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Civil rights movement

Women of the civil rights movement

The unsung Heroes of the Civil Rights Movement

Septima Poinsette Clark (1898–1987)

Born in Charleston, South Carolina, Septima Poinsette Clark was an educator who established Citizenship Schools that taught some African Americans how to read and write. Citizenship Schools were instrumental in enfranchising African Americans, as well as empowering them to exercise, and gain, other rights.  

Septima Poinsette Clark

Ruby Dee (1922–2014)

Ruby Dee was an American actress, playwright, journalist and poet who spoke openly about racism within, and outside of, Hollywood. She picketed theatres that didn’t employ Black people, denounced negative stereotypes of African Americans on screen and was an active member in several civil rights organisations, including the NAACP and the Congress for Racial Equality.  

Ruby Dee

Diane Nash (1938–present)

Diane Nash is a prominent civil rights activist who is known for successfully registering a number of African Americans in the Mississippi Delta to vote. An advocate of non-violent resistance, Nash was one of the leading figures of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC): the group that orchestrated sit-ins at cafes across Nashville, Tennessee. 

Diane Nash

Daisy Bates (1914–1999)

Daisy Bates confronted the violent nature of racism at a very early age, after the murder of her mother by three white men. She campaigned for racial justice mainly through The Arkansas Weekly, a newspaper she established with her husband that was dedicated to the civil rights movement. Bates encouraged African American students to enrol in all-white schools after the Supreme Court ruled segregated schools were unconstitutional, and would use her publication to denounce schools which failed to abide by the federal mandate.  

Daisy Lee Gatson Bates

Claudette Colvin (1931–present)

Claudette Colvin was the first person to be arrested for defying Montgomery’s bus segregation policies – nine months before Rosa Parks. Colvin was 15 at the time, refusing to move to the back of the bus even after two policemen arrived. She was arrested on the scene and thrown in jail for a short period of time.  

Claudette Colvin

Fannie Lou Hamer (1917–1977)

Fannie Lou Hamer was well-known for galvanising a number of African Americans to register to vote in Indianola, Mississippi. She co-founded the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, a political party that the challenged white-dominated hegemony within the Democratic Party. 

Fannie Lou Hamer