1. Prince Hall, Revolutionary War Veteran, abolitionist and a leader of the free black community in Boston. Hall tried to gain New England’s enslaved and free blacks a place in some of the most crucial spheres of society, Freemasonry, education and the military. He is considered the founder of “Black Freemasonry” in the United States, known today as Prince Hall Freemasonry. Hall formed the African Grand Lodge of North America. Prince Hall was unanimously elected its Grand Master and served until his death in 1807. He also lobbied tirelessly for education rights for black children and a back-to-Africa movement. Many historians regard Prince Hall as one of the more prominent African American leaders throughout the early national-period of the United States.
2. Marian Anderson, The Greatest Contralto in the Worldand one of the most celebrated singers of the twentieth century. Music critic Alan Blyth said “Her voice was a rich, vibrant contralto of intrinsic beauty.” Most of her singing career was spent performing in concert and recital in major music venues and with major orchestras throughout the United States and Europe between 1925 and 1965. Although she was offered contracts to perform roles with many important European opera companies, Anderson declined all of these, preferring to perform in concert and recital only. She did, however, perform opera arias within her concerts and recitals. She made many recordings that reflected her broad performance repertoire of everything from concert literature to lieder to opera to traditional American songs and spirituals.
3. Dexter Gordon, jazz tenor saxophonist and an Academy Award-nominated actor (Round Midnight. Warner Bros, 1986). He is regarded as one of the first and most important musicians to adapt the bebop musical language of people like Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Bud Powell to the tenor saxophone. Gordon is one of the most influential and iconic figures in Jazz and is largely credited for establishing the classic, modern sound and stylistic concept for the saxophone in general, and the tenor in particular. His studio and live performance career were both extensive and multifaceted, spanning over 50 years in recorded jazz history.
4. Charlayne Hunter-Gault, journalist and foreign correspondent for National Public Radio, and the Public Broadcasting Service.
In 1961, Athens, Georgia witnessed part of the civil rights movement when Charlayne Hunter and Hamilton Holmes became the first two African American students to enroll in the University of Georgia. Upon her graduation in 1963, she became the university’s first black graduate.
In 1967, she joined the investigative news team at WRC-TV, Washington, D.C., and also anchored the local evening news. In 1968, Charlayne joined The New York Times as a metropolitan reporter specializing in coverage of the urban African American community. She joined The MacNeil/Lehrer Report in 1978 as a correspondent, and became The NewsHour’s national correspondent in 1983. She left The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer in June 1997. She worked in Johannesburg, South Africa as National Public Radio’s chief correspondent in Africa from 1997 to 1999. Hunter-Gault recently left her post as CNN’s Johannesburg bureau chief and correspondent, which she had held since 1999.
During her association with The NewsHour, Hunter-Gault has won additional awards: two Emmys, and a Peabody for excellence in broadcast journalism for her work on Apartheid’s People, a NewsHour series on South Africa. She also received the 1986 Journalist of the Year Award from the National Association of Black Journalists; the 1990 Sidney Hillman Award; the Good Housekeeping Broadcast Personality of the Year Award; the American Women in Radio and Television Award; and two awards from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for excellence in local programming.
Hunter-Gault is author of In My Place (1992), a memoir about her experiences at the University of Georgia. She currently lives in Massachusetts and is working on a first-person memoir detailing the struggle of African Americans in the 1960s.
5. Stoney Jackson, actor, was featured in numerous teen magazines in the 1970s and 1980s, including Right On, Teen Beat, and Tiger Beat. He portrayed high school basketball player Jesse Mitchell on the ensemble series The White Shadow, and Travis Fillmore on the sitcom 227. Notably, he was one of the more visible dancers in Michael Jackson’s Beat It, one of the most popular music videos of all time. He appeared in the video “I Can Dream About You” by Dan Hartman as the lead vocalist of the group “The Sorels,” from the film “Streets of Fire” in 1984, along with actors Grand L. Bush, Robert Townsend, & Mykelti Williamson
Stoney also appeared in the film CB4 with actors Chris Rock, and Allen Payne, where Jackson played a minor role as Wacky Dee, a take off on freedom williams.
6. James Worthy, a retired Hall of Fame American college and professional basketball player. Named as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History, “Big Game James” was a seven time NBA All-Star and three time NBA champion. A standout for the North Carolina Tar Heels, the 6 ft 9 in (2.05 m) small forward was the MOP of the 1982 NCAA Tournament and #1 pick of the 1982 NBA Draft.
Worthy was an All-American high school basketball player at Ashbrook High School in Gastonia, North Carolina. Worthy averaged 21.5 points and 12.5 rebounds during his senior season, for a team that lost in the state championship game.
7. Chilli (Rozonda Ocelean Thomas), R&B singer and actress who rose to fame as one third of the successful R&B/Hip-Hop/Pop girl group TLC. “Waterfalls“