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.
Born to parents who were bonded slaves, Harriet Tubman life was a difficult one from the very beginning. Yet with her remarkable courage and determination, she not only escaped slavery herself, but also led other enslaved people to freedom. The prominent political activist and abolitionist was also the first woman to lead an armed expedition during the American Civil War.
Wife of the former U.S President, Barack Obama, and one of the most popular First Ladies of the United States, Michelle Obama is a celebrity in her own right. She is still very popular and is a sought-after speaker around the globe and often lends her voice to issues like poverty awareness, education, nutrition, women’s rights, immigration and racism.
For anyone who has a penchant for music, Rihanna needs no introduction. Born as Robyn Rihanna Fenty, Rihanna is one of the most influential names in the music and fashion industry. Her effortless singing, catchy tunes and inimitable dance moves have won her eight Grammy Awards, eight American Music Awards, twelve Billboard Music Awards and two BRIT Awards.
In the 1950s, a teenage African-American boy, Emmett Till was kidnapped, tortured and brutally killed for allegedly misbehaving with a white woman. Those responsible were never convicted but the brutality of the crime brought focus on racial discrimination and African-American Civil Rights Movement. It eventually played a crucial role in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957.
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.
A black man, Rodney King became a victim of police brutality by the Los Angeles Police Department in 1991. He was brutally beaten up by a group of police officers when he was trying to evade getting arrested for drunk driving. His case made international news and caused a public furor. King died of accidental drowning in 2012.
R&B and hip-hop singer Teyana Taylor gained fame with MTV's My Super Sweet 16. She signed with Kanye West’s label and also appeared on the reality show Teyana and Iman, with her husband, NBA player Iman Shumpert. In December 2020, she announced her retirement from music through Instagram.
Sidney Poitier is a Bahamian-American actor who became the first Afro-Bahamian and Black male actor to receive an Oscar for Best Actor in 1964. In 2009, he was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His life and work inspired a couple of documentary films, including the 2008 film Sidney Poitier, an Outsider in Hollywood.
12 Colin Powell
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.
LeBron James Jr., popularly known as Bronny James, is an American basketball player. The son of popular professional basketball player LeBron James, LeBron James Jr. has followed in the footsteps of his father, proving to be an important player for his team at school. Apart from playing basketball, he also creates content for the popular e-sports team FaZe Clan.
15 Nat Turner
17 Master P
18 Anita Hill
19 Desmond Tutu
Alfredo Bowman was a Honduran self-proclaimed healer and herbalist. Bowman was known for his dramatic claims that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS and diseases could be cured with a vegan diet and herbs. His client list included celebrities like Michael Jackson and Eddie Murphy. Bowman often landed in trouble for his controversial claims and was arrested on a couple of occasions.
Trayvon Martin was an African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a Hispanic-American named George Zimmerman in 2012. Although Zimmerman was acquitted based on Florida's stand your ground law, Martin's death led to rallies, marches, and protests across the nation. The protests forced the governor of Florida to examine Florida's self-defense laws.
22 Joe Jackson
23 Mae Jemison
Former NASA astronaut Mae Jemison became the first Black woman to fly into space, as a mission specialist on the Space Shuttle Endeavour. A qualified physician, she has served as a Peace Corps doctor, too. She has written several books and established a non-profit and a tech research organization.
29 Barkhad Abdi
Somali-American actor, Barkhad Abdi, is best known for his role in the film Captain Phillips, for which he received a British Academy Film Award. Born in Somalia, he relocated to USA after the Somali Civil War broke out. After working in a few odd jobs as a young man, he took up acting and soon found success.
32 Dred Scott
34 Yasiel Puig
Civil rights activist and educator Betty Shabazz, or Betty X, was the wife of Black nationalist leader Malcolm X. Raised by her adoptive parents in Detroit, she met Malcolm X at a Nation of Islam event in Harlem. She died when her apartment was set on fire set by her grandson.
36 T. D. Jakes
Known for his baritone voice and his signature goatee, T. D. Jakes is a bishop at The Potter's House and a filmmaker, too. He has produced and appeared in films such as Jumping the Broom and Not Easily Broken, the latter being based one of his novels.
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.
39 Ota Benga
Ota Benga was a Mbuti man best remembered for being a human zoo exhibit at the Bronx Zoo in 1906. After a petition for his release, Benga was sent to the Howard Colored Orphan Asylum, where he learned English before working at a Lynchburg tobacco factory. Unfortunately, he committed suicide in 1916 after a failed attempt to return to Africa.
40 Ennis Cosby
The only son of comedian Bill Cosby, Ennis Cosby made headlines when he was shot dead at 27, in an attempted robbery on a deserted Southern California road. He was dyslexic and discussed his disability with the children he taught as a student-teacher at the Alfred E. Smith Elementary School.
Author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates gained international prominence while serving as the national correspondent at The Atlantic. His writings on socio-political issues related to African Americans and white supremacy garnered him much appreciation. He is a recipient of the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center Prize for Writing to Advance Social Justice. He also writes fiction and comics.
42 Doris Miller
Doris Miller was a US Navy cook third class. He became the first black American to be honored with the Navy Cross for saving the lives of many sailors aboard West Virginia by manning an anti-aircraft machine gun to shoot down Japanese planes during the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was killed in action while serving in World War II.
43 John Conyers
Qubilah Shabazz is the second daughter of human rights activist, Malcolm X, and his wife, Betty Shabazz. She had a tumultuous childhood. As a four-year-old, she witnessed the assassination of her father by three gunmen. The troubles in her personal life continued even after she grew up, and she became an alcoholic and developed a drug addiction.
Actress and model, Rochelle Aytes, gained international fame for her role in the ABC drama series Mistresses. An alumnus of the State University of New York at Purchase College, she began her career soon after her graduation. After appearing in commercials for several popular brands, she made her acting debut. She has since acted in many films and TV shows.