10 Human Rights Heroes You Have to Know About

10 Human Rights Heroes You Have to Know About

These individuals have done incredible work to better the lives of others and deserve to have their stories told.

38
10 Human Rights Heroes You Have to Know About
Photo by Maria Oswalt on Unsplash

Throughout time, the defense against attacks on human rights and what human rights even mean have been some of the most important issues humanity has faced. Certain individuals have sought to see their visions of a better society through by fighting for the rights of those whose rights were (and are) ignored or disrespected, but often their recognition is not found in the mainstream media. So I'm here to tell you about some heroes, either better known or hardly at all, to give true heroes the gratitude they deserve for their humanitarian work.

Robert F. Kennedy

JFK's brother is a better known human rights hero, but perhaps the specifics are not as well known. His work during the 1960s Civil Rights Movement alongside his brother and support of Martin Luther King Jr.'s peaceful protest against racial inequalities were profound, particularly for the Freedom Riders in 1961, where RFK stationed 400 federal marshals at the site of the Freedom Riders protests to protect those involved in the acts against counter-protesters. He pushed with urgency the importance of supporting the African American's that were fighting for desegregation and equal opportunity, as seen in 1963 when Lyndon B. Johnson relied on RFK's Justice Department to assist in the Civil Rights Act legislation following the death of JFK.

"Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance." -Robert F. Kennedy

(information from JFK Library)

Sir Roger Casement

I recently found out about Casement after a trip to a museum in Dublin, and was astounded by the work he did for human rights in the Congo and Peru. in 1903, this Irishman began his investigation against the slavery of people in the Congo for the sake of harvesting rubber. He wrote his Congo report that was published in 1904 to expose the terrible treatment of people in the Congo and this led to a change in the rule over the Congo four years later for better treatment of the people. The same thing happened in Peru, where he wrote another report in 1912 that eventually earned him knighthood for his work. He became militant in revolutions in Ireland against British rule, which led to its own set of troubles for Casement, but his impact in human rights campaigning is undeniably important.

"Where all your rights become only an accumulated wrong; where men must beg with bated breath for leave to subsist in their own land, to think their own thoughts, to sing their own songs, to garner the fruits of their own labors...then surely it is a braver, a saner and truer thing, to be a rebel in act and deed against such circumstances as these than tamely to accept it as the natural lot of men." -Sir Roger Casement

(Information from Britannica.com)

Betty Makoni

Zimbabwean activist Makoni works tirelessly to support the protection of young girls against sexual assault and the empowerment of young women to rise above and do great things with their lives. She brings light to many abuse issues in her native Zimbabwe in regards to the sexual assault against young women and girls face. She developed the Girl Child Network (GCN) to help in the support of gaining justice for these young women and girls and giving them the support they need for later in life to make something of themselves in a nurturing and safe environment away from those abuses. She is an incredible woman with an incredible mission, and has led to the saving of over 7,000 girls from abuses through her organization.

"That there is a silent genocide of women and girls in the homes, communities and just everywhere is not a new story. That my great grandmother, grandmother, mother, mother-in-law, aunt, sister, cousin, niece, housemaid, co-worker, friend, neighbor and just about every female shares the same pain is not a new story. What is new in this story is how I stood up to say, "Never again." Never again will a girl or woman get raped, killed, drop out of school, be harmed by our culture or be sexually enslaved. That is as long as I know about it. Never Again--not to any woman or girl again is the new story." -Betty Makoni

(Information from Constance Manika, "Child Rights Activist Betty Makoni "Lights Up the Dark" for Abused and Disadvantaged Young Girls")

Joan Baez

Some may know Joan Baes as a folk-hero, and that is certainly a deserving title, but many may not know her work in the 1970s in helping to establish the San Francisco branch of Amnesty International. She dedicated an entire year of her life for this, and among this, traveled to participate in anti-death penalty rallies (in Amnesty International's Campaign to End Torture) in Paris and New York, and took part in the March on Washington with Martin Luther King Jr. Her list of contributions to the support of civil right campaigns is numerous and vital as inspiration to so many future activists searching for ways to better the planet for those struggling for equal human rights.

