Social Activists

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.

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..
4
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 Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai.
4
Famous As: Activist
Birthdate: July 12, 1997
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Mingora, Swat, 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.

 3 Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman.
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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.

 4 Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony.
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Famous As: Women’s Rights Activist
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.

 5 Desmond Tutu

Desmond Tutu.
4
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.

 6 Kailash Satyarthi

Kailash Satyarthi.
3
Famous As: Child Rights Activist
Birthdate: January 11, 1954
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Vidisha, India

 7 Kate Walsh

Kate Walsh.
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: October 13, 1967
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: San Jose, California, United States
Kate Walsh is best known as Dr. Addison Montgomery from Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice. Fans also loved her as Mrs. Baker from the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. Kate is also known for her political activism. She has also launched a beauty and lifestyle brand named Boyfriend LLC.
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 8 Eartha Kitt

Eartha Kitt.
4
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: January 17, 1927
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: North, South Carolina, United States
Died: December 25, 2008

Eartha Kitt was an American actress, comedian, dancer, and singer-songwriter. Renowned for her distinctive singing style, Kitt recorded several chartbusting songs during the 1950s. Also a well-known activist, Eartha Kitt established a non-profit organization called the Kittsville Youth Foundation, which helped underprivileged youths in Los Angeles. She was also an ardent advocate for same-sex marriage and LGBT rights.

 9 Torrey DeVitto

Torrey DeVitto.
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: June 8, 1984
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Huntington, New York
Torrey DeVitto is best known as Melissa Hastings from Pretty Little Liars, Dr. Natalie Manning in Chicago Med, and Carrie in One Tree Hill. Fans also loved her in The Vampire Diaries and Army Wives. She is a Hospice ambassador and has supported campaigns for mental-health awareness and animal rights.

 10 Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes.
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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.

 11 Marlo Thomas

Marlo Thomas
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: November 21, 1937
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, USA

 12 Karamo Brown

Karamo Brown
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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.

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 13 Carroll O’Connor

Carroll O’Connor.
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Famous As: Actor
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.

 14 Naomi Klein

Naomi Klein.
3
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: May 8, 1970
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Montreal, Quebec, 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.

 15 Anna Hazare

Anna Hazare.
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Famous As: Social Activist
Birthdate: June 15, 1937
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Ahmednagar, Maharashtra, India

 16 Shabana Azmi

Shabana Azmi
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: September 18, 1951
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Hyderabad, Telangana, India

 17 John C McGinley

John C McGinley.
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: August 3, 1959
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: New York City, New York
John C. McGinley is best known as Perry Cox from Scrubs and as Bob Slydell from Office Space. He has also been part of films such as Two Tickets to Paradise. His son Max’s battle with Down syndrome inspired him to work with organizations that spread awareness about the condition.

 18 Jeffrey Wright

Jeffrey Wright.
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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.

 19 Mike Farrell

Mike Farrell.
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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.

 20 Stella Immanuel

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

 21 Bianca Jagger

Bianca Jagger.
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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.

 22 Bryan Stevenson

Bryan Stevenson.
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Famous As: Lawyer
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.

 23 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.

 24 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. 

 25 Will Geer

Will Geer.
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: March 9, 1902
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Frankfort, Indiana, United States
Died: April 22, 1978
Actor and social activist Will Geer actively participated in the labor movements of the the 1930s and 1940s in New York and Southern California. He traveled across the U.S. with singer Woody Guthrie, during the Great Depression. Hollywood blacklisted him as a result of his leftist activities.

 26 Essence Atkins

Essence Atkins.
3
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.

 27 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.

 28 Melissa Mathison

Melissa Mathison.
4
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.

 29 Columba Bush

Columba Bush.
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Famous As: Philanthropist
Birthdate: August 17, 1953
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: León

Columba Bush is a Mexican-American philanthropist who started hogging the 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.

 30 Mariette Hartley

Mariette Hartley.
3
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: June 21, 1940
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: New York City, New York

Mariette Hartley is an American actress who won the Primetime Emmy Award for her portrayal of Dr. Carolyn Fields in the popular television series, The Incredible Hulk. She also has several Primetime Emmy Award nominations under her belt. An advocate of suicide prevention and medications for bipolar disorder, Mariette Hartley works towards increasing awareness of the disorder.

