An African-American leader of the civil rights movement, Malcolm X was a vocal spokesman of the Nation of Islam and called upon the blacks to protect themselves from the white, even if it meant adopting violence. His radical views and preaching later evolved and he accepted the possibility of peaceful resolution of racial issues in America.
Michael Bolton is an American singer-songwriter who has sold over 75 million records so far. Apart from recording several top 10 albums on the Billboard charts, Bolton also has several prestigious awards under his belt, such as Grammy Awards. Also known for his charity work, Bolton set up the Michael Bolton Foundation in order to aid children and women.
Rapper Zack de la Rocha, the vocalist for the rock band Rage Against the Machine, also formed the duo One Day as a Lion with drummer Jon Theodore. He supports vegetarianism and the Zapatista (EZLN) movement of Mexico. He also testified against the U.S.’s treatment of Abu-Jamal, at the U.N.
Mike Farrell is an American actor known for playing, Captain B.J. Hunnicutt, in the popular war comedy-drama TV series, M*A*S*H. Farrell's journey from being born into a working-class family to becoming a famous Hollywood actor is quite inspiring. Also a political and social activist, Farrell has worked on several activist campaigns. In 2001, he was honored with PETA's Humanitarian Award.
Laurie Holden is an American-Canadian model, actress, and producer. She is best known for her portrayal of Andrea in the popular horror television series The Walking Dead, for which she received the 2012 Satellite Award and 2013 Saturn Award. Also known for her human rights activism and charity work, Laurie Holden works closely with organizations that campaign against human trafficking.
11 Yolanda King
African American activist, Yolanda King, was the first-born child of civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King. Exposed to social justice activism at a young age, she grew up to be an outspoken supporter of civil rights and LGBTQA+ rights. She was also known for her artistic endeavors. She died of heart disease at 51.
12 Jello Biafra
13 Graça Machel
Graça Machel is known for her association with Mozambique’s FRELIMO movement and has been the country’s first education minister. She has also been married to both former Mozambican president Samora Machel and South African president Nelson Mandela. Through The Elders, she is devoted to working for women’s and children’s rights.
14 Ed Roberts
Nobel Peace Prize-winning Guatemalan activist is known for her fight for the rights of indigenous people and women. Her entire family was accused of participating in guerrilla activities, brutalized, and killed by the Guatemalan army. She has been a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and founded the first Guatemalan indigenous political party.
Anita Roddick was a British businesswoman and human rights activist. She was also a passionate crusader for environmental issues. She founded the British version of The Body Shop, now The Body Shop International Limited. Her company was among the first to prohibit the use of ingredients tested on animals in some products. She was also involved with Greenpeace.
Ramon Magsaysay Award-winning Indian author Mahasweta Devi is regarded as a gem of the Bengali literary world. She had also been a left-wing social activist, and her works such as Hajar Churashir Maa and Rudali have either tribals or people from the marginalized communities as their protagonists.
Anna Politkovskaya was a Russian writer, journalist, and human rights activist. She is best remembered for reporting the Second Chechen War. In spite of various acts of intimidation and violence, Politkovskaya never gave up reporting on the war. Her efforts and work earned her several international awards, such as the IWMF Courage in Journalism Award. Politkovskaya was murdered in 2006.
20 Ella Baker
21 Ophelia Dahl
22 Alan Lomax
24 Iris Chang
25 Shirin Ebadi
Nobel Peace Prize-winning human rights activist and lawyer Shirin Ebadi is known for her significant work with refugees, women, and children, and her countless books, such as Iran Awakening. In spite of being Iran’s first female judge, she found it difficult to establish herself in the male-dominated profession.
Walter Sisulu was a South African activist who played an important role in the anti-apartheid movement. Counted among the most important members of the ANC, Sisulu served more than 25 years in prison for his anti-apartheid activities. For his contribution to the success of the ANC, Sisulu was honored with the prestigious Isitwalandwe Seaparankoe in 1992.
27 Bogd Khan
Charles Perkins had initially been a footballer who played for teams such as Everton and coached Pan-Hellenic to fund his university studies. He later gained recognition as an Aboriginal activist after organizing the Freedom Ride to protest against racial discrimination and became the Secretary of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs.
Vladimir Bukovsky was a Russian-born British writer and human rights activist. An important member of the Soviet dissident movement, Bukovsky spent 12 years in prisons, psychiatric prison-hospitals, and labor camps of the Soviet Union. A neurophysiologist, Bukovsky is celebrated for his efforts to expose Soviet Union's political abuse of psychiatry. In 2001, he was awarded the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom.
31 Chico Mendes
Sugathakumari was an Indian activist and poet who played a major role in Kerala's feminist and environmental movements in the late-1970s. She is credited with founding organizations like Prakrithi Samrakshana Samithi and Abhaya, which work towards protecting nature and safeguarding women and the mentally ill respectively. During her lifetime, she was honored with several prestigious awards like the Padma Shri.
Author and bioethicist Jacob M. Appel gained fame with his award-winning first novel The Man Who Wouldn't Stand Up. Also known for his essays and short stories, he has seven masters degrees, in subjects ranging from American history to public health. He is also a practicing psychiatrist at the Mount Sinai Health System.
Oodgeroo Noonuccal was an Aboriginal Australian poet, political activist, artist, and educator. She became the first Aboriginal Australian to publish a book of verse. She emerged as a prominent political activist in the 1960s and campaigned for aboriginal rights. She was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire and won many literary awards.
Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari is also a human rights activist and an Emmy-winning filmmaker. He has won honors such as the Oxfam Novib/PEN Award. His book Then They Came for Me was a bestseller, while he has made films such as And Along Came a Spider, mirroring Iran’s society.
39 Frances Lear
Fazle Hasan Abed was a Bangladeshi social worker credited with founding one of the largest non-governmental organizations in the world, BRAC. For his significant contributions to social development, Abed was honored with many national and international awards, including the Laudato Si' Award and LEGO Prize. In 2014 and 2017, he was included in Fortune magazine's World's 50 Greatest Leaders list.
44 Roy Campbell
Adolfo Pérez Esquivel is an Argentine activist, community organizer, writer, painter, and sculptor. He actively opposed Argentina's last civil-military dictatorship in the late 1970s and early 1980s, during which he was subjected to much torture. He was awarded the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize for his bravery. He is also a recipient of the Pope John XXIII Peace Memorial.
46 Irwin Cotler
Apart from teaching law at McGill University, Irwin Cotler has also been a Canadian MP for Mount Royal, the Minister of Justice, and the Attorney General of Canada. He has gained fame as a global human rights lawyer, too, serving as a counsel to prominent political prisoners such as Nelson Mandela.