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Meet 4 Celebrities Who Advocate for Civil Rights

Follow their lead to “take action and inspire change” on Mandela Day this July 17.

Every July 17, Nelson Mandela International Day (or simply Mandela Day) celebrates the former President of South Africa’s efforts to unite his people and the world by advocating for democracy, peace, and reconciliation. 

But you don’t have to be a world leader to make a big difference. #MandelaDay2020’s message is to simply “take action, inspire change, and make every day a Mandela Day”—whether that means feeding the hungry, caring for the elderly, protecting the environment, or standing up to bullies. (Read: 3 Ways To Shut Down Cyber Bullies)

For these four high-profile personalities, advocating for civil rights isn’t an act—it’s a duty and calling that they passionately and tirelessly pursue. 

Jane Fonda

(Left) Jane Fonda honors the strong & resilient migrant women for Phenomenal Woman – Families Belong Together’s family reunification efforts. (Right) Fonda at an anti-Vietnam War conference in the Netherlands in January 1975. (Photo from Jane Fonda Facebook and Mieremet, Rob / Anefo / Wikepedia)

The Academy Award-winning actress has been into various political causes since the 1960s. She opposed the Vietnam War, supports the women’s movement and Native Americans, and recently protested against climate change and white privilege. She has been arrested numerous times, the latest of which happened in November 2019

“She won’t stop,” said her son Troy Garity of his mother, now 81, in Jane Fonda in Five Acts, a documentary about her years of political activism. “She’s on a mission. This intent to do well keeps her demons at bay.”  (Read: 5 Influential Filipina Women Who Prove Hard Work Pays Off)

Mae Paner

Photo by Angie de Silva / Rappler

Sa theater ako na-politicize,” says the longtime stage actress, better known as Juana Change, her over-the-top alter ego who calls out corrupt political officials.

Mae, who refers to herself as a “performance activist,” was jailed for joining anti-Marcos rallies in college. Of late, she starred in Tao Po, her one-woman play on the Philippines’ drug war, which toured Europe last year. She also recently channeled Metro Manila Police Chief Debold Sinas in an Independence Day Grand Mañanita at the University of the Philippines-Diliman.  (Read: Bea Alonzo, Vhong Navarro prepare 500 meals for stranded UP students)


Photo from Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images / CNBC

The hip-hop mogul (and better half of Beyonce) quietly supports a number of civil rights causes. In 2015, he wired tens of thousands of dollars in bail money to release protesters from rallies in Baltimore and Missouri. Most recently, he put out full-page advertorials on US broadsheets to pay respects to George Floyd, the African American who died when a white police officer knelt on his neck. (Read: Catriona Gray takes stand on racism, joins ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement)

Jay-Z’s Shawn Carter Foundation extends millions of dollars in scholarships to marginalized students. And his philanthropic arm Team Roc represents the likes of 11-year-old African American Jabari Talbot, who was arrested for refusing to stand during the recitation of the pledge of allegiance in his classroom. 

Enchong Dee

Photo from Enchong Dee Facebook

In 2018, the actor and professional swimmer made a surprising confession on the show Tonight With Boy Abunda: He voted for President Rodrigo Duterte in the 2016 national elections. (Read: Enchong Dee helps break a world record by inspiring and empowering 1,800 kids to swim)

Today, Enchong remains one of this administration’s staunchest celebrity critics, boldly expressing his thoughts on the EJK-related death of teenager Kian de los Santos, the P1,000-budget government allotted to the Commission on Human Rights, and other relevant issues on social media

“We have to start thinking beyond ourselves,” he wrote on Twitter in reference to the employees of embattled broadcast giant ABS-CBN who stand to lose their jobs. “Our voice is not for us but for the others who have nothing, those who live paycheck to paycheck.


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