5. Barack Obama

Being the first black president does not make Obama a civil rights leader, but his actions regarding LGBTQ rights, juvenile and criminal justice, and voting rights certainly do. One example is his successful program, My Brother’s Keeper, which has worked against the opportunity gaps that young people of color face. But despite his accomplishments as president, he acknowledges much the work remains.

“The teenagers and college students who left their homes to march in the streets of Birmingham and Montgomery; the mothers who walked instead of taking the bus after a long day of doing somebody else’s laundry and cleaning somebody else’s kitchen—they didn’t brave fire hoses and billy clubs so that their grandchildren and their great-grandchildren would still wonder at the beginning of the 21st century whether their vote would be counted; whether their civil rights would be protected by their government; whether justice would be equal and opportunity would be theirs…. We have more work to do.”
—Barack Obama, speech at Howard University, September 28, 2007

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