Most Important Civil Rights Leaders of the 20th Century
31. Malcolm X (1925-1965)
> Occupations: Minister, writer
> Cause: African-American empowerment
Malcolm X was an American speaker, activist and leader of the Nation of Islam movement who believed all white people were devils. He changed those views after his pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Malcolm X was assassinated by followers of Nation of Islam in 1965.
32. Frank Kameny (1925-2011)
> Occupations: Astronomer, politician
> Cause: Gay rights pioneer
After he was fired from his job in the military in 1957 because he was gay, Kameny founded the American gay rights movement. He lived long enough to see Congress pass legislation in 2009 that criminalizes acts of violence against those in the gay community.
33. Ralph Abernathy (1926-1990)
> Occupation: Minister
> Cause: Discrimination against minorities
Abernathy, who co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, also advised Martin Luther King Jr. and helped organize the Montgomery bus boycott.
34. Hosea Williams (1926-2000)
> Occupations: Scientist, businessman, bail bondsman, minister
> Cause: African-American voter registration
Williams, a World War II Purple Heart recipient, was a civil rights activist and one of the leaders of the historic voting rights march on Selma.
35. Cesar Chavez (1927-1993)
> Occupations: Farm worker, trade unionist
> Cause: Workers’ rights
Chavez campaigned to improve Latino farm workers’ working conditions and raise their wages. He was a strong advocate for non-violent strategy in organizing boycotts and hunger strikes in the U.S.