1. Septima Clark
Known as "The Mother of the Movement," Clark was a teacher and an activist. She "fought the disenfranchisement of African-Americans by creating citizenship schools that taught reading, writing, and how to fill out registration forms. Because of her efforts, between 1957 and the 1970s, more than 800 citizenship schools were created, graduating more than 100,000 African-Americans." She received the Living Legacy Award from Jimmy Carter in 1979.
2. Dorothy Height
"Height ran the Center for Racial Injustice and National Council of Negro Women for years. She worked tirelessly alongside “the big six” national civil rights leaders to organize the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. She was also the only woman onstage when King delivered his iconic “I have a dream” speech."
3. Ella Baker
"Baker has been called one of the most influential women of the civil rights movement. Active for decades — largely behind the scenes — Baker was a driving force within the NAACP, a founding member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) headed by King, and orchestrated what would be the first meeting of the emerging SNCC. In fact, organizers nicknamed her “Fundi” a Swahili term for a person who passes down a skill or a trade from one generation to the next."
4. Mahalia Jackson
"Known as the "Voice of the Movement," it was "Jackson who gave the emotional introduction to Dr. King’s speech during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963."
5. Prathia Hall
Hall, a "Baptist minister, was a member of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) where she was arrested at least 10 times, wounded by gunfire during a voter registration project in Georgia, and was one of hundreds who marched from Selma over the Edmund Pettus Bridge toward Montgomery to raise awareness for black voting rights on “Bloody Sunday.”"
6. Fannie Lou Hamer
"Hamer, a Mississippi sharecropper, gave emotional testimony during a live broadcast of the 1964 Democratic Convention on being evicted, harassed, and beaten for traveling to Indianola to register to vote. “Is this America, the land of the free and the home of the brave,” asked Hamer during the emotional speech. “Where we have to sleep with our telephones off of the hooks because our lives be threatened daily, because we want to live as decent human beings, in America?”
Hamer helped form the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) to oppose the previously established all-white delegation and negotiated alongside King with vice presidential nominee Hubert Humphrey to have members from the MFDP seated and to ban delegations that were discriminatory."
7. Diane Nash
"King said Nash was the “driving spirit in the non-violent assault on segregation at lunch counters,” because of her work as a sit-in organizer and Freedom Rider. Nash’s activism proved essential in the integration of bus terminals, bathrooms, and restaurants in the South."
H/T NY Times
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