Black History Month | Civil Rights and Social Justice Heroes

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

Credit: National Archives at College Park [CC0] via Wikimedia Commons

Civil Rights and Social Justice Heroes

The MY HERO Project celebrates African American Civil Rights Heroes and Leaders who have 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.


Films about Social Justice Heroes, Past and Present


Produced by:Anson Schloat and John G. Young

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

Get in the Way [Trailer]

Produced by:Dir. Kathleen Dowdey

In 1965, the historic Selma March was a turning point in the Civil Rights Movement. John Lewis—a revered U.S. Congressman who was then a young student—co-led hundreds of peaceful marchers seeking voting rights for African Americans in the South. 

William D Matthews: A Cure for Rebellion

Taegan Loy and Trent Powell

This documentary tells the story of William D. Matthews, the first African American officer of the Civil War, who helped slaves escape using the Underground Railroad and heroically led troops to victory.

Fannie Lou Hamer - A Civil Rights Unsung Hero

By: Elia Grace Defore

This documentary created by a middle school student is about the unsung hero Fannie Lou Hamer who helped African Americans receive their right to vote.

Stories of Civil Rights Heroes

Fannie Lou Hamer

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

Bayard Rustin

By: Jasmine from Chapel Hill

Bayard Rustin organized one of the largest nonviolent protests ever held in the United States: the 1963 March on Washington. 

Thurgood Marshall

By: Vijay

Vijay, a middle school student, wrote about his hero Thurgood Marshall, who was appointed as the first African American Supreme Court Justice and advanced desegregation in the United States.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

By: John Lewis

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

James Morris Lawson Jr

By: Isaiah Harris
James Morris Lawson Jr was a civil rights activist, professor and pastor known for non-violence.

Ernest Green

By: KInzer Ratajczyk
Ernest Green was part of the Little Rock 9, who desegregated Central High School in Arkansas. He was the first of the 9 to graduate.

Constance Baker Motley

By: Jane Wallace
Constance Baker Motley was one of America's most effective, least known Civil Rights revolutionaries.

John Lewis

By: Kathy Crockett, MY HERO

John Lewis worked for civil rights for all for over 40 years.

Listen & Read Along

Ruby Nell Bridges

By: Madison
One of the most important heroes in the fight against segregation in America was a six-year-old girl, Ruby Nell Bridges.

Art Inspired by Civil Rights Heroes

Thurgood Marshall - Reigning Supreme

By: Michael Mahue Moore

Thurgood Marshall was the first Black U.S. Supreme Court Justice and helped end segregation.

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

Ms. Rosa Parks by Gail Slockett

By: Gail G. Slockett

Rosa Parks was a civil rights activist, best known for helping launch the Mongtomery Bus Boycott.

Ruby Bridges by Elena Nazzaro

By: Elena Nazzaro

Ruby Bridges desgregated her school in Louisiana.

Stories of Contemporary Social Justice Leaders

Barack Obama

By: Natalie Miller

Barack Obama was the 44th President of the United States and the first African American to hold that office.

Michelle Obama

By: Princess Quinones

Michelle Obama was First Lady of the United States, and the first African American to hold that office.

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.

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. [This story is available with audio.]

Art Inspired by Contemporary Social Justice Heroes

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: Enrique Cornejo-Sanchez

Chilean artist Enrique Cornejo-Sanchez was inspired to make this art after hearing former First Lady Michelle Obama speak.

Related Pages

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

By: Becky Miller

The March on Washington  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 Little Rock 9

By: Xenia Shin
On September 23, 1957, African American students known as "The Little Rock Nine" desegregated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Three years earlier, the Supreme Court passed Brown v. Board of Education, which ruled school segregation unconstitutional. While the nine had the law and the school behind them, they faced tremendous discrimination from citizens and the national guard.

Musicians and The Civil Rights Movement

Features musicians who gave voice to the American Civil Rights Movements in the 1960s through their music.

Rosa Parks

By: MY HERO Staff
Rosa Parks was born February 4, 1913, in Tuskagee, Alabama. On December 5, 1955, she refused to give up her seat to a white passenger. This act of defiance led to her arrest and inspired the Montgomery Bus Boycott, led by the NAACP. The boycott lasted 381 days, until the Supreme Court ruled bus segregation unconstitutional.

Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the NAACP

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is the nation's oldest pre-eminent civil-rights organization. For the past 100 years the NAACP, based in Baltimore, MD since 1986, and hosting 1,700 units nationwide, has played a monumental role in leading social change in America. The NAACP strives to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination. MY HERO honors the heroes of the NAACP and all those striving for racial equality.

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.

Justice Thurgood Marshall

By: Staff Writer
Thurgood Marshall was a lawyer, the founder of the NAACP Legal Defense Education Fund, and the first African-American justice. Of the 32 cases he argued before the Supreme Court, he won 29. An important force in the 20th century civil rights movement, he helped to shape the legal landscape of the United State.

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

Last edited 2/21/2024 3:17:44 PM by Laura Nietzer