Special Report

Most Important Civil Rights Leaders of the 20th Century

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

36. Coretta Scott King (1927-2006)
> Occupations: Author, singer
> Cause: Liaison to peace and justice organizations

Wife of Martin Luther King Jr., King was herself the leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. After her husband’s death, she founded the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change.

Source: Erling Mandelmann / Wikimedia Commons

37. Elie Wiesel (1928-2016)
> Occupations: Author, professor, novelist, philosopher, screenwriter
> Cause: Human rights

Wiesel was a writer, Holocaust survivor, activist, and Jewish rights leader. His memoir “NIght” recalled his experiences in a concentration camp during World War II.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

38. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)
> Occupation: Minister
> Cause: Racial justice

King, the symbol of the civil rights movement, was influenced by Mohandas Gandhi’s non-violent tactics. King was involved in virtually every significant civil rights event in the 1950s and 1960s before he was slain in Memphis, Tennessee, 50 years ago.

Source: Daniel Nicoletta / Wikimedia Commons

39. Harvey Milk (1930-1978)
> Occupations: Politician, businessman
> Cause: Gay rights

A politician from San Francisco, Milk was a gay rights activist and leader who was killed by a political rival.

Source: Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

40. John Lewis (1940-)
> Occupations: Politician, writer
> Cause: Challenging bus, rail segregation

Lewis helped organize the historic voting rights march to Selma in 1965, where he was injured by those opposing the march. Lewis was a keynote speaker at the march on Washington in 1963.