The ten most influential African Americans have excelled in various areas: sports, space, science, technology and philanthropy. Each has earned their title in history for superior work and contributions to humanity.
Harriet Tubman was born a slave in Dorchester County, Maryland. She was tortured and beaten by her masters. Yet she escaped and, with bravery and determination, assisted in thirteen missions to free enslaved people via The Underground Railroad. Harriet Tubman used a network of safe houses and antislavery activists to free seventy families and friends.
Rosa Parks was an African American civil rights activist. The United States Congress has called her “the mother of the freedom movement” and conferred upon her the title “the first lady of civil rights.” On December 1,1955 she refused to give up to a white person her seat in the colored section of a bus. The ensuing Montgomery Bus Boycott in Alabama and her initial act of rebellion were significant milestones in the juggernaut which became known as the Civil Rights Movement.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a Civil Rights Movement activist. He was an enigmatic speaker and an energetic leader of marches, boycotts and rallies in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1957 the NAACP awarded King the Spingarn Medal, its highest honor. In 1964 he won a Nobel Peace Prize for his unwavering leadership in the Civil Rights Movement. He urged Americans to find peaceful solutions to quarrels and championed the idea of equal rights for all. His now-legendary “I Have a Dream Speech” was televised live across the country and is often credited as being one of the best speeches of the twentieth century.
Guion Bluford possesses an MSc and a PhD in space engineering. He was a NASA astronaut and was the first African American in space. He traveled on several space missions and logged over 688 hours in space. He was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame in 1997 and the United States Astronauts Hall of Fame in 2010.
George Washington Carver was an African American scientist, botanist, educator and inventor. He advocated the introduction of alternative crops to cotton in the American south, including peanuts, soybeans, and sweet potatoes. He was committed to assisting poor farmers improve their quality of life. He created approximately 100 useful items made from peanuts including dyes, paint, and plastics.
Toni Morrison is a novelist. In 1987, her novel Beloved won the Pulitzer Prize. In 1993 she became the first African American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Her novels often use a canvas of epic scale and incorporate intricately detailed characters.
Oprah Winfrey is a very generous contributor to charitable causes. She is the first African American to make the list of America’s Top 50 Most Generous Philanthropists according to Business Week. She has donated millions of dollars towards providing a better education for women, children, and families in the United States. She has financed schools in South Africa and, with her Oprah’s Angel Network, raised 80 million dollars for charitable programs around the world.
Barack Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States in 2008. He graduated with a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School. During his presidency he established The Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act. Jihadist Osama Bin Laden, responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks, was found and killed during Obama’s administration.
Michael Jackson, a popular music star, was a well known philanthropist. The entertainer supported dozens of charities in his lifetime. He and Lionel Richie wrote the song We Are the World raising millions of dollars for famine relief in Africa.
Michael Jordan, a sports icon, is often cited as being the greatest basketball player of all time. After being told he was too short for his varsity basketball team, Jordan went on to achieve stardom by sheer force of will and talent.