The Most Influential Black People in United States of America History (Part 1)

EnglishArtsteacher

Here in the United States of America(USA), the month of February is Black History Month. This month is to honor the most influential black people in the history of the USA, and honor those who made a difference in the country.

Just as a premise, I'm not a black person myself, and I'm not writing this as a way to virtue signal, and this isn't performative activism. I'm also not claiming this list to be the literal most influential black people in the history of the USA, and I'm not here to claim to understand, or know more about the struggles blacks have faced in the USA. Also, my list of black people may include black Hispanics, and mixed race people who have been recognized as "black" in society.

This is the first part of this list, and I will update this list weekly in the month of February, so let's get started.

Robert Sengstacke Abbott(1870-1940)-Founder of The Chicago Defender

The Most Influential Black People in United States of America History (Part 1)

Robert was Born just five years after the end of the Civil War. He founded a weekly newspaper, The Chicago Defender, one of the most important black newspapers in history, in 1905. Without Abbott, there would be no Essence, no Jet , no Black Enterprise, no The Source, no The Undefeated.

The success of The Chicago Defender made Abbott one of the nation’s most prominent postslavery black millionaires, along with beauty product magnate Madam C.J. Walker and paved the way for prominent black publishers such as Earl G. Graves, John H. Johnson and Edward Lewis.

The son of slaves, Abbott grew up with a half-German stepfather whose relatives eventually joined the Third Reich during the 1930s. Ironically enough, young Robert was taught to hate racial injustice, despite encountering it at every turn in his life, from his early foray into the printing business to his time in law school in Chicago, all the way to religious institutions.

An alum of Hampton University, Abbott was a catalyst for the Great Migration at the turn of the 20th century, when six-million African-Americans from the rural South moved to urban cities in the West, Northeast and Midwest, with 100,000 settling in Chicago. Like a politician promising tax breaks to out-of-state companies to inspire relocation, Abbott took it upon himself to lay out the welcome mat for the millions of blacks abandoning the Jim Crow South to head to the Windy City, where manufacturing jobs were awaiting as World War I approached.

What started off as 25 cents in capital and a four-page pamphlet distributed strictly in black neighborhoods quickly grew into a readership that eclipsed half a million a week at its peak, numbers that mirror the Miami Herald and Orlando Sentinel today. The paper’s rise in stature and circulation was due in large part to Abbott being a natural hustler. The Defender was initially banned in the South due to its encouragement of African-Americans to abandon the area and head North, but the Georgia native used a network of black railroad porters (who would eventually become the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters) to distribute the paper in Southern states.

Alvin Ailey(1931-1989)-Founder of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre

The Most Influential Black People in United States of America History (Part 1)

Alvin Ailey, the legendary modern dance pioneer, choreographer and civil rights artist-as-activist, left us his answers. Although Ailey died over 30 years ago, many of his best-known pieces have become as emblematic of vibrant, relevant American art as tap dance, jazz, the literature of Toni Morrison and hip-hop. Ailey explored issues of social justice, racism and spirituality in the African-American experience. This was during the height of the civil rights movement, when the notion of black classically trained dancers moving to the music of Duke Ellington, gospel, blues, Latin and African pop was truly revolutionary, if not unfathomable.

Born into poverty in Texas in 1931, Ailey drew from his emotional well of close-knit black churches, rural juke joints, fiery protest songs and a lonely childhood as a closeted gay man to fuel his passion for dance. He befriended many of his fellow mid-century American masters (Maya Angelou, Carmen De Lavallade, Merce Cunningham and Katherine Dunham, to name a few) while living in New York. After Ailey’s death from an AIDS-related illness in 1989, the company and school grew into the premier repository for emerging black choreographers, and is still the most popular dance touring company on the international circuit.

Muhammad Ali(1942-2016)-Former Professional Boxer

The Most Influential Black People in United States of America History (Part 1)

Muhammad Ali is arguably the greatest Boxer of all time.

Just over a month earlier than his debut, the heavyweight boxing champion refused to be drafted into the Vietnam War. As Ali awaited conviction for draft evasion and the revocation of his title, several African-American athletes, led by the NFL’s Jim Brown, convened a meeting with him in Cleveland.

