabilities. Throughout the first half
of the 20th century, Keller tackled social and political issues,
including women's suffrage, pacifism and birth control. She testified
before Congress, strongly advocating to improve the welfare of blind
people. In 1915, along with renowned city planner George Kessler, she
co-founded Helen Keller International to combat the causes and
consequences of blindness and malnutrition. In 1920, she helped found
the American Civil Liberties Union.
When the American Federation
for the Blind was established in 1921, Keller had an effective national
outlet for her efforts. She became a member in 1924, and participated
in many campaigns to raise awareness, money and support for the blind.
She also joined other organizations dedicated to helping those less
fortunate, including the Permanent Blind War Relief Fund (later called
the American Braille Press).
Soon after she graduated from
college, Keller became a member of the Socialist Party, most likely due
in part to her friendship with John Macy. Between 1909 and 1921, she
wrote several articles about socialism and supported Eugene Debs, a
Socialist Party presidential candidate. Her series of essays on
socialism, entitled "Out of the Dark," described her views on socialism
and world affairs.
It was during this time that Keller first
experienced public prejudice about her disabilities. For most of her
life, the press had been overwhelmingly supportive of her, praising her
courage and intelligence. But after she expressed her socialist views,
some criticized her by calling attention to her disabilities. One
newspaper, the Brooklyn Eagle, wrote that her "mistakes sprung out of the manifest limitations of her development."