Influential Black Leaders List

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black hollywood, Black Men, Playwright -

African American playwright August Wilson won a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award for his play 'Fences' and earned a second Pulitzer Prize for 'The Piano Lesson.' Who Was August Wilson? Famed playwright August Wilson wrote his first play, Jitney, in 1979. Fences earned him a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award in 1987. Wilson won another Pulitzer Prize in 1990, for The Piano Lesson. In 1996, Seven Guitars premiered on the Broadway stage, followed by King Hedley II in 2001 and Gem of the Ocean in 2004. Wilson died on October 2, 2005, in Seattle, Washington. Early Life and Education Wilson was born Frederick August Kittel in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,...

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Black Men, Black Panther, Civil Rights Activist -

Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture) was a Trinidadian American civil rights activist known for leading the SNCC and the Black Panther Party in the 1960s. Who Was Stokely Carmichael? Stokely Carmichael rose to prominence as a member and later the chairman of the SNCC, working with Martin Luther King Jr. and other Southern leaders to stage protests. Carmichael later lost faith in the tactic of nonviolence, promoting "Black Power" and allying himself with the militant Black Panther Party. Renaming himself Kwame Ture, he spent most of his later years in Guinea, where he died in 1998.  Early Life Carmichael was born on June 29, 1941, in...

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Abolitionist, black activist, Black Men, slavery -

Nat Turner was the leader of a violent slave rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia, in 1831. Who Was Nat Turner? Nat Turner was a slave who became a preacher and made history as the leader of one of the bloodiest slave revolts in America on August 21, 1831. Following the insurrection, Turner hid for six weeks, but he was eventually caught and later hanged. The incident ended the emancipation movement in that region and led to even harsher laws against slaves. While Turner became an icon of the 1960s black power movement, others have criticized him for using violence as...

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Black Leaders, Black Men, Civil Rights -

Booker T. Washington was one of the foremost African American leaders of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, founding the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute. Who Was Booker T. Washington? Born into slavery, Booker T. Washington put himself through school and became a teacher after the Civil War. In 1881, he founded the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in Alabama (now known as Tuskegee University), which grew immensely and focused on training African Americans in agricultural pursuits. A political adviser and writer, Washington clashed with intellectual W.E.B. Du Bois over the best avenues for racial uplift. Early Life Born to a slave...

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Black Men, Black Writer, Historian -

Carter G. Woodson was an African American writer and historian known as the 'Father of Black History.' He penned the influential book 'The Mis-Education of the Negro.' Who Was Carter G. Woodson? Carter G. Woodson was the second African American to receive a doctorate from Harvard, after W.E.B. Du Bois. Known as the "Father of Black History," Woodson dedicated his career to the field of African American history and lobbied extensively to establish Black History Month as a nationwide institution. He also wrote many historical works, including the 1933 book The Mis-Education of the Negro. He died in Washington, D.C., in 1950. Early Life...

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activism, Black Men, Racism -

When a mostly white jury acquitted the police officers who were caught on video beating Rodney King, it set off the L.A. riots of 1992. Who Was Rodney King? Rodney King was caught by the Los Angeles police after a high-speed chase on March 3, 1991. The officers pulled him out of the car and beat him brutally, while amateur cameraman George Holliday caught it all on videotape. The four L.A.P.D. officers involved were indicted on charges of assault with a deadly weapon and excessive use of force by a police officer. However, after a three-month trial, a predominantly white...

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Actor, Black Men, Director, Writer -

Producer, director, writer and actor Spike Lee creates provocative films that explore race relations, political issues and urban crime and violence. His films include 'She's Gotta Have It,' 'Do the Right Thing' and 'BlacKkKlansman.' Who Is Spike Lee?  Spike Lee was making amateur films by age 20 and won a Student Academy Award for his graduate thesis film. Lee drew attention with his first feature, She's Gotta Have It — one of the most profitable films made in 1986 — and continues to create films that explore provocative topics like race, politics and violence. He is also known for his documentaries and...

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Black Educator, Black Men, Black Scientist -

George Washington Carver was an African American scientist and educator. Carver is famous for many inventions including a number of uses for the peanut. Who Was George Washington Carver? George Washington Carver was born enslaved and went on to become one of the most prominent scientists and inventors of his time, as well as a teacher at the Tuskegee Institute. Carver devised over 100 products using one major crop — the peanut — including dyes, plastics and gasoline. Early Life Carver was most likely born in 1864 enslaved in Diamond, Missouri, during the Civil War years. Like many children of enslaved, the exact...

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Activist, Black Men, Black President, Philanthropist -

Nelson Mandela was the first Black president of South Africa, elected after time in prison for his anti-apartheid work. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. Who Was Nelson Mandela? Nelson Mandela was a social rights activist, politician and philanthropist who became South Africa’s first Black president from 1994 to 1999. After becoming involved in the anti-apartheid movement in his 20s, Mandela joined the African National Congress in 1942. For 20 years, he directed a campaign of peaceful, nonviolent defiance against the South African government and its racist policies.  Beginning in 1962, Mandela spent 27 years in prison for political...

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Baseball, Black Men, First Black Baseball Player -

Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier when he became the first Black athlete to play Major League Baseball after joining the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Who Was Jackie Robinson? Robinson became the first Black athlete to play Major League Baseball in the 20th century when he took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Throughout his decade-long career, Robinson distinguished himself as one of the game's most talented and exciting players, recording an impressive .311 career batting average. He was also a vocal civil rights activist. Early Life Jack Roosevelt Robinson was born on January 31, 1919, in Cairo,...

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Actor, Black Men, Rapper -

Tupac Shakur was embroiled in a feud between East Coast and West Coast rappers and was murdered in a drive-by shooting in 1996, leaving behind an influential musical legacy at the age of 25. Who Was Tupac Shakur? Tupac Shakur was an American rapper and actor who came to embody the 1990s gangsta-rap aesthetic, and who in death became an icon symbolizing noble struggle. He has sold 75 million albums to date, making him one of the top-selling artists of all time. A sensitive, precociously talented and troubled soul, Tupac was gunned down in Las Vegas on September 7, 1996...

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Black History leaders, Black Men, Islam, Religion -

Elijah Muhammad rose from poverty to become the charismatic leader of the black nationalist group Nation of Islam, and mentor of Malcolm X and Louis Farrakhan. Who Was Elijah Muhammad? After moving to Detroit in 1923, Elijah Muhammad met W. D. Fard, founder of the black separatist movement Nation of Islam (NOI). Muhammad became Fard’s successor from 1934 until his death in 1975 and was known for his controversial preaching. His followers included Malcolm X and Louis Farrakhan. Early Years and Family Elijah Muhammad was born Elijah Robert Poole in Sandersville, Georgia, on October 7, 1897. He was one of 13 children...

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Actor, Black Men, chadwick boseman, Philanthropist -

Chadwick Boseman was an American actor known for his portrayals of Jackie Robinson in '42' and James Brown in 'Get on Up.' He also plays the superhero Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Who Was Chadwick Boseman? Chadwick Boseman had early success as a stage actor, writer and director, before landing gigs on TV shows like Lincoln Heights. Boseman broke through with his big screen portrayals of two African American icons: baseball player Jackie Robinson in 42, and soul singer James Brown in Get on Up. Boseman later took on the role of Black Panther for a series of Marvel superhero films, including the immensely successful Black Panther in...

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