Born on June 14, 1928, Ernesto “Che” Guevara did not come into the world a revolutionary. He grew up in a middle-class Argentine family and trained to be a doctor, preparing to live a bourgeois life. But unlike others in his class, he was unable to shut his eyes to the injustices upon which material wealth was based: generational poverty and state-imposed policies designed to keep the poor ignorant and exploited. Life blessed him with the opportunity to live out his days in comfort, but instead he died age 39, fighting for revolution, murdered by CIA agents on Oct. 9, 1967, in the jungles of Bolivia.
Guevara’s eyes were famously opened to the harsh realities of capitalism for those born less privileged than him when, as a medical student in his early 20s, he hopped on a motorcycle and went on a tour of South America. He found disease, destitution and illiteracy—along with the sort of compassion and generosity that appears to be inversely related to the amount of wealth one possess. From that point on, he labored to uplift the working class from Cuba to Guatemala to the Congo. And, although his death was premature, his legacy continues to serve as an inspiration to revolutionaries around the world today.