Famous 20th Century Political Activists

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Jane Fonda

Jane Fonda
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: December 21, 1937
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States

Jane Fonda is hailed as one of the best actresses ever and has won two Oscars. She has acted in popular and acclaimed films like Barefoot in the Park, Barbarella, Klute, Coming Home, Julia, The Morning After, The China Syndrome and California Suite. She’s also known for her exercise videos and is famous for her opposition to the Vietnam War.

 2 Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman
4
Famous As: Abolitionist and Political activist
Birthdate: February 29, 1822
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Dorchester County, Maryland, United States
Died: March 10, 1913

Born to parents who were bonded slaves, Harriet Tubman life was a difficult one from the very beginning. Yet with her remarkable courage and determination, she not only escaped slavery herself, but also led other enslaved people to freedom. The prominent political activist and abolitionist was also the first woman to lead an armed expedition during the American Civil War.

 3 Ashley Judd

Ashley Judd
4
Famous As: Actress, Political activist
Birthdate: April 19, 1968
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Granada Hills, Los Angeles, California, United States

Ashley Judd is a popular American actress who is vocal about topics, such as sexual assault. As a three-time rape survivor—as claimed by her—Ashley serves as an inspiration to rape survivors around the world. Known for her humanitarian work, Ashley has worked on gender equality for over a decade. She is also famous for her political activities.

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 4 Manute Bol

Manute Bol
4
Famous As: Basketball player
Birthdate: October 16, 1962
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Gogrial, Sudan
Died: June 19, 2010

Known for his 7’ 7” frame, Manute Bol made headlines as one of the tallest NBA players ever. Born in Sudan, he was initially a soccer player but quit it because of his height. He later moved to the US to represent basketball teams such as the Golden State Warriors.

 5 Bradley Whitford

Bradley Whitford
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: October 10, 1959
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Madison, Wisconsin, USA

Best known as Josh Lyman from The West Wing, Bradley Whitford is a Juilliard-trained and Primetime Emmy-winning actor. Also known for his roles in series such as The Mentalist and movies such as Billy Madison, he also launched the charity Clothes off Our Back, which mostly donates to children’s non-profits.

 6 Angela Davis

Angela Davis
6
Famous As: Political Activist
Birthdate: January 26, 1944
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Birmingham

Activist, philosopher, academic and author, Angela Davis is a founding member of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS). She has worked in the areas of feminism, class, race and the US prison system. She has also received criticism for supporting the erstwhile Soviet Union and has been accused of supporting political violence.

 7 Michel Foucault

Michel Foucault
4
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: October 15, 1926
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Poitiers, France
Died: June 25, 1984

If others thought the body was the prison of the soul, Paul-Michel Foucault felt the other way round. The French philosopher, literary critic and Leftist who interpreted the link between power and knowledge, was a post-structuralist whose theories have left a mark on anthropology, psychology and criminology. The feminist was one of the noted personalities to have died of HIV/AIDS.

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 8 George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw
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Famous As: Playwright
Birthdate: July 26, 1856
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Portobello, Dublin, Ireland
Died: November 2, 1950

Nobel Prize-winning playwright and author George Bernard Shaw was best known for his realism and his support for women’s rights and socialism. His ideas gave rise to the word “Shavian.” His drama Pygmalion inspired the musical My Fair Lady. His other notable works include Candida and Man and Superman.

 9 Jean-Paul Sartre

Jean-Paul Sartre
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Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: June 21, 1905
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: April 15, 1980

Jean-Paul Sartre was a French philosopher, writer, literary critic, and political activist. One of the most important personalities in the philosophy of phenomenology and existentialism, Sartre played a crucial role in 20th-century French philosophy. His work continues to influence literary studies, post-colonial theory, sociology, and critical theory. He was honored with the 1964 Nobel Prize in Literature.

 10 Bob Geldof

Bob Geldof
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: October 5, 1951
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: DĂșn Laoghaire, Ireland
Irish singer Bob Geldof gained fame as part of the rock band Boomtown Rats, which delivered hits such as Rat Trap. He formed the charity supergroup Band Aid and organized concerts to eradicate poverty in Africa. He also appeared as Pink in the movie Pink Floyd – The Wall.

 11 Alfre Woodard

Alfre Woodard
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: November 8, 1952
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Tulsa, Oklahoma

Alfre Woodard is an American actress. Considered one of the most accomplished and versatile actresses of her generation, Woodard was named in The New York Times' The 25 Greatest Actors of the 21st Century list in 2020. Also a political activist, Woodard is credited with founding Artists for a New South Africa, which aims at advancing equality in South Africa.

