People and Organizations
The following is a list of
people who made a significant impact on the Civil Rights Movement. Included below are short biographies
and some important dates relevant to Black History Month. Remember, there are many other people
who made significant contributions but it would be an impossible task to list
them all. Use the Black
History – Study Links for more information. Also click on the individual names for
a more detailed account.
People: Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks
Organizations: NAACP, SCLC, 1st Pan African Congress
Named by his Mother as
Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, he picked up the name Douglass several years later. After learning the basics of reading and writing from one of
his owners, he began his self-education.
Frederick Douglass did much for the anti-slavery movement and was a forceful
and eloquent speaker as well. He
published two newspapers, the North Star and the New National Era. President Rutherford B. Hayes appointed
him to the post of U.S. Marshal for the District of Colombia.
William Edward Burghardt
was an African American scholar, an early leader in the 20th Century
African-American protest movement and an advocate of Pan-Africanism. His goal was to present evidence to refute
the myths of racial inferiority.
In 1905 he was the founder and general secretary of Niagara movement, an
African protest group of scholars and professionals. He was also among the founders of the NAACP. W.E.B. Du Bois will be remembered as a
poet, playwright, novelist, essayist, sociologist, historian and journalist.
Hughes was a prominent
poetry and prose writer and had several publications. Among them were The Weary Blues (1926), Fine Clothes to the Jew (1927), and his fist novel, Not Without Laughter
(1930). He wrote poems, essays, book reviews, song lyrics, plays,
and short stories. His work has
been translated into over a dozen languages, which earned him an international
reputation unlike any other African American writer.
Truth was a slave who
spoke out against racial oppression and acted on her beliefs. Besides becoming a traveling preacher
after gaining her freedom, she was heavily involved in a succession of
religious movements. She was
active in the Women’s Rights Suffrage Movement of 1851 and her most
famous speech “Ain’t I a Woman?” is still talked about today.
Harriet was a spy, nurse,
feminist, and social reformer. She
escaped from bondage and for 16 years guided over 300 slaves to freedom in the
North by way of a secret network of safe houses later called the Underground
Railroad. She was known as the
“Moses of her people”.
She built the Harriet Tubman Home for Aged and Indigent Colored People
in 1908. During World War II a
liberty ship was christened the Harriet Tubman in her honor. Tubman led many people to freedom and helped to undermine
the institution of slavery.
A Civil Rights Activist,
Parks is well known for her refusal to give up her seat to a white passenger on
a racially segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Her action led to the successful boycott of Montgomery buses
by African-American riders. She
also worked with the NAACP Youth Council & the SCLC. She served as a deaconess at the Saint
Matthew African Methodist Episcopal Church and was a public speaker that
discussed her role in the Civil Rights Movement. In 1988 she founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for
Self-Development and in July of 1999 she was awarded the Congressional Gold
Additional Black History Biographies Available From the Gale Group
Source: The Gale Group
The National Association
for the Advancement of Colored People stems from the idea that all men and
women are create equal. Despite
the threat of violence and racist government policies, the NAACP has continued
to persevere. Their goals are to
fight intense legal battles, address social injustices, and to organize
nationwide protests. They
protested the introduction of segregation into the Federal government,
presented publicly the facts about lynching, staged non-violent sit-ins,
registered African-American voters and vied for the admission of
African-Americans into institutions of higher learning. Without their presence in society, a
vast majority of social injustices would have gone unnoticed and racial
SCLC – Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Established in 1957 by
Martin Luther King, Jr., the goal of the Southern Christian Leadership
Conference was to coordinate and assist local organizations working for the
full equality of blacks in all aspects of American life. The organization played a major part in
the Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C. in 1963 and has kept a philosophy of
non-violent social change.
Ex-leader Jesse L. Jackson set up a new organization with the same purpose called Operation PUSH (People United to Save Humanity).
Source: Carl Vinson Institute
of Government, University of Georgia
African-American thinker and journalist, W.E.B. Du Bois, the 1st Pan
African Congress included 57 delegates representing 15 countries. Among its first demands was the idea
that Africans should take part in governing their countries ‘as fast as
their development permits’ until Africa is granted home rule.