W. E. B. Du Bois (1868-1963)
W. E. B. Du Bois was one of the early activists for African-American rights, beginning his work even before the start of the civil rights movement in the 1950s. He was an African American who was educated at Harvard as a historian and sociologist. Du Bois was one of the first African-American leaders to advocate for full civil rights and increased political representation, instead of a slower, more gradual approach to civil rights, favored by other members of the African-American intellectual elite.
He was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909 and actively promoted equal rights, while exposing racial injustices through his writings.
Du Bois was also a supporter of socialism during the Cold War, when anti-communist feelings where very strong in the US. The FBI even accused him of working for another state's interest. As a result, he lost popularity and the support of NAACP and never became an active figure in the subsequent civil rights movement. However, note that he also supported Democrat politicians he believed would help the African-American civil rights cause.
Rosa Parks (1913-2005)
Rosa Parks played a central role in the early days of the civil rights movement, as she was resp...