Civil Rights

A glossary of important Black (African) American individuals from the past and present. A knowledgeable resource for all, brought to you with an artistic touch.

Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali was an American professional boxer, activist, and philanthropist. Nicknamed “The Greatest,” he is widely regarded as one of the most significant and celebrated sports figures of the 20th century and as one of the greatest boxers of all time.

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Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was an American poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning over 50 years.

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Ella Baker

Ella Baker

Ella Baker was an African-American civil rights and human rights activist. She was a largely behind-the-scenes organizer whose career spanned more than five decades. In New York City and the South, she worked alongside some of the most noted civil rights leaders of the 20th century.

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Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker was an American-born French entertainer, activist, and French Resistance agent. Her career was centered primarily in Europe, mostly in her adopted France.

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James Baldwin

James Baldwin

James Arthur Baldwin was an American novelist, playwright, and activist. His essays, as collected in Notes of a Native Son (1955), explore intricacies of racial, sexual, and class distinctions in Western societies, most notably in mid-20th-century North America.

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Afrika Bambaataa

Afrika Bambaataa

Afrika Bambaataa is an American disc jockey, rapper, songwriter and producer from the South Bronx, New York. He is notable for releasing a series of genre-defining electro tracks in the 1980s that influenced the development of hip hop culture.

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Amiri Baraka

Amiri Baraka

Amiri Baraka, previously known as LeRoi Jones and Imamu Amear Baraka, was an American writer of poetry, drama, fiction, essays and music criticism. He was the author of numerous books of poetry and taught at several universities.

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Harry Belafonte

Harry Belafonte

Harry Belafonte is an American singer, songwriter, activist, and actor. One of the most successful Jamaican-American pop stars in history, he was dubbed the “King of Calypso” for popularizing the Caribbean musical style with an international audience in the 1950s.

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Mary McLeod Bethune

Mary McLeod Bethune

Mary McLeod Bethune was an American educator, stateswoman, philanthropist, humanitarian, and civil rights activist best known for starting a private school for African-American students in Florida and co-founding UNCF on April 25, 1944 with William Trent and Frederick D. Patterson.

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The Black Panther Party

The Black Panther Party

The Black Panther Party (BPP), originally the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, was a revolutionary political organization in Oakland, California. The party was active in the United States from 1966 until 1982, with chapters in numerous major cities and international chapters.

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Julian Bond

Julian Bond

Julian Bond was an American social activist and leader in the Civil Rights Movement, politician, professor and writer. While a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, during the early 1960s, he helped to establish the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

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James Brown

James Brown

James Joseph Brown was an American singer, songwriter, dancer, musician, record producer and bandleader. A progenitor of funk music and a major figure of 20th-century music and dance, he is often referred to as the “Godfather of Soul”.

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Jim Brown

Jim Brown

James Nathaniel Brown is an American former professional football player and actor. He was a running back for the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League (NFL) from 1957 through 1965.

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Sam Cooke

Sam Cooke

Samuel Cook, known professionally as Sam Cooke, was an American singer, songwriter, civil-rights activist, and entrepreneur. Influential as both a singer and composer, he is commonly known as the King of Soul for his distinctive vocals and importance within popular music.

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Ruby Dee

Ruby Dee

Ruby Dee was an American actress, poet, playwright, screenwriter, journalist, and civil rights activist. She is perhaps best known for originating the role of “Ruth Younger” in the stage and film versions of A Raisin in the Sun (1961).

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Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass

Muhammad Ali was an American professional boxer, activist, and philanthropist. Nicknamed “The Greatest,” he is widely regarded as one of the most significant and celebrated sports figures of the 20th century and as one of the greatest boxers of all time.

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W.E.B. Du Bois

W.E.B. Du Bois

William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was an American sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, Pan-Africanist, author, writer and editor. Du Bois was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909.

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Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin was an American singer, songwriter, pianist, and civil rights activist. By the end of the 1960s, Aretha Franklin had come to be known as “The Queen of Soul”.

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Marcus Garvey

Marcus Garvey

Marcus Garvey, Jr. ONH was a Jamaican political activist, publisher, journalist, entrepreneur, and orator. He was the founder and first President-General of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL, commonly known as UNIA).

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Dick Gregory

Dick Gregory

Dick Gregory was an American comedian, civil rights activist, social critic, writer, conspiracy theorist, entrepreneur, and occasional actor. During the turbulent 1960s, Gregory became a pioneer in stand-up comedy for his “no-holds-barred” sets, in which he mocked bigotry and racism.

