Civil Rights and Protests

Race Riots

Who were the leading black women in the modern Civil Rights Movement?

Historically, black women have played pivotal roles in the critical battles for racial justice in this country. Their efforts predate the modern Civil Rights Movement and can be seen as far back as slave resistance in the antebellum South. Voices of women like Sojourner Truth (1797–1883), Maria Stewart (1803–1879), Sarah Parker Remond (1826–1894), and Sarah Mapps Douglass (1806–1882) were heard in their work as abolitionists, political writers, teachers, and orators.

Many black women were icons in the movement, whether or not their voices reached national audiences. Such women included Gloria Blackwell (1927–2010), a fearless warrior in the fight to desegregate Orangeburg, South Carolina, schools; and Clara Luper (c. 1923–2011), who staged one of the first publicized sit-ins in downtown Oklahoma City. Voices of women in the modern movement include trailblazing women like Pauli Murray (1910–1985), Modjeska Simkins (1899-1992 ), Septima Clark (1898–1987), Rosa Parks (1913–2005), NAACP lawyer Constance Baker Motley (1921–2005), Jo Ann Gibson Robinson (1912–1992), journalist Daisy Lee Gaston Bates (1914–1999), SNCC worker Ruby Doris Smith Robinson (1942–1967), sit-in leader Diane Nash (1938–), Fannie Lou Hamer (1917–1977), a founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and community organizer Ella Baker (1903–1986), and Gloria Richardson (1922–), leader of the Cambridge (Maryland) Movement.


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