Famous African Americans

African Americans were historically one of the most discriminated groups in the USA. However things began to change in the late 19th century with the likes of civil rights activists like John Lewis, Samuel Ringgold Ward, and Harriet Tubman raising their voices demanding equal rights for all. The civil rights movement received further momentum in the 20th century with the emergence of leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Harry Burns. By the later part of the 20th century, African Americans had begun to make a name for themselves in varied fields such as science, technology, sports, music and literature. Diplomat Ralph Joseph Bunche created history by becoming the first African American to win the Nobel Prize for Peace. History was created by GuionBluford as well when he became the first African American astronaut to venture into space. More recently, Barack Obama claimed the honor of being the first African American to be elected to the US President’s office. Read on for more information about the life and works of famous African Americans.
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 1 
LeBron James
(One of the Greatest Players in NBA History)
LeBron James
399
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: December 30, 1984
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Akron, Ohio, United States

A basketball prodigy, Lebron James began playing since his school days and was later selected by Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2003 NBA draft. His career progressed at a rapid rate and he is considered to be one of the greatest players in NBA history. During his stint with Miami Heat, he helped them win two NBA Championships. Currently, he plays for Los Angeles Lakers 

 2 
Prince
(Singer-songwriter & Multi-instrumentalist)
Prince
161
Listed In: Musicians
Birthdate: June 7, 1958
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
Died: April 21, 2016

Singer-songwriter, dancer, and musician, Prince is is widely regarded as one of the greatest musicians of his generation. He was considered a guitar virtuoso and could also play several other instruments. With worldwide sales of over 150 million records, he is ranked among the best-selling music artists of all time. He was also well known for his flamboyant persona.

 3 
Martin Luther King Jr.
(African-American Civil Rights Movement Leader Who Used Civil Disobedience to Combat Racism)
Martin Luther King Jr.
121
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: January 15, 1929
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Died: April 4, 1968

A leader in the civil rights movement in the mid-twentieth century, Martin Luther King Jr. is best remembered for advancing civil rights through nonviolence and civil disobedience. A man of Christian faith who was inspired by Indian freedom fighter Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent activism, he was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize for fighting racial inequality.  

 4 
Mariah Carey
(First Artist to Have Her First Five Singles Reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100)
Mariah Carey
154
Birthdate: March 27, 1969
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Huntington, New York, United States

Known for her five-octave vocal range and melismatic singing style, singer-songwriter Mariah Carey is one of the best-selling music artists of all time. She holds the record for the most number-one singles by a solo artist and a female songwriter. She was ranked second on VH1's list of the 100 Greatest Women in Music in 2012. 

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 5 
Alicia Keys
(Singer, Actress)
Alicia Keys
89
Birthdate: January 25, 1981
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Hell's Kitchen, New York, United States

Singer-songwriter Alicia Keys has been active in the music industry since the mid-1990s. Her debut album was a super hit and earned her five Grammy Awards. She is one of the best-selling artists in the United States and has sold over 40 million albums worldwide. She is also known for her humanitarian work, philanthropy, and activism.

 6 
James Earl Jones
(One of the Greatest Actors in American History)
James Earl Jones
55
Birthdate: January 17, 1931
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Arkabutla, Mississippi, United States

A veteran actor with a career spanning more than seven decades, James Earl Jones has been described as "one of America's most distinguished and versatile" actors. He initially aspired to be a doctor but fate had other plans for him. He began his career as a stage actor and soon joined films as well.

 7 
Lionel Richie
(Co-Lead Singer Of Funk Band The Commodores)
Lionel Richie
34
Birthdate: June 20, 1949
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Tuskegee, Alabama, United States

Lionel Richie is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, and composer whose work with the band Commodores and his solo career established him as a successful balladeer of the 1980s. Having sold more than 90 million records, Lionel Richie is one of the best-selling musicians of all time. Also a philanthropist, Richie helped raise money for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

 8 
Neil deGrasse Tyson
(American Astrophysicist, Planetary Scientist and Science Communicator)
Neil deGrasse Tyson
53
Listed In: Scientists
Birthdate: October 5, 1958
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Manhattan, New York, United States

Public Welfare Medal-winning astrophysicist and academic Neil deGrasse Tyson hosted shows such as NOVA ScienceNow, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, and Star Talk. He is the director of Hayden Planetarium and contributed to the dismissal of Pluto’s status as the ninth planet. He has also written a monthly column as "Merlin.”