Brown, fiercely independent himself, told The Cleveland Plain Dealer in 2012, “I felt with Ali taking the position he was taking, and with him losing the crown, and with the government coming at him with everything they had, that we as a body of prominent athletes could get the truth and stand behind Ali and give him the necessary support.”

There is a now iconic photograph of Ali and his newly formed “cabinet.” Flanked by eventual Hall of Famer Brown and eventual Hall of Famers Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then Lew Alcindor) the champ also had eventual Hall of Famers Willie Davis and Bobby Mitchell as well as attorney Carl Stokes (who would become Cleveland’s mayor and the first African-American mayor of a major city) behind him.

The united front in Cleveland also proved an inspiration for Martin Luther King Jr.

King praised Ali for his courage in one of his own most courageous statements about Vietnam: “Every young man in this country who believes that this war is abominable and unjust should file as a conscientious objector.”

As a boxer, his style, power, ring savvy and winning of an Olympic gold medal and the world heavyweight title three times was unprecedented.

He lost the heavyweight crown in 1971. His religious conversion to Islam only made him more resolute.

Ali’s professional record was 56–5 — but the fight that epitomizes his genius was the “Rumble in the Jungle,” the bout against heavyweight champion George Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire. Ali, at age 32, was the underdog. But Ali’s “rope-a-dope” technique baited Foreman into throwing wild punches and exhausting himself. In an eighth-round knockout, Ali reclaimed the heavyweight title that had been taken from him 10 years earlier.

At the memorial service held after his death on June 3, 2016, his widow, Lonnie Ali, said this: “Muhammad indicated that when the end came for him, he wanted us to use his life and his death as a teaching moment for young people, for his country and for the world.”

Maya Angelou(1928-2014)

The Most Influential Black People in United States of America History (Part 1)

Maya Angelou lived a life just as remarkable as the poetry and prose she crafted in her 86 years on this earth.

And it was the documentation of Angelou’s life that resonated with her audience and earned her a myriad of accolades, including three Grammy awards, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and a host of honorary degrees.

Despite horrific periods in her life, Angelou rose. At 8 years old, she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend. After being convicted, Angelou’s abuser was found beaten to death. The once garrulous girl from Stamps, Arkansas, silenced herself for nearly five years, believing that her voice had killed the man because she identified him to her family. Instead, she memorized poetry during her silence, rearranging cadences and reciting Shakespearean sonnets in her head.

With the help of a teacher, Angelou was able to speak again. She used literature to recover from trauma, but got pregnant at 16. She found work as San Francisco’s first African-American female cable car conductor and later worked in the sex trade and as a calypso singer to support her family. Angelou spoke honestly of her experiences, unashamed to walk in the truths of her past.


Later, she joined the Harlem Writers Guild and with help from friend and fellow author James Baldwin, went on to write "The Caged Bird Sings" in 1969 — the first in what would become a seven-volume, best-selling autobiographical series. Nearly a decade later, Angelou struck poetic gold with "And Still I Rise", a collection that remains one of her most important works.

Janae Girard(1998-Present)-Instagram Influencer

The Most Influential Black People in United States of America History (Part 1)

Born in Miami, Florida in 1998, she is the youngest person on this list so far.

Some may think it's controversial to put a half-Cuban Social Media Influencer, but her job is to literally influence people, and she does so in a positive way. She is an adamant activist of the Black Lives Matter(BLM) Movement, and she had led the way in her community to have petitions filed to prevent police brutality, and other forms of discrimination against blacks in the USA.

On top of this, she is a Christian, and participates actively in her church, and she does fashion modeling in various locations of the USA. She has really made a name for herself at just the age of 22 years old, yet, still spends time with her nieces, nephews, and other family members, as well as moral obligations within her community.

