Each generation has its challenges; it’s leaders; it’s era that distinguishes this generation from the previous and the following. Each generation has it’s defining moments, it’s ups, and it’s downs. During the 1950s and 1960s our leaders were Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Kwame Ture (then Stokeley Carmichael), James Farmer, Malcolm X, Langston Hughes, and so forth and so forth. Who does our generation look up to now? Where do we get our news from and who decides what is important enough to talk about and take action? Some of us wouldn’t know there is a drought in East Africa if it wasn’t for the ending of Jay Z and Kanye West’s Otis. Beyoncé defines femininity while Lil’ Wayne complicates the idea of masculinity. I have compiled a list of the TOP FIVE Black leaders that deserve notoriety.
5. PRINCIPAL STEVE PERRY is mostly known from his segment on CNN Black In America. He is a principal at Capital Preparatory Magnet School. One Hundred percent of his graduates go on to a four year college. Education is a hot-button topic within the black community and he takes it upon himself to not only educate but also prepare his students for life after. His new book, Push Has Come To Shove, tackles education reform and inspires the next generation of educators to do the same. He has been described as the “hardest working man in education”.
4. BENJAMIN JEALOUS is the youngest CEO and President of the NAACP. Also, he is the author of Threat and Humiliation: Racial Profiling, Domestic Security, and Human Rights in the United States. During his collegiate career, at Columbia University, he led boycotts, protests, and pickets for homeless rights. As the national leader, he is leading the NAACP to seek justice in the case of Troy Davis. Additionally, he is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated.
3. DR. CORNEL WEST is one of the leading and most profound intellectual and a professor at Princeton University. He has appeared on numerous albums (as a spoken word artist), films, and weekly on Tavis Smiley’s radio show. Additionally, he is the author of Race Matters. He can be seen occasionally on CNN, Colbert Report, PBS, and C-Span. More recently, he launched a poverty tour with Tavis Smiley and traveled to nine states and 18 cities to highlight the plight of the poor, despite the “political cowardice.” Additionally, he is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated.
2. OPRAH WINFREY is credited as the first black woman billionaire. In addition to hosting her own nationally syndicated talk show from 1986 to 2011, she gives back to her community through numerous philanthropies. Following Hurricane Katrina, she created Oprah Angel Network – Katrina and raised over $11 million dollars for hurricane relief. She helped 250 African American men complete their education at Morehouse College and listed by Business Weekly as one of America’s 50 most generous people (given an estimated $303 million in 2007). Additionally, she gave 50,000 presents to children in Africa that live in poverty.
1. BARACK OBAMA is the first African American president of the United States of America. Previously, he served as an Illinois Senator. He was the President of the Harvard Law Review. He was a civil rights attorney and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School. As commander-in-chief, He authorized a “surgical raid” of infamous terrorist, Osama Bin Laden. In 2009, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples”. More recently, he authorized the Justice department to investigate police discrimination and brutality to achieve a judicial reform. The election of President Barack Obama is not equivalent to a post-racial society but it’s a step in the right direction. This moment is a culmination of millions of African-Americans that fought, walked, sat, boycotted, and protested.