Social Activists

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Social activists play a vital role in bringing about positive change in the society. Here is a list of famous social activists from all over the world. This list of famous social activists includes names like Ben Shapiro, Jeffrey Wright, Torrey DeVito, Mena Suvari, Bryan Stevenson and many more.
Vote for Your Favourite Social Activists
 1 
Malala Yousafzai
(Women's Rights Activist, World's Youngest Nobel Prize Laureate)
Malala Yousafzai
4
Birthdate: July 12, 1997
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Mingora, Pakistan

Named to Time 100 thrice, Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai exhibits phenomenal grit and inspires young girls everywhere. An assassination attempt by Islamic fundamentalists could not dampen her spirit, and she fought back with a bestselling memoir and won the Nobel Peace Prize as its youngest recipient, at 17.

 2 
Harriet Tubman
(Activist and Abolitionist Known for Her Efforts in Rescuing Slaves and Abolition of Slavery)
Harriet Tubman
6
Birthdate: 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 
Susan B. Anthony
(Women’s Rights Activist)
Susan B. Anthony
6
Birthdate: February 15, 1820
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Adams, Massachusetts, United States
Died: March 13, 1906

Susan B. Anthony's vital role in the women's suffrage movement changed the course of history. She led one of the two national suffrage organizations, which later became the National American Woman Suffrage Association, with Susan as its leading force. She also played an instrumental role in publishing The Revolution, a women's rights newspaper.

 4 
Desmond Tutu
(First Black African Archbishop of Cape Town & Nobel Peace Prize Winner)
Desmond Tutu
6
Birthdate: October 7, 1931
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Klerksdorp, South Africa
Died: December 26, 2021
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.
 5 
Kailash Satyarthi
(Child Rights Activist)
Kailash Satyarthi
7
Birthdate: January 11, 1954
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Vidisha, India

Kailash Satyarthi is an Indian social reformer who won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize. Satyarthi is best known for his campaign against child labor in India. Kailash Satyarthi is credited with founding several social activist organizations like Global March Against Child Labour, Bachpan Bachao Andolan, and Global Campaign for Education.

 6 
Princess Diana
(First Wife of Charles, Prince of Wales)
Princess Diana
4
Birthdate: July 1, 1961
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Norfolk, England, United Kingdom
Died: August 31, 1997

The first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales, Princess Diana was a member of the British royal family. As a princess, she became known for her unconventional approach to charity work. She was celebrated as a style icon and fashionista as well. She divorced Charles in 1996 and died in a tragic car accident the following year.

 7 
Gloria Steinem
(American Feminist Journalist and Co-Founder of ‘Ms,' Magazine)
Gloria Steinem
4
Birthdate: March 25, 1934
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Toledo, Ohio, United States

Hailing from a humble background, Gloria Steinem went on to become a celebrated journalist and an iconic feminist. Founder of the New York magazine and Ms Magazine, her life has been dedicated to writing, talking and fighting for women’s rights, gender equality, legalisation of abortion, among other things. She brought issues like female genital mutilation to the forefront in America.

 8 
Marlo Thomas
(Actress)
Marlo Thomas
4
Birthdate: November 21, 1937
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, USA
 9 
Anna Hazare
(Social Activist)
Anna Hazare
3
Birthdate: June 15, 1937
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Ahmednagar, Maharashtra, India

Anna Hazare is an Indian social activist known for his efforts to improve rural places in India. His contribution to the development of Ralegan Siddhi earned him the Padma Bhushan in 1992. He is also known for his fight against corruption; he went on a hunger strike in 2011 to exert pressure on the government to enact an anti-corruption law.

 10 
Carroll O’Connor
4
Birthdate: August 2, 1924
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: The Bronx, New York, United States
Died: June 21, 2001

Carroll O'Connor was an American actor, director, and producer. In a TV career that spanned 40 years, O'Connor popularized several fictional characters, including Archie Bunker from the sitcom All in the Family, for which he received four Emmy Awards. In 1996, he was ranked 38th on the 50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time list published by TV Guide.

 11 
Abbie Hoffman
(Political Activist, Co-Founder of the 'Youth International Party' and Member of the 'Chicago Seven')
Abbie Hoffman
4
Birthdate: November 30, 1936
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Worcester, Massachusetts, United States
Died: April 12, 1989

The co-founder of the Youth International Party, Abbie Hoffman was an American social and political activist. A popular exponent of the Flower Power movement, Abbie Hoffman played a major role in the events leading up to the violent confrontations with the cops during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. He remains an iconic figure of the counterculture era.

