Martin Luther King Junior was a leader of the African-American Civil Rights Movement. While fighting against injustice meted to the African-Americans, he carefully shunned violence. His ideas were based on Christian doctrines but for operational techniques he looked towards Mahatma Gandhi's non-violent movement. His first major campaign was Montgomery Bus Boycott. It not only led to the abolition of racial segregation on Montgomery public transport system, but also turned King Jr. into a national figure and the fiercest spokesperson of civil rights movement. Subsequently, he led many other nonviolent campaigns and gave many inspiring speeches. Later, he expanded the ambit of his movement and started fighting for equal employment opportunity. His ˜March to Washington for Jobs and Freedom' was one such campaign. In his short life, he was arrested twenty-nine times. He dreamt that one day every human being would be judged by his ability, not by the color of his skin. He died from a white fanatic's bullet at the age of thirty-nine.
Rosa Louise McCauley Parks was an American civil rights activist, often known as the ˜mother of the freedom movement' and ˜the first lady of civil rights'. She was an African-American civil rights activist who ignited the Civil Rights Movement by taking a brave step that no other African-American person dared to take until then. She lived and worked in Montgomery where there was a very clear demarcation of what was for black people and what was reserved for white people. Apparently, black people were not allowed to sit alongside white people in the public buses. There were special reserved seats for them in the rear end of the bus and their seating was based completely on the discretion of the driver. One day when Parks was coming back from work, she was asked to get up and give her seat to a white passenger, to which she said no. She was arrested in 1955 for this act, the incident that caused the Civil Rights Movement to flare up. Parks grew up, worked and lived most of her life in Montgomery and along with her husband she was already a part of a social activist group. The magnanimity of her actions made her very famous and she lived all of her life devoting her time and energy for social causes and emancipation of the African-Americans.
Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani women's rights activist who became the youngest ever person to be awarded the Nobel Prize when she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 jointly with the Indian activist, Kailash Satyarthi. The young lady is mainly known for her advocacy for female education in her native Swat Valley, in Pakistan. Born into a family of progressive thinkers and educationists, Malala started expressing her frustration over the restrictive practices of the Taliban in an anonymous blog when she was just 11 years old. Very mature and intelligent for her young age, the pre-teen courageously wrote about how the Taliban were attempting to control the valley and trying to prevent girls from going to school. Her blog gained much prominence around the world and she soon became popular as an emerging activist who campaigned for girls' rights to education. Encouraged by her father to freely express her thoughts, she became more vocal in voicing her opinion of women's rights to education. This angered the Taliban which issued a death threat against her and she was shot by a gunman when she was returning form school. The gutsy girl survived the horrific attack and retuned to activism even more determined than before.
Escaped slave who became an abolitionist and Union spy during the Civil War and rescued over 300 slaves using the Underground Railroad, a network of secret routes and safe houses that aided runaway slaves. She also fought for women's suffrage after the end of the Civil War.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was an Indian lawyer who became the primary leader of India's independence movement. Better known as Mahatma Gandhi, he not only led India to independence from British rule but also inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world in several other countries. Best remembered for his employment of nonviolent means of civil disobedience, he led Indians in the Dandi Salt March to protest against the British-imposed salt tax and launched the Quit India Movement, a mass protest demanding "an orderly British withdrawal" from India. Born into a religious family in British India, he was raised by parents who emphasized on religious tolerance, simplicity and strong moral values. As a young man he went to England to study law and later started working in South Africa. There he witnessed rampant acts of racism and discrimination which angered him greatly. He spent over two decades in South Africa over the period of which he developed a strong sense of social justice, and led several social campaigns. Upon his return to India he became active in the Indian Independence Movement, ultimately leading his motherland to independence from the British rule. He was also a social activist who campaigned for women's rights, religious tolerance, and reduction of poverty.
She was young. She was sweetly innocent. And she was unaware of what her small step would do to her community in the coming years. As a young brilliant student who successfully cleared the aptitude test to qualify for an admission into a better educational institution, she paved way to unite two completely different races and groups. At the young age of six, she became a public face by entering into and desegregating an all-white school. Little did she know that her excitement to study at a new institution would bring about a major difference in the lives of colored Americans, who presumed African-Americans not capable of walking shoulder-to-shoulder with them. However, it was her struggle and determination that helped her fight all odds and complete her schooling. Many books, paintings and movies have shown the hardships and obstacles she experienced in her initial days. Since then, she has been fighting and working to alter the lives of African-Americans and give them a free and liberated environment by eradicating the dividing disease called racism, through her foundation. She is firm and strong-minded on her dream of providing children with equal opportunities to grow and prosper.
