BlackFacts Details

Famous Civil Rights Leaders and Social Justice Activists

The civil rights leaders and social justice activists who helped change U.S. society in the 20th century came from a variety of class, racial and regional backgrounds. While Martin Luther King was born to a middle class family in the South, Cesar Chavez was born to migrant workers in California. Others such as Malcolm X and Fred Koremastu grew up in Northern cities. Learn more about the eclectic mix of civil rights leaders and social justice activists who fought to change the status quo.

Born to migrant worker parents of Mexican descent in Yuma, Ariz., Cesar Chavez went on to advocate for farm workers of all backgrounds—Hispanic, black, white, Filipino. He drew national attention to the poor working conditions farm workers lived in and the dangerous pesticides and toxic chemicals they were exposed to on the job. Chavez raised awareness about farm workers by embracing the philosophy of nonviolence. He even went on repeated hunger strikes to focus the public on his cause. He died in 1993. More »

Martin Luther King’s name and image is so omnipresent that it’s easy for one to think there’s nothing new to learn about the civil rights leader. But King was a complex man who not only used nonviolence to end racial segregation but also fought for the rights of poor people and laborers and against conflicts such as the Vietnam War. While King is remembered now for overcoming Jim Crow laws, he did not become the most recognized civil rights leader in history without a few struggles. Learn more about the complicated life King led with this list of little-known facts about the activist and minister. More »

All too often the contributions that women made to the civil rights movement are entirely overlooked. In reality, women played a key role in the fight against racial segregation, in the fight to allow farm workers to unionize and other movements. Dolores Huerta, Ella Baker and Fannie Lou Hamer are just a few in a long line of women who

Literature Facts