Special Report

Most Important Civil Rights Leaders of the 20th Century

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

26. James Farmer (1920-1999)
> Occupations: Author and politician
> Cause: Desegregating travel

As a leader of the Congress of Racial Equality, Farmer organized Freedom Rides that led to the desegregation of interstate travel.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

27. Whitney M. Young, Jr. (1921-1971)
> Occupation: Teacher
> Cause: African-American economic empowerment

Executive director of the National Urban League, Whitney M. Young that helped African-Americans adapt to urban life. He also served an adviser to U.S. presidents.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

28. Betty Friedan (1921-2006)
> Occupations: Author and actor
> Cause: Feminism

Friedan penned the groundbreaking 1963 social critique “The Feminine Mystique” that was instrumental in launching the feminist movement in the 1960s.

Source: Allan warren / Wikimedia Commons

29. James Baldwin (1924-1987)
> Occupations: Playwright, poet, novelist, essayist, and actor
> Cause: Social and racial issues

An essayist and poet, James Baldwin wrote the seminal novel “Go Tell It on the Mountain” in 1953. His works touched on issues of race and spirituality.

Source: Hulton Archive / Getty Images

30. Medgar Evers (1925-1963)
> Occupations: Insurance salesman and civil rights organizer
> Cause: Voting rights, school desegregation

Evers, an NAACP official who was pivotal in the desegregation of the University of Mississippi, was slain at home by a white extremist. Not until more than 30 years later, in 1994, was Evers’ assassin convicted.