Famous Black Social 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 Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr..
Famous As: Civil Rights Activist
Birthdate: January 15, 1929
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
Died: April 4, 1968

A leader in the civil rights movement in the mid-twentieth century, Martin Luther King Jr. is best remembered for advancing civil rights through nonviolence and civil disobedience. A man of Christian faith who was inspired by Indian freedom fighter Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent activism, he was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize for fighting racial inequality.  

 2 Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman.
Famous As: Abolitionist
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 Desmond Tutu

Desmond Tutu.
Famous As: Anti-Apartheid Activist
Birthdate: October 7, 1931
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Klerksdorp, South Africa
Desmond Tutu is known for his anti-Apartheid activism in South Africa. The first black Archbishop of Cape Town, he has also been the Bishop of Johannesburg. His efforts to eradicate AIDS, poverty, anti-LGBT sentiments, and human rights violations earned him the Nobel Peace Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

 4 Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes.
Famous As: Poet, Novelist, Playwright, & Columnist
Birthdate: February 1, 1902
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Joplin, Missouri, United States
Died: May 22, 1967

Langston Hughes is best remembered as a prominent leader of the Harlem Renaissance. He was one of the first to write jazz poetry. He also wrote plays and short stories. He was a columnist for The Chicago Defender and wrote the iconic poem The Negro Speaks of Rivers.

 5 Karamo Brown

Karamo Brown.
Famous As: Television host
Birthdate: November 2, 1980
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Houston, Texas, U.S.

A dynamic talk and lifestyle television host, Karamo Brown is also a reality television personality, actor, author, and an award-winning activist. Beginning his career with a small role in The Princess Diaries, he later switched to television, making his mark with the MTV reality series The Real World: Philadelphia.  Also a published author, he has three titles to his credit.

 6 Stella Immanuel

Stella Immanuel
Famous As: Physician, writer
Birthdate: 1965 AD
Birthplace: Cameroon

 7 Yolanda King

Yolanda King.
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. 

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 8 Essence Atkins

Essence Atkins.
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: February 7, 1972
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York City, New York
Essence Uhura Atkins is best known for her roles as Dee Dee Thorne in Half & Half and as Suzanne Kingston in Are We There Yet? Fans also loved her in the NBC sitcom Marlon. She has also appeared in the parody film A Haunted House and its sequel.

 9 Mary Ann Shadd

Mary Ann Shadd
Famous As: Activist
Birthdate: October 9, 1823
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Wilmington, Delaware, United States
Died: June 5, 1893

The first North American Black woman to publish a newspaper, USA-born Mary Ann Shadd was the founder of the Canadian newspaper, The Provincial Freeman. Concurrently serving as its anonymous editor and contributor, she also became one of the first women to pursue journalism in Canada. She was also one of the first Black women to earn a degree in law.

 10 Jeffrey Wright

Jeffrey Wright.
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: December 7, 1965
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States

Jeffrey Wright is a popular American actor. A self-made man, Jeffrey Wright overcame many childhood problems, including the demise of his father, to become an award-winning actor. Jeffrey Wright serves as an inspiration to many black Americans. In 2011, he established a gold exploration company called Taia Lion Resources, which provided employment to several Americans.

 11 Chirlane McCray

Chirlane McCray.
Famous As: Writer, Social Activist
Birthdate: November 29, 1954
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

 12 Carter Woodson

Carter Woodson.
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: December 19, 1875
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New Canton, Virginia, United States
Died: April 3, 1950

Historian Carter Woodson was is remembered for pioneering Black studies in schools and colleges. He began the Negro History Week, which is now celebrated as the Black History Month. Poverty had pushed him to work in the coal mines initially, and he couldn’t join high school before 20.

 13 Bayard Rustin

Bayard Rustin
Famous As: Activist
Birthdate: March 17, 1912
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: West Chester, Pennsylvania, USA
Died: August 24, 1987

 14 Ken Saro-Wiwa

Ken Saro-Wiwa
Famous As: Writer, Poet, Screenwriter
Birthdate: October 10, 1941
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Bori, Nigeria
Died: November 30, 1995

 15 Boots Riley

Boots Riley
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: April 1, 1971
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, U.S.

 16 Jonas Savimbi

Jonas Savimbi
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: August 3, 1934
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Munhango, Angola
Died: February 22, 2002

 17 Amílcar Cabral

Amílcar Cabral
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: September 12, 1924
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Bafatá
Died: January 20, 1973

 18 Nkosi Johnson

Nkosi Johnson
Famous As: Activist
Birthdate: February 4, 1989
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Daveytown, South Africa
Died: June 1, 2001

 19 Albertina Sisulu

Albertina Sisulu
Famous As: Political activist
Birthdate: October 21, 1918
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Tsomo, South Africa
Died: June 2, 2011

 20 Faith Alupo

Faith Alupo
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: October 9, 1983
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Uganda
Died: September 15, 2020

 21 Theaster Gates

Theaster Gates
Famous As: Artist
Birthdate: August 28, 1973
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois

 22 Septima Poinsette Clark

Septima Poinsette Clark
Famous As: Educator
Birthdate: May 3, 1898
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Charleston, South Carolina
Died: December 15, 1987

 23 Toni Cade Bambara

Toni Cade Bambara
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: March 25, 1939
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Harlem, New York, United States
Died: December 9, 1995

 24 Randall Robinson

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

 25 Efua Sutherland

Efua Sutherland
Famous As: Playwright
Birthdate: June 27, 1924
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Cape Coast, Ghana
Died: January 2, 1996

 26 Clara Luper

Clara Luper
Famous As: Schoolteacher
Birthdate: May 3, 1923
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Okfuskee County, Oklahoma, United States
Died: June 8, 2011

 27 Leon Sullivan

Leon Sullivan
Famous As: Civil rights leader
Birthdate: October 16, 1922
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Charleston, West Virginia, United States
Died: April 24, 2001

 28 Zainab Bangura

Zainab Bangura
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: December 18, 1959
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Yonibana, Sierra Leone

 29 Abdias do Nascimento

Abdias do Nascimento
Famous As: Scholar
Birthdate: March 14, 1914
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Franca, Brazil
Died: May 23, 2011

 30 Asadata Dafora

Asadata Dafora
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: August 4, 1890
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Freetown, British Sierra Leone
Died: March 4, 1965

 31 Willie Barrow

Willie Barrow
Famous As: Clergywoman
Birthdate: December 7, 1924
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Burton, Texas, United States
Died: March 12, 2015

 32 Mabel Keaton Staupers

Mabel Keaton Staupers
Famous As: Nurse
Birthdate: February 27, 1890
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Barbados Island, Barbados
Died: November 29, 1989

 33 John Joseph Egan

John Joseph Egan
Famous As: Priest
Birthdate: October 9, 1916
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: United States
Died: May 19, 2001

 34 Geoffrey Canada

Geoffrey Canada
Famous As: Educator
Birthdate: January 13, 1952
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States