It’s been said that great people are willing to step up to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. Over the years, there have been a number of minority groups that the majority has attempted to oppress. Fighting for equal rights, these Civil Rights leaders helped to form the foundation of the equality that so many are able to experience today.
1. Claude Black
With aspirations to become a doctor at first, Black eventually went into the ministry and became the pastor of a church in San Antonio for nearly 40 years. He founded many community groups that helped minorities in his home town and is credited with organizing marches throughout Texas to protest the unfair treatment of minorities at home.
2. George Mason
Mason is often referred to as the “Father of the Bill of Rights.” His emphasis on providing each state individualized rights became the foundation of every civil rights movement that would follow along. He even refused to sign the Constitution because it didn’t have a guarantee of those rights. He developed the phrasing the men have the right and enjoyment of life and liberty and to pursue happiness.
3. James Bevel
During the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960′s, Bevel helped to strategize some of the most successful marches of the time. He also protested the Vietnam War and initiated the march of the United Nations that occurred in 1965. Bevel was also heavily involved with the Million Man March that happened in Washington, DC in 1995.
4. Martin Luther King, Jr.
No list of Civil Rights leaders would be complete without MLK. He worked to become the face of the movement because he wanted it to be seen as non-violent. He fought to persuade people through idealism instead of violence and many of his speeches today still live on because of the words that were said and the passions behind them.
5. James Farmer
Farmer took a different approach to the civil rights movement. He began the Freedom Ride in 1961 to challenge non-enforcement of Supreme Court orders on interstate buses and this eventually led to eliminating segregation when it came to state-to-state transportation in the US. He also became one of the first leaders of the Congress of Racial Equality.
6. WEB Du Bois
Du Bois is known for his work as an author, but he was also the first African American to graduate from Harvard with a doctorate. He became a professor at Atlanta University and is one of the co-founders of the NAACP. He worked with the Niagara Movement and wouldn’t compromise on civil rights, even when other leaders in his movement were seeking ways to do so.
7. Ralph Abernathy
After the assassination of MLK, Ralph Abernathy took up the leadership role. He led the march on DC that had been planned for May 1968 and helped to organize bus boycotts to help support some of the poorest of the poor in the US. He fought for the rights of the oppressed and even protested the space launches because of the cost.