Special Report

Most Important Civil Rights Leaders of the 20th Century

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

16. Rachel Carson (1907-1964)
> Occupations: Author and biologist
> Cause: Environmentalism

Carson wrote the book “Silent Spring” that warned about the dangers of the pesticide DDT. She helped inspire the environmental movement.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

17. Walter Reuther (1907-1970)
> Occupation: Union leader
> Cause: Workers’ rights

As a leader of the United Automobile Workers Union for many decades, Reuther was a strong advocate for workers’ benefits, pensions, and job security. A survivor of several assassination attempts, he was active in the civil rights movement and spoke at the 1963 march on Washington.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

18. Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993)
> Occupations: Lawyer and judge
> Cause: Legal rights for African-Americans

Marshall served as the first African-American Supreme Court justice. As the NAACP’s chief counsel, he led court battles for civil rights.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

19. Bayard Rustin (1912-1987)
> Occupations: Singer and activist
> Cause: Nonviolent resistance

Rustin was an American civil rights activist, pacifist, and openly gay adviser to Martin Luther King Jr. He and fellow civil rights activist A. Philip Randolph fought against racial discrimination in hiring during World War II.

Source: Photo by G. Paul Bishop 1978

20. David Brower (1912-2000)
> Occupation: Environmentalist
> Cause: Environment

Brower was a pioneer of the environmental movement in United States. He helped gain passage of the Wilderness Act of 1964.