One of the lead authors of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s, James Baldwin is best known for his work Go Tell It on the Mountain. A work that was included in Time Magazine’s 100 “Best English-Language Novels 1923 to 2005.” While this is his best-known work, Baldwin had written many other articles and papers that would be used by Civil Rights leaders during their fight in the 1960’s. Also, Baldwin was one of the few gay black men in the movement. Realizing his sexual orientation early in life he had to grow up with both systemic racism and homophobia of the period, leading him to leave the United States for France. However, while he there, he did his part to contribute to the Civil rights Movement of the 1960’s. Due to his many works and contributions Baldwin was awarded the George Polk Award and the Eugene F. Saxon Award.
Serj Tankian August 21, 1967 to Present
Best known for his work with the band System of the Down, Serj Tankian is a Grammy Award winning singer and songwriter who has made the focus of his musical career to the advancement of social issues. His focus being those around human rights, genocide, and animal rights. This is all shaped in his work, both with the band System of the Down and his own solo works. Famous works include Empty Walls a and Soldiers’ Side works based on the issues of the Iraq War and the plight of soldiers respectfully. Tankian also started his own groups to get youths involved in both politics and music. Axis of Justice being the biggest group. Tankian is still active in his work, both musically and politically, and writes songs based on his convictions.
Mary Temple Grandin August 29, 1947 to Present
A renown author, animal behavior expert, and advocate for people with autism. Grandin had proven to be a dedicated student who with the aid of her mother and mentors was able to complete her education and became a great aid for parents with autistic children. Her major works are based around her love of animals, her best known work being Animals Make US Human. However, she has also written a book focused autism, The Autistic Brian, which is still used to explain the development of the medical understanding of autism. In this regard she has done much for both the development of understanding animals and humans with a different neurological makeup.
An abolitionist whose memoir, 12 Years A Slave, inspired the 2013 film of the same name. Solomon Northup’s life and experience shows that the crime of slavery in the United States was a danger to anyone of African descent. Born free in the state of New York, he spent much of his life as a farmer and inspiring violinist until he was drugged and sold into slavery while in rout to Washington D.C. (at the time the Nation's biggest slave market) where he was offered a job to perform. After his kidnapping he was sent to New Orleans and spent twelve years in Louisiana as a slave. He was sold to William Prince Ford, then to John M. Tibaut (who Northup disliked the most), and lastly to Edwin Epps for ten years. During his time at the Epps plantation, Northup encountered Samuel Brass, a Canadian man who gained his trust and helped in his freedom. After being freed Northup spent the rest of his life campaigning for the end of slavery in the United States leaving behind his memoir that become a contribution to the abolitionist movement. His memoirs are praised for their detail and brutal honesty. While Northup did not live to see the end of slavery in the United States his works and story still lives on and have been used as examples of the harshness of the slave trade in the United States amongst other struggles facing people of African descent.
Denise Nicholas July 12, 1944 to Present
An American actor and writer, Denise Nicholas has spent much of her life as an activist join acting companies that catered to rural African Americans in the hopes of providing the experience of live performances to these communities. Such companies including the Free Southern Theater and the Negro Ensemble Company. While she would gain international fame for her performance in the series Room 222, she never stopped advocating for social justice. In 2005, she published her first novel Freshwater Road that used the Civil Rights Movement as a backdrop with some of her experiences also being an influence. While she is not currently active in the current entertainment industry her legacy lives on through her novel.
Medgar Evers July 2, 1925 to July 12, 1963
A student of considerable degree and a veteran of the Second World War, Medgar Evers lived in one of the worst states in the south during the period of Jim Crow and pre-Civil Rights reforms. Born and raised in Mississippi, Evers spent much of his life jeered and prodded by the socially accepted racist behavior of the state. Being forced to go to a school further away than where he lived, he was often exposed to the cruelty of the social divide between Black and white Americans, mostly conducted school peers. After serving in the Second World War, Evers started to take a more active role in dismantling racist practices in his state by joining the Regional Council of Negro Leadership (RCNL) were his leadership would shove him to the for front of the growing Civil Rights Movement. One of the biggest protests that he led and organized was against the University of Mississippi, which rejected him on the grounds of his race. The University of Mississippi faced backlash on an international level from the work of Evers and his allies. Unfortunately, Evers did not live to see the fruits of his and many others’ labors when he was assassinated in the wake of President Kennedy’s civil rights address. While not as well-known as Dr. Martin Luther King, Medgar Evers is still remembered to this day as a strong leader in his state of Mississippi.
Dr. Ebadi, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003, for the decades she spent in fighting for human rights in Iran, her home country. Prior to the 1979 Revolution, she was the first woman president of the Tehran City Court. Through this position she moved to expand the rights of women, and although she loss of her position, it did not prevent her from continuing her fight for the rights of women and children in Iran. On several occasions this fight lead her to conflicts with the people in power, however Dr. Ebadi did not yield in her efforts. In 1993, she could practice law again, and since has continued to argue for the rights of women and children. In addition, to fighting in court, Ebadi started up many social organizations to support the needs of women and children and to fight for their rights. Her legal work continues to this day with growing support from both local and foreign groups coming to aid.
Bertha Von Suttner June 9, 1843 to June 21, 1914
The first woman to earn the Nobel Peace Prize in 1905, Baroness Bertha von Suttner spent her life alongside her husband to promote peace among the European power during the close of the 19th century and up until her death a mere month before the First World War. She worked alongside Alfred Nobel as his secretary. During this time, she wrote many articles and books arguing for peace among nation and traveled across Europe spreading their message of peace on the income she and her husband earned in teaching language and music. The Baroness was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (1905) for her participation in the International Peace Conference in Boston in 1904 and for her many decades of work in the name of Peace. While her work did not prevent the powder keg that was Europe from exploding a month after her death, but her legacy work Die Waffen Nieder (Lay Down Your Amrs) has been published in 12 languages and has 37 editions. It continues to be popular in some circles and is an influential part in current works.
Aruna Roy June 26, 1956 to Present
Aruna Roy is an activist in India whose focus is on getting more resources to the poorer communities of her nation. While the nation of India does have governmental resources to aid the poor, Roy took notice that it was not enough and has spent much of her adult and professional life in correcting this issue. She has co-founded the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) in 1987, a social grassroots organization that is meant to empower, as well as established the Rights of Information Act (RTI) for the people of India. Her life has been dedicated to aid those who had been neglected by her nation's government and making already available organizations much more reliable. For her efforts she received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership (2000) and the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Award for Excellence in Public Administration, Academia and Management (2010) was bestowed upon her for her continued efforts to improve her nation.