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Fannie Lou Hamer

Fannie Lou Hamer

Fannie Lou Hamer was an American voting and women's rights activist, community organizer, and a leader in the civil rights movement. She was the co-founder and vice-chair of the Freedom Democratic Party, which she represented at the 1964 Democratic National Convention.

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Dorothy Height

Dorothy Height

Dorothy Height was a revolutionary leader for the civil rights movement, known for her contributions and ideological breakthroughs. She's often referred to as being an extremely prominent figure, as she was of great significance in both women's rights and civil rights movements.

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Lena Horne

Lena Horne

Lena Horne was an American singer, dancer, actress, and civil rights activist. Horne's career spanned over 70 years appearing in film, television, and theater. Horne joined the chorus of the Cotton Club at the age of 16 and became a nightclub performer before moving to Hollywood.

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Barbara Jordan

Barbara Jordan

Barbara Jordan was an American lawyer, educator and politician who was a leader of the Civil Rights Movement. Also, the first African American elected to the Texas Senate after Reconstruction and the first Southern African-American woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

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Coretta Scott King

Coretta Scott King

Coretta Scott King was an American author, activist, civil rights leader, and the wife of Martin Luther King Jr. An active advocate for African-American equality, she was a leader for the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.

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Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. was an American Baptist minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968.

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Miriam Makeba

Miriam Makeba

Zenzile Miriam Makeba, nicknamed Mama Africa, was a South African singer, songwriter, actress, United Nations goodwill ambassador, and civil rights activist. Associated with musical genres, she was an advocate against apartheid and white-minority government in South Africa.

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Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, political leader, and philanthropist who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the country's first black head of state and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election.

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Cynthia McKinney

Cynthia McKinney

Cynthia McKinney is an American politician and activist who is an Assistant Professor at North South University, Bangladesh. As a member of the Democratic Party, she served six terms in the United States House of Representatives.

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A. Phillip Randolph

A. Phillip Randolph

Asa Philip Randolph was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement, the American labor movement, and socialist political parties. In 1925, he organized and led the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first predominantly African-American labor union.

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Faith Ringgold

Faith Ringgold

Faith Ringgold is a painter, writer, mixed media sculptor and performance artist, best known for her narrative quilts.

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Bayard Rustin

Bayard Rustin

Bayard Rustin was an American leader in social movements for civil rights, socialism, nonviolence, and gay rights. Rustin worked with A. Philip Randolph on the March on Washington Movement in 1941 to press for an end to racial discrimination in employment.

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Augusta Savage

Augusta Savage

Augusta Savage was an African-American sculptor associated with the Harlem Renaissance. She was also a teacher whose studio was important to the careers of a generation of artists who would become nationally known. She worked for equal rights for African Americans in the arts.

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Betty Shabazz

Betty Shabazz

Betty Shabazz, also known as Betty X, was an American educator and civil rights advocate. She was the wife of Malcolm X. Along with her husband, Shabazz left the Nation of Islam in 1964.

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Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth was an African-American abolitionist and women's rights activist. Truth was born into slavery in Swartekill, Ulster County, New York, but escaped with her infant daughter to freedom in 1826.

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Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman was an American abolitionist and political activist. Born into slavery, she escaped and subsequently made some 13 missions to rescue approximately 70 enslaved people using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad.

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Desmond Tutu

Desmond Tutu

Desmond Tutu is a South African Anglican cleric and theologian known for his work as an anti-apartheid and human rights activist. He was the Bishop of Johannesburg from 1985 to 1986 and then the Archbishop of Cape Town from 1986 to 1996.

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Alice Walker

Alice Walker

Alice Walker is an American novelist, short story writer, poet, and social activist. In 1982, she wrote the novel The Color Purple, for which she won the National Book Award for hardcover fiction, and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

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Booker T. Washington

Booker T. Washington

Booker Taliaferro Washington was an American educator, author, orator, and advisor to presidents of the United States. Between 1890 and 1915, Washington was the dominant leader in the African-American community.

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Ida B. Wells-Barnett

Ida B. Wells-Barnett

Ida Bell Wells-Barnett was an African-American investigative journalist, educator, and an early leader in the civil rights movement. She was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

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Malcolm X

Malcolm X

Malcolm X was an American Muslim minister and human rights activist who was a popular figure during the civil rights movement. He is best known for his controversial advocacy for the rights of blacks.

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Whitney Young, Jr.

Whitney Young, Jr.

Whitney Young, Jr. was an American civil rights leader who spent most of his career working to end employment discrimination in the United States, along with elevating the National Urban League.

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