A list of inspirational black people.
Martin Luther King (1929 – 1968) – King was a pivotal figure in the non-violent civil rights movement. During the 1950s and 1960s, he sought to improve race relations and overturn discrimination in American society. He is remembered for his powerful speeches which sought to bring about a united society – where race did not act as a barrier.
Nelson Mandela (1918 – 2013 ) – Mandela spent most of his life campaigning for an end to apartheid in South Africa. After over 20 years in prison, he was released and was able to be the first elected President in post apartheid South Africa. Also admired for his forgiveness and willingness to reach out to the white community in South Africa.
Desmond Tutu (1931 – ) Leading figurehead in the South African anti apartheid movement. Desmond Tutu is a leading figure in speaking out for humanitarian and civil rights issues.
Oliver Tambo (1917 – 1993). President of the ANC (1960 – 1990). Tambo was a leading figure in promoting international opposition to the apartheid regime in South Africa.
Mohammed Ali (1942 – ) Great boxer of the 1960s. Refused to fight in Vietnam. Then a controversial decision, he later became widely admired as a principled figure of great stature.
Kofi Annan (1938 – ) UN Secretary General from Ghana who served two terms. Widely admired for his skills of patience and diplomacy.
Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) A former slave, Douglass became a leading figurehead in the anti-slavery movement. One of the most prominent African American leaders of the Nineteenth Century. His autobiography of life as a slave, and his speeches denouncing slavery – were influential in changing public opinion.
Toussaint Louverture (1743 – 1803) Leader of Haitian slave revolt. In 1791 he led the successful military revolt in Saint-Domingue and over the next years consolidated his power and influence restoring the plantation system with paid labour. Louverture enabled the colony to end slavery and in 1804 declared itself the independent Republic of Haiti.
Barack Obama (1961- ) – First US President of African origin. Obama served two terms as President and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Malcolm X (1925-1965) – Member of the Nation of Islam which advocated black self-determination separation of black and white people. He later disavowed racism and the Nation of Islam.
Jesse Owens (1913-1980) (athletics) Won four Olympic Golds at ‘Hitler’s Olympics’, Berlin 1936. Owens maintained a dignified stance on civil rights, despite enduring discrimination during his life.
Pele (1940 – ) (Brazil, footballer) Pele was the greatest footballer of the century. Since retirement Pele become a global ambassador for sport and is a well known advocate of overcoming poverty.
Michael Jackson (1958 – 2009) – Musician and singer. Famous for albums such as ‘Bad’ and “Off the Wall”. Jackson was also a pioneer of music videos.
Michael Jordan (1963 – ) Perhaps greatest American Basketball player. 6*NBA champion.
Chinua Achebe (1930 – 2013) Best selling Nigerian novelist. He wrote the 1958 classic, ‘Things Fall Apart’
Haile Gebrselassie (1973 – ) Ethiopian record breaking distance runner.
Bob Marley Jamaican music star
Famous Black women
Sojourner Truth (1797 – 1883) African-American abolitionist and women’s rights campaigner. In 1851, gave a famous extemporaneous speech “Ain’t I a woman?” which supported equal rights for blacks and women.
Harriet Tubman (1822 – 1913) – Former slave who escaped and then helped many more to escape on the Underground Railroad.
Rosa Parks (1913 – 2005) – Instrumental in the US civil rights movement of the 1960s.
Oprah Winfrey (1954 – ) Influential US media personality with ground breaking chat show and own book club.
Wangari Muta Maathai Kenyan environmental and political activist. Awarded the Nobel peace prize 2004.
Tegla Laroupe (1973 – ) – Keynan long distance runner and global spokesperson for peace.
Mary Seacole (1805 – 1881) – nurse during Crimean war, contemporary of Florence Nightingale.
Maya Angelou. (1928 – 2014) American poet, writer and campaigner. Wrote poem for Bill Clinton’s inauguration ceremony which expressed the hopes and aspirations of a whole generation.
Deratu Tulu (1972 – ) (Ethiopia, athlete) The first Ethiopian female athlete to win Olympic gold. Tulu won gold at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics in the 10,000m.
Jackie Joyner-Kersee (1962-) US, athletics. One of the most successful female track and field athletes. Won Olympic gold in Heptathlon and Long Jump.
Serena Williams (1981 – ) (US, tennis) 19 single grand slam titles, 15 double titles. Also has won four Olympic gold medals.
Beyonce (1981 – ) (US, singer) American singer, songwriter, record producer and actress. One of best selling artists of modern era. Also noted for positions on women and civil rights.