The story of Cesar Chavez, the Latino-American civil rights activist, is an extraordinary one. His famous words, ˜Si, se puede' (Yes, it can be done) is pregnant with meaning and represents the cause that he fought for. The sacrifices he made in order to fight for the rights of farm workers and others using non-violent means, forms a story so intriguing and inspiring. It is believed that his frequent hunger strikes in order to fight for the rights of workers eventually led to his poor health and sudden demise. He recognized all too well the adversities farm workers repeatedly faced, which he himself experienced as a little boy. As a migrant farm worker, he would slog in the fields quite often so he knew the standards that were required in order for these farmers to live a comfortable and respectable life. His attitude to unionism and forceful yet non-violent tactics, made the farm workers' struggle an honest cause with coast-to-coast support. Throughout his career, he led protests, called for embargoes and went on several hunger strikes. He became so famous for his cause that he earned the support of famous personalities including Jesse Jackson and Robert Kennedy.
Public speaker and civil rights activist who is the first-born son of <a title='Martin Luther King Jr.' href='/famous/martin-luther-king.htm'>Martin Luther King Jr.</a> and <a title='Coretta Scott King' href='/famous/coretta-scott-king.htm'>Coretta Scott King</a>. He has worked throughout his career to keep the memory and the causes of his father alive.
Coretta Scott King was an American civil rights activist and the wife of Martin Luther King Jr., who headed the American civil rights struggle. King was an advocate of non-violence and women's rights. She was actively involved in the ˜Civil Rights Movement,' with her husband. King grew up in a middle-class African“American family. While in school, she faced several hardships due to the social system, which did not allow colored children to mingle with the whites. Being a victim of racial discrimination forced King to become active in anti-racist movements. She was a talented singer and wanted to build a career in music. Her marriage to Martin Luther King Jr. changed the course of her life. She worked hand in hand with her husband, to secure equal rights for the African“American people. She was against the idea of men leading the civil rights struggle and tried to gather more female support. Following her husband's assassination, King was required to take over the reins of the movement started by him. She broadened the scope of her work, to include LGBT rights, world peace, and several other causes. King established an organization named after her husband, to spread the message of non-violent social change. As a result of her relentless campaigns, King Jr.'s birthday was declared a national holiday. King openly criticized the system of apartheid. She is fondly remembered as the First Lady of the Civil Rights Movement.
America's first openly gay politician, Harvey Bernard Milk was an icon for the gay community in the United States and a champion of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) civil rights movement. Basically a native of New York, he moved to San Francisco during a mass migration of gay men to the city. The environment in San Francisco was more encouraging towards the gay rights movement and he began to actively participate in local politics. During his initial years he had kept his sexual orientation a secret but later came out of the closet as he realized that he would be able to do more for the LGBT community as an openly gay politician. After running unsuccessfully for political office three times he was finally elected as a city supervisor. His selection made national headlines in the country as it was the first time an openly gay candidate had been elected. Upon occupying the office, one of the first initiatives he took was to sponsor a civil rights bill that outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation”this was a very significant step in furthering the civil rights of the LGBT community. He became a very popular politician due to his concern for the people. Unfortunately he was assassinated after serving just 11 months in office.
Civil rights activist and daughter of famous civil rights leader <a title='Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.' href='/famous/martin-luther-king.htm'>Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.</a> who played <a title='Rosa Parks' href='/famous/rosa-parks.htm'>Rosa Parks</a> in the 1978 TV miniseries King.
One of the most fierce and outspoken political figures in the USA, Jesse Jackson is known for his crusade against racism in America. Ever since he entered high school, he came face to face with the tortures that all African-Americans had to go through while trying to lead a normal life. Thus, from a very young age he involved himself in various civil rights movements, which earned the favor of Martin Luther King Jr. He conducted several marches and participated in various movements in support of equality and to end racial discrimination. In a short span of time, he became one of the leading personalities among the African-Americans to fight against racial discrimination. He was even looked upon as the successor of Martin Luther King Jr. but he fell prey to certain controversies and was suspended from Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the brainchild of King. Apart from advocating equal rights for the African-Americans, Jackson also promoted numerous global causes. He has been fighting against abortion and has been working hard to stop drug abuse.
Mother of rapper <a title='Tupac Shakur' href='/famous/tupac-shakur.htm'>Tupac Shakur</a> and founder of the philanthropic Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation.
Viola Desmond was a Canadian citizen of mixed race, who championed the cause of equal rights for people with dark skin, in early 20th century. Her father was black and her mother was white, which was not very common in Canada in those days. Though Canada had no laws that segregated the black people from the white, it was a norm for the blacks to not mix with the whites. Her husband was black and worked as a barber. Viola wanted black women to have access to beauty salons and beauty products that were only available to white people at that time. She completed her beauty training and opened her own beauty salon that catered to the requirements of black people. She also launched her own beauty products and became an entrepreneur in her own right. She came into prominence as an activist when she refused to vacate a seat in a theater that was reserved for white people. Although she was charged with tax evasion, since she was sold a ticket for a cheaper seat reserved for black people, she gave rise to a movement of black people who fought for equal rights.
