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Famous Black People

Updated on September 14, 2012

Famous Black People

This lens is dedicated to some of the famous black people in American history. Many of the people featured here are some of the most inspirational people of our times as well as from the past. In this lens we highlight African American leaders, athletes, musicians, TV and movie stars and any other categories we can think. of. If people are missing please add them too!

Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey

Famous Black People of TV and Movies

These are some of the most famous black people on TV and film

Al Roker

Angela Bassett

Arsenio Hall

Bernie Mac

Chris Rock

Cuba Gooding, Jr.

Dave Chappelle

Debbie Allen

Denzel Washington

Diahann Carroll

Don Cheadle

Dorothy Dandridge

Eddie Murphy

Epatha Merkerson

Esther Rolle

Forest Whitaker

Gregory Hines

Harry Belafonte

James Earl Jones

Jamie Foxx

Jesse L. Martin

Josephine Baker

Keenen Ivory Wayans

Laurence Fishburne

LaVar Burton

Louis Gossett, Jr.

Martin Lawrence

Mekhi Phifer

Michael Clark Duncan


Morgan Freeman

Mr. T

Oprah Winfrey

Ossie Davis

Phylicia Rashad

Redd Foxx

Richard Pryor

Ruby Dee

Samuel Jackson

Sidney Poitier

Sly Stone

Spike Lee

Taye Diggs

Tyler Perry

Vanessa Williams

Wayne Brady

Wendy Williams

Will Smith

Vote for your favorite famous African American star of TV or film

Who is your favorite black movie star

See results
Alicia Keys
Alicia Keys

Famous Black Musicians

This section is reserved for those African Americans in the music industry. this list includes some black people from the past and some black people from the present.

Musicians and Singers

Al Jarreau

Alicia Keys

Aretha Franklin

B.B. King


Billie Holliday


Buddy Guy

Cab Calloway

Chaka Khan

Charlie Parker

Chris Brown

Chubby Checker

Chuck Berry

Count Basie

Diana Ross

Dionne Warwick

Dorothy Dandridge


Duke Ellington

Ella Fitzgerald

Etta James

Fats Domino

George Clinton

Gladys Knight

Harry Belafonte

Isaac Hayes

James Brown

Jamie Foxx

Janet Jackson

Jennifer Hudson

John Lee Hooker

John Legend

Kelly Rowland

Lauryn Hill

Lena Horne

Lou Rawls

Louis Armstrong


Luther Vandross

Marian Anderson

Mary J. Blige

Michael Jackson

Miles Davis

Missy Elliott

Nat King Cole

Natalie Cole

Patti Labelle

Queen Latifah


Ray Charles

Rick James


Sam Cooke

Sammy Davis Jr.

Sean Combs

Smokey Robinson

Snoop Dogg

Stevie Wonder

Thelonious Monk


Tina Turner

Tupak Shakur


Vanessa Williams

Wynton Marsalis

Books about Famous Black People

There are so many great books about Famous African Americans and Inspirational Black People. Here are just a few. Leave some other suggestions in the comments.

Best Websites about Famous Black People

Some of these are gossip sites, some are news and some are historical. Either way, they are all great sites to find out about famous black people.

Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr.

African American Leaders Top 25

In 2009 did an extensive survey of 175 African American scholars to determine a list of the top 25 African American leaders in history. Here is their list (link to original study).

Note: Key figures that are not no this list that should be included are Huey Newton, Bobby Seale and Medger Evers among many others

25 Charles Hamilton Houston

24. Harry Belafonte

23. Nat Turner

22. Carter Woodson

21. Mary McLeod Bethune

20. John H. Johnson

19. Jesse Jackson

18. Marcus Garvey

17. Fannie Lou Hamer

16. A. Phillip Randolph

15. Paul Robeson

14. Dred Scott

13. James Baldwin

12. Adam Clayton Powell Jr.

11. Booker T. Washington

10. Ella Baker

9. Ida B Wells

8. Rosa Parks

7. Harriet Tubman

6. Frederick Douglas

5. Malcolm X

4. Thurgood Marshall

3. WEB DuBois

2. Barack Obama

1. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods

Famous Black Athletes

This is not a list of the best African American athletes but they are some of the most famous black athletes of all time

Althea Gibson

Arthur Ashe

Barry Bonds

Bill Russell

Bo Jackson

Carl Lewis

Charles Barkley

Debi Thomas

Deion Sanders

Evander Holyfield

Florence Griffith-Joyner

George Foreman

Hank Aaron

Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Jackie Robinson

Jesse Ownes

Jim Brown

Joe Frazier

Joe Louis

Julius Erving

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Magic Johnson

Michael Jordan

Muhammad Ali

Reggie Jackson

Serena Williams

Shaquille O’Neal

Tiger Woods

Venus Williams

Willie Mays

Wilt Chamberlain

Most Famous Black Athlete - Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali is the most famous black athlete of all time! (Most inspirational too!)

Other Lists of Famous Black People

Here are some other places on the web to find lists with bios of famous and inspirational black people

Famous Black Comedians

Here is a list of some of the most famous black comedians with links to one of their funner skits on YouTube.

Other famous black comedians not listed below include Redd Foxx, Katt Wiliams, Eddie Griffin, Bernie Mac, Damon Wayans (all the Wayans), Martin Lawrence, Aries Spears, Robin Harris, Paul Mooney, Kevin Hart, Steve Harvey, George Wallace and Tracy Morgan

Funniest Black Comedian - Richard Pryor

Richard Pryor
Richard Pryor

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