1. Mahalia Jackson, gospel singer. Possessing a powerful contralto voice,she was referred to as “The Queen of Gospel”. Jackson became one of the most influential gospel singers in the world, and was heralded internationally as a singer and civil rights activist; entertainer Harry Belafonte called her “the single most powerful black woman in the United States”. She recorded about 30 albums (mostly for Columbia Records) during her career, and her 45 rpm records included a dozen “golds”—million-sellers
2. Edward Brooke, U.S. Senator 1967–1979, Republican from Massachusetts. Politician and was the first African American to be elected by popular vote to the United States Senate when he was elected as a Republican from Massachusetts in 1966, defeating his Democratic opponent,Endicott Peabody, 60.7%–38.7%. He was also the first African American elected to the Senate since the 19th century, when selection came from state legislatures, and would remain the only person of African heritage sent to the Senate in the 20th century until Democrat Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois in 1993, and was the last Republican Senator elected from Massachusetts until the 2010 election of Scott Brown. He is also the only African American reelected to the Senate.
3. William (Bootsy) Collins, Musician (Bootsy’s Rubber Band/Parliament), funk bassist, singer, and songwriter. Rising to prominence with James Brown in the late 1960s, and with Parliament-Funkadelic in the ’70s, Collins’s driving bass guitar and humorous vocals established him as one of the leading names in funk.Collins is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, inducted in 1997 with fifteen other members of Parliament-Funkadelic.
4. Vice Admiral Regina Marcia Benjamin, USPHS, physician who serves as the 18th Surgeon General of the United States. Dr. Benjamin previously directed a nonprofit primary care medical clinic in Bayou La Batre,Alabama.
1. Edith Spurlock Sampson, was a Lawyer and judge, and the first Black Woman Delegate appointed to the United Nations. She studied law while working as a social worker in Chicago, taking night courses at John Marshall Law School,
2. Arnaud Wendell Bontemps, Was a Writer (100 years of Negro Freedom), Poet and a noted member of the Harlem Renaissance.
3. Art Tatum, jazz pianist and virtuoso who played with phenomenal facility despite being nearly blind. Tatum is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time. He came from a musical family and when younger had some formal training at the Toledo School of Music, however he was largely self-taught. His teacher there recognized his talents and tried to steer him towards as a career as a classical concert pianist. Tatum was more interested in the music of Fats Waller, which would be a strong influence on his music. At 18 he was playing interludes at a local radio station and within a short period of time he had his own show. In 1932 he was heard by the singer Adelaide Hall who brought him to New York as her accompanist. One year later he made his first recordings, among which was “Tiger Rag”. This song which features breakneck tempo and rippling left- and right-hand cascades and crashing bass notes had every pianist in the country amazed by his astonishing dexterity. While in New York he established his reputation in “cutting contests” with other top pianists, which he never lost. He spent the next few years playing in Cleveland, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles and even England in 1938. During this time he established himself as a major figure in jazz circles. In the early 1940s Tatum formed an extremely popular trio with bassist Slam Stewart and guitarist Tiny Grimes. He spent much of the next decade touring North America. In 1953 Tatum signed by producer Norman Granz and recorded extensively both as a soloist and in small groups with Benny Carter, soloist and in small groups with Benny Carter, Buddy De Franco, Roy Eldridge, Lionel Hampton, Ben Webster and others. His incredible talent allowed him to be extremely productive during this time. Ray Spencer in his biography, noted that Tatum was constantly “refining and honing down after each performance until an ideal version remained needing no further adjustments”. This allowed him to achieve a remarkable work rate. For example, his solo sessions for Granz were mostly completed in two days. That is a total of 69 tracks and all but three of them needed only one take.
4. Jesse Leroy Brown, was the first African-American naval aviator in the United States Navy. Brown enlisted in the Naval Reserve in 1946 and was appointed a Midshipman, at the Ohio State University NROTC the following year. After attending Navy pre-flight school and flight training, he was designated a Naval Aviator in October 1948. Midshipman Brown was then assigned to Fighter Squadron 32. He received his commission as Ensign in April 1949.
5. Ray Brown, Jazz Bassist, had piano lessons from the age of eight. After noticing how many pianists attended his high school, he thought of taking up the trombone, but was unable to afford one. With a vacancy in the high school jazz orchestra, he took up the upright bass.
6. Shirley Caesar, Evangelist, Gospel Singer, songwriter and recording artist whose career has spanned six decades. A multi-award winning artist, with eleven Grammy Awards and seven Dove Awards to her credit, she is known as “First Lady of gospel”.
7. Pharaoh Sanders, is a Grammy Award–winning American jazz saxophonist. Emerging from John Coltrane’s groups of the mid-60s Sanders is known for his overblowing, harmonic, and multi phonic techniques on the saxophone, as well as his use of “sheets of sound.”
