1. Oscar Micheaux, Movie Producer/Writer/director and distributed his own movies, he is regarded as the first African-American feature filmmaker, and the most prominent producer of race films.
2. Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander, the first African American woman to receive a Ph.D. in the United States, the first woman to receive a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and was the first national president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated
3. John Hope Franklin, historian and past president of Phi Beta Kappa, the Organization of American Historians, the American Historical Association, and the Southern Historical Association. The John Matthews Manly Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at The University of Chicago, Franklin is best known for his work From Slavery to Freedom, first published in 1947, and continually updated. More than three million copies have been sold. In 1995, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
4. Arthur Prysock, jazz singer best known for his live shows and his baritone influenced by Billy Eckstine.
Born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Prysock moved to Hartford, Connecticut to work in the aircraft industry during World War II. In 1944 bandleader Buddy Johnson signed him as a vocalist, and Prysock became a mainstay of the live performance circuits. Prysock sang on several of Johnson’s hits on Decca Records (“Jet My Love”, 1947 and “I Wonder Where Our Love Has Gone”, 1948) and later on Mercury Records (“Because”, 1950).
In 1952 Prysock went solo and signed with Decca to record the R&B hit, “I Didn’t Sleep a Wink Last Night”. He recorded R&B classics like Roy Brown’s “Good Rocking Tonight”. In the sixties, Prysock joined Old Town Records and did an R&B cover of Ray Noble’s ballad “The Very Thought of You” (1960) and a pop hit “It’s Too Late Baby, It’s Too Late” (1965). For Verve Records he recorded “Arthur Prysock & Count Basie” (12, 13, 14, 20 and 21 December 1965, at Van Gelder Studios, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey), and “A Working Man’s Prayer” (1968).
5. Cuba Gooding Jr., actor. He is perhaps best known for his Academy Award-winning portrayal of Rod Tidwell in Cameron Crowe’s 1996 film Jerry Maguire, and his critically acclaimed performance as Tré Styles in John Singleton’s 1991 film Boyz n the Hood.
6. Royce Clayton, former Major League Baseball shortstop and occasional actor.
7. Scott Leo “Taye” Diggs, theatre, film and television actor. He is perhaps best known for his roles in the Broadway musical Rent, the motion picture How Stella Got Her Groove Back, and the television series Private Practice. His nickname, Taye, comes from the playful pronunciation of Scotty as “Scottay”.