In 1994, this Harvard grad was appointed as assistant attorney general for civil rights. Aside from being the first African-American governor of Massachusetts, Patrick has also been recognized as a leader of the largest criminal investigation when he cochaired the task force investigating several arsons of synagogues and African-American churches in the South.
Walker has written one of the most influential books in African-American literature of our time, “The Color Purple.” Other than being the author of the aforementioned Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, this high school valedictorian is a poet and has had her works translated into a dozen languages.
This activist was responsible for helping to mold the image of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and organizing the 1963 March on Washington. Despite bringing Ghandi’s peaceful protest methods to the Civil Rights Movement, Rustin was criticized for being an openly gay man. Though often overlooked, Rustin’s contributions to both movements were significant.
Thomas was assigned to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., by President George H. W. Bush in 1990, but it was when Thurgood Marshall retired that he was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1991.
There are many things to say about this human rights activist. Evers, the first field officer in Mississippi of the NAACP, stood up for civil rights until his last days. It was Evers’s assassination that motivated President John F. Kennedy to request a civil rights bill.
Keyes, who received his Ph.D. in government from Harvard University, ran for president of the United States in 1996, 2000 and in this past presidential election. Known as “America’s Revival,” Keyes was Ronald Reagan’s ambassador to the United Nations Economic and Social Council in 1983. The former MSNBC commentary-show host is an avid speaker on the nation’s moral issues.
A campaign manager for Jesse Jackson during the presidential race in 1988, Waters is a major figure in politics today. In 1990, she was one of the few African-American representatives to be elected into Congress and six years later was appointed as chair to the Congressional Black Caucus.
Inaugural writer and contemporary author Angelou is truly a renaissance woman. Known as one of the most insightful women in literature, Angelou was the northern coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference as requested by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She became the first Black woman director in Hollywood and was nominated for a Tony for her performance in “Roots.”
Bronx native and Vietnam battalion commander Powell was integral in the both of the Bush administrations. In 2001, the Purple Heart recipient was the first African-American to hold one of the highest offices in the U.S. Government as Secretary of State.
Birmingham, Alabama, native Rice became the sixty-sixth secretary of state in 2005 and is the second woman to hold that title. The daughter of two college professors also served as national security advisor during George W. Bush’s second term.
Dynamic duo Dee and Davis are two of the most influential actors in Black Hollywood. Dee, a breast cancer survivor for more than 30 years, has appeared in over 50 movies. Davis, who along with his wife was known as a civil rights advocate, delivered the eulogy for Malcolm X after his assassination in 1965. The two appeared in numerous movies together and opened doors for many.
This man holds many titles: author, politician, minister and radio talk-show host, just to name a few. Not only does Sharpton, who ran for president in 2004, advocate for the rights of African-Americans, but for the fairness of all people.
Harlem Renaissance writer Hurston was the author of the controversial yet extraordinary 1937 novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” Hurston, one of the most noteworthy African-American authors of the twentieth century, also wrote a small collection of children’s books.
In 1992, Moseley Braun became the first African-American woman in the United States Senate. After failing to be re-elected in 1998, the former Illinois senator was appointed as the U.S. ambassador to New Zealand by President Bill Clinton. She also ran for president in 2004.
In 1990, this Howard University Law School alum became the first African-American to be elected as governor in the United States. After a short hiatus, the Virginia governor re-entered the world of politics in 2004 as the mayor of Richmond.
Epic novelist Toni Morrison made her first appearance as a writer in 1970. In 1993, Toni Morrison became the first African-American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Literature. Among many other classic books, the author wrote “Beloved,” which is one of the most celebrated novels in fiction.
We haven’t seen someone stir up so much excitement about change since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Obama is a man of many firsts. The 2004-elected Illinois Senator is the first Black presidential candidate for a major political party. He was also the first Black president of the Harvard Law Review.