 12 Rick Harrison

Rick Harrison
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Famous As: Businessman
Birthdate: March 22, 1965
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Ladywood High School, Livonia, Michigan, United States
Rick Harrison, co-owner of the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, shot to fame with the History Channel show Pawn Stars. His memoir, License to Pawn, became a New York Times bestseller. Named the National Pawnbrokers Association’s 2010 Pawnbroker of the Year, he also appeared on the game show Pawnography

 13 Abbie Hoffman

Abbie Hoffman
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Famous As: Anti-War Activist
Birthdate: November 30, 1936
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Worcester
Died: April 12, 1989

The co-founder of the Youth International Party, Abbie Hoffman was an American social and political activist. A popular exponent of the Flower Power movement, Abbie Hoffman played a major role in the events leading up to the violent confrontations with the cops during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. He remains an iconic figure of the counterculture era.

 14 Serj Tankian

Serj Tankian
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: August 21, 1967
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Beirut, Lebanon

Serj Tankian is an Armenian-American record producer, singer, and songwriter. Tankian is credited with co-founding the popular band System of a Down. Renowned for his wide vocal range and unusual delivery, Serj Tankian is widely considered one of the best heavy metal vocalists of all time. Also a political activist, Tankian co-founded Axis of Justice, a non-profit organization.

 15 Tom Hayden

Tom Hayden
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Famous As: Political Activist
Birthdate: December 11, 1939
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Royal Oak, Michigan, United States
Died: October 23, 2016

Tom Hayden was a prominent social/political activist, and a champion for civil rights and anti-war campaigns. Also known as Jane Fonda’s ex-husband, he had contributed to the Port Huron Statement and stood trial in the Chicago Seven Case. He was part of the California State Assembly and the California Senate.

 16 Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader
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Famous As: Political Activist, Attorney
Birthdate: February 27, 1934
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Winsted, Connecticut, U.S
Ralph Nader’s book Unsafe at Any Speed was his critique of the safety measures of U.S. automobile manufacturers. His activism has led to the passage of acts such as the Consumer Product Safety Act. One of Time’s 100 Most Influential Americans, he inspired the documentary An Unreasonable Man

 17 Alexei Navalny

Alexei Navalny
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Famous As: Lawyer
Birthdate: June 4, 1976
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Butyn', Russia

Described by The Wall Street Journal as the man Vladimir Putin fears most, Alexei Navalny is widely regarded as Russia's opposition leader. He is famous for his accusations of corruption in Russia and Putin's government. In 2011, he created the Anti-Corruption Foundation, which was dissolved in 2020. In August 2020, there was an attempt to assassinate him, when he was poisoned during a flight from Tomsk to Moscow.

 18 Steve Biko

Steve Biko
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Famous As: Anti-apartheid Activist
Birthdate: December 18, 1946
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Ginsberg, South Africa
Died: September 12, 1977

Civil rights activist Steve Biko, or the Father of Black Consciousness, is remembered for his work against apartheid in South Africa. He founded the Black Consciousness Movement while still a medical school student. He was banned by the pro-apartheid regime in 1973. He was beaten to death in custody.

 19 Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: January 9, 1908
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: April 14, 1986
French author and existentialist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir is best remembered for her feminist treatise The Second Sex and her novels The Mandarins and She Came to Stay. Her literary contributions also include essays, biographies, and her autobiographical works. She won the Prix Goncourt and the Jerusalem Prize.

 20 Shabana Azmi

Shabana Azmi
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: September 18, 1951
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Hyderabad, Telangana, India

Shabana Azmi is an Indian actress best known for playing eccentric and unconventional characters. One of the most acclaimed and celebrated actresses, Azmi has won several prestigious awards, including a record five National Film Awards under the Best Actress category. In 2012, Shabana Azmi was honored with India's third-highest civilian honor, the Padma Bhushan.

 21 Phyllis Schlafly

Phyllis Schlafly
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Famous As: Radio personality, Lawyer, Political activist, Journalist
Birthdate: August 15, 1924
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: St. Louis
Died: September 5, 2016

American attorney and author Phyllis Schlafly was a major figure of paleoconservativism and was against feminism, LGBT rights, and abortion. She was also behind the STOP ERA campaign against the Equal Rights Amendment, and her life and times were portrayed in the series Mrs. America, which had Cate Blanchett playing her.

