1. Francis Daniel Pastorius
Francis Daniel Pastorius
Francis Daniel Pastorius was the founder of Germantown, Pennsylvania and in 1688, he and other Quakers joined in signing the The “Germantown Quaker Petition Against Slavery”, the first petition against slavery made in the English colonies.
The 1688 petition was the first American document of its kind that made a plea for equal human rights for everyone.
2. Elijah Parish Lovejoy
Elijah Parish Lovejoy
Elijah Parish Lovejoy was a prominent editor and publisher of various abolitionist newspapers in the early 1800’s. He was murdered by pro-slavery mob in Alton, Illinois, during their attack on his warehouse to destroy his press and abolitionist materials.
3. Robert Gould Shaw
Robert Gould Shaw
Robert Gould Shaw was an American military officer in the Union Army during the American Civil War. As Colonel, he commanded the all-black 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, which entered the war in 1863. The dedication of his men deeply impressed him, and he grew to respect them as fine soldiers. On learning that black soldiers would receive less pay than white ones, he inspired his unit to conduct a boycott until this inequality was rectified. The enlisted men of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry (and the sister 55th) refused pay until Congress granted them full back pay at the white pay rate in August 1864.
4. General David Hunter
General David Hunter
David Hunter was a Union general in the American Civil War. He achieved fame preceding Lincoln’s “Emancipation Proclamation” by his unauthorized 1862 order emancipating slaves in the three Southern states of Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina. Hunter was a strong advocate of arming blacks as soldiers. After the Battle of Fort Pulaski, he began enlisting black soldiers from the occupied districts of South Carolina and formed the first such Union Army regiment, the 1st South Carolina (African Descent). Confederate President Jefferson Davis issued orders to the Confederate States Army that Hunter was to be considered a “felon to be executed if captured”.
5. General Benjamin Butler
General Benjamin Butler
Benjamin Butler was a Major General, American lawyer and politician who, as Chairman of the House Committee on Reconstruction, authored the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 that gave federal authority to prosecute and destroy the KKK in the South. He also wrote the Civil Rights Act of 1875 which gave African American citizens the right to public accommodation such as hotels, restaurants, lodging, and public entertainment establishments. During the Civil War, Butler was the first Union General to refuse to return runaway slaves to their masters.
6. Branch Rickey
Branch Rickey was a Major League Baseball executive who was known for breaking Major League Baseball’s color barrier by signing African American player Jackie Robinson and drafting the first Afro-Hispanic superstar, Roberto Clemente. Despite culturally entrenched racism and a universally recognized unwritten rule against black players, Branch Rickey openly stood against racial discrimination in sports.
7. Red Auerbach
Red Auerbach was an American basketball coach of the Washington Capitols, the Tri-Cities Blackhawks and the Boston Celtics. He was vital in breaking down color barriers in the NBA. He made history by drafting the first African-American NBA player, Chuck Cooper in 1950, and introduced the first African-American starting five in 1964. in 1966, he appointed Bill Russell as his successor. Russell became not only the first black NBA coach, but the very first African-American coach of a professional sports organization.
8. Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner
Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were two of three American civil rights activists murdered near Philadelphia, Mississippi, during Freedom Summer in 1964 by members of the Ku Klux Klan. In 1964, Goodman volunteered along with fellow activist Mickey Schwerner to work on the “Freedom Summer” project of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) to register blacks to vote in Mississippi.