 12 
Naomi Klein
(Canadian Author and Activist Best Known for Her Books: ‘No Logo’, ‘The Shock Doctrine’ and ‘This Changes Everything’)
Naomi Klein
3
Birthdate: May 5, 1970
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Montreal, Canada

Canadian author, social activist, and filmmaker Naomi Klein is known for her criticism of corporate globalization and capitalism. She became internationally known following the release of her alter-globalization book No Logo. She often appears on global and national lists of top influential thinkers and is the recipient of the 2016 Sydney Peace Prize. She is a prominent environmentalist as well.

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 13 
Thich Quang Duc
(Former Vietnamese monk who burned himself to death at a busy Saigon road intersection on 11 June 1963)
Thich Quang Duc
4
Birthdate: 1897 AD
Birthplace: Hội Khánh, Vietnam
Died: June 11, 1963
 14 
Betty Ford
(Former First Lady of the United States)
Betty Ford
3
Birthdate: April 8, 1918
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: July 8, 2011

Betty Ford served as the First Lady of the US from 1974 to 1977. One of the most popular First Ladies in history, Ford was a passionate supporter of abortion rights and worked towards raising breast cancer awareness. She commented on topics like sex, drugs, abortion, and equal pay. In 1991, she was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

 15 
Melissa Mathison
(Screenwriter)
Melissa Mathison
4
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.

 16 
Bryan Stevenson
(American Lawyer, Founder and Executive Director of the ‘Equal Justice Initiative’)
Bryan Stevenson
4
Birthdate: November 14, 1959
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Milton, Delaware, United States

Lawyer and social justice activist, Bryan Stevenson, is known for challenging bias against the poor and minorities in the criminal justice system. He advocates for the poor, fights for children’s rights, and condemns the death penalty. He is the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. He was honored with the Benjamin Franklin Award from the American Philosophical Society.

 17 
Paul Robeson
(Singer, Actor, and Black Activist.)
Paul Robeson
6
Birthdate: April 9, 1898
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Princeton, New Jersey, United States
Died: January 23, 1976

Singer and actor, Paul Robeson, was as much known for his music and films as he was for his political activism. As a black man who had to endure great difficulties to establish himself, he was actively involved in the Civil Rights Movement and other social justice campaigns. As a performer, he was a major figure in the Harlem Renaissance.

Bell Hooks
4
Birthdate: September 25, 1952
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Hopkinsville, Kentucky, United States
Died: December 15, 2021
 19 
Tom Hayden
(American Anti-War, Civil Rights, and Intellectual Activist in the 1960s)
Tom Hayden
4
Birthdate: December 11, 1939
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Royal Oak, Michigan, United States
Died: October 23, 2016

Tom Hayden was a prominent social/political activist, and a champion for civil rights and anti-war campaigns. Also known as Jane Fonda’s ex-husband, he had contributed to the Port Huron Statement and stood trial in the Chicago Seven Case. He was part of the California State Assembly and the California Senate.

 20 
Columba Bush
(Former First Lady of Florida)
Columba Bush
4
Birthdate: August 17, 1953
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: León

Columba Bush is a Mexican-American philanthropist who came to limelight after marrying American politician Jeb Bush. From 1999 to 2007, she served as First Lady of Florida and used her platform to deal with issues, such as substance abuse and domestic violence. She has also been active in advocating the artworks of artists like Salvador Dalí and Frida Kahlo.

 21 
Arlyn Phoenix
(American Social Activist and Mother of Actors 'River', 'Rain', 'Joaquin', 'Liberty', and 'Summer Phoenix')
Arlyn Phoenix
4
Birthdate: December 31, 1944
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: New York, New York City, United States

Arlyn Phoenix, or Heart Phoenix, is the mother of actor Joaquin Phoenix. Her other son, River Phoenix, died of a drug overdose. Her three other children are also actors. She and her first husband were members of the cult The Children of God. She is now a renowned peace activist.

 22 
David Bale
(Entrepreneur)
David Bale
3
Birthdate: September 2, 1941
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: South Africa
Died: December 30, 2003

David Bale was an English entrepreneur and animal rights activist. He worked closely with The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, which aims at protecting endangered mountain gorillas, and served as one of its board members. Apart from his work as an activist for animal rights and environmental causes, David Bale is also known as the father of actor Christian Bale.