 9 
Vince Carter
(American Former Professional Basketball Player Who Played as the Shooting Guard / Small Forward )
Vince Carter
39
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: January 26, 1977
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Daytona Beach, Florida, United States

Widely regarded as the greatest dunker ever in basketball history, Vince Carter is an American former basketball player. His leaping ability during his playing career often entertained crowds, earning him nicknames like Half Man, Half Amazing and Vinsanity. Also a philanthropist, Carter set up the Embassy of Hope Foundation, which helps children in places like New Jersey, Florida, and Ontario.

 10 
DMX
(Rapper)
DMX
39
Listed In: Singers
Birthdate: December 18, 1970
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Mount Vernon, New York, United States
Height: 5'11" (180 cm)
 11 
Erykah Badu
(Singer-Songwriter Know for Her Singles like "On & On," "Honey," and "The Healer.")
Erykah Badu
36
Listed In: Musicians
Birthdate: February 26, 1971
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Dallas, Texas, United States

Widely regarded as the queen of neo-soul, Erykah Badu is an American singer-songwriter whose debut studio album Baduizm helped popularize neo-soul in the late-1990s. Thanks to her popularity, Erykah Badu serves as a subject for street art in several places, including Greater London, England. Also an actress, Badu has appeared in popular films, such as The Cider House Rules.

 12 
Isaiah Thomas
(Professional Basketball Player Who Plays as a Point Guard)
Isaiah Thomas
44
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: February 7, 1989
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Tacoma, Washington, U.S.
Isaiah Thomas, also known as “The Pizza Boy,” plays for the Washington Wizards. He has previously played for teams such as the Sacramento Kings, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Los Angeles Lakers. He is a two-time NBA All-Star and a two-time First-team All-Pac-10, and was named to the All-NBA Second Team.
 13 
Common
(Rapper)
Common
40
Listed In: Activists
Birthdate: March 13, 1972
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: South Side, Chicago, Illinois, United States
Height: 6'0" (183 cm)
 14 
B.B. King
(Singer-songwriter)
B.B. King
16
Listed In: Singers
Birthdate: September 16, 1925
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Berclair, Mississippi
Died: May 14, 2015
Known as “The King of the Blues,” legendary musician B. B. King introduced a signature style of soloing using string bending and vibrato. His song The Thrill is Gone won him a Grammy Hall of Fame Award. He was featured on Rolling Stone’s “100 greatest guitarists of all time” list.
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 15 
Tyron Woodley
(American Professional Mixed Martial Artist)
Tyron Woodley
46
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: April 7, 1982
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Ferguson, Missouri, United States
Height: 5'9" (175 cm)
 16 
Chaka Khan
(Singer)
Chaka Khan
22
Listed In: Singers
Birthdate: March 23, 1953
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois
Ten-time Grammy-winning funk/R&B/disco artist Chaka Khan, or the Queen of Funk, soared to fame as the frontwoman of the band Rufus. Known for her hit track I Feel for You, Khan has sold 70 million records and has ranked 17th on VH1’s 100 Greatest Women of Rock & Roll list.
 17 
Gladys Knight
(Singer-Songwriter)
Gladys Knight
25
Listed In: Singers
Birthdate: May 28, 1944
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Height: 5'3" (160 cm)
 18 
Megan Thee Stallion
(The Second Female Rapper to Win Best New Artist at the Grammy's)
Megan Thee Stallion
193
Listed In: Singers
Birthdate: February 15, 1995
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: San Antonio, Texas, United States

An American rapper, singer, and songwriter, Megan Thee Stallion began rapping while she was still in her teens and used digital media platforms to promote her work. Her talent was appreciated by both fans and record labels and she eventually became the first female rapper to be signed by the American record label 300 Entertainment.

