Special Report

19 of the Most Influential Civil Rights Leaders of the 21st Century

Detailed Findings

The new generation of civil right leaders include Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, co-founders of Black Lives Matter; Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative; Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement; and Laverne Cox, from the TV series “Orange Is the New Black” who has become the face of the transgender movement. 

All of the civil rights activists on the list are looking to advance the work of the civil rights pathfinders of the 20th century and those before them as the new generation works toward building a society based on justice and equality, a quest that has so far proved elusive in the United States in 2020. These are the most important civil rights leaders of the 20th century.


To identify 23 of the most influential civil rights leaders since 2000, 24/7 Wall St. compiled a list of well-known activists after reviewing biographies and news stories from resource material, websites of organizations such as the NAACP, the Nobel Prize website, and media sites. Including all important individuals fighting for civil rights and social justice is impossible because there are so many. Our list is composed of civil rights leaders who are still very active and are working in various fields — from racial justice and LGBTQ rights to support for formerly incarcerated women and religious liberties.

Sponsored: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.