Special Report

Most Important Civil Rights Leaders of the 20th Century

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

6. Kasturba Gandhi (1869-1944)
> Occupation: Political activist
> Cause: India’s freedom

Married to the pacifist and national liberation leader Mohandas Gandhi, Kasturba Gandhi was a political activist in India in her own right. When her husband was imprisoned, she sometimes raised the protest banner for his causes.

Source: Elliott & Fry / Getty Images

7. Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948)
> Occupations: Lawyer, author, philosopher, and politician
> Cause: India’s freedom

One of the most famous proponents of nonviolence, Mohandas Gandhi helped liberate India from the British Empire, leading to the creation of the world’s largest democracy.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

8. Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962)
> Occupations: Author and diplomat
> Cause: Human rights

Roosevelt was an activist for women’s rights and human rights in the United States and at the United Nations. After the death of her husband President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945, she served as the chair of the U.N.’s Human Rights Commission and pressed for the successful adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

9. Alice Paul (1885-1977)
> Occupation: Author and political activist
> Cause: Women’s rights

A leader in the movement to secure female suffrage in Great Britain and the United States, Paul was a vigorous champion for passage of the 19th Amendment, which granted American women the right to vote.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

10. Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964)
> Occupations: Author, lawyer, architect, and politician
> Cause: India’s freedom

Nehru was India’s first prime minister and an advocate for freedom of the press. He managed India’s transition from British colony to the world’s biggest democracy.