 22 Emmeline Pankhurst

Emmeline Pankhurst
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Famous As: Leader of the British Suffragette Movement
Birthdate: July 4, 1858
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Moss Side, Manchester
Died: June 14, 1928
Emmeline Pankhurst was a British political activist best remembered for helping women earn the right to vote in elections by organizing the UK suffragette movement. For playing a major role in achieving women's suffrage in the UK, Pankhurst was named in Time magazine's 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century list in 1999.

 23 Mike Farrell

Mike Farrell
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: February 6, 1939
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Saint Paul, Minnesota

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.

 24 Bobby Seale

Bobby Seale
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Famous As: Political Activist
Birthdate: October 22, 1936
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Liberty, Texas Liberty, Texas, United States

 25 Norman Lear

Norman Lear
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Famous As: Television Writer
Birthdate: July 27, 1922
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: New Haven, Connecticut, United States

TV writer and producer Norman Lear is best known for producing hit sitcoms such as All in the Family, One Day at a Time, The Jeffersons, and Sanford and Son. He is also part of the Malibu Mafia and a liberal activist. He also established People for the American Way.

 26 Sophie Scholl

Sophie Scholl
4
Famous As: Anti-Nazi Activist
Birthdate: May 9, 1921
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Forchtenberg, Germany
Died: February 22, 1943

Sophie Scholl was a German anti-Nazi political activist who was involved with a non-violent resistance group called White Rose. Scholl was executed by guillotine at the age of 21 for distributing anti-war leaflets. Since her death, Sophie Scholl has been viewed as an iconic figure. Her life and work have inspired several films, including Sophie Scholl – The Final Days.

 27 Omarosa Manigault

Omarosa Manigault
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Famous As: Writers
Birthdate: February 15, 1974
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Youngstown, Ohio, United States

 28 Kennedy Montgomery

Kennedy Montgomery
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Famous As: Commentator
Birthdate: September 8, 1972
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
Political commentator and host Lisa Kennedy Montgomery, began her career as MTV VJ “Kennedy” on the alternative rock shows 120 Minutes and Alternative Nation. She has authored two books and has also hosted Fox network shows such as Kennedy and Outnumbered. She has also been a panelist on The Five.

 29 Stephen Stills

Stephen Stills
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: January 3, 1945
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Dallas, Texas, United States

 30 Melissa Mathison

Melissa Mathison
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Famous As: Screenwriter
Birthdate: June 3, 1950
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States
Died: November 4, 2015

Melissa Mathison was a screenwriter and an activist for the Tibetan independence movement. She attended the University of California, Berkeley, for a while but quit before graduating. She was acquainted with Francis Ford Coppola who encouraged her to pursue a screenwriting career. She was once married to actor, Harrison Ford, and had two children.

 31 David H. Koch

David H. Koch
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Famous As: Co-owner of Koch Industries
Birthdate: May 3, 1940
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Wichita, Kansas, United States
Died: August 23, 2019

 32 Sean Pertwee

Sean Pertwee
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: June 4, 1964
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Hammersmith, London

Sean Pertwee is an English actor and narrator. The son of actor, Jon Pertwee, Sean followed in the footsteps of his father to establish himself in the entertainment industry. Apart from playing important roles in films like Dog Soldiers, he is also known for his work as a narrator in TV shows, such as Zero Hour and MasterChef: The Professionals.

 33 Emma Goldman

Emma Goldman
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Famous As: Political activist
Birthdate: June 7, 1869
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Kaunas, Lithuania
Died: May 4, 1940

Emma Goldman was a writer and anarchist political activist. She played an important role in popularizing the anarchist political philosophy in Europe and North America in the early and mid-20th century. Her lectures and writing spanned a wide variety of subjects, such as atheism, militarism, freedom of speech, homosexuality, capitalism, and free love.

 34 Arvind Kejriwal

Arvind Kejriwal
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Famous As: Anti Corruption Activist, Politician
Birthdate: August 16, 1968
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Siwani, Haryana
Indian politician Arvind Kejriwal is the incumbent chief minister of Delhi and the founder of the Aam Aadmi Party. The Ramon Magsaysay Award-winning leader is an IIT-KGP alumnus and was initially a joint commissioner of income tax with the IRS. His book Swaraj highlights burning issues such as corruption.

