Famous American Human Rights Activists

When the armies of Cyprus the Great conquered Babylon, little did people knew what was to happen next. To their surprise, the conqueror freed the slaves, established racial equality and declared freedom of religion, thus starting the first chapter of the world’s charter of human rights. In the millenniums following, there have been numerous Cyprus’s who have risen above the oppression and fought against the tyranny to give people their rights. It is to these great souls that we dedicate this section. America maybe a super power today and at the topmost position in the global front when it comes to human rights but the scenario wasn’t the same always. The country suffered from numerous problems and its people had little freedom. Slavery, oppression, civil rights were few of the many issues that Americans dealt with. However, there were several American human rights activists who fought for, campaigned and promoted human rights freedom. Some of them worth mentioning are Abraham Lincoln who made the famous Emancipation Proclamation, Martin Luther King Jr. who worked as a non-violence civil rights leader, Thomas Jefferson who authored the Declaration of Independence and Jimmy Carter who established the Carter Center. Know in details about the famous American human rights activists.

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

Vote for Your Favourite American Human Rights Activists

 1 Malcolm X

Malcolm X.
4
Famous As: Activist
Birthdate: May 19, 1925
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Omaha, Nebraska, United States
Died: February 21, 1965

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.

 2 Joan Chandos Baez

Joan Chandos Baez.
6
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: January 9, 1941
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Staten Island, New York, United States

Singer, songwriter, musician, and activist Joan Baez has been active in the music world for over six decades. She emerged as a major musical figure in the counterculture era of the 1960s. Her music encompasses various genres like pop, folk-rock, country, and gospel music. She is involved in civil rights, human rights, and environmental activism as well.

 3 Patti Smith

Patti Smith.
4
Famous As: Singer & Musician
Birthdate: December 30, 1946
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Patti Smith is an American singer-songwriter. Referred to as the punk poet laureate, Smith became an influential figure of the punk rock movement with the release of her album Horses. Many world-renowned musicians, such as Madonna and Michael Stipe, have cited Smith as their inspiration. Even actresses like Ellen Page and Maria Doyle Kennedy have called Smith a major influence.

 4 Michael Bolton

Michael Bolton.
6
Famous As: Singer, Songwriter
Birthdate: February 26, 1953
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: New Haven, Connecticut, United States

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.

 5 Zack de la Rocha

Zack de la Rocha.
6
Birthdate: January 12, 1970
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Long Beach

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. 

 6 Solomon Northup

Solomon Northup.
4
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: July 10, 1807
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Minerva, New York
Died: 1863 AD
Abolitionist Solomon Northup had authored the memoir Twelve Years a Slave, which was later adapted into the Academy Award-winning film 12 Years a Slave. Northup was abducted and sold as a slave to a planter in Louisiana. He was eventually freed with the help of the governor New York.

 7 Mike Farrell

Mike Farrell.
6
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.

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 8 Martin Luther King III

Martin Luther King III.
4
Famous As: Activist
Birthdate: October 23, 1957
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Montgomery, Alabama
The American civil rights activist has continued his legendary father Martin Luther King Jr.’s struggle for racial equality. Martin Luther King III headed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference founded by his father and endorsed Barack Obama’s nomination for American presidency. King fought against police brutality, but he also denounced capital punishment, saying he did not belive in retributional justice.

 9 Jane Elliott

Jane Elliott
4
Famous As: Schoolteacher
Birthdate: May 27, 1933
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Riceville, Mitchell County, Iowa, USA

 10 Laurie Holden

Laurie Holden.
6
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: December 17, 1969
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California

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 Melissa Mathison

Melissa Mathison.
6
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.

 12 Jorja Fox

Jorja Fox.
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: July 7, 1968
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: New York City, New York

 13 Lorraine Hansberry

Lorraine Hansberry
4
Famous As: Writer, Theatre director, Screenwriter, Playwright, Human rights activist
Birthdate: May 19, 1930
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Chicago
Died: January 12, 1965

 14 Yolanda King

Yolanda King.
9
Famous As: Activist
Birthdate: November 17, 1955
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Montgomery, Alabama
Died: May 15, 2007

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. 

 15 Gloria Allred

Gloria Allred
6
Famous As: Attorney
Birthdate: July 3, 1941
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

 16 Jello Biafra

Jello Biafra
6
Famous As: Singer, Actor, Human rights activist, Politician, Journalist
Birthdate: June 17, 1958
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Boulder

 17 Andrew Young Jr.

Andrew Young Jr.
4
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: March 12, 1932
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

 18 Opal Tometi

Opal Tometi
4
Famous As: Activist
Birthdate: August 15, 1984
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Phoenix, Arizona, United States

 19 Ed Roberts

Ed Roberts
3
Famous As: American disability rights activist
Birthdate: January 23, 1939
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: San Mateo, California
Died: March 14, 1995

 20 Andrew Koenig

Andrew Koenig
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: August 17, 1968
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, USA
Died: February 14, 2010

 21 Kerry Kennedy

Kerry Kennedy.
6
Famous As: Human rights activist
Birthdate: September 8, 1959
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States

The daughter of Robert F. Kennedy, Kerry Kennedy serves as a human rights activist. She is the president of a non-profit organization called Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, which advocates human rights. Over the years, Kerry Kennedy has worked in over 60 countries on various human rights issues like child labor, ethnic violence, indigenous land rights, and freedom of expression.

