Famous Black Leaders

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 Barack Obama

Barack Obama.
398
Famous As: 44th U.S. President
Birthdate: August 4, 1961
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Honolulu, Hawai, USA

Former President of the United States, Barack Obama, has the distinction of being the first African-American president of the nation. A civil rights attorney and an academic, he has been credited with bringing about a significant improvement in America’s reputation abroad. His efforts to strengthen international diplomacy was recognized with the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.

 2 Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr .
46
Famous As: Civil Rights Activist
Birthdate: January 15, 1929
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
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.  

 3 Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela.
73
Famous As: Anti-Apartheid Activist, President of ANC and Former President of South Africa
Birthdate: July 18, 1918
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Mvezo
Died: December 5, 2013
Revered as the Father of the Nation by the South Africans, Nelson Mandela was a statesman who rose to become the country’s first black head of state. He reconciled a nation divided along racial lines and dismantled the legacy of apartheid.

 4 Kwame Nkrumah

Kwame Nkrumah.
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Famous As: First President of Ghana
Birthdate: September 21, 1909
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Nkroful
Died: April 27, 1972

Kwame Nkrumah was a Ghanaian revolutionary and politician. He played an important role in the independence of the Gold Coast in 1957, after which he served as the first prime minister of Ghana from 1957 to 1960 and then as the first president of Ghana from 1960 to 1966. He also played an influential role as an advocate of Pan-Africanism.

 5 Jomo Kenyatta

Jomo Kenyatta.
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Famous As: Former Prime Minister of Kenya
Birthdate: October 20, 1891
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Gatundu, Kenya
Died: August 22, 1978
After being held as a prisoner by the British for 9 years, anti-colonial activist Jomo Kenyatta was released shortly before Kenya achieved its independence, and became the country’s first prime minister and then its first president. The Father of the Nation, Kenyatta was also named Mzee, meaning “grand old man.”

 6 Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf .
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Famous As: Africa’s First Elected Female Head of State
Birthdate: October 29, 1938
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Monrovia

Liberian politician, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, served as the 24th President of Liberia from 2006 to 2018. She was the first elected female head of state in Africa. An alumnus of the Harvard University, she began her political career in the 1970s and rose through the ranks with time. She is the recipient of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize.

 7 Condoleezza Rice

Condoleezza Rice.
34
Famous As: Former United States Secretary of State
Birthdate: November 14, 1954
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Birmingham, Alabama

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.

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 8 Booker T. Washington

Booker T. Washington.
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Birthdate: April 5, 1856
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Westlake Corner, Virginia, United States
Died: November 14, 1915
Booker T. Washington was born into slavery but rose to be an advisor to many U.S. presidents and also became the director of the Tuskegee Institute. His Atlanta Compromise, initially accepted and later rejected by black leaders, urged the blacks to work for their freedom through education and not revolt.

 9 Marcus Garvey

Marcus Mosiah Garvey Jr.
2
Famous As: Political leader
Birthdate: August 17, 1887
Sun Sign: Leo
Died: June 10, 1940
Marcus Garvey is remembered as an iconic Black separatist leader who believed that all African-origin people in Europe and America should go back to Africa. He established the Universal Negro Improvement Association, but his activism was not accepted by civil rights activists, who believed in racial integration and not segregation.

 10 Julius Nyerere

Julius Nyerere
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Famous As: Linguist, Politician, Translator
Birthdate: April 13, 1922
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Butiama
Died: October 14, 1999

 11 Shirley Chisholm

Shirley Chisholm.
1
Birthdate: November 30, 1924
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Brooklyn
Died: January 1, 2005

A courageous political leader, Shirley Chisholm made history when she became the first African-American woman to be elected the United States Congresswoman. Later, she yet again created history when she—though unsuccessfullyVran for Democratic Party's presidential nomination to contest for US presidency. Throughout her career, she advocated racial equality and women empowerment. As an author, she penned two books.