Serena Williams(1981-Present)-Professional Tennis Player

The Most Influential Black People in United States of America History (Part 1)

Born Sept. 26, 1981, in Saginaw, Michigan, and raised in Compton, California, Williams is the youngest of five daughters. Her father, a former sharecropper from Louisiana, learned from tennis books and videos how to coach his daughters Serena and older sister Venus. In daily two-hour practices, the Williams sisters worked themselves to the bone on a concrete court, avoiding potholes and often practicing without nets. Growing up in Compton meant developing a sense of fight — the same fight that would characterize their game on and off the court.

Williams transcended tennis, a historically white and demure sport, by being herself — with solid curves, a signature Afro-style ponytail, and an energetic style of play. What makes Williams’ career, spanning more than two decades, so remarkable is not a spotless record, but the spirit to rise above the criticism of her age, game, and body and set the standard for accomplishment in sports.

Her resume boasts 23 Grand Slam titles (the record), 6 U.S. Opens, 7 Wimbledon titles, 7 Australian Opens, 3 French Opens, 4 Olympic gold medals, 23 doubles titles, and a career Golden Slam. Williams has won enough awards for several lifetimes. With Tom Brady, Wayne Gretzky, LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Babe Ruth, Jimmy Johnson-while they are incredible in their sports, none of them have dominated their sports as much as Williams dominated her sport. Simply put-she's the greatest Female Tennis Player of all time.

The Most Influential Black People in United States of America History (Part 1)
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Most Helpful Guys

  • VanillaSalt
    I don’t support black history month. We can celebrate the birthdays of amazing men and women like Martin Luther king and Rosa parks. But the moment we devote entire months to a single race we’ve gone too far. Even celebrating their birthdays is a stretch. These people did ordinary things we do every day like give speeches and sit on a bus. They say their darkness as well. I’ve heard MLK was a real piece of work with women. We should celebrate the changes they brought either their menial actions. Nobody can denigrate a positive change where as people are filled with flaws people will explore to put down.


    Honestly one day, assuming we survive the bullshit of today’s times, we will no longer celebrate holidays celebrating equal rights. At this point we would find something like equality just such an obvious truth that celebrating it becomes irrelevant.
    Is this still revelant?
    • doopayo

      so In short you don’t support black history month because your race wasn’t included 😐?

    • Because only blacks race was included would be more accurate.

    • sydneyboy

      100% correct. Fuck this left propaganda.

    • Show All
  • SomeGuyCalledTom
    Interesting read, although I really have to disagree with putting an "Instagram influencer" up there. Ot takes no effort, talent, personal stake, or sacrifice to put up socially conscious posts on social media parroting whatever social cause is trendy. BLM is the most supported social justice movement in the world right now, it actually takes more guts to criticise BLM publicly than it takes to blindly support it. But anyway, I wasn't gonna take on a political bent here, I just think it's a dubious inclusion, although I don't know this particular individual's life story so who knows, maybe she's actually the black female reincarnation of Jesus Christ himself, and I just don't see it because her job title irritates me 😂
    Is this still revelant?

Most Helpful Girls

  • CocoBatFangs
    I'm sure you could find some better ones than uh...

    -newspaper guy

    -mating ritual center

    -guy that beats people up for lunch money

    -A poet, enough said.

    -baboon bum showoff

    -Hits a ball for money

    No millitary generals? Leaders? inventors? "philosphers"?
    Is this still revelant?
    • This is only part one.

    • Should part one not start off good? like a pilot? I guess not.

      What about Thomas Sowell? The 92nd Infantry Divisions?
      54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment? Martin Luther King?

  • Anonymous
    Stop calling it black history month. Its not my history
    Is this still revelant?
    • sydneyboy

      Agree

    • what's that mean?

    • Anonymous

      Call it African American history month or something you can't claim its black history month like it's my history the only thing I share with you is skin tone variation smh

    • Show All

Scroll Down to Read Other Opinions

What Girls & Guys Said

413
  • RolandCuthbert
    I just wanted to add;

    Everyone knows that one of the turning points of the Civil Rights movement was the murder of four "Black" little girls at a Church in Birmingham, Alabama.

    But I didn't know there was a fifth little girl who survived until recently.The Most Influential Black People in United States of America History (Part 1)Ms. Sarah Collins Rudolph, the fifth little "Black" girl.
  • Can't be that influential. I've only heard of two of them.
    • That doesn't mean they're not "that influential" though.

