1. William A. Harper, student of Henry O. Tanner at the Art Institute of Chicago, one of the most gifted African American artist of the early 20th century. A sculptor and painter, William Harper was the “first African-American artist to achieve significant critical success at the Art Institute of Chicago’s annual juried exhibition.” (Kennedy 119). Chicago newspapers provided much coverage of this event, describing his career as “meteoric” when in 1905, he won a blue ribbon from the Municipal Art League for their exhibition at the Institute.
2. Thelonious Sphere Monk, jazz pianist and composer considered “one of the giants of American music”. Monk had a unique improvisational style and made numerous contributions to the standard jazz repertoire, including “Epistrophy”, “‘Round Midnight”, “Blue Monk”, “Straight, No Chaser” and “Well, You Needn’t”. Monk is the second most recorded jazz composer after Duke Ellington, which is particularly remarkable as Ellington composed over 1,000 songs while Monk wrote about 70.
Often regarded as a founder of bebop, Monk’s playing later evolved away from that style. His compositions and improvisations are full of dissonant harmonies and angular melodic twists, and are consistent with Monk’s unorthodox approach to the piano, which combined a highly percussive attack with abrupt, dramatic use of silences and hesitations.
3. John Amos, actor and former football player. His television work includes roles in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Good Times, the miniseries Roots, and a recurring role in The West Wing. He has also appeared on Broadway and in numerous motion pictures in a career that spans four decades. He has received nominations for a Primetime Emmy Award and NAACP Image Award.
4. Theresa E. Randle, stage, film and television actress. In 1987, she got her first big-screen break with Maid To Order. For the next three years, she appeared (in small roles) in movies such as Easy Wheels (1989) and Heart Condition (1990), with Denzel Washington. She continued in small roles by directors like Abel Ferrara (King of New York (1990)) and Spike Lee (Jungle Fever (1991) and Malcolm X (1992)). She co-starred in CB4 (1993) with Chris Rock, Bad Boys (1995) with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, and its sequel Bad Boys II. In 1996, Theresa earned her first starring role in Spike Lee’s film Girl 6, playing a young out-of-work actress who gets caught up in the seductive yet dark world of phone sex.
5. Eva Maria LaRue, model and actress. She is best known as Doctor Maria Santos on All My Children, and is now a cast regular on CSI: Miami, portraying Detective Natalia Boa Vista of the Miami-Dade Police Department.