 19 
Zoë Kravitz
(Actress Best Known for Her Role in 'The Divergent' and 'Fantastic Beasts' Film Series)
Zoë Kravitz
109
Birthdate: December 1, 1988
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Venice, Los Angeles, California, United States

Actress, singer, and model Zoë Kravitz first gained prominence for her role in the superhero film X-Men: First Class in the early 2010s. She is the daughter of actor parents and her entry into Hollywood is hardly surprising. Besides acting, she also works as a fashion model and musician. As a singer, she is involved with the band Lolawolf.

 20 
Pop Smoke
(American rapper closely associated with Brooklyn drill)
Pop Smoke
48
Listed In: Singers
Birthdate: July 20, 1999
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Canarsie, New York, United States
Died: February 19, 2020
 21 
Toni Morrison
(Novelist)
Toni Morrison
46
Listed In: Writers
Birthdate: February 18, 1931
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Lorain, Ohio
Died: August 5, 2019
Author, editor, and Princeton professor Toni Morrison is best remembered for her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Beloved, part of a trilogy. Some of her other notable works include The Bluest Eye and Song of Solomon. She received the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature. She also wrote several children’s books and plays.
 22 
Thomas Sowell
(Economist)
Thomas Sowell
29
Birthdate: June 30, 1930
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Gastonia, North Carolina

One of the few personalities known for his disdain of self-promotion, Thomas Sowell is an important American social theorist and economist. Over the years, he has played a prominent role working as a faculty member of many prestigious universities, such as the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Cornell University

 23 
Tyler Perry
(Creator and Performer of 'Madea' Character & Developer of the Sitcom 'Tyler Perry's House of Payne')
Tyler Perry
61
Birthdate: September 13, 1969
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

The amazingly talented, Tyler Perry, is an American actor who topped Forbes list of highest-paid man in entertainment in 2011. Perry is most known as the creator of the boisterous, African-American grandmother character, Madea, which he himself performs with great skill and artistry. From a homeless playwriter to having his own studio, Perry has surely achieved the evasive American dream.

 24 
Ben Carson
(U.S. Secretary of Housing & Urban Development (2017 – 2021))
Ben Carson
103
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: September 18, 1951
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, U.S.

Neurosurgeon Ben Carson is credited with many pioneering neurosurgical procedures. He became a Library of Congress “Living Legend” and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He later contested in the 2016 presidential primaries, has authored numerous books, was a Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and earned 60 honorary doctorates.

 25 
Roy Jones Jr.
(One of the Greatest Boxers of All Time)
Roy Jones Jr.
28
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: January 16, 1969
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Pensacola, Florida, United States

Former American boxer Roy Jones Jr. was born to a boxer father. Despite his defeat in the gold medal match at the 1988 Seoul Olympics due to a faulty decision by the judges, he won the Val Barker Award. He was the second light heavyweight champion to earn a heavyweight title.

 26 
Tyler, The Creator
(Co-Founder of The Alternative Hip Hop Group 'Odd Future')
Tyler, The Creator
82
Listed In: Musicians
Birthdate: March 6, 1991
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Ladera Heights, California, United States
Height: 6'1" (185 cm)
 27 
Bill Withers
(American singer-songwriter)
Bill Withers
7
Listed In: Singers
Birthdate: July 4, 1938
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Slab Fork, West Virginia, U.S.
Died: March 30, 2020

Soul and R&B legend Bill Withers is best remembered for hits such as Ain't No Sunshine and Lean on Me. The three-time Grammy Award-winner also inspired the documentary Still Bill. A Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Bill moved on to other jobs after his 15-year music career. 

 

 28 
Busta Rhymes
(Rapper)
Busta Rhymes
22
Listed In: Singers
Birthdate: May 20, 1972
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: East Flatbush, New York, United States
Height: 6'1" (185 cm)
 29 
Arthur Ashe
(The Only Black Man to Win the Singles Title at Wimbledon, the US Open, and the Australian Open)
Arthur Ashe
11
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: July 10, 1943
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Richmond, Virginia, United States
Died: February 6, 1993
Tennis player Arthur Ashe is best remembered for his three Grand Slam singles wins. He became the first Black player to be named to the U.S. Davis Cup team. He contracted AIDS from a blood transfusion during a bypass surgery and devoted his final years to AIDS awareness campaigns.
 30 
Redd Foxx
(Comedian)
Redd Foxx
18
Birthdate: December 9, 1922
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Died: October 11, 1991
Height: 5'8" (173 cm)
 31 
Rashida Jones
(Actress, Writer & Producer, Best Known for Starring on the Comedy Series 'Parks and Recreation')
Rashida Jones
46
Birthdate: February 25, 1976
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

