Black History Month | Civil Rights Heroes and World Leaders

MY HERO Celebrates Black History Month. Be Inspired by African American Civil Rights Heroes and World Leaders.

Black History Month
Credit: Robert Shetterly

Civil Rights Heroes

The MY HERO Project celebrates African American Civil Rights Heroes and Leaders, who have truly revolutionized America.

Without the perseverance, courage, dignity--the deep abiding faith in democracy--of the following heroes, all citizens would not be considered equal in the eyes of the law. And yet this is one of the most American principles the country holds.

From the abolitionists of the 19th century, to the contemporary Black members of Congress who  tirelessly work for equal rights, all Americans are indebted to their commitment to social justice.

When the United States finally elected its first African American President -- Barack Obama -- in 2008, it was a testament to the progress that was made from the Civil War to the present. We look to the heroes of the past and present as the United States continues its evolution, to live up to its promise of liberty and justice for all.


Harriet Tubman

By: Nancy Nickerson
Harriet Tubman organized the Underground Railroad and helped lead slaves to freedom.

Sojourner Truth

By: Robert Shetterly
Credit: Robert Shetterly
Credit: Robert Shetterly

Fannie Lou Hamer

By: Nina Mariotti
Fannie Lou Hamer was a civil rights leader and voting rights advocate.

Credit: Robert Shetterly

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

By: John Lewis
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Congressman John Lewis talks about how Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired him as a young man during the Civil Rights Movement

March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom | August 28, 1963

By: Becky Miller

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was organized by A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin. It was held on the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. On this day, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous "I have a dream" speech to 250,000 people. The march led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Bayard Rustin

By: Jasmine from Chapel Hill
Adopting the peaceful protest philosophy of Gandhi, Bayard Rustin organized one of the largest nonviolent protests ever held in the United States: the 1963 March on Washington. He was persecuted as an openly gay man--and hence is less well known than his mentee, Martin Luther King, Jr., but he was an important strategist behind the scenes. He was a lifelong activist advancing civil rights and gay rights and was awarded a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama in 2013.

Thurgood Marshall

By: Staff

Although he may not be as well known as other leaders of the civil rights movement, Thurgood Marshall, US Supreme Court Justice and founder of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, profoundly affected the progress of civil rights by using the law.

Thurgood Marshall - Reigning Supreme

By: Michael Mahue Moore

Ms. Rosa Parks

By: Gail G. Slockett

Ruby Bridges

By: Susannah Abbey
Ruby Bridges bravely led the way to desegregation of schools as a child.

Ruby Bridges by Elena Nazzaro

By: Elena Nazzaro
Beautiful illustration of young Ruby Bridges by Elena Nazzaro, French Toast

Malcolm X

By: Robert Shetterly
African-American leader and prominent figure in the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X articulated concepts of race pride and black nationalism in the 1950s and '60s


Produced by:Anson Schloat and John G. Young

John Lewis, U.S. Congressman, speaks about the importance of being a good citizen.

John Lewis by Robert Shetterly,

By: Robert Shetterly
Civil Rights hero John Lewis as painted by Robert Shetterly

Get in the Way [Trailer]

Produced by:Dir. Kathleen Dowdey
n 1965, the historic Selma March known as Bloody Sunday was a turning point in the Civil Rights Movement. John Lewis—now a revered U.S. Congressman, then a young student—co-led hundreds of peaceful marchers seeking voting rights for African Americans in the South. When they came face to face with a wall of club-wielding Alabama state troopers, Lewis took a steadfast, non-violent stand and inspired his followers to do the same. Graphic depictions of the ensuing assault were televised on the nightly news and shocked Americans to the core as they witnessed blatant racial oppression.

Muhammad Ali

By: Robert Shetterly
Arguably boxing's most celebrated athlete, heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali was also known for his public stance against the Vietnam War and his longtime battle with Parkinson's disease.

Marian Wright Edelman

Marian Wright Edelman was the first woman admitted to the Mississippi bar, contributed to Martin Luther King's Poor People's Campaign, and founded the Children's Defense Fund to advocate for poor and disabled children.

Bryan Stevenson

By: Arthur (Trey) Carlisle
Bryan Stevenson has been recognized across the globe for the work that he has done to address poverty and racial inequality.

World Leaders

Ralph J Bunche

By: Caylin from Hillside

Ralph Bunche was the first African American Nobel Peace Prize laureate for mediating in Israel as part of the UN. He was a key figure in the formation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and a supporter of the civil rights movement.

Barack Hussein Obama II

By: Karam Alshaikh

Barack Obama was a constitutional law professor and US Senator, who became the first African American elected as President of the United States. He guided the US back from the 2008 recession, and signed many landmark bills into law.

Ben Heine pays homage to great African-American civil rights heroes Martin Luther King and Barack Obama
Barack Obama and Martin Luther King Jr.
Credit: Ben Heine from Belgium

Michelle Obama by artist Enrique Cornejo-Sanchez

By: Enrique Cornejo-Sanchez

Portrait of Former First Lady Michelle Obama by Chilean artist Enrique Cornejo-Sanchez who was inspired to make this art after hearing Michelle Obama speak.

Ronald V. Dellums (1935 - 2018)

By: Piper Dellums from Idyllwild

Ronald V. Dellums is a former U.S. Congressman who fought against apartheid in South Africa.

Michelle Obama

By: Hanna from Newark

Former First Lady Michelle Obama is commited to the health of children and veterans.

Organizer created on 1/28/2019 1:45:40 AM by MY HERO Staff

Last edited 2/9/2019 3:47:23 PM by Jeanne Meyers