Civil Rights Snapshots


In the course of human history, the most difficult paths are chosen by the strongest individuals.  Individuals who stand up for what is right, and speak out about what is wrong.  People who face down adversity…and looked fear in the eye so that in the future, others might not have to.  Great individuals like those featured below, were all regular people, just like you and I, who saw a problem in the world and took action.

So, we look to these individuals, who help us understand that

though society has progressed, the fight is never over.


Florence Kelley – Florence Kelley was born on September 12, 1859 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her father was U.S. congressman William Darrah Kelley – a famous social activist in his own right. Congressman Kelley taught Florence about child workers and the dangerous conditions they endured. This sparked a fire in Miss Kelley for child labor reform that burned her whole life. After college at Cornell, Florence studied in Switzerland where she came under the influence of European socialism, particularly the works of Karl Marx.

After a brief, unsuccessful marriage, Florence Kelley moved with her three children to Chicago where she joined Jane Addams at Hull House and continued her work to end child labor. Miss Kelley also continued her education and studied law at Northwestern University.

To learn more about this fierce advocate for children and all working class people, visit: FlorenceKelley.northwestern.edu


Abner Mikva – Abner Mikva served, with distinction, in all three branches of government – Democratic congressman from Illinois, chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals, and White House counsel for President Bill Clinton. He also served as a law professor at the University of Illinois and the University of Chicago.

Among his many achievements, Mr. Mikva fought for fair housing and stood against corruption in the Illinois state welfare system, which made him no friend of Mayor Richard J. Daley.

As a judge, he fiercely defended free speech and consumer rights. Abner Mikva fought his whole life for working people and the good that government can do.


Clarence Darrow –  An American lawyer, leading member of the ACLU, and prominent advocate for Georgist economic reform.  He was best known for defending Ossian Sweet, and John T. Scopes in the Scopes “Monkey” Trial (1925), in which he opposed William Jennings Bryan in the fight to teach science in public schools.


Harry Moore – Harry T. Moore paved the way for the ‘60s civil rights movement by championing equal pay for black teachers, organizing the black vote and publicly condemning racist attitudes and actions of local, state and national officials. In 1925 Harry Moore graduated from college, and the became a teacher in Coco, Florida. Moore and his wife started a local chapter of the NAACP.

On Christmas night 1951, Harry T. Moore and his wife Harriette retired to bed in their white frame house tucked inside a small orange grove in Mims, Florida. Ten minutes later, a bomb shattered their house, their lives, and any notions that the South’s post-war transition to racial equality would be a smooth one. Harry Moore died that night, his wife nine days later.


Mamie Till – In 1955, Mamie Till was unwillingly thrust into American history. The murder of her son, Emmett, catapulted the quiet Chicago civil service employee into a lifetime of advocacy, starting with seeking justice for the death of her son.

In 1955 Mamie decided to take a long-awaited vacation to Nebraska to visit relatives. She wanted her son to go with her. But Emmett was set on joining his cousins and spending the end of the summer in Mississippi. When she put her son on a Southbound train, it was the last time she would see him alive.
When her boy was killed, Mamie turned to the strength of her family and faith.

To learn more about this strong matriarch, visit: http://www.mamietillmobleyfoundation.org/


Lord Byron – Byron was an English poet and a leading figure in the romantic movement. Byron is regarded as one of the greatest British poets, and remains widely read and influential. Byron wrote openly about love and lust for both men and women.

He traveled widely across Europe, especially in Italy where he lived for seven years. Later in life, Byron joined the Greek War of Independence fighting the Ottoman Empire, for which many Greeks revere him as a national hero.

Learn More: www.LGBThistorymonth.com


Ida B. Wells – An American journalist, newspaper editor, suffragist, sociologist, and an early leader in the Civil Rights Movement. She documented lynching in the United States, showing that it was often used as a way to control or punish blacks who competed with whites, rather than being based on criminal acts by blacks, as was usually claimed by white mobs.

She was active in women’s rights and the women’s suffrage movement, establishing several notable women’s organizations.