Human Rights Activists

A human rights activist is one who believes and works either as an individual or as a member of an organization in order to promote and campaign for the basic rights and freedoms that humans are entitled to. A human rights activist will bring out the various human rights violation in the public domain and campaign to restore these rights. On the whole, a human rights activist may be involved in a wide range of campaigns like prevention of hate crimes, prevention of physical torture of convicts, campaigns for political and civil rights, gay rights and many others. A human right activist will campaign against the various kinds of human right abuses and bring these issues in the limelight of the media and the public eye. The United States Human Rights Council, which is one of the most significant organizations in the United States, has addressed several conflicts and human rights issues around the world since the time it was established. Some of the issues it has addressed include, woman’s rights and rights of racial and ethnic minorities among many others. To get acquainted with more interesting information; continue to read on about some of the famous human rights activists, with their biographies that include trivia, interesting facts, timeline and life history.

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 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 Amal Clooney

Amal Clooney.
6
Famous As: Lawyer, Activist
Birthdate: February 3, 1978
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Beirut, Lebanon

Amal Clooney is a Lebanese-British barrister, specializing in human rights and international law. Her clients include popular and influential personalities like Yulia Tymoshenko, Nadia Murad, and Julian Assange. Her work and philanthropic activities gained media coverage after her wedding to actor George Clooney. The Clooneys are well-known philanthropists and are founders of the Clooney Foundation for Justice.

 3 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.

 4 Victor Hugo

Victor Hugo.
4
Famous As: Novelist & Poet
Birthdate: February 26, 1802
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Besançon, France
Died: May 22, 1885

Victor Hugo was a French poet, dramatist, and novelist of the Romantic movement. Regarded as one of the best-known and greatest French writers of all time, Victor Hugo wrote abundantly during his career that spanned over six decades. Thanks to his works, such as Hernani and Cromwell, Victor Hugo was one of the leading figures of the Romantic literary movement.

 5 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.

 6 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.

 7 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. 

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 8 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.

 9 Nazanin Boniadi

Nazanin Boniadi
6
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: May 22, 1980
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Tehran, Iran

 10 K. D. Lang

K. D. Lang.
6
Famous As: Singer, Songwriter
Birthdate: November 2, 1961
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Grammy-winning Canadian pop and country singer Kathryn Dawn Lang, better known as K.D. Lang, has delivered hits such as Constant Craving. She is openly lesbian and a champion for LGBT rights and animal rights. She performed at the 1988 Winter Olympics closing ceremony and the 2010 Winter Olympics opening ceremony.

 11 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.

 12 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.
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 13 Bianca Jagger

Bianca Jagger.
6
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.

 14 Jane Elliott

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

 15 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.

 16 Q'orianka Kilcher

Q'orianka Kilcher
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: February 11, 1990
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Schweigmatt, Baden-Württemberg, Germany

 17 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.

 18 Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei.
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Famous As: Artist
Birthdate: August 28, 1957
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Beijing
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.

 19 Liu Xiaobo

Liu Xiaobo.
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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.

 20 Jorja Fox

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

 21 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

 22 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. 

 23 Jello Biafra

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

 24 Gloria Allred

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

 25 Graça Machel

Graça Machel.
4
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: October 17, 1945
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Portuguese Mozambique

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.

 26 Andrew Young Jr.

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

 27 Opal Tometi

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

 28 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

 29 Maajid Nawaz

Maajid Nawaz
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Famous As: Activist
Birthdate: November 2, 1977
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Southend-on-Sea, Essex, England

As a young boy, Maajid Nawaz had frequent clashes with the skinheads of Essex. Born in England, the SOAS and LSE alumnus had a 4-year stint in an Egyptian jail for his association with the Islamic extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir. He now promotes secular Islam and has also advised David Cameron.

 30 Andrew Koenig

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

 31 Manisha Koirala

Manisha Koirala
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: August 16, 1970
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Kathmandu, Nepal

 32 Rigoberta Menchú

Rigoberta Menchú.
3
Famous As: Activist,Politician,Author
Birthdate: January 9, 1959
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Laj Chimel

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.

 33 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.

 34 Mahasweta Devi

Mahasweta Devi
3
Famous As: Human rights activist, Writer, Poet, Novelist, Educator, Short story writer
Birthdate: January 14, 1926
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Dhaka
Died: July 28, 2016

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.

 35 Anita Roddick

Anita Roddick.
3
Birthdate: October 23, 1942
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Littlehampton
Died: September 10, 2007

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.  

 36 Van Jones

Van Jones
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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.

 37 Shiva Rose

Shiva Rose
3
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: February 8, 1969
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Santa Monica, California, USA

 38 Lady Miss Kier

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

 39 Melissa Chen

Melissa Chen
3
Famous As: Journalist
Birthdate: 1985 AD
Birthplace: Singapore

 40 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.

 41 Henry Dunant

Henry Dunant.
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Famous As: Founder of the Red Cross
Birthdate: May 8, 1828
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Geneva, Switzerland
Died: October 30, 1910

Henry Dunant was a Swiss businessman, social activist, and humanitarian. He is credited with co-founding and promoting the Red Cross. In 1901, he became the first Swiss Nobel laureate when he was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize. Dunant is also credited with founding the Swiss branch of YMCA. His life inspired the 1948 historical drama film, Man to Men.

 42 Anna Politkovskaya

Anna Politkovskaya
3
Famous As: Journalist
Birthdate: August 30, 1958
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: October 7, 2006

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.

 43 Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia

Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia
3
Famous As: Human rights activist, Princess
Birthdate: April 7, 1936
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Belgrade, Serbia

 44 Denis Mukwege

Denis Mukwege
3
Famous As: Gynecologist
Birthdate: March 1, 1955
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Bukavu, Democratic Republic of the Congo

 45 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

 46 Teji Bachchan

Teji Bachchan
3
Famous As: Human rights activist
Birthdate: August 12, 1914
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Faisalabad, Pakistan
Died: December 21, 2007

 47 Mangosuthu Buthelezi

Mangosuthu Buthelezi
3
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: August 27, 1928
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Mahlabathini, South Africa

Mangosuthu Buthelezi is a South African politician who is credited with founding the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP). He was widely regarded as one of the most important black leaders during the apartheid era. From 1994 to 2004, he served as South Africa's minister of home affairs. He has also won many awards, such as Nadaraja Award and Magna Award.

 48 Roy Jenkins

Roy Jenkins
5
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: November 11, 1920
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Abersychan, Monmouthshire (historic) Monmouthshire, Wales
Died: January 5, 2003

Born to an MP father who was also associated with the mine workers’ union, Roy Jenkins grew up to be Labour Party member and then became the first to lead the Social Democratic Party. An Oxford alumnus, he later led his alma as its chancellor.

 49 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

 50 Nadia Murad

Nadia Murad
4
Famous As: Human rights activist
Birthdate: 1993 AD
Birthplace: Kocho, Iraq
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