 23 
Sheryl Lee Ralph
3
Birthdate: December 30, 1956
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Waterbury, Connecticut, USA
 24 
Chirlane McCray
(Writer, Social Activist)
Chirlane McCray
3
Birthdate: November 29, 1954
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States
 25 
Leonard Peltier
(Activist)
Leonard Peltier
3
Birthdate: September 12, 1944
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Anishinabe (Chippewa) Turtle Mountain Reservation, North Dakota, USA
 26 
Stella Immanuel
(Physician, writer)
Stella Immanuel
4
Birthdate: 1965 AD
Birthplace: Cameroon
 27 
Denise Nicholas
3
Birthdate: July 12, 1944
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, United States
 28 
Abigail Disney
(Filmmaker)
Abigail Disney
3
Birthdate: January 24, 1960
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, U.S.
 29 
Daniel Franzese
3
Birthdate: May 9, 1978
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York, USA
 30 
Billy Barty
3
Birthdate: October 25, 1924
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Millsboro, Pennsylvania, USA
Died: December 23, 2000
 31 
Mary Williams
(Activist)
Mary Williams
3
Birthdate: October 13, 1967
Sun Sign: Libra
 32 
Bayard Rustin
(Activist)
Bayard Rustin
3
Birthdate: March 17, 1912
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: West Chester, Pennsylvania, USA
Died: August 24, 1987
 33 
Anjem Choudary
(Islamist, Political Activist)
Anjem Choudary
3
Birthdate: January 18, 1967
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: London, England
 34 
Sister Nivedita
(Irish Teacher, Author, Social Activist, School Founder and Disciple of 'Swami Vivekananda')
Sister Nivedita
3
Birthdate: October 28, 1867
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: County Tyrone, Northern Ireland
Died: October 13, 1911

Born in Ireland, schoolteacher Margaret Elizabeth Noble met Indian spiritual leader Swami Vivekananda in London and, inspired by his ideals, went to Calcutta, where she was renamed Sister Nivedita and began following Brahmacharya. She not only founded a girls’ school in Kolkata but also worked for social upliftment of Indians.

 35 
Carter Woodson
(Historian)
Carter Woodson
3
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.

 36 
Fethullah Gülen
(Co-founder of the Gulen movement, popular particularly in Turkey)
Fethullah Gülen
4
Birthdate: April 27, 1941
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Pasinler, Erzurum, Turkey
 37 
Lauren Parsekian
(Director, Activist, Actress)
Lauren Parsekian
3
Birthdate: December 8, 1986
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Orange County, California
 38 
Julian Bond
(Social Activist)
Julian Bond
3
Birthdate: January 14, 1940
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Nashville, Tennessee, United States
Died: August 15, 2015
 39 
Roger Casement
(British Diplomat Known as ‘Father of Twentieth-Century Human Rights Investigations')
Roger Casement
3
Birthdate: September 1, 1864
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Sandycove, Ireland
Died: August 3, 1916

Roger Casement was an Irish nationalist and diplomat. Also a well-known humanitarian activist, Casement is remembered for the Casement Report, a 1904 document in which he wrote about the abuses in the Congo Free State. His investigations of human rights abuses earned him a knighthood in 1911. However, Casement was stripped of his knighthood after being charged with high treason.

 40 
Boots Riley
(Musician)
Boots Riley
3
Birthdate: April 1, 1971
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Sadako Sasaki
3
Birthdate: January 7, 1943
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kusunoki, Yamaguchi, Japan
Died: October 25, 1955

At age 2, Sadako Sasaki survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, being just 2km away from the bombing site. However, years later, she developed leukemia, as an aftermath of the bombing. While in hospital, battling the terminal disease, she folded over 1,000 origami cranes, in the hope of getting better.

 42 
Carrie Nation
(Activist)
Carrie Nation
5
Birthdate: November 25, 1846
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Gerrard County, Kentucky, USA
Died: June 9, 1911
 43 
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.

 44 
Alexandra Elbakyan
(Programmer)
Alexandra Elbakyan
3
Birthdate: November 6, 1988
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Almaty, Kazakhstan
 45 
Horst Wessel
(Nazi Party Stormtrooper Who Was Hailed Asa Nazi Hero & Martyr)
Horst Wessel
5
Birthdate: October 9, 1907
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Bielefeld
Died: February 23, 1930

A member of the SA, the paramilitary wing of the German Nazi Party, Horst Wessel was murdered by his enemies, probably Communists. Following his death, he was hailed as a Nazi hero and martyr. The song Horst Wessel Lied later became the Nazi anthem and the co-national anthem of Nazi Germany.

 46 
Jonas Savimbi
(Politician)
Jonas Savimbi
3
Birthdate: August 3, 1934
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Munhango, Angola
Died: February 22, 2002
 47 
Mary Whitehouse
(British Teacher and Conservative Activist)
Mary Whitehouse
3
Birthdate: June 13, 1910
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Nuneaton Nuneaton, Warwickshire, England
Died: November 23, 2001

While she was initially a schoolteacher, who specialized in sex education, Mary Whitehouse later began a campaign against the moral standards of the media in Britain, particularly the BBC. She launched the Clean Up TV campaign, vocalizing her opposition toward content such as war and child pornography.

 48 
Armi Kuusela
3
Birthdate: August 20, 1934
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Muhos, Finland
 49 
Ben Cohen
(Rugby Player)
Ben Cohen
3
Birthdate: September 14, 1978
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Northampton, England
 50 
Jan Palach
(Activist)
Jan Palach
3
Birthdate: August 11, 1948
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Melnik
Died: January 19, 1969