Top 10 Most Influential Black People

This list showcases individuals who have significantly impacted our world across various fields. From politics and social justice to arts, sports, and science, these figures have left indelible marks on our society, often facing and overcoming immense challenges along the way.

When exploring this list, you're not just looking at names; you're delving into stories of perseverance, innovation, and trailblazing achievements. These are the men and women who have shaped history and culture, breaking barriers and setting new standards.

As you browse these names, consider the diverse criteria that might influence your votes. Impact on social and political movements, contributions to arts and culture, groundbreaking achievements in science and technology, or inspiring leadership in community and business sectors are all potential factors. Remember, each of these individuals has a unique story, and their influence extends beyond mere fame - it's about the legacy they've created and the paths they've paved for future generations.
The Top Ten
1 Martin Luther King Jr. Martin Luther King Jr. (born Michael King Jr.; January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an African American minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968. King is best known for advancing civil rights through... read more

My opinion is that this man, Martin Luther King Jr., is the most influential African American in black history. Without him, I would be on the streets being treated like crap, but instead, I'm in this classroom typing this paper about him. He changed the lives of us... The African Americans of America and cultures around that too.

I LOVE this guy! For real! I used to listen to his speech I Have a Dream all the time. At one point, we were learning about it in class and were split up into groups. We were told to pick someone to read the speech to the rest of the class, and this one guy decided to go. The entire time, I was pissing him off by saying the whole speech while he did it! LOL!

2 Malcolm X Malcolm X, born Malcolm Little and also known as el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz, was an American Muslim minister and human rights activist.

So fair, so just, so honorable, so truthful, so righteous, and so noble. Malcolm X was a fearless fighter and hero for human rights. From a middle school dropout to taking the case of civil rights to human rights to the UN, Malcolm X is a shining example of self-reliance, self-education, and self-determination. He spoke the truth even at the cost of his safety and, eventually, his life.

He was incorruptible and uncompromising in his quest to bring about justice, equality, and freedom for the oppressed African Americans and all victims of white colonialism and imperialism. Malcolm X taught the black man to love himself, to stand up for himself, and to depend on himself rather than the white man, which black people have been brainwashed to love more than their own people due to systematic racism and white supremacy that is still ongoing today.

3 Nelson Mandela Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013) was a South African anti-apartheid activist who served as the first president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the country's first black head of state and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election. His government... read more

In my opinion, he was the greatest black man of the new ages because he has done so much for his nation that no other black man has ever done. He sacrificed his own ego and put his race and country first instead of seeking his own revenge, which made his country so powerful and united.

This is a world icon. He should be number 1 because he stated, "I have fought against white domination, I have fought against black domination, and I have an ideal that we all could live as one and if need be, my lord, it is an ideal I am prepared to die for." He endured 27 years of imprisonment and still forgave the people who put him there. I know I could never endure that pain, but if you could, then maybe you should be on the list!

4 Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson Dwayne Douglas Johnson, also known by his ring name The Rock, is an American and Canadian actor, producer and semi-retired professional wrestler, signed with WWE.

He should be higher than Malcolm X, but still lower than Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr.

5 Michael Jackson Michael Jackson (Michael Joseph Jackson; August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009) was an American singer, dancer, and songwriter. He passed away from cardiac arrest caused by a propofol and benzodiazepine overdose on June 25, 2009. He donated (at least) a remarkable 500,000,000 dollars to charity. Michael... read more

It is said that he used his fortune amassed from his artistic success to donate over 300 million to charity and supported around 39 charities. He and Lionel Richie wrote a song that was responsible for saving millions of lives in Africa during the deep famine in the '80s. His legacy is not just his music. It is the message of unity, love, and brotherhood that will last for generations.

He also substantially changed the face of popular music and video in America and the world, breaking racial barriers every step of the way. From the chitlin circuit to owning the most valuable music catalog in the world, to breaking every musical record ever set, this man gave his all and did it with humility and love.

6 Rosa Parks Rosa Louise McCauley Parks was an African American civil rights activist, whom the United States Congress called "the first lady of civil rights" and "the mother of the freedom movement".

I feel as if the fact that she did something about the segregation of blacks and whites back then is just the courage and pride in self that is needed on a daily basis. Not to mention the fact that black women were also on their own, being overlooked by society.

She helped M.L.K. and was the major push for the civil rights movement when she refused to give up her seat in the black section when the white section was full.

Utter bravery which contributed to a sea change.

7 Barack Obama Barack Hussein Obama II (born August 4, 1961) is an American politician who served as the 44th president of the United States from 2009 to 2017. He was the first African-American president of the United States... read more

Barack Obama is the greatest president of my life (I'm 30). His Health Care Act provided healthcare to my father for $50 a month. He got the unemployment rate to the lowest it's almost ever been. He also saved the economy after Bush destroyed it in 2008. And this is coming from a liberal.

I would count him as first over Michael Jackson. He hasn't done too much for people, and people will always remember Barack Obama, but Michael Jackson will be long forgotten 50 years from now. Obama and Martin Luther King should be tied for first.

8 Thomas Sowell
9 Frederick Douglass Frederick Douglass was an African-American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman.

