Famous Black Intellectuals & Academics

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois
9
Famous As: Civil Rights Activists
Birthdate: February 23, 1868
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Great Barrington, Massachusetts, United States
Died: August 27, 1963

W. E. B. Du Bois was an American civil rights activist, sociologist, and Pan-Africanist. Du Bois played an instrumental role in fighting for full civil rights for people of color around the world. A co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Du Bois also played an important role as the leader of the Niagara Movement.

 2 Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell
20
Famous As: Economist
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

 3 Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston
9
Famous As: Folklorist, Anthropologist
Birthdate: January 7, 1891
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Notasulga
Died: January 28, 1960

Zora Neale Hurston was an author, anthropologist, and filmmaker. As an African American woman, she often depicted racial issues in the films she made. Her works also reflected her struggles as a black woman. In her early career, she conducted anthropological and ethnographic research and focused more on writing and film-making in her later years.

 4 Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.
8
Famous As: Civil Rights Activist, Minister
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.  

 5 Condoleezza Rice

Condoleezza Rice
10
Famous As: Former United States Secretary of State
Birthdate: November 14, 1954
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Birmingham, Alabama, United States

The 66th United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made history in 2005 when she became the first female black Secretary of State. She is also the first female to serve as National Security Advisor, a position which she served from 2001 to 2005. One of the most powerful women in the world at one point of time, she has been depicted in Hollywood films.

 6 Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Henry Louis Gates Jr.
8
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: September 16, 1950
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Keyser, West Virginia

Henry Louis Gates Jr. is an American literary critic, historian, professor, filmmaker, and public intellectual. He is currently serving as the director of the Hutchins Center at Harvard University. Over the years Gates has been honored with several prestigious awards including the National Humanities Medal. In 1997, he was named in Time magazine's 25 Most Influential Americans list.

 7 N. K. Jemisin

N. K. Jemisin
6
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: September 19, 1972
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Iowa City, Iowa, U.S.

N. K. Jemisin became the first writer to win the Hugo Best Novel award thrice consecutively and is best known for her Inheritance trilogy and her Broken Earth series. The African-American author is also a trained psychologist and has worked as a counsellor in several universities.

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 8 Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
4
Famous As: 7th Director-General of the World Trade Organization
Birthdate: June 13, 1954
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Ogwashi Ukwu, Nigeria

 9 Thabo Mbeki

Thabo Mbeki
6
Famous As: Politician, Economist
Birthdate: June 18, 1942
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Transkei

Thabo Mbeki is a South African politician who is currently serving as the chancellor of the University of South Africa. From 1999 to 2008, he served as the president of South Africa. During his tenure as the president, the South African economy grew, creating employment opportunities. Over the years, he has received several awards, including the prestigious Good Governance Award.

 10 John McWhorter

John McWhorter
9
Famous As: Linguist
Birthdate: October 6, 1965
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Philadelphia

 11 Frantz Fanon

Frantz Fanon
8
Famous As: Psychiatrist
Birthdate: July 20, 1925
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Fort-de-France, Martinique, France
Died: December 6, 1961

Frantz Fanon was a French-West Indian born in Martinique, a former French colony. A skilled psychiatrist and physician, he realized the impact of colonialism on the human mind while treating French soldiers and Algerians. The author of books such as The Wretched of the Earth, Fanon supported the Algerian independence movement.

 12 Carter Woodson

Carter Woodson
5
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: December 19, 1875
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New Canton, Virginia, United States
Died: April 3, 1950

Historian Carter Woodson was is remembered for pioneering Black studies in schools and colleges. He began the Negro History Week, which is now celebrated as the Black History Month. Poverty had pushed him to work in the coal mines initially, and he couldn’t join high school before 20.

 13 Sir Arthur Lewis

Sir Arthur Lewis
4
Famous As: Economist
Birthdate: January 23, 1915
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Castries, Saint Lucia
Died: June 15, 1991

 14 Judy Smith

Judy Smith
5
Famous As: Crisis manager
Birthdate: October 27, 1958
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States

 15 Percy Lavon Julian

Percy Lavon Julian
4
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: April 11, 1899
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Montgomery, Alabama, United States
Died: April 19, 1975

Percy Lavon Julian was an American chemist whose work paved the way for the production of birth control pills and corticosteroids. Julian went on to start his own company which helped reduce the price of steroid intermediates. In 1973, Percy Lavon Julian was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences and became the first African-American to receive this honor.

 16 Dambisa Moyo

Dambisa Moyo
3
Famous As: Economist
Birthdate: February 2, 1969
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Lusaka, Zambia

 17 Kenneth Bancroft Clark

Kenneth Bancroft Clark
3
Famous As: Psychologist
Birthdate: July 14, 1914
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Panama Canal Zone, United States
Died: May 1, 2005

 18 Samuel Ajayi Crowther

Samuel Ajayi Crowther
3
Famous As: Linguist
Birthdate: 1809 AD
Birthplace: Nigeria
Died: December 31, 1891

 19 Robert Parris Moses

Robert Parris Moses
3
Famous As: Former Civil rights activist known for Freedom Summer, Algebra Project
Birthdate: January 23, 1935
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Harlem, New York City, United States
Died: July 25, 2021

 20 Buchi Emecheta

Buchi Emecheta
5
Famous As: Writer, Novelist, Sociologist, Playwright, Editor, Children's writer
Birthdate: July 21, 1944
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Yaba Department
Died: January 25, 2017

 21 Roland G. Fryer, Jr.

Roland G. Fryer, Jr.
5
Birthdate: June 4, 1977
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Daytona Beach