 12 Kofi Annan

Kofi Annan.
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Famous As: Former UN Secretary General
Birthdate: April 8, 1938
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Kumasi, Ghana
Died: August 18, 2018

Ghanaian diplomat Kofi Annan served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1997 to 2006. He was the founder and chairman of the Kofi Annan Foundation and a co-recipient of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize. During his stint with the UN, he launched the UN Global Compact and worked to combat HIV/AIDS. 

 13 Elijah Cummings

Elijah Cummings.
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Famous As: Former United States Representative
Birthdate: January 18, 1951
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Died: October 17, 2019

Elijah Cummings was an important and influential American politician and advocate of civil rights. Such was his impact on American politics that after his death, he became the first black lawmaker to be honored with a state funeral at the United States Capitol. His official funeral was attended by personalities like Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton.

 14 Kenneth Kaunda

Kenneth Kaunda.
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Famous As: Teacher
Birthdate: April 28, 1924
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Chinsali

Kenneth Kaunda is a Zambian former politician. He served as the first president of Zambia from 1964 to 1991. A major figure in Zambia’s struggle for independence from British rule, he became the first president of independent Zambia. As the president, he implemented many educational and economic reforms to accelerate the rate of modernization in the country.

 15 Ben Carson

Ben Carson.
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Famous As: Politician, Former Neurosurgeon
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.

 16 Martin Luther King III

Martin Luther King III.
4
Famous As: Activist
Birthdate: October 23, 1957
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Montgomery, Alabama
The American civil rights activist has continued his legendary father Martin Luther King Jr.’s struggle for racial equality. Martin Luther King III headed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference founded by his father and endorsed Barack Obama’s nomination for American presidency. King fought against police brutality, but he also denounced capital punishment, saying he did not belive in retributional justice.

 17 Tim Scott

Tim Scott
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: September 19, 1965
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: North Charleston, South Carolina North Charleston, South Carolina, U.S.

 18 Diane Abbott

Diane Abbott.
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Famous As: Former Shadow Home Secretary
Birthdate: September 27, 1953
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paddington, London, England, United Kingdom

 19 Yoweri Museveni

Yoweri Museveni.
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Famous As: President of Uganda
Birthdate: August 15, 1944
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Ntungamo

Ugandan politician, Yoweri Museveni, has been serving as the president of Uganda since 1986. He played a key role in a series of rebellions that overpowered Ugandan political leaders Idi Amin and Milton Obote before capturing power in the 1980s. Under his presidency, Uganda has achieved significant success in fighting HIV/AIDS. The country has also experienced relative peace under Museveni.

 20 Charles Taylor

Charles Taylor.
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Famous As: Former President of Liberia
Birthdate: January 28, 1948
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Arthington, Liberia

Charles Taylor is a former Liberian politician who served as the 22nd President of Liberia. As a young man, he was the head of a Libyan-backed rebel group, the National Patriotic Front of Liberia, and played a key role in initiating the First Liberian Civil War. He was elected the president after the war in 1997. He resigned in 2003.

 21 Omar al-Bashir

Omar al-Bashir.
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Famous As: Former President of Sudan
Birthdate: January 1, 1944
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Hosh Bannaga, Sudan

Omar al-Bashir is a Sudanese politician who served as the seventh president of Sudan. A former military officer, he is the founder of the National Congress Party that remained the dominant political party in the country until 2019. He was deposed in a coup d'état the same year and subsequently arrested and convicted on multiple corruption charges.

 22 Thabo Mbeki

Thabo Mbeki
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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.

 23 Uhuru Kenyatta

Uhuru Kenyatta.
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Famous As: President of Kenya
Birthdate: October 26, 1961
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Nairobi

The incumbent Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta is the leader of the Jubilee Party of Kenya. Son of Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta, he was dragged into a controversy after sweeping the 2017 re-elections by winning 98% of the total votes. However, a Supreme Court ruling dismissed all charges against him.