    • Imcmullan

      All are influential except that social media chick.. the rest are icons.. if you aren't from America then you may not have heard of them all. But that social media chick is an insult compared to the rest. She shouldn't even be on that list.. AT ALL.

    • @Imcmullan That's your opinion. I will agree she's not on the same level as the other people I mentioned in this take, but that doesn't mean she can't be influential.

    • Show All
  • Lion91
    Muhammed Ali for his Dedication in who he was and for what he believed in. He said,
    "Don't count the days; Make the Days count." Muhammed Ali was a great influencer to all even today 👏 🙌 👌 👍 😌 ❤
  • bamesjond0069
    This is racist. You are racist for posting this.

    Black people aren't so unimportant they need you to make up "influential positions" for them on their own. Pretty sure influential black people stack up just fine compared to everyone else. But I guess you have very low expectations for blacks and think they can't achieve recognition on their own, and can't be as influential as other races without lists like these. That is pathetic.
  • Dweezil
    Unlike Colin Kapernick, Cassius Clay did not preach his beliefs in the ring.

    He refused to enlist and paid the consequences with claiming he was a victim of racism.

    Whiney overpaid athletes of today need to look to Ali as a role model.
    • Dweezil

      Correction:

      Ali faced the consequences of his actions WITHOUT CLAIMING HE WAS A VICTIM OF RACISM.

  • Bee-Hatch
    I'll be honest I'm not American so i've heard of black history month but never seen it in action. Why is it February?
    • Because Abraham Lincoln, and Frederick Douglass were born in the month of February, and both of those historical figures were instrumental in advocating for equal rights, particularly among black people.

    • Bee-Hatch

      Makes sense. Thanks

  • Raveagit
    So in reverse order

    1 Elite ball-smacker
    2 Burn Loot Murder activist with the most silicone in her ass
    3 Broken home rape victim turned sex worker who quotes Shakespeare
    4 Beats people for money
    5 American Black mating ritual specialist
    6 Half-white man who bought an African women as a slave and married her in exchange for freeing her

    Wow what an inspiring list...

    No Economists? Scientists? Warriors? Inventors? Generals?
    What an incredibly degrading list. If I were black I would really start to question my races accomplishments if this is what I got told was what I had to be proud of constantly.
  • Miristheiss
    The Instagram Influencer? No.
    Got to have Martin Luther King
  • Wewladdy
    Blacks are a net loss on society if you actually bother to look at the statistics. Not to mention the fact that they appropriated tons of inventions from other people.
    • bro wtf

    • Wewladdy

      What do you want gorilla boy

    • what you want no flavor having ass white cracker boy

    • Show All
  • How about Douglas who taught himself to read? How about MLK Jr. ? How about Dr. J the greatest basketball player ever who brought all races together with respect.
  • BlckGrl
    Take that janae girl out
    • Why? Just curious.

    • Imcmullan

      Exactly... the day i consider a social media person influential among a community of anything or anyone will be the day I've literally gone dumb, deaf, and blind.

  • ik9999
    Where is Elon Musk the most successful African man?
  • Cool cool. Wheres Beyonce...
    • Who’s she?

    • DizzyDesii

      @Mangospacho more than we’ll ever be

    • I wish OP would address this too. When Beyoncé finds out about this, she’s going to be furious.

    • Show All
  • _no_one_
    Racism
  • monkeynutts
    Common on, you missed out Easy E. Or Dr Dre.
    • DizzyDesii

      Maybe if dre wasn't a wife beater

    • @DizzyDesii he feels bad about that, and I think he has grown, and changed. He never hit my wife so I won’t put him down about it.

    • This is only part one.

    • Show All
  • Anonymous
    Janae Girard? Seriously? LMAO!
  • Anonymous
    Why in the world would you include Janae Girard in this list? And why would you use a picture of her showing off her gargantuan ass like that? smh
    • Agreed.

    • Anonymous

      @RolandCuthbert Well that's a first.

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