The quest for civil rights for people of all races and economic backgrounds has been a fundamental part of U.S. history. Those who have worked directly in community organizing and empowerment, such as Dorothy Height, Marian Wright Edelman and Dolores Huerta, inspire us with their vision and strength of character. Then there are those who use the arts to create poignant messages on justice. Whether using music, literature or sculpture, figures like Joan Baez, June Jordan, Miriam Makeba, Augusta Savage and Alice Walker have imparted wisdom to last through the ages.
Visit Biography.com's Women's History group to explore more biographies, photos and videos of some the world's most fascinating women.
Legendary performer Nina Simone sang a mix of jazz, blues and folk music in the 1950s and '60s, later enjoying a career resurgence in the '80s. A staunch Civil Rights activist, she was known for tunes like "Mississippi Goddam," "Young, Gifted and Black" and "Four Women," among many others.
Joan Baez is an American folk singer, songwriter and activist who is best known for songs like 'There But for Fortune,' 'The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down' and 'Diamonds and Rust' while serving as a voice for protest movements around the world.