An actress, director, writer, and producer, Rashida Jones is a multi-talented woman who first gained prominence as a TV actress. A Harvard University graduate, the bright young woman entered the entertainment industry in the mid-1990s and has since made a name for herself. She is the recipient of several awards including a Grammy.

 32 
Shemar Moore
95
Birthdate: April 20, 1970
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Oakland, California, United States

A fashion model turned actor, Shemar Moore is known for his rugged good looks and raw sex appeal. He started modeling in college and soon moved to act in TV shows. After having a successful stint in the TV series The Young and the Restless, he became a popular name in the show business.

 33 
Ben Simmons
(Australian Professional Basketball Player Who Plays at the Point Guard Position)
Ben Simmons
77
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: July 20, 1996
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Melbourne, Australia
Ben Simmons, son of Australian basketball player Dave Simmons, initially played for LSU and was then drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers. Ben was named the 2018 NBA Rookie of the Year and the NBA All-Star in 2019 and 2020. He has also played for the Australian national team.
 34 
Johnny Mathis
(American Jazz and Pop Singer Best Known for His Hit 'Chances Are')
Johnny Mathis
13
Listed In: Singers
Birthdate: September 30, 1935
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Gilmer, Texas, United States

Johnny Mathis is an American singer and songwriter. Best known for his contribution to popular music, Mathis has been honored with many awards including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and the Society of Singers Lifetime Achievement Award. Johnny Mathis is also renowned for his philanthropic efforts; he has supported such organizations as the American Cancer Society and Muscular Dystrophy Association.

 35 
Keegan-Michael Key
(Known for Co-Creating & Starring in the Comedy Central Sketch Series 'Key & Peele')
Keegan-Michael Key
27
Birthdate: March 22, 1971
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Southfield, Michigan, United States
Keegan-Michael Key is an American actor, producer, comedian, and writer. He is credited with co-creating Comedy Central's sketch comedy series Key & Peele for which he has received a couple of awards including a Primetime Emmy Award. He is also known for his philanthropic efforts; he has participated in the Young Storytellers Foundation's annual fundraiser.
 36 
Jhené Aiko
(Singer-Songwriter Known for Her Songs ‘The Worst’ and ‘Sail Out’)
Jhené Aiko
29
Listed In: Singers
Birthdate: March 16, 1988
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

American singer and songwriter Jhené Aiko's musical style is associated with PBR&B, a new wave of music viewed as an alternative to contemporary R&B. Her personal life, which includes an early pregnancy at the age of 20, the death of her brother Miyagi, a major car accident, and troubled relationships, has not affected her impressive music career.

 37 
Berry Gordy
(Record Executive)
Berry Gordy
21
Listed In: Singers
Birthdate: November 28, 1929
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Detroit, MichiganDetroit, Michigan, United States
 38 
Forest Whitaker
(Best Known for His Role in 'The Last King of Scotland')
Forest Whitaker
22
Birthdate: July 15, 1961
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Longview, Texas, United States
Forest Whitaker is best known for his Academy Award-winning performance as real-life dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland. Fans also loved him in Rogue One and Ghost Dog. He is an advocate of the UN’s Global Goals and supports peace-building initiatives and programs that help war victims.
 39 
Kerry Washington
(Actress and Producer Famous for Her Portrayal of ‘Olivia Pope’ in the Drama Series ‘Scandal’)
Kerry Washington
35
Birthdate: January 31, 1977
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Bronx, New York, United States

American actress, Kerry Washington, attained fame when she starred in the television series, Scandal, which ran from 2012 to 2018. She was also commended for her role in the television film, Confirmation, and for the miniseries, Little Fires Everywhere. She has also acted in films like The Last King of Scotland, Django Unchained, Our Song, The Dead Girl and American Son.

