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: Muslim minister and human rights 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 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.

 4 Allen Ginsberg

Allen Ginsberg
4
Famous As: Poet, Writer
Birthdate: June 3, 1926
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Newark, New Jersey, United States
Died: April 5, 1997
Allen Ginsberg, a Beat Generation poet, is best remembered for his 1956 poem Howl, which criticized U.S. capitalism and described homosexual acts, and was thus banned. He earned the National Book Award for The Fall of America and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for Cosmopolitan Greetings: Poems 1986–1992.

 5 Nazanin Boniadi

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

Nazanin Boniadi is an Iran-born English actress and activist best known for her portrayal of Nora in the popular American sitcom How I Met Your Mother. She has also played important roles in several other American television series like Homeland and Counterpart. From 2009 to 2015, Nazanin Boniadi served as a spokesperson for the popular non-governmental organization Amnesty International.

 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 Nicholas Winton

Nicholas Winton
4
Famous As: Banker
Birthdate: May 19, 1909
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London, England
Died: July 1, 2015

Nicholas Winton was a British humanitarian and banker best remembered for founding an organization to save children at risk from Czechoslovakia. He is credited with overseeing the rescue of 669 children from Czechoslovakia just before the commencement of the Second World War. This rescue mission came to be known as the Czech Kindertransport.

 10 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.

 11 Laurie Holden

Laurie Holden
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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.

 12 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.

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 13 Jane Elliott

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

Jane Elliott is an American schoolteacher best known for inventing and popularizing the Blue eyes/Brown eyes exercise. The exercise, which was first conducted on April 5, 1968, with her third-grade class, aims at helping people understand the ill-effects of racial discrimination. The classroom exercise has inspired a couple of documentaries namely The Eye of the Storm and The Angry Eye.  

 14 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

Q'orianka Kilcher is an American actress, activist, and singer. She is best known for playing important characters in films like The New World and Princess Kaiulani. As an activist, Kilcher has been visiting universities and colleges and delivering speeches at organizations like Amnesty International. 

 15 Liu Xiaobo

Liu Xiaobo
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Famous As: Chinese Human Rights Activist
Birthdate: December 28, 1955
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Changchun, China
Died: July 13, 2017

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.

 16 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

Lorraine Hansberry was a writer and playwright best remembered for her play A Raisin in the Sun which emphasizes the plight of African-Americans living under racial segregation. At the age of 29, Lorraine Hansberry received the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award, becoming the youngest playwright and the first African-American dramatist to win the prestigious award.

 17 Yolanda King

Yolanda King
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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. 

 18 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

Andrew Young Jr. is an American activist, politician, and diplomat. Young is best known for his role in the civil rights movement; a close associate of Martin Luther King Jr., Andrew Young served as the executive director of a civil rights organization called Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Andrew Young is a recipient of the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom.

 19 Jello Biafra

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

 20 Opal Tometi

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

Opal Tometi is an American writer, human rights activist, community organizer, and strategist. She is best known as a co-founder of the popular decentralized social and political movement Black Lives Matter (BLM). In 2017, Opal Tometi was honored with the prestigious Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award. In 2020, she was named in the 100 Most Influential People list by Time magazine.

 21 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

Ed Roberts was an American activist best remembered for his contribution to the disability rights movement. Roberts, who became the first student to attend the University of California, Berkeley in a wheelchair, played an important role in inspiring and motivating people with physical disabilities. In 2011, Ed Roberts was inducted into the California Hall of Fame.

 22 Andrew Koenig

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

 23 Andrei Sakharov

Andrei Sakharov
4
Famous As: Nuclear physicist
Birthdate: May 21, 1921
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: December 14, 1989

Andrei Sakharov was a Russian dissident and nuclear physicist best remembered for designing RDS-37, Soviet Union's first two-stage hydrogen bomb. Also an activist for peace and human rights, Andrei Sakharov was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975. The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, which is awarded by the European Parliament, is named in his honor.

 24 Rigoberta Menchú

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

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.

 25 Gloria Allred

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

 26 Mia Farrow

Mia Farrow
4
Famous As: Actress, Human Rights Activist
Birthdate: February 9, 1945
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

Mia Farrow is one of the most decorated actresses of her generation. She is the first American actress to join the Royal Shakespeare Company. Apart from being an actress, she is also known for her humanitarian activities, especially in African countries. A UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Mia was named in Time magazine's most influential people in the world list in 2008.

 27 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.

 28 Maajid Nawaz

Maajid Nawaz
6
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.

 29 Zelda Rubinstein

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

 30 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.  

 31 Ramsey Clark

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

Ramsey Clark was an American activist, lawyer, and federal government official. From 1967 to 1969, he served as US Attorney General under the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson. Ramsey Clark is remembered for heading several progressive activism campaigns and opposing the U.S. War on Terror, labeling it as a war against Islam. In 1992, he won the Gandhi Peace Award.

 32 Manisha Koirala

Manisha Koirala
8
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: August 16, 1970
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Kathmandu, Nepal

Manisha Koirala is a Nepalese actress known for her work in Indian films. One of the most critically acclaimed actresses of the 1990s, Koirala has won several prestigious awards. She is also known for her social activism and is credited with promoting women's rights. Her achievements in films and off-screen work have made her one of the most recognized Nepalis.

 33 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

 34 Henry Dunant

Henry Dunant
3
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.

 35 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.

 36 Melissa Chen

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

 37 Lady Miss Kier

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

 38 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.

 39 Teji Bachchan

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

 40 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

 41 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.

 42 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

 43 Denis Mukwege

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

 44 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.

 45 Craig Kielburger

Craig Kielburger
3
Famous As: Canadian Author
Birthdate: December 17, 1982
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Thornhill, Vaughan, Canada

At age 12, Craig Kielburger and his brother read about a child laborer of his age who was murdered in Pakistan for protesting against child labor in his country, and the duo immediately stepped into action. Their organization Free the Children led to the formation of the WE Movement.  

 46 Nadia Murad

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

 47 Jack Herer

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

 48 Reza Pahlavi, Crown Prince of Iran

Reza Pahlavi, Crown Prince of Iran
1
Famous As: Founder and leader of the self-styled National Council of Iran
Birthdate: October 31, 1960
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Tehran, Iran

 49 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

 50 Michelle Alexander

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