Meet 9 lesser-known women behind the civil rights era's biggest achievements - Jan. 16 marks Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a day honoring the legacy and achievements of one of the foremost leaders from the civil rights movement. But while male leaders like King and Malcolm X are renowned for their contributions to the influential movement, the role women played in the civil rights struggle goes largely unnoticed. Americans may know the names of Rosa Parks or Coretta Scott King, but the numerous other women who played key roles in the fight for equal rights are too often wiped from the history books.

"There's a Chinese saying, 'Women hold up half the world,"' the late civil rights historian and NAACP chair Julian Bond told NBC News in 2005. "In the case of the civil rights movement it's probably three-quarters of the world."

Here are just nine of the lesser-known women who made indelible contributions to the civil rights era:

Described by President Barack Obama as "the godmother of the civil rights movement" upon her death in 2010, Dorothy Height served as the president of the National Council of Negro Women for 40 years, making her, the Washington Post notes, "arguably the most influential woman at the top levels of civil rights leadership."