Special Report

The Most Important Civil Rights Leaders of the 20th Century

Source: benwritesthings.com

21. Harry Hay (1912-2002)
> Occupations: Actor, film director, and teacher
> Cause: Gay rights

Hay was an early leader of the American gay and lesbian rights movement. In 1950 he started the first modern gay rights group, the Mattachine Society.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

22. Rosa Parks (1913-2005)
> Occupation: Seamstress, civil rights activist
> Cause: Equality in accommodations

Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus for a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama. She became the inspiration for the Montgomery bus boycott.

Source: Image courtesy of the Korematsu family / Wikimedia Commons

23. Gordon Hirabayashi (1918-2012)
> Occupations: Sociologist
> Cause: Japanese-American rights

After defying the evacuation and internment order for Japanese-Americans during World War II, Hirabayashi was convicted by the U.S. government. His name was cleared four decades later.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

24. Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)
> Occupations: Politician, lawyer, writer, and actor
> Cause: Ending apartheid in South Africa

Mandela led the struggle to end South Africa’s apartheid. He was jailed for 27 years for plotting to overthrow the South African government. After he was freed, he was elected president of South Africa.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

25. Jackie Robinson (1919-1972)
> Occupations: Athlete, actor, and sports commentator
> Cause: Breaking baseball’s color barrier

Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball in 1947, prevailing over unrelenting physical and verbal abuse. The eventual Hall of Famer continued the civil rights fight even after his baseball career concluded.