14 Black Female Activists You Must Know

These women fought for equal rights and civil justice.

Maya Angelou - The poet/author worked with both Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She helped Malcolm X build the Organization of African American Unity, which ended after his assassination, and then served as the Northern Coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference at Dr. King's request.  (Photo: Jack Sotomayor/New York Times Co./Getty Images)

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Maya Angelou - The poet/author worked with both Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She helped Malcolm X build the Organization of African American Unity, which ended after his assassination, and then served as the Northern Coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference at Dr. King's request. (Photo: Jack Sotomayor/New York Times Co./Getty Images)

Daisy Bates - As president of the Arkansas NAACP, Daisy Bates was the driving force behind the Little Rock Nine, a group of students who gained national attention for integrating an all-white high school. (Photo: New York Times Co./Getty Images)

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Daisy Bates - She was a journalist who also fought for civil rights and social reform. In 1952, she headed the Arkansas branch of the NAACP and helped in the desegregation of schools in Little Rock. (Photo: New York Times Co./Getty Images)

Mary McLeod Bethune - Mary McLeod Bethune was a racial justice activist who sought to improve educational opportunities for African-Americans. She served as both president of the National Association of Colored Women and founder of the National Council of Negro Women.  (Photo:  Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

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Mary McLeod Bethune - Mary McLeod Bethune was a racial justice activist who sought to improve educational opportunities for African-Americans. She served as both president of the National Association of Colored Women and founder of the National Council of Negro Women. (Photo:  Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Ruby Dee  - Actress Ruby Dee and her husband, the late Ossie Davis, are known for fighting for equal opportunities for African-Americans in the performing arts.  (Photo: David Fenton/Getty Images)

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Ruby Dee - Actress Ruby Dee and her husband, the late Ossie Davis, are known for fighting for equal opportunities for African-Americans in the performing arts. (Photo: David Fenton/Getty Images)

Marian Wright Edelman - Marian Wright Edelman became the first African American woman to pass the bar exam in Mississippi. She's taken on civil rights cases, has written numerous works on racial inequality, and founded the Children's Defense Fund.  (Photo: Evan Agostini/Getty Images)

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Marian Wright Edelman - Marian Wright Edelman became the first African American woman to pass the bar exam in Mississippi. She's taken on civil rights cases, has written numerous works on racial inequality, and founded the Children's Defense Fund. (Photo: Evan Agostini/Getty Images)

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Fannie Lou Hamer - Fannie Lou Hamer helped register Blacks to vote in Mississippi and worked for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which focused on racial segregation and injustice in the South. She also co-founded the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.  (Photo: Robert Abbott Sengstacke/Getty Images)

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Fannie Lou Hamer - Fannie Lou Hamer helped register Blacks to vote in Mississippi and worked for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which focused on racial segregation and injustice in the South. She also co-founded the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. (Photo: Robert Abbott Sengstacke/Getty Images)

Early Career - In 1937, while working at the Harlem YWCA, she met famed educator Mary McLeod Bethune, founder of the National Council of Negro Women, and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who came to speak at one of the organization?s meetings. She joined the organization the same year, thus starting her career in the civil rights movement fighting for equality for both Blacks and women. (Photo: Express Newspapers/Getty Images)

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Dorothy Height - She was a civil rights and women's rights activist who focused her efforts on improving the opportunities available to African-American women. (Photo:  Express Newspapers/Getty Images)

Josephine Baker - Not only was Josephine Baker a beloved entertainer who rose to fame on the stages of Paris because racism held her back in the U.S., but she visited the states in the '50s and '60s to help fight segregation. She even adopted children of different ethnicities and religions to create a multicultural family she called "The Rainbow Tribe."  (Photo: Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

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Josephine Baker - Not only was Josephine Baker a beloved entertainer who rose to fame on the stages of Paris because racism held her back in the U.S., but she visited the states in the '50s and '60s to help fight segregation. She even adopted children of different ethnicities and religions to create a multicultural family she called "The Rainbow Tribe." (Photo: Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

Nikki Giovanni - The civil rights activist/poet came into the spotlight after becoming a part of the Black Arts movement in the 1960s. She also established the first Black Arts Festival in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1967.  (Photo:  Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

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Nikki Giovanni - The civil rights activist/poet came into the spotlight after becoming a part of the Black Arts movement in the 1960s. She also established the first Black Arts Festival in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1967. (Photo:  Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

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Lena Horne - The actress and singer played her own role in the civil rights movement by joining groups and refusing to accept roles that stereotyped African-American women. (Photo:  Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

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Coretta Scott King - When her husband, Martin Luther King Jr., died in 1968, Coretta Scott King was there to pick up the ball and continue the Civil Rights fight in the U.S. Eventually, Scott King would become an advocate for LGBT equality despite receiving criticism from prominent blacks in the church system. (Photo: CBS /Landov)

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Coretta Scott King - Her husband may have led the civil rights movement, but Coretta Scott King was also deeply involved in activist work. She participated in the Montgomery Bus Boycott spurred by Rosa Parks's arrest and worked to pass the Civil Rights Act. After her husband was mudered, she founded the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo: CBS /Landov)

Mildred Loving - Mildred Loving became a civil rights activist in the 1960s when she married her white husband, Richard Loving, and in turn violated Virginia's Racial Integrity Act. The couple, along with Robert Kennedy and the ACLU, successfully challenged the ban in the U.S. Supreme Court. (Photo: Associated Press/AP)

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Mildred Loving - Mildred Loving became a civil rights activist in the 1960s when she married her white husband, Richard Loving, and in turn violated Virginia's Racial Integrity Act. The couple, along with Robert Kennedy and the ACLU, successfully challenged the ban in the U.S. Supreme Court. (Photo: Associated Press/AP)

Rosa Parks - Rosa Parks's refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus led to an organized boycott and the city's removal of bus segregation. She continued to fight for civil rights and racial equality.  (Photo: CBS/Landov)

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Rosa Parks - Rosa Parks's refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus led to an organized boycott and the city's removal of bus segregation. She continued to fight for civil rights and racial equality. (Photo: CBS/Landov)