8. Demond Wilson, is an actor, author, and pastor. He is best known for his role opposite Redd Foxx as Fred Sanford’s son, Lamont Sanford, in the 1970s NBC-TV sitcom Sanford and Son.
9. Reggie Theus, is an assistant coach for the Minnesota Timberwolves. He is also a retired basketball player and the former head coach for the NBA’s Sacramento Kings.
10. Jerry Rice, is a retired football wide receiver. He is generally regarded as the greatest wide receiver of all time and one of the greatest players in National Football League history. On November 4, 2010, Rice was chosen by NFL Network’s NFL Films production The Top 100: NFL’s Greatest Players as the greatest player in NFL history.
The all-time leader in most major statistical categories for wide receivers and the all-time NFL leader in touchdowns scored with 208, Rice was selected to the Pro Bowl 13 times (1986–1996, 1998, 2002) and named All-Pro 11 times in his 20 NFL seasons. He won three Super Bowl rings playing for the San Francisco 49ers and an AFC Championship with the Oakland Raiders.
11. Tisha Michelle Campbell-Martin, is an actress and singer, known for her starring roles in television series Martin and My Wife and Kids and now is starring in the new television series “The Protector”. Apart from her achievements in television, she also has notable accomplishments in film (including the House Party franchise), theater, and music.
12. Ashanti, Ashanti Shequoiya Douglas, Rapp and R&B recording artist, record producer and actress who rose to fame in the early 2000s and then largely faded from view. Ashanti is most famous for her eponymous debut album, which featured the hit song “Foolish”, and sold over 503,000 copies in its first week of release throughout the U.S. in April 2002. The album set a Soundscan record as the biggest opening week sales for a new female artist. In the same week, she became the first female performer to simultaneously hold the top two places on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart with “Foolish”, and “What’s Luv?” (with Fat Joe). Ashanti broke records again by having three top ten songs, “Foolish,” “What’s Luv?” and “Always on Time”, on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in the same week, being the first woman to accomplish this feat. In 2003, the self-titled debut album won Ashanti her first Grammy Award for Best Contemporary R&B album. As of 2011, she has sold more than 30 million albums.
1. William Sill, Chronicler of The Underground Railroad Records, abolitionist, conductor on the Underground Railroad, writer, historian and civil rights activist.
2. Sargent Claude Johnson, Harlem Renaissance Sculptor, was one of the first Californian African-American artists to achieve a national reputation. He was known for Abstract Figurative and Early Modern styles. He was a painter, potter, ceramist, printmaker, graphic artist, sculptor, and carver. He worked with a variety of media, including ceramic, clay, oil, stone, terra-cotta, watercolor, and wood.
3. Clarence Muse, an actor, screenwriter, director, composer, and lawyer. He was inducted in the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame in 1973. Muse was the first African American to “star” in a film. He acted for more than sixty years, and appeared in more than 218 movies.
4. Elijah Muhammad (born Elijah Robert Poole), was a religious leader, and led the Nation of Islam from 1934 until his death in 1975. Muhammad was a mentor to Malcolm X, Louis Farrakhan, Muhammad Ali; and his son Warith Deen Mohammed.
5. Desmond Tutu, is a South African activist and retired Anglican bishop who rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid. He was the first black South African Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa and primate of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa (now the Anglican Church of Southern Africa).
6. Toni Braxton, R&B singer, songwriter and actress. Braxton has won six Grammy Awards, seven American Music Awards, and five Billboard Music Awards and has sold over 60 million records worldwide.
7. Omar Benson Miller, actor. He has played minor roles in various television shows and movies, including Sex, Love & Secrets, American Pie Presents: Band Camp, Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, The Express, Transformers and 8 Mile.
Miller has signed on as a CSI: Miami regular. Starting October 5, 2009, Miller is appearing on the crime drama as Walter Simmons, a Louisiana native and art theft specialist who joins the team led by Horatio (David Caruso).
1. Nat Turner, Slave Revolt Leader/Abolistionist was an slave who led a slave rebellion in Virginia on August 21, 1831 that resulted in 56 white deaths and over 55 black deaths,the largest number of fatalities to occur in one uprising prior to the American Civil War in the southern United States. He gathered supporters in Southampton County, Virginia. White backlash resulted in the state executing 56 blacks accused of being part of Turner’s slave rebellion. Two hundred blacks were also beaten and killed by white militia mobs and thugs. As if that wasn’t enough retribution, Virginia and other southern state legislators passed new laws prohibiting education of slaves and free blacks, restricting rights of assembly and other civil rights for free blacks, and requiring white ministers to be present at black worship services.
2. Robert H. Lawrence, Jr., was born. He became an astronaut and pilot. He was the first African American selected for space travel.
3. Johnny L. Cochran, Jr. lawyer best known for his leadership role in the defense and criminal acquittal of O. J. Simpson for the alleged murder of his former wife Nicole Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.
