7 Modern Black Civil Rights Leaders Making History

As we commemorate Juneteenth, a pivotal moment in our nation’s history marking the end of slavery, we reflect on the enduring struggle for civil rights that began over 65 years ago with Rosa Parks’ arrest on a segregated Montgomery bus. This act sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a cornerstone event led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., which ignited the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and ‘60s in the United States.

Juneteenth itself is a symbol of freedom and a reminder that the struggle for civil rights has deep roots in American history. It is a day to reflect on the progress made and the work that remains. Additionally, the legacies of Parks, Dr. King and numerous other civil rights champions are enshrined in the fabric of American society. Their pursuit of justice and equality has shaped the nation’s conscience and legal framework.

The Civil Rights Journey Continues

As we move forward, the echoes of the past civil rights era continue to resonate. This gives rise to a new generation of strong activists, thinkers and leaders. Inspired by past and present injustices, they are redefining activism and advocacy. They are shaping a new vision for America. This vision challenges and expands our understanding of race, identity and justice.

There are thousands of modern Black civil rights leaders making powerful changes in the country, and this number increases every day. While it’s impossible to highlight everyone currently working to create lasting change, here’s a look at seven leaders who are on their way to making history.

Rep. Cori Bush
Rep. Cori Bush. (Photo credit: Congress.Gov)

Rep. Cori Bush

Congresswoman Cori Bush represents Missouri’s 1st congressional district. She has been a forceful advocate for social justice and equity. Her civil activism was galvanized by the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. Consequently, this event led her to run for Congress to effect change from within the political system. Furthermore, she has been a proponent of policies addressing police brutality and economic inequality.

Melanie Campbell. (Photo credit: National Coalition on Black Civic Participation)

Melanie Campbell

Melanie Campbell is the President and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation. She has been a strong advocate for voting rights. Campbell has led initiatives to increase Black voter participation. Additionally, she has been vocal against voter suppression efforts.

Tamika D. Mallory

Tamika D. Mallory. (Photo credit: Oregon State University)

Tamika D. Mallory is a social justice leader known for her role in the Women’s March. She is also a co-founder of Until Freedom. Her activism covers issues like gun violence, police accountability and systemic racism.

Marc H. Morial (Photo credit: LinkedIn)

Marc H. Morial

Marc H. Morial has been a prominent figure in civil rights advocacy as the President and CEO of the National Urban League. Under his leadership, the organization has focused on economic empowerment, educational opportunities and health equity for Black Americans. He has been instrumental in publishing the “State of Black America” report, which assesses racial equality in the U.S.

Derrick Johnson. (Photo credit: NAACP)

Derrick Johnson

As the President and CEO of the NAACP, Derrick Johnson leads the organization in addressing civil rights issues. These issues include voting rights, healthcare disparities and criminal justice reform. He advocates for policy changes that promote racial justice.

Tarana Burke. (Photo credit: Steve Ruark/AP/Shutterstock)

Tarana Burke

Tarana Burke founded the #MeToo Movement years before it gained mainstream attention in Hollywood. Beginning as a support network for girls of color who survived sexual abuse, the movement later gained global traction, holding powerful figures accountable and sparking significant cultural shifts. Burke’s work extends beyond #MeToo, including founding Just Be, Inc. and her involvement in various social justice initiatives, recognized with awards like the Gleitsman Citizen Activist Award and the Sydney Peace Prize in 2019.

Brittany Packnett Cunningham. (Photo credit: BrittanyPacknett.com)

Brittany Packnett Cunningham

Brittany Packnett Cunningham is an educator, writer and activist. Additionally, she has worked on educational equity and justice reform. Furthermore, she co-founded Campaign Zero, which focuses on police reform. She is also a vocal advocate for empowering Black communities through education and policy change.