Photo by Shane Aldendorff on

The hard-won advancements of civil rights were made possible by the struggle, commitment, and work of people who stood up to discrimination and white supremacy. We look to these heroes from our past for lessons and inspiration as we continue their important work into the future.


W.E.B. Du Bois was a founding member of NAACP and one of the foremost Black intellectuals of his era. Du Bois published many influential works describing the plight of Black Americans and encouraged Black people to embrace their African heritage even as they worked and lived in the United States.


Mary White Ovington was deeply involved in two of the most important movements of the 20th century: civil rights and women’s suffrage. A 1908 article about race riots drove her to rally other thought leaders and activists to start NAACP.


Thurgood Marshall was one of America’s foremost attorneys. As chief of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, he led the legal fight against segregation, argued the historic 1954 case Brown v. Board of Education, and ultimately became the nation’s first Black Supreme Court Justice.


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