Cochran also represented Sean Combs (during his trial on gun and bribery charges), Michael Jackson, rapper Tupac Shakur, actor Todd Bridges, football player Jim Brown, rapper Snoop Dogg, former heavyweight Champion Riddick Bowe, 1992 Los Angeles riot beating victim Reginald Oliver Denny, and Rosa Parks.
He also represented athlete Marion Jones when she faced charges of doping during her high school track career. Cochran was known for his skill in the courtroom and his prominence as an early advocate for victims of police brutality.
4. Avery Brooks, is an American actor, jazz musician, opera singer and college professor. Brooks is perhaps best known for his television roles as Benjamin Sisko on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and as Hawk on Spenser: For Hire and its spinoff A Man Called Hawk, and in the Academy Award-nominated film American History X.
5. Ernest Riles, is a former shortstop and third baseman in Major League Baseball. From 1985 through 1993, Riles played for the Milwaukee Brewers (1985–1988), San Francisco Giants (1988–1990), Oakland Athletics (1991), Houston Astros (1992) and Boston Red Sox (1993). He batted left-handed and threw right-handed.
6 Melissa Victoria Harris-Perry ( Melissa Harris-Lacewell) is an American author and political commentator with a focus on African-American politics.
She is a professor of political science at Tulane University. Prior to that, she was an associate professor of politics and African-American studies at Princeton University from 2006 to 2010, and taught political science at the University of Chicago from 1999 to 2005. She is also an award winning author and appears regularly on MSNBC and other media venues.
1. John Roy Lynch, Army Officer, Lawyer and Politician. Born into slavery near Vidalia, La. Lynch would be among the first group of blacks to serve in the United States Congress after slavery was abolished. He represented the state of Mississippi. Lynch would even serve as temporary chairman of the Republican Party National Convention. During this period, the Republicans were the more progressive and open-to-blacks party. As the period of Reconstruction faded and Southern politicians made it virtually impossible for blacks to remain in political office, Lynch moved to Chicago and practiced law.
2. Jamer Roy Brown, Singer and Pianist, pioneering Rhythm & Blues singer, songwriter and musician who had a primary influence on the early development of rock & roll music. Brown sang R&B tunes with a gospel feel, the first blues singer to do so. Although many historians and fans consider Clyde McPhatter the main singer to infuse the gospel sound into R&B, Brown started the trend of combining the church sound into R&B. The “call and response” and shouting gospel style was limited to the church prior to Brown’s arrival to the music scene. After Brown’s debut, it became the standard. His seminal “Good Rocking Tonight” was covered by many. In addition, his melismatical pleading, gospel-steeped delivery impacted the vocal styles of B.B. King, Bobby Bland, Jackie Wilson and Little Richard, among others. His role as a crucial link between postwar R&B and rock’s initial rise is severely underappreciated by the masses.
3. Roy Ayers, funk, soul, and jazz composer and vibraphone player. Ayers began his career as a post-bop jazz artist, releasing several albums with Atlantic Records, before his tenure at Polydor Records beginning in the 1970s, during which he helped pioneer jazz-funk . You may remember the Disco Hit “Freaky Deaky”
4. Antonio Hardy, better known by his stage name Big Daddy Kane, is an Rapp Artist who started his career in 1986 as a member of the rap group the Juice Crew. He is widely considered to be one of the most influential and skilled MC’s in Hip Hop
1. Charles H. Houston, lawyer, Dean of Howard University Law School and NAACP Litigation Director who played a significant role in dismantling the Jim Crow laws and trained future Supreme Court JusticeThurgood Marshall.
Houston started at Amherst College in 1911, was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa honor society, and graduated as valedictorian in 1915. He returned to D.C. to teach at Howard University. As the U.S. entered World War I, Houston joined the then racially segregated U. S. Army as an officer and was sent to France. He returned to the U.S. in 1919, and began attending Harvard Law School. He was a member of the Harvard Law Review and graduated cum laude.
Going on to become known as “The Man Who Killed Jim Crow.”he played a role in nearly every civil rights case before the Supreme Court between 1930 and Brown v. Board of Education (1954). Houston’s plan to attack and defeat Jim Crow segregation by demonstrating the inequality in the “separate but equal” doctrine from the Supreme Court’s Plessy v. Ferguson decision as it pertained to public education in the United States was the masterstroke that brought about the landmark Brown decision.
2. Memphis Slim (John Len Chatman), blues pianist, singer, and composer. He led a series of bands that, reflecting the popular appeal of jump blues, included saxophones, bass, drums, and piano. A song he first cut in 1947, “Every Day I Have the Blues”, has become a blues standard, recorded by many other artists. He made over 500 recordings.
3. Freddie King, thought to have been born as Frederick Christian, originally recording as Freddy King, and nicknamed “the Texas Cannonball“, was an influential blues guitarist and singer. He is often mentioned as one of “the Three Kings” of electric blues guitar, along with Albert King and B.B. King, as well as the youngest of the three.