 35 Laura Loomer

Laura Loomer
4
Famous As: Political Activist
Birthdate: May 21, 1993
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: North Miami, Florida, USA

 36 Lauren Southern

Lauren Southern
4
Famous As: Political Activist
Birthdate: June 16, 1995
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Surrey, British Columbia, Canada

Political activist and YouTuber Lauren Southern is also a prominent white nationalist. Initially an employee of The Rebel Media, she later also worked for Sky News Australia. She and two of her fellow anti-Muslim activists were refused entry at the Luton airport in the UK and even detained in 2018.

 37 Donald Trump Jr.

Donald Trump Jr.
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Famous As: Son of Donald Trump & Political Activist
Birthdate: December 31, 1977
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Manhattan, New York, United States
Donald Trump Jr., the eldest son of former US President Donald Trump joined his father’s business at Trump Organization in 2001 and later became its executive vice president. He takes keen interest in politics and was also involved in his father’s presidential campaign. Many of his controversial statements have attracted huge criticism. He is also an author and a television personality.

 38 James Brady

James Brady
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Famous As: White House Press Secretary
Birthdate: August 29, 1940
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Centralia, Illinois, USA
Died: August 4, 2014

 39 Vinayak Damodar Savarkar

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar
3
Famous As: Independence Activist, Reformer
Birthdate: May 28, 1883
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bhagur
Died: February 26, 1966

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was an Indian politician and independence activist. He formulated the Hindu nationalist philosophy of Hindutva and was a leading figure in the Hindu Mahasabha. He was known for his strong oratory skills and was an eloquent writer. He was initially charged as a co-conspirator in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi but was later acquitted.

 40 Stacey Abrams

Stacey Abrams
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: December 9, 1973
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Madison, Wisconsin, United States

One of the most popular African American politicians of the U.S., Democratic Party member Stacey Abrams is also the founder of the non-profit Fair Fight Action. A voting rights activist and a minority leader, she became the first Black woman to win the gubernatorial nomination of any state in the U.S.

 41 Saul Alinsky

Saul Alinsky
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Famous As: Community Organizer
Birthdate: January 30, 1909
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Chicago
Died: June 12, 1972

 42 Susan Sontag

Susan Sontag
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: January 16, 1933
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: December 28, 2004
Susan Sontag is best known for her essay anthologies such as Against Interpretation and her novels such as In America. She wrote about diverse issues such as human rights, photography, AIDS, and leftist beliefs, and also visited war-torn areas. The National Book Award-winning author was also openly bisexual. 

 43 Will Geer

Will Geer
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: March 9, 1902
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Frankfort, Indiana, United States
Died: April 22, 1978
Actor and social activist Will Geer actively participated in the labor movements of the the 1930s and 1940s in New York and Southern California. He traveled across the U.S. with singer Woody Guthrie, during the Great Depression. Hollywood blacklisted him as a result of his leftist activities.

 44 Jack Kemp

Jack Kemp
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: July 13, 1935
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, USA
Died: May 2, 2009

 45 Theodore Roosevelt Jr.

Theodore Roosevelt Jr.
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Famous As: Military Leader
Birthdate: September 13, 1887
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York, USA
Died: July 12, 1944

 46 Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei
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Famous As: Contemporary artist and Activist
Birthdate: August 28, 1957
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Beijing, China
Named Art Review’s most powerful artist in 2011, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has become a symbol of resilience against the authoritarian Chinese government. Jailed and banned from leaving the country once, he is known for using various media, such as sculpture, photos, and documentaries, to reflect Chinese human-rights abuses.

 47 Sarah Polley

Sarah Polley
3
Famous As: Actress, Director
Birthdate: January 8, 1979
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

 48 Barbara Boxer

Barbara Boxer
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: November 11, 1940
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA

 49 Beppe Grillo

Beppe Grillo
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Famous As: Comedian
Birthdate: July 21, 1948
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Genoa, Italy

Beppe Grillo is an Italian actor, comedian, politician, and blogger. The co-founder of a political party called Five Star Movement, Grillo turned to the internet in the early-2000s to popularize his ideas. After launching a website called beppegrillo.it, which became an influential website, he started writing influential blogs, which made him a leading Italian popularizer of digital utopianism.

 50 Tommy Robinson

Tommy Robinson
6
Famous As: Activist
Birthdate: November 27, 1982
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Luton, United Kingdom