 24 Seretse Khama

Seretse Khama
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: July 1, 1921
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Serowe, Botswana
Died: July 13, 1980

 25 John Lewis

John Lewis.
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Famous As: Former United States Representative
Birthdate: February 21, 1940
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Alabama, United States
Died: July 17, 2020

Popularly known as one of the Big Six—leaders of six important civil rights organizations who masterminded the Great March on Washington in 1963—John Lewis played an important role in the civil rights movement that eventually ended racial segregation in the US. Also a statesman, Lewis was honored with many awards, such as the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

 26 John Conyers

John Conyers
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: May 16, 1929
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Highland Park, Michigan, United States
Died: October 27, 2019

 27 Emmerson Mnangagwa

Emmerson Mnangagwa.
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Famous As: President of Zimbabwe
Birthdate: September 15, 1946
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Zvishavane, Zimbabwe
Nicknamed The Crocodile, the current Zimbabwean president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, has been one of the harshest rulers his country has seen. Roughly 20,000 people lost their lives during his tenure as the security minister in the 1980s. Once Mugabe’s right hand, he later fell out with him and launched a coup.

 28 Allen West

Allen West
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: February 7, 1961
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia (U.S. state) Georgia, U.S.

 29 Eldridge Cleaver

Eldridge Cleaver.
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Birthdate: August 31, 1935
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Wabbaseka, Arkansas
Died: May 1, 1998

 30 Julius Malema

Julius Malema
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: March 3, 1981
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Seshego

Julius Malema is a South African activist and politician. He is credited with founding a South African political party called the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), for which he currently serves as the president and commander-in-chief. One of the most controversial politicians in South Africa, Malema was charged with racketeering, money laundering, and fraud in 2012.

 31 Kwame Kilpatrick

Kwame Kilpatrick.
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Famous As: Former Mayor of Detroit
Birthdate: June 8, 1970
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Former politician, Kwame Kilpatrick, served as the mayor of Detroit from 2002 to 2008. Previously, he had been a Democratic Michigan state representative. A controversial person, he was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in 2008 and had to step down as mayor. In 2013, he was again convicted of many federal felony counts.

 32 Marion Barry

Marion Barry.
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Birthdate: March 6, 1936
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Itta Bena, Mississippi, U.S.

 33 Michael Steele

Michael Steele.
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: October 19, 1958
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland
Michael Steele was the first African-American to chair the Republican National Committee, from 2009 to 2011. He has also worked with MSNBC, Fox News, and the online magazine The Root. He was the lieutenant governor of Maryland, from 2003 to 2007, and a partner at LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae.

 34 Goodluck Jonathan

Goodluck Jonathan.
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Famous As: President of Nigeria
Birthdate: November 20, 1957
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Ogbia

Initially a teacher, Nigerian former president Goodluck Jonathan, boasts of a PhD in zoology and has also headed an oil-oriented government agency. He plunged into politics with the PDP, and his tenure as the president witnessed major acts of terror by the jihadist group Boko Haram.

 35 Marion Barry

Marion S. Barry Jr.
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: March 6, 1936
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Itta Bena, Mississippi, United States
Died: November 23, 2014

 36 Lynn Swann

Lynn Swann
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Famous As: American football player
Birthdate: March 7, 1952
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Alcoa, Tennessee, USA

 37 Barbara Jordan

Barbara Jordan.
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Famous As: Lawyer
Birthdate: February 21, 1936
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Houston
Died: January 17, 1996

 38 Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris.
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Famous As: Vice Preseiden of the United States
Birthdate: October 20, 1964
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: California

A Democrat politician and lawyer, Kamala Harris is the vice president-elect of the United States. She will assume the office on 20 January 2021, alongside President-elect Joe Biden.  Half-Indian, half-Jamaican, Harris is the first woman, the first Black person and the first Asian-American to be elected vice president.  

 39 Jean-Jacques Dessalines

Jean-Jacques Dessalines.
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Famous As: Haitian General
Birthdate: September 20, 1758
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Guinea
Died: August 17, 1806

Jean-Jacques Dessalines was an important figure and leader of the Haitian Revolution. He went on to rule an independent Haiti, which became the first country to abolish slavery permanently. Considered one of Haiti's founding fathers, Dessalines reigned as the emperor of Haiti from 1804 until his murder in 1806. Today, he is regarded as an icon of Haitian nationalism.

