What are the most popular colleges for famous activists?

Discover the esteemed educational institutions that played formative roles in the lives of some of the world's most impactful activists.

4 Min Read

Activists inspire change, challenge societal norms, and champion causes that reshape our world. Behind many of these tireless crusaders are academic institutions that have fostered their critical thinking and commitment to justice. Let’s dive into the universities and colleges that have been foundational in the journeys of notable activists.

1. Howard University – A Beacon of Black Excellence and Activism

Located in Washington D.C., Howard is a historically black university that has been at the forefront of civil rights movements and more.

Notable Activists:

  • Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture): Prominent figure in the Civil Rights Movement and Black Power movement.
  • Tarana Burke: Founder of the #MeToo movement.

Overview: Beyond academic excellence, Howard has always emphasized social responsibility and empowerment, creating a rich legacy of activism.

2. University of California, Berkeley – The Hotbed of Activism

Berkeley has long been synonymous with progressive movements and vocal activism, especially during the 1960s.

Notable Activists:

  • Mario Savio: Key member of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement.
  • Dolores Huerta: Labor leader and civil rights activist.

Overview: From anti-war protests to civil rights movements, Berkeley’s campus has seen countless events that marked turning points in American history.

3. London School of Economics (LSE) – Global Minds, Global Change

Located in the heart of London, LSE has a rich tradition of political activism and a strong focus on social sciences.

Notable Activists:

  • Ralph Miliband: Marxist thinker and father of British politicians David and Ed Miliband.
  • Malia Bouattia: Former president of the National Union of Students and vocal critic of institutional racism.

Overview: With students from all over the world, LSE offers a melting pot of ideas, fostering critical debates and global activism.

4. Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) – India’s Epicenter of Student Activism

Based in New Delhi, JNU has been a significant center for political thought and activism in India.

Notable Activists:

  • Kanhaiya Kumar: Student leader known for his stance against government policies.
  • Shehla Rashid: Vocal advocate for student rights and other social issues.

Overview: JNU’s culture encourages open discussions, dissent, and has a long-standing tradition of producing politically conscious graduates.

5. Radcliffe College (Now part of Harvard) – Women’s Rights and More

Historically a women’s liberal arts college, Radcliffe produced numerous women leaders and activists before merging with Harvard.

Notable Activists:

  • Helen Keller: Advocate for the disabled, women’s suffrage, and workers’ rights.
  • Maud Wood Park: Key figure in the women’s suffrage movement in the US.

Overview: As a women-centric institution, Radcliffe fostered strong female leaders who went on to challenge societal norms and advocate for equality.


The connection between higher education and activism is profound. Universities provide not just knowledge, but also a space for dialogue, dissent, and growth. These institutions have played pivotal roles in shaping the activists who, in turn, have shaped our world. As the next generation of activists emerges, it’s enlightening to look back at the hallowed halls where past leaders once stood, debated, and were inspired. Whether it’s taking a stand on campus or on the global stage, the spirit of activism is a testament to the change that individuals can bring about when driven by passion and purpose.