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
(Major Figure of American Civil Rights Movement)

Malcolm X
6
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
(Barrister, Human rights activist)

Amal Clooney
10
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 
Oskar Schindler
(Industrialist)

Oskar Schindler
8
Birthdate: April 28, 1908
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Svitavy, Czechia
Died: October 9, 1974

Oskar Schindler was a German industrialist who displayed extraordinary dedication and courage to save the lives of 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust. Oskar Schindler's act is viewed by many as the kind of act that restores faith in humanity.  His inspirational and heart-warming story was adapted into an Oscar-winning film titled Schindler's List.

 4 

Solomon Northup
6
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.

 5 
Martin Luther King III
(Human Rights Activist)

Martin Luther King III
6
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.

 6 
Allen Ginsberg
(Poet, Writer)

Allen Ginsberg
6
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.

 7 

Nicholas Winton
6
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.

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 8 
Abdul Sattar Edhi
(Humanitarian)

Abdul Sattar Edhi
4
Birthdate: February 28, 1928
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Bantva, Gujarat, India
Died: July 8, 2016

Abdul Sattar Edhi was a Pakistani ascetic, philanthropist, and humanitarian. He is credited with founding the Edhi Foundation, which operates a volunteer ambulance network as well as several animal shelters, orphanages, homeless shelters, and rehabilitation centres across Pakistan. He was often nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize during his lifetime.

 9 
Bianca Jagger
(Nicaraguan Social and Human Rights Advocate & Wife of Singer Mick Jagger)

Bianca Jagger
6
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.

 10 
Melissa Mathison
(Screenwriter)

Melissa Mathison
6
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.

 11 
Clara Barton
(Nurse, Founded of the American Red Cross)

Clara Barton
4
Birthdate: December 25, 1821
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Oxford, Massachusetts, United States
Died: April 12, 1912

 12 
Yolanda King
(Civil Rights Activist and Daughter of Civil Rights Leader 'Martin Luther King Jr.')

Yolanda King
9
Birthdate: November 17, 1955
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Montgomery, Alabama, United States
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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 13 
Lorraine Hansberry
(Writer, Theatre director, Screenwriter, Playwright, Human rights activist)

Lorraine Hansberry
4
Birthdate: May 19, 1930
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
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.

 14 
Gloria Allred
(Attorney)

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

 15 
Liu Xiaobo
(Chinese Human Rights Activist and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate)

Liu Xiaobo
6
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 
Jello Biafra
(Singer, Actor, Human rights activist, Politician, Journalist)

Jello Biafra
6
Birthdate: June 17, 1958
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Boulder

 17 

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

 18 
Andrei Sakharov
(Nuclear physicist)

Andrei Sakharov
6
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.

 19 
Maajid Nawaz
(Activist, Radio Presenter and Founding Chairman of the Think Tank 'Quilliam')

Maajid Nawaz
6
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.

 20 
Opal Tometi
(Activist)

Opal Tometi
4
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 

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

 22 

Rigoberta Menchú
3
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.

 23 
Anita Roddick
(Businesswoman)

Anita Roddick
3
Birthdate: October 23, 1942
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Littlehampton, England
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.  

 24 
Ed Roberts
(American disability rights activist)

Ed Roberts
3
Birthdate: January 23, 1939
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: San Mateo, California, United States
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.

 25 
Henry Dunant
(Co-Founder of the Red Cross)

Henry Dunant
5
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.

 26 
Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia
(Human rights activist, Princess)

Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia
3
Birthdate: April 7, 1936
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Belgrade, Serbia

 27 
Ella Baker
(American activist)

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

 28 

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

 29 
Kerry Kennedy
(Human rights activist)

Kerry Kennedy
6
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.

 30 

Mangosuthu Buthelezi
3
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.

 31 
Denis Mukwege
(Gynecologist)

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

 32 
Craig Kielburger
(Canadian Author)

Craig Kielburger
3
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.  