 40 Canaan Banana

Canaan Banana.
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Famous As: Former President of Zimbabwe
Birthdate: March 5, 1936
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Esigodini
Died: November 10, 2003

Canaan Banana was a Zimbabwean politician, theologian, and Methodist minister. In 1980, Banana became the first president of Zimbabwe, a position which he held until 1987. Ten years later, he made the headlines when he was involved in a highly publicized trial after being accused of being a homosexual. He served six months in prison after being convicted of sodomy.

 41 Andrew Young Jr.

Andrew Young Jr.
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: March 12, 1932
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

 42 Graça Machel

Graça Machel.
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: October 17, 1945
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Portuguese Mozambique

Graça Machel is known for her association with Mozambique’s FRELIMO movement and has been the country’s first education minister. She has also been married to both former Mozambican president Samora Machel and South African president Nelson Mandela. Through The Elders, she is devoted to working for women’s and children’s rights.

 43 Yahya Jammeh

Yahya Jammeh
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Famous As: Former President of the Gambia
Birthdate: May 25, 1965
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Kanilai

 44 Ilhan Omar

Ilhan Omar.
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Famous As: U.S. Representative
Birthdate: October 4, 1981
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Mogadishu

Ilhan Omar became the first woman of color to serve as Minnesota's representative in the United States Congress when she was elected in 2019. A popular and influential politician, she supports universal healthcare, affordable housing, and student loan debt forgiveness. Also a human rights and LGBT rights activist, she was featured in Maroon 5's Girls Like You music video.

 45 Idi Amin

Idi Amin.
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Famous As: Former President of Uganda
Birthdate: 1925 AD
Birthplace: Koboko, Uganda
Died: August 16, 2003
Idi Amin started his career as a cook with the British colonial army of Uganda and became an army commander later. After deposing the Ugandan president, he declared himself the president. The “Butcher of Uganda” was known for his despotic rule and was responsible for almost 500,000 deaths.

 46 Samuel Doe

Samuel Doe.
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Famous As: Former President of Liberia
Birthdate: May 6, 1951
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Tuzon, Liberia
Died: September 9, 1990

Samuel Doe led a violent coup against Liberian president William Tolbert, executing him. Doe then led as the country’s military leader and later became its president. He was eventually brutally tortured and killed by INPFL Prince Y. Johnson’s men, and the killing was taped and showcased in news reports.

 47 Louis Farrakhan

Louis Farrakhan.
3
Famous As: Political Activist
Birthdate: May 11, 1933
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: The Bronx, New York, United States

Louis Farrakhan, formerly known as Louis X, is the leader of the ‘Nation of Islam’ which has been called a black nationalist organisation and a hate group. He has been described as anti-Semitic by monitoring organisations and has been accused of promoting anti-white theology and black superiority over whites. He was banned from Facebook in 2019 for being an extremist.

 48 Robert Mugabe

Robert Mugabe.
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Famous As: Former PM & President of Zimbabwe
Birthdate: February 21, 1924
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Harare, Zimbabwe
Died: September 6, 2019

Robert Mugabe was a Zimbabwean revolutionary. He played a major role in the Rhodesian Bush War, which eventually led to the Lancaster House Agreement, resulting in the creation of the Republic of Zimbabwe. Subsequently, Mugabe served as the first prime minister of Zimbabwe and later as its president. A controversial figure, Mugabe is also often criticized for his tyrannical ways.

 49 Colin Powell

Colin Powell.
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Famous As: 65th United States Secretary of State
Birthdate: April 5, 1937
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York City

A veteran politician who served as the 65th United States Secretary of State, Colin Powell was the first African-American Secretary of State. A member of the Republican Party, he was an army man prior to entering politics. He was a  four-star general at the time of his retirement. After leaving politics, he pursued a career as a public speaker.

 50 Paul Biya

Paul Biya.
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Famous As: President of Cameroon
Birthdate: February 13, 1933
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Mvomeka'a

Paul Biya is a Cameroonian politician and the current president of Cameroon. Serving as Cameroon's president since 1982, Biya is Africa's second-longest-ruling president. He is also Africa's oldest head-of-state and the world's longest-ruling non-royal leader. Despite claims that most of his presidential elections were rigged, Paul Biya continues to serve as president of Cameroon.