 22 Van Jones

Van Jones
6
Famous As: Motivational speaker
Birthdate: September 20, 1968
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Jackson, Tennessee Jackson, Tennessee, United States U.S.

Especially known for his honest and poignant commentaries, Van Jones is an award-winning political contributor, commentator, and the host of popular CNN programs like Van Jones Show and The Redemption Project. Also a leader in the fight for criminal justice reform for more than twenty-five years, he has founded number of non-profit organizations and authored several best-selling books.

 23 Lady Miss Kier

Lady Miss Kier
3
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: August 15, 1963
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Youngstown, Ohio, USA

 24 Ronan Farrow

Ronan Farrow.
2
Famous As: Journalist, Activist, Human Rights Lawyer
Birthdate: December 19, 1987
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New York City

American journalist Ronan Farrow played a major role in reporting the sexual abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein. His work, which was published in The New Yorker, earned the magazine the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. He is also responsible for exposing allegations against personalities like jurist Brett Kavanaugh, media executive Les Moonves, and politician Eric Schneiderman.

 25 Geronimo Pratt

Geronimo Pratt
3
Famous As: Civil rights advocate, Human rights activist, Vietnam veteran
Birthdate: September 13, 1947
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Morgan City
Died: June 3, 2011

 26 Ella Baker

Ella Baker
3
Famous As: American activist
Birthdate: December 13, 1903
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Norfolk, Virginia, United States
Died: December 13, 1986

 27 Jack Herer

Jack Herer
3
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: June 18, 1939
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Buffalo NY, United States
Died: April 15, 2010

 28 Michelle Alexander

Michelle Alexander
3
Famous As: Lawyer
Birthdate: October 7, 1967
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States

 29 Ophelia Dahl

Ophelia Dahl
3
Famous As: Human rights activist
Birthdate: May 12, 1964
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Oxford

 30 Alan Lomax

Alan Lomax.
3
Famous As: Folklorist
Birthdate: January 31, 1915
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Austin
Died: July 19, 2002

 31 Ramsey Clark

Ramsey Clark
3
Famous As: American lawyer
Birthdate: December 18, 1927
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Dallas, Texas, US

 32 Iris Chang

Iris Chang
3
Famous As: Journalist
Birthdate: March 28, 1968
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Princeton, New Jersey, United States
Died: November 9, 2004

 33 Zelda Rubinstein

Zelda Rubinstein
3
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: May 28, 1933
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Died: January 27, 2010

 34 Angelina Grimke

Angelina Grimke.
3
Famous As: Abolitionist, Women's Rights Activist
Birthdate: February 20, 1805
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Died: October 26, 1879

 35 Walter Reuther

Walter Reuther
3
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: September 1, 1907
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Wheeling, USA
Died: May 9, 1970

 36 Jacob M. Appel

Jacob M. Appel
3
Famous As: Historian, Novelist, Writer, Playwright, Medical writer, Human rights activist, Journalist
Birthdate: February 21, 1973
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: New York City

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.

 37 Lillian Wald

Lillian Wald.
3
Famous As: Humanitarian, Nurse, Activist
Birthdate: March 10, 1867
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Cincinnati, Ohio
Died: September 1, 1940

 38 Sister Helen Prejean

Sister Helen Prejean
3
Famous As: Sister
Birthdate: April 21, 1939
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States

A leading advocate for abolition of death penalty, Roman Catholic sister, Helen Prejea,n started her campaign after she became spiritual guide for a death row convict, penning down her experience in her best-selling book, Dead Man Walking. Also the founder of SURVIVE, a group aimed at helping the families of the victims, she has since been giving talks across USA.     

 39 Levi Coffin

Levi Coffin
3
Famous As: Abolitionist
Birthdate: October 28, 1798
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Guilford County, North Carolina
Died: September 16, 1877

 40 Frances Lear

Frances Lear
3
Famous As: Activist
Birthdate: July 14, 1923
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Hudson, New York, United States
Died: September 30, 1996

 41 Charles W. Chesnutt

Charles W. Chesnutt
3
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: June 20, 1858
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Cleveland, Ohio, United States
Died: November 17, 1932

 42 Yuri Orlov

Yuri Orlov
2
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: August 13, 1924
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: September 27, 2020

 43 Avijit Roy

Avijit Roy
3
Famous As: Engineer, Blogger
Birthdate: September 12, 1972
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Bangladesh
Died: February 26, 2015

 44 Maggie Kuhn

Maggie Kuhn
2
Famous As: Activist
Birthdate: August 3, 1905
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Buffalo, New York, United States
Died: April 22, 1995

 45 Randall Robinson

Randall Robinson
2
Famous As: Lawyer
Birthdate: July 6, 1941
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Richmond, Virginia, United States

 46 Charlotte Forten Grimké

Charlotte Forten Grimké
2
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: August 17, 1837
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died: July 23, 1914

 47 Manning Marable

Manning Marable
2
Famous As: Scholar
Birthdate: May 13, 1950
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Dayton, Ohio, United States
Died: April 1, 2011

 48 Alison Des Forges

Alison Des Forges
2
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: August 20, 1942
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Schenectady, New York, United States
Died: February 12, 2009

 49 Warren Kimbro

Warren Kimbro
2
Famous As: Activist
Birthdate: April 29, 1934
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New Haven, Connecticut, United States
Died: February 3, 2009

 50 Benjamin Lundy

Benjamin Lundy
2
Famous As: Abolitionist
Birthdate: January 4, 1789
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Hardwick Township, New Jersey, United States
Died: August 22, 1839