Nat Turner was one of the most controversial characters of the nineteenth century America. Born into slavery, this African American youth organized the biggest slave rebellion in the United States of America in the early nineteenth century. Although it did not succeed in emancipating the slaves it busted the myth that they were contented with their lot and ultimately paved the way for abolition of slavery. Different people have different opinion about him. He was declared a prophet by his fellow slaves and respected as such. In 1960, he became an icon of black power movement in the US. Even to this day some scholars hail him as a hero fighting for a just cause. Another group calls him a religious fanatic and a murderer, not different from modern day terrorists. They argue that his method was villainous and cannot be supported at any cost. Yet, one cannot deny the fact that the rebellion he organized was not for his own benefit; he tried to liberate his fellow slaves who were treated inhumanly by their white masters and punished severely at the slightest mistake. Nat himself was no exception to that. A large knot of bones in his right wrist was a pointer to the fact.
The first ever person arrested for protesting against bus segregation in Alabama, Claudette Colvin is an African-American civil rights activist who dared to question the discrimination faced by blacks from a young age. Growing up in a poor neighborhood, she had witnessed several accounts of racism and discrimination not only at the hands of the whites, but also at the hands of members of her very own black African-American community. For some reasons most Americans in the mid-19th century still held on to the prejudiced belief that lighter skinned people were superior. And Claudette is not just black, but has a darker shade of black, and thus discrimination was not alien to her. But she was not someone who would give up on her rights to social equality. Brave and gutsy from an early age, she became the first person to protest against segregation in buses in Alabama when she was just a teenaged schoolgirl. She was charged for failing to comply with the segregation rules and pleaded not guilty. This was the first time a black woman had publicly stood up against the practice of bus segregation. However, her pioneering efforts never received wide-spread recognition or approval from the community due to her age and certain social factors.
An anti-lynching crusader, Ida B. Wells was an American activist who courageously spoke about democratic rights for people against racial inequalities. Because of her parents' early death, Ida had to drop out of school, and take up a job as a teacher. While traveling on a train, despite having a first class ticket, Ida was asked to move to a car designated for African-Americans made her realize that racial segregation was prevalent despite the Civil Rights Act which banned discrimination against creed, colour or race. Ida understood the need to voice her opinion and took up writing articles in various newspapers and magazines about racial inequality. She had to forego her job as a teacher as she was vocal about the injustice meted out to colored students in schools. An incident where three businessmen were lynched by a white mob, urged her to speak against this practice, and as a result of this her newspaper office was vandalised. There were death threats, but Ida spoke against lynching in public forums and also tried to influence the reformed whites which eventually brought her anti-lynching crusade to White House. She was also personally responsible for establishing a number of associations which upheld the values of civil rights, and spoke against racial discrimination in government offices
Minister, civil rights activist, and former president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's Virginia chapter.
Founder of Bethune-Cookman University, one of the earliest educational institutions that catered to black students. She was often referred to as "The First Lady of The Struggle" by her supporters.
Advocate for women's' rights and immigrant workers' rights, who co-founded the National Farmworkers Association, which is now known as the United Farm Workers, in 1962.
Marcus Garvey was a political activist, entrepreneur and orator of Jamaican origin. The harsh treatment that he received from his white friends on racial ground left a deep impact on his mind since his teenage days. While working as an editor in Costa Rica, he regularly wrote about the plight of migrant workers in the plantation areas. He is the founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association that aimed to unite people with African origin in order to establish their own country. He also published his pamphlet "The Negro Race and Its Problems" to propagate his inspirational message for the black people. To apply his philosophy of economic empowerment of the blacks which is better known as Garveyism, he established the Black Star Line, a shipping company along with UNIA. Its establishment can be considered as a new beginning of economic freedom of blacks. As the provisional president of Africa by UNIA, he discussed his plan of transportation of African Americans with the Ku Klux Klan. Apart from that, he severely criticised Jim Crow laws and deprivation of black people from their right to vote. He tried to convince the government of Liberia to grant land to settle black people of America there. Unfortunately his plan failed.
American civil and human rights activist best known for helping found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Her career spanned over five decades and she is considered by many to be one of the most important women of the 20th century.
Civil rights activist and minister well known for his advocacy within the Black American community. He was also formerly a White House advisor, providing counsel to both <a title='Bill Clinton' href='/famous/bill-clinton.htm'>Bill Clinton</a> and <a title='Barack Obama' href='/famous/barack-obama.htm'>Barack Obama</a>.
Suffragette best known for being a key figure in the founding of the Australian Labor Party in Brisbane. She advocated for women's rights and workplace rights in Australia.