"Action is the antidote to despair." -Joan Baez

(Information from Amnesty International Human Rights Blog)

Victor Hugo

He is often remembered for his work Les Miserables and in general for being a famous author and poet in France, though it is less known that he was a passionate human rights activist. Even looking at his works will show you the themes of the despair of people in his time that he cared enough about to fight for change. He campaigned for universal suffrage, free education for all children, and even fought to abolish capital punishment in his time. Hugo was an outspoken proponent for civil rights that seemed to be far ahead of his time, and ought to be recognized for using his platform to speak out about the injustice that laid before him instead of ignoring it completely.

"To love another person is to see the face of God." -Victor Hugo

(Information from Chris Baynes at IndependentIndependent)

Emmeline Pankhurst

It was not too far in the past that women were granted the right to vote, as difficult as that can be to believe. Pankhurst was a frontrunner in the campaign for women's rights in the late 1800s in Britain, founding the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) in support of the cause. She was arrested numerous times for her efforts while her and her supporters grew militant in their efforts, still going on hunger strikes while in prison to further push the cause in any way she could. She is a large reason why British women over 30 were granted the right to vote in 1918, and eventually women over 21 because of her incredibly dedicated efforts toward furthering equal rights.

"It is obvious to you that the struggle will be an unequal one, but I shall make it - I shall make it as long as I have an ounce of strength left in me, or any life left in me." -Emmeline Pankhurst

(Information from BBC History on Emmeline Pankhurst)

Harvey Milk

There's a fantastic movie starring Sean Penn as Milk, which chronicles the life of this incredible gay rights activist. Milk moved to San Francisco in the 1970s after coming out as an openly gay man and began work as a leading activist in the gay community. He formed the San Francisco Gay Democratic Club and pushed for a bill that was anti-discriminatory against all sexual orientations, which ended up being passed with only one vote against it. He briefly worked in public office and constantly battled against discriminatory bills and pushed for more acceptance toward the LGBTQ+ community. California recognizes his birthday, May 22nd, as Harvey Milk Day, to commemorate the work he's done for the community.

"Hope will never be silent." -Harvey Milk

(Information from HISTORY.com)

Johnnie Carr

Carr played a large role in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s but also worked in activism far before then as well. In the 1930s she helped raise money for the nine African Americans in the Scottsboro Trials and was an active member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). During the bus boycotts within the Civil Rights Movement, she voiced her support for the boycotters and offered rides and food to those active in the event. She also was involved in a lawsuit over the desegregation of Montgomery Schools and after a court ruling her son became one of the first 13 African American children to attend a desegregated school. She worked alongside friends Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. during her lifetime and is a name that more should recognize as a face for the fight for equal civil rights.

"Go back to wherever you came from and put it to action." -Johnnie Carr

(Information from ourbiography.com on Johnnie Carr)

W.E.B. Du Bois

At the end of the 1800s, Du Bois studied how slavery still affected African Americans even after abolition, and taught Sociology at Tuskegee University until conflict between Booker T. Washington and him caused Du Bois to join the Niagara Movement that supported equal rights for African Americans in 1903. Du Bois was one of the founding members of the NAACP that played a major role in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. He even represented the organization at the first United Nations meeting. He supported progressive, left-wing organizations that supported the fight for equality amongst races.

"I believe in Liberty for all men: the space to stretch their arms and their souls, the right to breathe and the right to vote, the freedom to choose their friends, enjoy the sunshine, and ride on the railroads, uncursed by color; thinking, dreaming, working as they will in a kingdom of beauty and love." -W.E.B. Du Bois

(Information from HISTORY.com on W.E.B. Du Bois)

Malala Yousafzai

One of the youngest activists on this list, Yousafzai, born in Pakistan, is a proponent for equal rights to education for girls after schools started to be shut down and women were banned from having active roles in society. She survived an assassination attempt at age 15 for her activism and was awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize in in 2014. On her sixteenth birthday in 2013 she gave a speech to 500 at the United Nations panel in New York. Today she attends Oxford University and opened a girls' school in Lebanon for Syrian Refugees and continues to fight for the right of girls to education around the world.

"When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful." -Malala Yousafzai

(Information from Britannica.com on Malala Yousafzai)

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Swoon

119 People Reveal How The Pandemic Has Affected Their Love Lives, And Honestly... Relatable

"I haven't been able to get out of the 'talking phase' with anyone."

The reality is, there's no part of life the pandemic hasn't affected. Whether it's your work life, your home life, your social life, or your love life, coronavirus (COVID-19) is wreaking havoc on just about everything — not to mention people's health.