Frederick Douglass was really one of the first African Americans to stand up to the slavery institutions and degradations of the US. With his great intelligence and astute manner, he convinced many that his people deserved better. He really was the MLK of his day.

Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. would probably equate to what Frederick Douglass achieved in the 19th century. See his influence on Jefferson and Lincoln's abolition laws, then rate him. Surely in the top five.

Without Frederick, all those people above in the list might still be slaves. No offense.

10 Bob Marley Robert Nesta "Bob" Marley was a Jamaican reggae singer, songwriter, musician, and guitarist who achieved international fame and acclaim.

Marley should be on top of this list because he helped me change my views on other races. He is one of my idols and brought his message all over the world. His goal, which I want to surpass, reached billions and gave our people a good name. I want my talent to be worldwide like his. And whoever is reading this, I'm 14 now but remember this name - Jasiah Nasier Thomas x Creed. I will become the most successful black man in the world.

Couldn't get much more positive than Bob Marley! He's amazing!

Changed my views on the world. He also changed my thought process. If I become successful, he is partially to blame.

The Contenders
11 Oprah Winfrey Oprah Gail Winfrey is an American media proprietor, talk show host, actress, producer, and philanthropist.

Beaten and abused, Winfrey is one of the greatest talk show hosts of all time. She was even named the highest-paid female TV entertainer of 2010. She helps women all around the world with her charities, and she is one of the best talk show hosts to walk this earth.

Most people don't even understand the depth of why she has a channel called "OWN" and what she is telling you in that one word. Black people need to take heed of that.

Very successful woman. Is she hiding a lot of Hollywood secrets? Yes.

12 Muhammad Ali Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. (January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016) was an American professional boxer, activist, entertainer, poet, and philanthropist. Nicknamed The Greatest, he is widely regarded as one of the most significant and celebrated sporting figures of the 20th century, and... read more

He was one of the greatest because he not only fought against so many greats but also stood against the dictatorship of the US government. He kept his mind clean and his thoughts too. He was the greatest boxer ever born and, despite all odds, he always proved to be No. 1.

He gave so many people confidence in themselves, irrespective of what they were going through. He was honestly an ambassador of self-worth. If you have love and confidence in yourself, you can achieve your goals.

13 Fred Hampton
14 Cynthia McKinney
15 Jesse Lee Peterson
16 Angela Davis
17 Allen West
18 Tupac Shakur Tupac Amaru Shakur, also known as 2Pac, was an American rapper and actor born on June 16, 1971 in East Harlem, New York. Tupac sold over 75 million records worldwide and has been referred to in multiple major publications such as Rolling Stone as one of the greatest music artists of all time. 2Pac was... read more

This man changed my life. A man who called it how he saw something, and wasn't afraid to speak his mind. All those that considered him a gangster are wrong - he was not only a rapper, he was an activist. He strived to make a change in the world and to try to bring black and white people together. And boy, did he.

His influence follows me every day. Whenever I get angry or sad, I listen to Tupac's music, telling me, "You've got to keep your head up." R.I.P. Tupac Shakur.

Songs like Keep Ya Head Up, Dear Mama, Brenda's Got A Baby, If My Homie Calls, Life Goes On, Changes, Letter 2 My Unborn Child, Lord Knows, I Wonder If Heaven's Got A Ghetto, Trapped, It Ain't Easy, Nothing To Lose, Holler If Ya Hear Me, The Lunatic, So Many Tears, and many others are the perfect examples of how Tupac was a revolutionary.

In the beginning, Thug Life was a movement that Tupac created. It had several rules that significantly helped to reduce the rate of crime and murder in many cities and prisons in the USA. The words and poems of this man helped a lot of people. More than the best rapper ever, he was a visionary with a great future. R.I.P. Tupac.

19 Dr. Ben Carson Benjamin Solomon "Ben" Carson, Sr. is a retired American neurosurgeon and former candidate for President of the United States.

Amazing influence and example set by a black man trapped in poverty who became one of the greatest surgeons ever, specializing in saving children's lives. Haters need to check themselves.

Worked himself up from extreme poverty to become one of the best surgeons in the world. A perfect example for others to follow.

Maybe as far as being a surgeon goes. Definitely not as a politician.

20 Clarence Thomas
21 Morgan Freeman Morgan Freeman (born June 1, 1937) is an American actor, director and narrator. He has appeared in a range of film genres portraying character roles and is particularly known for his distinctive deep voice. Freeman won an Academy Award in 2005 for Best Supporting Actor with Million Dollar Baby (2004),... read more

He is a very charming person who relates to everyone. Always friendly and clear about what he wants or is doing.

22 Michael Jordan Michael Jeffrey Jordan, also known by his initials, MJ, is an American retired professional basketball player.

He is the most famous and respected black person ever. Who else on this list could be known by an image around the world?

He slam-dunked his way to black victory. Nice one, Mike.

23 James Baldwin
24 Larry Elder
25 Chuck Berry Charles Edward Anderson "Chuck" Berry was an American guitarist, singer and songwriter, and one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. He died on 18 March 2017.
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