Special Report

Most Important Civil Rights Leaders of the 20th Century

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

46. James Meredith (1933-)
> Occupation: Writer
> Cause: Voting rights

Meredith was the first African-American to attend the University of MIssissippi. He was wounded during a march in 1966 to encourage African-Americans to vote.

Source: Ms. Foundation for Women / Wikimedia Commons

47. Gloria Steinem (1934-)
> Occupations: Author, editor, journalist
> Cause: Feminism

The feminist, editor, and author also co-founded Ms. magazine. One of Steinem’s most famous articles was an expose of the Playboy Club that she researched while working undercover as a waitress at the club.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

48. Jesse Jackson (1941-)
> Occupations: Minister, politician, film producer, athlete
> Cause: Equal treatment of races

Jackson became one of the most prominent civil rights activists after the death of Martin Luther King Jr., and ran for president twice. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2000.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

49. Muhammad Ali (1942-2016)
> Occupations: Boxer, author, actor, philanthropist
> Cause: Anti-Vietnam War stance

The heavyweight world champion boxer became the most visible opponent of the Vietnam War when Ali refused to be drafted into the military. His boxing license was suspended because of his opposition to the war.

Source: Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

50. Billie Jean King (1943-)
> Occupations: Professional tennis player, author, film producer
> Cause: Feminism

King is the Hall of Fame women’s tennis player who defeated Bobby Riggs in the much-ballyhooed “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match. King fought for gender equality and equal pay for women tennis players.