 33 
Iris Chang
(Journalist)

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

 34 
Geronimo Pratt
(Former military veteran who was accused in 1972 for the 1968 murder of Caroline Olsen)

Geronimo Pratt
3
Birthdate: September 13, 1947
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Morgan City, Louisiana, United States
Died: June 2, 2011

 35 
Melissa Chen
(Journalist)

Melissa Chen
3
Birthdate: 1985 AD
Birthplace: Singapore

 36 

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

 37 
Jack Herer
(Politician)

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

 38 
Shirin Ebadi
(Human Rights Activist)

Shirin Ebadi
3
Birthdate: June 21, 1947
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Hamadan

Nobel Peace Prize-winning human rights activist and lawyer Shirin Ebadi is known for her significant work with refugees, women, and children, and her countless books, such as Iran Awakening. In spite of being Iran’s first female judge, she found it difficult to establish herself in the male-dominated profession.

 39 
Walter Sisulu
(Activist)

Walter Sisulu
3
Birthdate: May 18, 1912
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Ngcobo, South Africa
Died: May 5, 2003

Walter Sisulu was a South African activist who played an important role in the anti-apartheid movement. Counted among the most important members of the ANC, Sisulu served more than 25 years in prison for his anti-apartheid activities. For his contribution to the success of the ANC, Sisulu was honored with the prestigious Isitwalandwe Seaparankoe in 1992.

Dame Christabel Harriette Pankhurst
3
Birthdate: September 22, 1880
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Old Trafford, Manchester, England
Died: February 13, 1958

Dame Christabel Harriette Pankhurst was a British suffragette who co-founded the Women's Social and Political Union. From 1912 to 1913, Pankhurst directed the organization's militant actions from France. After the war, Christabel Pankhurst settled down in the United States of America where she served as an evangelist for the Second Coming movement.

 41 
Reza Pahlavi, Crown Prince of Iran
(Founder and leader of the self-styled National Council of Iran)

Reza Pahlavi, Crown Prince of Iran
1
Birthdate: October 31, 1960
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Tehran, Iran

Reza Pahlavi is the oldest son of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran, and his wife Farah Diba. He was the crown prince before the Iranian Revolution overthrew the Pahlavi dynasty in 1979. He is the founder of the self-styled National Council of Iran and a prominent critic of Iran's Islamic Republic government. 

 42 
Ramsey Clark
(American lawyer)

Ramsey Clark
3
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.

 43 
Teji Bachchan
(Human rights activist)

Teji Bachchan
3
Birthdate: August 12, 1914
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Faisalabad, Pakistan
Died: December 21, 2007

 44 
Anna Politkovskaya
(Journalist)

Anna Politkovskaya
5
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.

 45 
Sarah Hegazi
(Human rights activist)

Sarah Hegazi
4
Birthdate: May 22, 1989
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Egypt
Died: June 14, 2020

 46 
Walter Reuther
(Politician)

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

 47 

Sister Helen Prejean
3
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.     

 48 
Marina Picasso
(Humanitarian)

Marina Picasso
3
Birthdate: November 14, 1950
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: France

Marina Picasso is a French humanitarian best known as the granddaughter of popular Spanish painter and sculptor Pablo Picasso. After inheriting a fifth of Pablo Picasso's estate, Marina Picasso used much of the inheritance to support humanitarian programs for children in need. Marina Picasso is credited with establishing a charitable organization called The Marina Picasso Foundation.

 49 
Nellie McClung
(Writer, Human rights activist, Politician)

Nellie McClung
3
Birthdate: October 20, 1873
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Chatsworth, Ontario, Canada
Died: September 1, 1951

Canadian author and social reformer Nellie McClung had struck gold with her first novel, Sowing Seeds in Danny, a bestseller. She also spoke widely about woman suffrage and was part of the Alberta legislature. She was part of The Famous Five, a group of women who launched the Persons Case.

 50 
Vinoba Bhave
(Indian Social Reformer and Philosopher Best Known for the 'Bhoodan Movement')

Vinoba Bhave
3
Birthdate: September 11, 1895
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Died: November 15, 1982

Vinoba Bhave was an Indian social reformer and advocate of human rights and nonviolence. A close associate of Mahatma Gandhi, Bhave played an important role in the Indian freedom movement. In 1958, he became the first person to receive the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership. In 1983, Vinoba Bhave was posthumously honored with the prestigious Bharat Ratna award.