In recent years, more and more talented black Americans have become worldwide leaders in sports, music and politics and have graced our TV screens with a powerful presence.
We’re grateful that they’re inspiring us to work hard for what we want in life and to use our abilities to do the very best that we can. Black celebrities also have a significant influence on the younger community, motivating them to try to achieve their aspirations and focus on their futures.
Denzel Washington – Actor, Director and Producer
He has already won the Golden Globe awards three times and received two Academy Awards amongst many others, but Denzel Washington seems set to continue to take the Hollywood screen by storm. He got the Best Actor award for the 2001 blockbuster movie Training Day where he played a dishonest cop and gained the Best Supporting Actor award for the 1989 war film Glory. Denzel has been accredited by the president of the American Society of Cinematographers who, when presenting him with the ASC Governors Award, stated: “Denzel Washington is an amazing director and actor, and a conscious force in these challenging times. A true artist is empowered by the era they live in, and he expresses an awareness of the world around us through his work.”
Phil Ivey – Professional Poker Player
Las Vegas resident Phil Ivey is considered one of the best professional poker players in the world. He has won 10 World Series of Poker bracelets and earned the World Poker Tour title, appearing at nine World Poker Tour final tables. He is aptly nicknamed ‘The Tiger Woods of Poker” and was also known as “The Phenom” in 2002 when he won 3 World Series of Poker bracelets. Poker is a mind sport that takes an incredible amount of skill, concentration and mathematical thought. The uninitiated among you may be surprised to hear all that, but as this interesting poker tutorial from 888poker shows, the card game involves strategy, people-reading and more and comes in a variety of different variants, including Texas Hold’em and Omaha Hi/Lo. It’s the brainpower and determination of Ivey that we look up to rather than merely his successful career and earnings.
John Singleton – Film Director, Screenwriter and Producer
Singleton’s movies have often displayed the struggles of inner city violence. His 1997 film Rosewood was a historical drama that brought racial struggles to the forefront, teaching us a little bit of history and raising awareness. He also focused on directing action films with 2 Fast 2 Furious and the 2005 film Four Brothers – but John Singleton is best known as the director of the film Boyz n the Hood. He was the youngest person ever to be nominated, at just 24 years old, for the Academy Award for Best Director – an impressive feat in itself. In 2002, the United States Library of Congress considered the film “culturally significant” and nominated it for preservation in the National Film Registry. Singleton is deemed a smart educator in inner city culture and has successfully portrayed real-life issues of equality on the silver screen.
Laila Ali – Professional Boxer
Daughter of famed boxer Muhammad Ali, Laila Ali decided to start her professional boxing career at the tender age of 18 years old. Her rise to fame spanned from 1999 to 2007 where she won several titles; WIBA, WBC, IWBFM, the IBA Female Super Middleweight title and the IWBF Light Heavyweight title. Laila retired in 2007 after her last successful fight against O’Neil where she triumphed by technical knockout in the first round. Ali moved on to become a TV star, appearing in season four of the American TV show Dancing with the Stars, then hosted the revival of American Gladiators and the reality show, The N’s Student Body. Fellow host Hulk Hogan has praised Laila for potentially saving his life with a telephone call when he was feeling very depressed and suicidal. She has hosted and appeared in many TV shows and has cleverly evolved her boxing career to respected television celebrity.
Maya Angelou – Writer & Civil Rights Activist
Maya Angelou was an American civil rights activist, poet and author. Her novels were based on her own life and she received several awards and more than 50 honorary degrees. Angelou’s books were memoirs of her childhood and adolescent years with her most acclaimed autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” giving a detailed account of her life up until the age of 17 years old. She was a strong and smart female rights advocate, working closely with Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X and being dutifully active in the Civil Rights Movement.
Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu have changed history, fighting racial discrimination and campaigning for justice all over the world. They became humanitarians and activists in civil rights, working hard to raise awareness of the importance of equal rights and teaching the population that every race should be able to live peacefully as one nation. Black Americans have had a powerful influence all over the world, encouraging and inspiring the nation and urging them to do the same. Let’s teach the stories of these people and many more to our children, to inspire and empower them.