Black people are and have been doing it big, not only for African-Americans but for the nation and the world. Below are ten African-Americans who are making history…right now.
Be inspired, be empowered, chase your dreams, and don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do. We are great, we are powerful, we can do anything we set our minds too…we can do the impossible. This list serves to remind you of your greatness and of who you are! Happy Black History Month!
Here are 10 current-day African Americans who are making Black History
Not to knock Venus because she should be on this list too and has made American history in her own right, but in deference to the current number one female tennis player Serena, the praise goes to her. Serena has been the world number one female tennis player seven times, has 23 grand slam titles, 14 doubles grand slam titles with Venus, and is regarded by many as the greatest female tennis player of all-time. In addition to her many accomplishments in tennis and as an entrepreneur, Serena also has a philanthropic side and serves as a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) good will ambassador and the founder of the Serena Williams foundation which builds schools in Africa among other projects.
If you don’t know who and what the “Awkward Black Girl” (ABG) web series is, you need to get clued in. The creator of ABG is Issa Rae, an American actress, writer, director, producer and web series creator. Since the launch of Awkward Black Girl, Rae developed her own YouTube platform where she features various content created by and featuring people of color. Rae’s shows have garnered over 20 million views and over 200,000 subscribers on YouTube. In 2016, Rae was tapped by HBO to create a new series entitled Insecure. Rae is the creator, co-writer and star of Insecure, which is partially based on Awkward Black Girl. Issa Rae is also a New York Time’s best seller’s list author for her book “The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl”.
Donald Glover is an artistic savant. He is an actor, writer, producer, director, comedian, rapper, singer, and songwriter. As a recording artist, he usually performs under the stage name Childish Gambino, and as a disc jockey, he performs under the name mcDJ. Glover first came to attention for his work with Derrick Comedy and, with the help of Tina Fey, was hired at the age of 23 to become a writer for the NBC comedy series 30 Rock. He later played college student Troy Barnes on the NBC sitcom Community. Glover currently stars in the FX series he also created Atlanta. He has been cast as the young Lando Calrissian in the upcoming, untitled standalone Han Solo Star Wars movie. He will also appear in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Cory Booker is an American politician and the junior United States Senator from New Jersey, in office since 2013. Booker is considered one of the most prominent and important Democrats in New Jersey. Previously, he served as mayor of Newark from 2006 to 2013 where one of his major accomplishments was improving and investing in the public education system. He attended Stanford University, where he played college football and received a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a Master of Arts in sociology, before earning a Rhodes Scholarship to attend the University of Oxford. Upon returning home, he received his Juris Doctor from Yale Law School. Some think he is on the path to become the next “Barry O”…I guess time will tell!
Michael Eric Dyson is an African-American academic, author, and radio host. He is a professor of Sociology at Georgetown University. He has been described as “a Princeton Ph.D. and a child of the streets who takes pains never to separate the two.” Dyson has authored or edited 18 books dealing with subjects such as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., Marvin Gaye, Nas’ debut album Illmatic, Bill Cosby, Tupac Shakur, Hurricane Katrina and has been a prolific contributor to the New York Times and other media outlets like NPR and C-SPAN. I have heard Professor Dyson speak several times in different settings and on different subjects and I consider him the “hood professor”, meant in the most respectful way possible. He brings the streets to academia and forever stays true to who he is, his people, and where he comes from; and is one of very few people I’ve seen who can straddle both worlds with ease.
Shonda Rhimes is an American television producer, screenwriter and author. She is best known as the creator, head writer, executive producer, and show-runner of the television medical drama Grey’s Anatomy, its spin-off Private Practice, and the political thriller series Scandal, all of which have aired on ABC. Rhimes has also served as the executive producer of the ABC television series Off the Map, How to Get Away with Murder, and The Catch. In 2007, Rhimes was named one of Time magazine’s 100 People Who Help Shape The World, and in 2015, she published a memoir, Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person, and in my opinion a must read. What I love most about Shonda is that she is bringing “black” stories into the mainstream and with a quickness demonstrates that “black” stories are ALL of our stories.
Ava DuVernay is quickly becoming everyone’s favorite American director, screenwriter, film marketer, and film distributor. At the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, DuVernay won the Best Director Prize for her second feature film Middle of Nowhere, becoming the first African-American woman to win the award. For her work in Selma, DuVernay was the first black female director to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award. With Selma, she was also the first black female director to have her film nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, though she was not nominated for Best Director. More recently we know and love her work on Queen Sugar and the must see documentary 13TH.
Mae C. Jemison is the first African-American female astronaut. On June 4, 1987, she became the first African-American woman to be admitted into the astronaut training program. On September 12, 1992, Jemison finally flew into space with six other astronauts aboard the Endeavour on mission STS47, becoming the first African-American woman in space. During her eight days in space, she conducted experiments on weightlessness and motion sickness on the crew and herself. In all, she spent more than 190 hours in space before returning to Earth on September 20, 1992. Following her historic flight, Jemison noted that society should recognize how much both women and members of other minority groups can contribute if given the opportunity. After leaving the astronaut corps in March 1993, Jemison accepted a teaching fellowship at Dartmouth. She also established the Jemison Group, a company that seeks to research, develop and market advanced technologies.
Neil deGrasse Tyson is an American astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, and science communicator. Since 1996, he has been the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space in New York City. The center is part of the American Museum of Natural History, where Tyson founded the Department of Astrophysics in 1997 and has been a research associate in the department since 2003. I know him best from the awesome 2014 National Geographic series, “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey”. If you haven’t seen this series and have an interest in space, astronomy, and astrology you need to check it out and make your kids watch too, you won’t regret it.
Jesse Williams is an American actor, model, and activist, best known for his role as Dr. Jackson Avery on the ABC Television series Grey’s Anatomy. He also appears in the 2013 film Lee Daniels’ The Butler as real life civil rights leader Rev. James Lawson. Jesse Williams has done what I wish more famous people would do and that is use his star power to bring light to important social and political issues. Williams is the youngest member of the board of directors at The Advancement Project, a civil rights think tank and advocacy group. He is also the executive producer of Question Bridge: Black Males, a multifaceted media project, art exhibition, student and teacher curriculum and website, focused on the black male identity and the diversity within the demographic. He has written articles for CNN and The Huffington Post and has been a guest on CNN program, The Situation Room. In June 2016, Williams won the humanitarian award at the 2016 BET Awards, delivering a speech highlighting racial injustice and police brutality.
BMWK – who else should be add to this list?