 40 
Tom Morello
(American Guitarist Best Known for His Tenure with the Rock Band 'Rage Against the Machine')
Tom Morello
21
Listed In: Musicians
Birthdate: May 30, 1964
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: New York City, United States

Tom Morello is an American musician, rapper, singer, actor, songwriter, and political activist. Morello is best known for his association with Rage Against the Machine, which he co-founded with Zack de la Rocha. Renowned for his creative and unique guitar playing style, Tom Morello was ranked among the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine.

 41 
Larry Holmes
(One of the Greatest Heavyweights of All Time)
Larry Holmes
12
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: November 3, 1949
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Cuthbert, Georgia, United States

Larry Holmes is an American retired boxer whose left jab is often ranked among the best in the history of professional boxing. Widely regarded as one of the greatest heavyweights in the history of boxing, Holmes' title defense against 19 boxers is the second-most in history. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2008.

 42 
Ida B. Wells
(Women's Rights Activist and Civil Rights Leader)
Ida B. Wells
21
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: July 16, 1862
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Holly Springs, Mississippi, United States
Died: March 25, 1931
Civil rights and women's rights activist Ida B. Wells is remembered for speaking up against the lynching of Blacks in the U.S. She was born a slave and freed by the Emancipation Proclamation. She later co-founded the NAACP. She also co-owned and wrote for Memphis Free Speech and Headlight.
 43 
Octavia Spencer
(The First Black Actress to Have Received two Successive Nominations at the Oscars)
Octavia Spencer
48
Birthdate: May 25, 1970
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Montgomery, Alabama, United States

Octavia Spencer is an American actress, producer, and author. Widely regarded as one of the best actresses of her generation, Spencer has received several prestigious awards, such as a Golden Globe Award, Academy Award, and Screen Actors Guild Awards. Octavia Spencer is the first black actress to have received two successive nominations at the Oscars.

 44 
Donna Summer
(Singer-Songwriter)
Donna Summer
20
Listed In: Singers
Birthdate: December 31, 1948
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: May 17, 2012
Height: 5'7" (170 cm)
 45 
Patrice O'Neal
(Stand-up Comedian)
Patrice O'Neal
7
Birthdate: December 7, 1969
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: November 29, 2011
Height: 6'4" (193 cm)
 46 
DeMarcus Cousins
(Basketball player, Center)
DeMarcus Cousins
16
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: August 13, 1990
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Mobile, United States
Height: 6'10" (208 cm)
 47 
Clyde Drexler
(Basketball player)
Clyde Drexler
24
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: June 22, 1962
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Height: 6'7" (201 cm)
 48 
Eartha Kitt
(Singer with a Distinctive Voice Known for her Hits "Let's Do It", and "C'est si bon")
Eartha Kitt
45
Birthdate: January 17, 1927
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: North, South Carolina, United States
Died: December 25, 2008

Eartha Kitt was an American actress, comedian, dancer, and singer-songwriter. Renowned for her distinctive singing style, Kitt recorded several chartbusting songs during the 1950s. Also a well-known activist, Eartha Kitt established a non-profit organization called the Kittsville Youth Foundation, which helped underprivileged youths in Los Angeles. She was also an ardent advocate for same-sex marriage and LGBT rights.

 49 
Michael Vick
(Former American Football Quarterback)
Michael Vick
39
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: June 26, 1980
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Newport News, Virginia, United States

Michael Vick is a former American football player who played in the National Football League (NFL) for 13 seasons during which he represented successful teams like the Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles, and New York Jets. Michael Vick is also known for his philanthropic efforts; he has established a couple of nonprofit organizations namely The Vick Foundation and Michael Vick Foundation.  

 50 
Bernard Hopkins
(One of the Most Successful Professional Boxers in American History)
Bernard Hopkins
13
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: January 15, 1965
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Bernard Hopkins is an American retired boxer who held several world championships between 2001 to 2012 in two weight classes. Nicknamed The Executioner, Hopkins is widely regarded as one of the modern era's greatest boxers. A highly strategic boxer, Bernard Hopkins was also renowned for his speed, power, and counterpunching skills.