 22 Walter Rodney

Walter Rodney
0
Famous As: Historian, political activist
Birthdate: March 23, 1942
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Georgetown, British Guiana
Died: June 13, 1980

 23 Bingu wa Mutharika

Bingu wa Mutharika
3
Famous As: Former President of Malawi and Economist
Birthdate: February 24, 1934
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Thyolo, Nyasaland
Died: April 5, 2012

 24 Molefi Kete Asante

Molefi Kete Asante
3
Famous As: Writer, Philosopher, University teacher
Birthdate: August 14, 1942
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Valdosta

 25 Faure Gnassingbé

Faure Gnassingbé
3
Famous As: 4th President of Togo
Birthdate: June 6, 1966
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Afagnan, Togo

 26 Festus Mogae

Festus Mogae
3
Famous As: 3rd President of Botswana and economist
Birthdate: August 21, 1939
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Serowe, Bechuanaland

 27 Sol Plaatje

Sol Plaatje
3
Famous As: Journalist
Birthdate: October 9, 1876
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Boshof, South Africa
Died: June 19, 1932
South African writer and journalist Sol Plaatje, known for his novel Mhudi, was well-versed in a number of languages, apart from his native Tswana. He founded what later became the African National Congress and made people across the globe aware of the plight of black Africans in his country.

 28 Harry Edwards

Harry Edwards
0
Famous As: Sociologist
Birthdate: November 22, 1942
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: East St. Louis, Illinois, United States

 29 Lazarus Chakwera

Lazarus Chakwera
0
Famous As: President of Malawi
Birthdate: April 5, 1955
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Lilongwe, Malawi

 30 Christiane Taubira

Christiane Taubira
4
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: February 2, 1952
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Cayenne, French Guiana

French left-wing politician Christiane Taubira has been the French minister of justice. A French Guianese by birth, she co-established the Caricoop Agricultural Association. The author of Slavery Explained to My Daughter, she lent her name to a law that prohibited Atlantic slave trade. She also legalized same-sex marriages in France.

 31 Édouard Glissant

Édouard Glissant
3
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: September 21, 1928
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Sainte-Marie, Martinique
Died: February 3, 2011

 32 George Padmore

George Padmore
2
Famous As: Writer, Journalist
Birthdate: June 28, 1903
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Arouca, Trinidad and Tobago
Died: September 23, 1959

 33 Saulos Chilima

Saulos Chilima
0
Famous As: Vice President of Malawi
Birthdate: February 12, 1973
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Malawi

 34 Miatta Fahnbulleh

Miatta Fahnbulleh
0
Famous As: Economist
Birthdate: November 19, 1979
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Liberia

 35 Jacob Oulanyah

Jacob Oulanyah
0
Famous As: Speaker of the 11th Parliament of Uganda
Birthdate: March 23, 1965
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Gulu, Uganda

 36 Édouard Ngirente

Édouard Ngirente
0
Famous As: Prime Minister, Economist
Birthdate: February 22, 1973
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Gakenke, Rwanda

 37 Pearl Primus

Pearl Primus
2
Famous As: Dancer
Birthdate: November 29, 1919
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
Died: October 29, 1994

 38 Tony Martin

Tony Martin
2
Famous As: Academic, Writer
Birthdate: February 21, 1942
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
Died: January 17, 2013

 39 Antenor Firmin

Antenor Firmin
2
Famous As: Anthropologist
Birthdate: October 18, 1850
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Cap-Haitien, Haiti
Died: September 19, 1911

 40 Philip Mpango

Philip Mpango
0
Famous As: Politician, Economist
Birthdate: July 14, 1957
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Tanzania

 41 Charles S. Johnson

Charles S. Johnson
2
Famous As: Sociologist
Birthdate: July 24, 1893
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Bristol, Virginia, United States
Died: October 27, 1956

 42 Peter John Gomes

Peter John Gomes
2
Famous As: Preacher
Birthdate: May 22, 1942
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: February 28, 2011

Listed by Time Magazine as one of "Seven Stars of the Pulpit", Peter John Gomes was a much respected preacher and theologian. Also Plummer Professor of Christian Morals at Harvard Divinity School and Pusey Minister at Harvard's Memorial Church, he authored two bestselling books and published ten volumes of sermons. A celibate gay, he also worked for acceptance of homosexuality.

 43 Bogolo Joy Kenewendo

Bogolo Joy Kenewendo
2
Famous As: Economist, Politician
Birthdate: 1987 AD
Birthplace: Motopi Village in the Boteti Area

 44 Saara Kuugongelwa

Saara Kuugongelwa
0
Famous As: Politician, Economist
Birthdate: October 12, 1967
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Otamanzi Constituency, Namibia

 45 Stella Nyanzi

Stella Nyanzi
0
Famous As: Human rights activist
Birthdate: June 16, 1974
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Jinja, Uganda

 46 John Mbiti

John Mbiti
1
Famous As: Christian philosopher
Birthdate: November 30, 1931
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Kitui County Mulango, Kenya
Died: October 5, 2019

 47 Paul Kaba Thieba

Paul Kaba Thieba
0
Famous As: 8th Prime Minister of Burkina Faso
Birthdate: July 28, 1960
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso

 48 Donald Kaberuka

Donald Kaberuka
0
Famous As: Economist
Birthdate: October 5, 1951
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Byumba, Rwanda

 49 George G. M. James

George G. M. James
0
Famous As: Historian and author known for his 1954 book Stolen Legacy
Birthdate: November 9, 1893
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Georgetown, Guyana
Died: June 30, 1956

 50 Johnnetta Cole

Johnnetta Cole
2
Famous As: Anthropologist and educator
Birthdate: October 19, 1936
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Jacksonville, Florida, United States