 31 Betty Ford

Betty Ford.
3
Famous As: Former First Lady of the United States
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.

 32 Manisha Koirala

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

 33 Mena Suvari

Mena Suvari.
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: February 13, 1979
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Newport, Rhode Island, United States
Mena Suvari soared to fame with her SAG Award-winning role of Angela Hayes in American Beauty. Fans also loved her in the American Pie movies and the horror anthology American Horror Story. She also appeared as Edie in Six Feet Under. Mena endorses Lancôme cosmetics and uses cruelty-free products only.

 34 Leonard Peltier

Leonard Peltier
3
Famous As: Activist
Birthdate: September 12, 1944
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Anishinabe (Chippewa) Turtle Mountain Reservation, North Dakota, USA

 35 Ben Shapiro

Ben Shapiro.
2
Famous As: Political Commentator, Public Speaker
Birthdate: January 15, 1984
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

A strong conservative political commentator, author, media host and lawyer, Ben Shapiro became the youngest nationally syndicated columnist in the US at the age of seventeen and at twenty published his first book. The host of a daily political podcast ,The Ben Shapiro Show, he has frequently invited criticism for his views on various issues like same-sex marriage and abortion.

 36 Mary Ann Shadd

Mary Ann Shadd
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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.

 37 Martin Sheen

Martin Sheen
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: August 3, 1940
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Dayton, Ohio, United States

One of the most celebrated actors of Hollywood, Martin Sheen has won multiple Emmys and Golden Globes. Best known to fans as Captain Benjamin Willard from Apocalypse Now, he has also been involved in countless protests against nuclear power and strongly opposes abortion, capital punishment, and euthanasia.

 38 Lauren Parsekian

Lauren Parsekian.
3
Famous As: Director, Activist, Actress
Birthdate: December 8, 1986
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Orange County, California

 39 Sheryl Lee Ralph

Sheryl Lee Ralph
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: December 30, 1956
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Waterbury, Connecticut, USA

 40 Thich Quang Duc

Thich Quang Duc
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Famous As: Vietnamese monk
Birthdate: 1897 AD
Birthplace: Khanh Hoa Province
Died: June 11, 1963

 41 Chirlane McCray

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

 42 Anne-Marie Johnson

Anne-Marie Johnson.
3
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: July 18, 1960
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California

 43 Alexandra Paul

Alexandra Paul.
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: July 29, 1963
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: New York, New York

As a budding model, Alexandra Paul decided to reject an offer from Stanford University to focus on a career in acting. She is best known to fans for her 5-year-long stint as Lt. Stephanie Holden in the internationally renowned series Baywatch. She is also a marathon runner and an avid swimmer.

 44 Betty DeGeneres

Betty DeGeneres.
3
Famous As: Speech Therapist
Birthdate: May 20, 1930
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

 45 Brene Brown

Brene Brown
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Famous As: Researcher
Birthdate: November 18, 1965
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: San Antonio, Texas, U.S.

Apart from being a University of Houston research professor, Brene Brown has also been a successful author of New York Times bestsellers such as Braving the Wilderness, and a podcast host. She also has a lecture featured on Netflix, while her Ted Talk is one of the world’s top-five most-viewed. 

 46 Denise Nicholas

Denise Nicholas.
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: July 12, 1944
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, United States

 47 Abigail Disney

Abigail Disney
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Famous As: Filmmaker
Birthdate: January 24, 1960
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, U.S.

 48 Cassie Scerbo

Cassie Scerbo.
3
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: March 30, 1990
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Long Island, New York, United States

 49 Jason Ralph

Jason Ralph.
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: April 7, 1986
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: McKinney, Texas

Jason Ralph is an American actor best known for playing Quentin Coldwater in the popular fantasy television series, The Magicians. Jason Ralph is credited with co-founding Strangemen Theater Company. Since the company’s founding in 2010, Ralph has been serving as its artistic director, producing many award-winning plays.

 50 Bayard Rustin

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