List of civil rights leaders

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Civil rights leaders are influential figures in the promotion and implementation of political freedom and the expansion of personal civil liberties and rights. They work to protect individuals and groups from political repression and discrimination by governments and private organizations, and seek to ensure the ability of all members of society to participate in the civil and political life of the state.

Civil rights include individual rights to equal protection and service, privacy, freedom of thought, freedom of expression, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom to travel, freedom of worship, protection of civil liberties, the right to vote, and the right to freely share ideas and opinions through all forms of communication and media. People who motivated themselves and then led others to gain and protect these rights and liberties include:

  • Frankie Muse Freeman (born 1916) – American civil rights attorney, and the first woman to be appointed to the United States Commission on Civil Rights
  • Joseph Lowery (born 1921) – American SCLC leader and co-founder, activist
  • Charles Evers (born 1922) – American civil rights activist
  • Phyllis Lyon (born 1924) – American co-founder of first social and political organization for lesbians in the US
  • C.T. Vivian (born 1924) – American student civil rights leader, SNCC and SCLC activist
  • James Lawson (born 1928) – American minister and activist, SCLC's teacher of nonviolence in civil rights movement
  • Wyatt Tee Walker (born 1929) – American activist and organizer with NAACP, CORE, and SCLC
  • Dorothy Cotton (born 1930) – American SCLC official, activist, organizer, and leader
  • Dolores Huerta (born 1930) – American labor and civil rights activist, initiator, organizer
  • Desmond Tutu (born 1931) – South African anti-apartheid organizer, advocate, inspiration
  • Lola Hendricks (born 1932) – activist, local leader in Birmingham Movement
  • Andrew Young (born 1932) – American SCLC activist and executive director
  • Dick Gregory (born 1932) – American free speech advocate and activist in the civil rights movement, comedian
  • James Meredith (born 1933) – American independent student leader and self–starting Mississippi activist
  • Louis Farrakhan (born 1933) – American, Controversial Minister and National Representative of the Nation of Islam
  • Gloria Steinem (born 1934) – American writer, activist, feminist
  • Bob Moses (born 1935) – leader, activist, and organizer in '60s Mississippi Movement
  • Tenzin Gyatso (born 1935) – Tibetan, 14th Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists, advocate for nonviolence, compassion, and Tibetan autonomy
  • Charles Sherrod (born 1937)- American civil rights activist, SNCC leader
  • Diane Nash (born 1938) – American SNCC and SCLC activist and official, strategist, organizer
  • Claudette Colvin (born 1939) – American Montgomery Bus Boycott pioneer, independent activist
  • Bernard Lafayette (born 1940) – American SCLC and SNCC activist, organizer, and leader
  • John Lewis (born 1940) – American Nashville Student Movement and SNCC activist, organizer, speaker, congressman, inspiration
  • Jesse Jackson (born 1941) – American civil rights activist, politician
  • Aung San Suu Kyi (born 1945) – Burmese Politician, former political prisoner, democracy and human rights activist
  • Rebiya Kadeer (born 1946) – ethnic Uyghur civil right activist, independence right activist, businesswoman
  • Dana Beal (born 1947) – American pro-hemp activist, organizer, speaker, initiator
  • Ashok Row Kavi (born 1947) – Indian LGBT rights activist, pioneer Indian gay rights movement, founder of Humsafar Trust
  • Benjamin Chavis (born 1948) – American activist, chemist, minister, author, leader of Wilmington 10, Director Commission for Racial Justice of the United Church of Christ, campaigner against Environmental Racism, Executive Director of NAACP, National Director of the Million Man March
  • Andre DiMino (born 1950) – Italian-American civil rights activist
  • Judy Shepard (born 1952) – gay rights activist, public speaker
  • Al Sharpton (born 1954) – American clergyman, activist, media
  • Rigoberta Menchú (born 1959) – Guatemalan indigenous rights leader, co-founder Nobel Women's Initiative
  • Steven Goldstein (born 1962) – American gay rights activist, professor, political activist, congressional staffer
  • Chee Soon Juan (born 1962) – Singaporean Politician, former political prisoner, democracy and human rights activist.
  • Steven Goldstein (born 1962) – American gay rights activist, professor, political activist, congressional staffer
  • Kayode Ajulo (born 1974) – Nigerian lawyer, civil rights activist, founded Egalitarian Mission for Africa to promote, equity, equality and rule of law in class conscious African societies.
  • Malala Yousafzai (born 1997) – Pakistani, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, advocate for education for girls
  • Harish Iyer (born 1979) – Indian gender and sexuality rights activist, campaigns against child sexual abuse and for animal rights, inspiration.

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