When it comes to romance, in particular, people are all handling things differently and there's no "right way" of making it through, regardless of your relationship status (single, taken, married, divorced, you name it). So, some of Swoon's creators sought out to hear from various individuals on how exactly their love lives have been affected since quarantine began.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

Preview These Top Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2020 Picks — From Luxury Purses To Skincare

Currently 3 million people viewing the Stella McCartney purse I absolutely must have.

Online shopping has been a guilty pleasure of ours for years, but now more than ever it's been a shopping lover's outlet for all our home redecorating projects and resort wear we're purchasing for that trip we had to cancel.

One of my favorite places to (virtually) window shop has always been Nordstrom. I admittedly can't afford to go on sprees there often, but I still get a high off of adding things to my cart I know I'll never actually end up buying. But sometimes, that's not enough — that's when I, like the masses of luxury-, beauty-, fashion-, and decor-lovers around the world count the days down to the annual Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

5 Things That 'Shameless' Got Wrong About Bipolar Disorder

There is so much more than Ian and Monica lead viewers to believe.

"Shameless" is a hit television series that airs across the world, for my own personal viewing on Netflix. While the show is a major hit, people aren't talking about the issues in the portrayal in the "mental health" category. Ian and Monica are both pretty important characters with bipolar disorder (BD). There are, however, five major flaws with what their bipolar looks like.

Keep Reading... Show less

Dear Grandma,

I wish my words could adequately explain how much I miss seeing your smile and hearing your laugh. You were such a bright ray of sunshine in my life and now that you're gone, I can't help but remember all the times we had together.

Keep Reading... Show less

Rihanna is known for many things: her music, fashion, makeup, and now skincare. As a makeup artist myself, I can confidently say that she rocked the makeup world when she released her makeup line in 2017 and has been influencing the beauty world ever since.

Trying some of her makeup products myself, I know that she doesn't skimp on quality, and even though some of her products may be a little pricey, trust me, you get what you pay for.

Keep Reading... Show less

Friends, no one needs to be reminded that the COVID-19 pandemic rages on in the U.S. Frankly, this is because we have all collectively decided not to do the one simple thing that was asked of us and wear a mask.

I could make this a very boring article, and berate you with facts and statistics and the importance of wearing a mask, but I have opted against that for both of our sakes. Instead, I will attempt to reach you in another way. You might not care about a disapproving look from me, but from Nick Miller? Maybe that will be enough to change your mind.

Keep Reading... Show less

I don't want to point fingers or call anyone out, but it seems as though since the school year came to a close and summer officially started, more and more people began to care less and less about coronavirus (COVID-19).

I understand that eventually you have to get on with your life and cannot live in isolation forever, but people are still dying, cases are still increasing, and COVID is clearly not going anywhere for the time being.

Keep Reading... Show less

Bombshell news coming from Bachelor Nation today, Tayshia Adams is replacing Clare Crawley as the bachelorette!

Rumor has it that Clare found her person early on in the process and did not want to continue with the process of leading other men on throughout the season.

Keep Reading... Show less

- Though as a little girl, I had the silkiest, softest hair that would get compliments everywhere I went, since I turned about thirteen I've since had coarse, dry hair no amount of deep conditioning masks or sulfate-free shampoo could fix.

- I started using the Raincry's Condition Boar Bristle Brush several months ago, and while I noticed that my hair had been softer, silkier, and shinier than it had ever been, I didn't make the connection because I never thought a simple hairbrush could make any difference in my hair texture.

- I will be the first to admit that I thought it was ridiculous to spend nearly a hundred dollars on a hairbrush, but this one eliminates the need for me to use any heat tools or styling products on it.

- I put some oil or a serum in my hair when it's wet, brush my hair with the boar bristle brush once it's dry, and end up with the lowest maintenance, shiniest hair I've had since I was 8 years old.

@raincrybeauty

Keep Reading... Show less

The NBA is back, and for basketball fans, like myself, it has been the BEST news we have heard since COVID-19 shutdown play indefinitely. I mean, come on, we need to see if James Harden can once again perform so well he has back-to-back 50 point games, Kawhi can lead another team to the championship title, and whether Giannis is going to be back-to-back MVP... among like 500 other things running through our heads!

In the midst of all of the amazing statistics and records that these players are breaking, though, we also just love the NBA because well, there are some pretty good looking guys out there. Here are the 19 hottest NBA players (in no particular order) you would totally let slam dunk on you now that the NBA has returned.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments