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 Helen Keller

Helen Keller.
4
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: June 27, 1880
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Tuscumbia, Alabama, United States
Died: June 1, 1968

A prolific author, having written 12 published books and several articles, Helen Keller was the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. Her autobiography, The Story of My Life, made Keller famous and was adapted for film and stage. She was also an activist and campaigned for women's suffrage, labour rights, socialism and other such causes.

 2 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.

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 3 Garry Kasparov

Garry Kasparov.
4
Famous As: Chess Player
Birthdate: April 13, 1963
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Baku

Garry Kasparov is a Russian chess player. A grandmaster, Kasparov is a former World Chess Champion who was ranked No. 1 for 255 months during his career that spanned 21 years. After his retirement, Garry Kasparov focused on writing and politics; he founded a social movement called the United Civil Front, which is part of an opposition coalition in Moscow.

 4 Jean-Paul Sartre

Jean-Paul Sartre.
4
Famous As: Philosopher, Novelist
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.

 5 Abbie Hoffman

Abbie Hoffman.
6
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.

 6 Bob Geldof

Bob Geldof.
4
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: October 5, 1951
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Dún Laoghaire
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.

 7 Alfre Woodard

Alfre Woodard.
4
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.

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 8 Serj Tankian

Serj Tankian.
4
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.

 9 Tom Hayden

Tom Hayden.
6
Famous As: Political Activist
Birthdate: December 11, 1939
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Royal Oak, Michigan
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.

 10 Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader.
4
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

 11 Steve Biko

Steve Biko.
4
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.

 12 Shabana Azmi

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

 13 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

 14 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.

 15 Sophie Scholl

Sophie Scholl.
4
Famous As: Anti-Nazi Activist
Birthdate: May 9, 1921
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Forchtenberg
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.

 16 Dennis Weaver

Dennis Weaver.
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: June 4, 1924
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Joplin, Missouri, United States
Died: February 24, 2006
Dennis Weaver is best known as Chester Goode/Proudfoot from Gunsmoke and as Deputy Marshal Sam McCloud from McCloud. He initially ran track and field, but his failure to qualify for the U.S. Olympic decathlon team made him join films. He had also been the president of the Screen Actors Guild.

 17 Bianca Jagger

Bianca Jagger.
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: May 2, 1945
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Managua, Nicaragua

Bianca Jagger is a Nicaraguan social rights advocate. She is credited with founding the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, where she is currently serving as the chairperson. For her work as a humanitarian, Jagger has received several awards, including the Champion of Justice Award. A former actress, Jagger appeared in many movies and TV shows throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

 18 Nathuram Godse

Nathuram Godse.
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Famous As: Assassin of Mahatma Gandhi
Birthdate: May 19, 1910
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Maharashtra
Died: November 15, 1949

Nathuram Godse was an Indian man who gained notoriety for assassinating Mahatma Gandhi, a popular figure in India's successful campaign for independence from British rule. He was an advocate of Hindu nationalism and opposed many of Gandhi’s political views. He shot Gandhi thrice at point-blank range on 30 January 1948. Godse was later executed for this crime.

 19 Ilona Staller

Ilona Staller.
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Famous As: Politician, Singer
Birthdate: November 26, 1951
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Budapest

Ilona Staller is a former porn star, singer, and politician. She achieved popularity by appearing in Telefono rosso, the first Italian hardcore pornography production, and then went on to pose nude in Playboy's editions around the world. In 1980, an erotic series titled La Cicciolina was made based on Ilona Staller's life and career.

 20 Kennedy Montgomery

Kennedy Montgomery.
4
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.

 21 Stephen Stills

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

 22 Prescott Bush

Prescott Bush
4
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: May 15, 1895
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Columbus, Ohio, USA
Died: October 8, 1972

 23 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.

 24 Arvind Kejriwal

Arvind Kejriwal.
3
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.

 25 Saul Alinsky

Saul Alinsky.
6
Famous As: Community Organizer
Birthdate: January 30, 1909
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Chicago
Died: June 12, 1972

 26 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.

 27 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.

 28 Susan Sontag

Susan Sontag.
5
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. 

 29 Theodore Roosevelt Jr.

Theodore Roosevelt Jr.
3
Famous As: Military Leader
Birthdate: September 13, 1887
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York, USA
Died: July 12, 1944

 30 John Denver

John Denver.
0
Famous As: Singer-songwriter & Musician
Birthdate: December 31, 1943
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Roswell, New Mexico, United States
Died: October 12, 1997

John Denver was one of the highest-selling and most popular singers during the 1970s. He was known for folk, pop and country music. Some of his greatest songs are Take Me Home Country Roads, Leaving on a Jet Plane, Rocky Mountain High, Sunshine on My Shoulders and Annie's Song. He died when a plane he was piloting crashed in California.

 31 Mario Vargas Llosa

Mario Vargas Llosa.
3
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: March 28, 1936
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Arequipa
In March 2020, Chinese e-book platforms virtually banned Nobel Prize-winning Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa after he suggested that China was largely responsible for the origin of the COVID-19 virus. One of Latin American’s most respected authors, he has penned bestsellers such as The Feast of the Goat.

 32 Liu Xiaobo

Liu Xiaobo.
3
Famous As: Chinese Human Rights Activist
Birthdate: December 28, 1955
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Changchun, China

Liu Xiaobo was a Chinese activist, literary critic, and philosopher. He is best remembered for organizing campaigns that aimed at ending the one-party rule in China. He was honored with the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for his struggle for human rights in China. Liu is the first Chinese citizen to be honored with a Nobel Prize while residing in China.

 33 Robert Ryan

Robert Ryan
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: November 11, 1909
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, USA
Died: July 11, 1973

 34 Alexandra Paul

Alexandra Paul.
3
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: July 29, 1963
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: New York, New York

As a budding model, Alexandra Paul decided to reject an offer from Stanford University to focus on a career in acting. She is best known to fans for her 5-year-long stint as Lt. Stephanie Holden in the internationally renowned series Baywatch. She is also a marathon runner and an avid swimmer.

 35 Charan Singh

Charan Singh
3
Famous As: Prime Minister of India
Birthdate: December 23, 1902
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Noorpur, Uttar Pradesh India
Died: May 29, 1987

Charan Singh was an Indian politician who served as the prime minister of India for a short period of 24 weeks between July 1979  and January 1980. Referred to as the champion of India's peasants, Charan Singh is best remembered for working towards the welfare of farmers. Lucknow's international airport, which was earlier named The Amausi Airport, is now named after him.

 36 Juan Manuel Santos

Juan Manuel Santos.
5
Famous As: President of Colombia
Birthdate: August 10, 1951
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Bogotá

Juan Manuel Santos is a Colombian politician who served as the 32nd president of Colombia. He is credited with co-founding the Social Party of National Unity, which he led to prominence. For his efforts to put an end to Colombia's more than 50-year-long civil war, Santos was honored with the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize.

 37 Ron Silver

Ron Silver.
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: July 2, 1946
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: New York City, New York
Died: March 15, 2009

 38 Dashiell Hammett

Dashiell Hammett.
3
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: May 27, 1894
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: St. Mary's County, Maryland, United States
Died: January 10, 1961

 39 Russell Means

Russell Means
5
Famous As: Activist
Birthdate: November 10, 1939
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Porcupine, South Dakota, United States
Died: October 22, 2012

 40 Zitkala-Sa

Zitkala-Sa
3
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: February 22, 1876
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Yankton Reservation, South Dakota, United States
Died: January 26, 1938

 41 Norman Finkelstein

Norman Finkelstein
3
Famous As: Political Scientist
Birthdate: December 8, 1953
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States

 42 Pamela Harriman

Pamela Harriman
3
Famous As: Political activist
Birthdate: March 20, 1920
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Farnborough, England
Died: February 5, 1997

 43 Mae Questel

Mae Questel
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: September 13, 1908
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: The Bronx, New York, USA
Died: January 4, 1998

 44 María Teresa Mirabal

María Teresa Mirabal
3
Famous As: Political activist
Birthdate: October 15, 1935
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Salcedo, Dominican Republic
Died: November 25, 1960

 45 Benjamin Spock

Benjamin Spock.
3
Famous As: Pediatrician and Political Activist
Birthdate: May 2, 1903
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.
Died: March 15, 1998

American paediatrician Benjamin Spock was the first paediatrician who studied psychoanalysis to comprehend needs of children and family dynamics. He penned Baby and Child Care, a best-seller book of the twentieth-century. His concepts of child-rearing influenced generations of parents. Spock was also an Olympic gold-medallist in rowing and ran during the 1972 United States presidential election as People's Party nominee.

 46 Sally Bercow

Sally Bercow.
3
Famous As: John Bercow's Wife
Birthdate: November 22, 1969
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Sutton

 47 E. G. Marshall

E. G. Marshall.
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: June 18, 1914
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Owatonna, Minnesota, United States
Died: August 24, 1998

 48 Chill Wills

Chill Wills.
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: July 18, 1902
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Seagoville, Texas, United States
Died: December 15, 1978

 49 Patria Mercedes Mirabal Reyes

Patria Mercedes Mirabal Reyes
3
Famous As: Political Activists
Birthdate: February 27, 1924
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Salcedo, Dominican Republic
Died: November 25, 1960

 50 María Argentina Minerva Mirabal Reyes

María Argentina Minerva Mirabal Reyes
3
Famous As: Lawyer
Birthdate: March 12, 1926
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Salcedo, Dominican Republic
Died: November 25, 1960