Current Black Leaders


Aundrea Gresham, reporter

A lot of people look at past and deceased people when talking about influential leaders but I’m here to tell you about current Black leaders that aren’t necessarily unrecognized but more underappreciated. In schools we only really learn about Black leaders during Black history month, and even then, it’s usually just popular leaders of the civil rights movement, but what about Black leaders like Shaquille O’Neal, Alicia Keys, Barrack Obama, Kamala Harris and so many more. The same way I taught about past Black leaders I now want to take the time to teach about these current influential, underappreciated Black leaders.

Shaquille O’Neal, a former NBA star, started the Shaquille O’Neal Foundation to “create pathways for underserved youth to help them achieve their full potential.” His annual programs include Shaq-To-School, where he provides basic school supplies to kids with socioeconomic challenges and Shaq-a-Claus where he provides not only toys but clothing, meals, and so much more to underprivileged families. O’Neal is so much more than an ex-basketball star, he is a strong believer of giving back to communities and is doing amazing work to show that.

Alicia Keys, a 15-time GRAMMY Award-winning singer, songwriter, musician, producer, accomplished actress, New York Times best-selling author, film/television and Broadway producer, entrepreneur, is also the #1 RIAA certified female R&B artist of the millennium. She’s a huge force in the world of activism as well and should be known for more than singing.

Barack Obama was the first Black president of the United States and brought with him, the first Black first lady. He wrote a memoir, Dreams from My Father, where he talks about discovering his identity in adolescence. Obama came from an average middle-class family and through his values of hard work and education became the President from 2008 to 2016.

Kamala Harris became not only the first Black Vice President of the United States but is also the first South Asian American and female Vice President on January 20, 2020. Harris is also the first Vice President to have graduated from an HBCU (historically Black colleges or university). Harris has been consistently making history even before entering the White House as she was the first Black American to serve as California’s attorney general from 2011 to 2016.

Cynthia “Cynt” Marshall, 61, is the first Black woman to be a CEO in the NBA. Marshall also launched the Mavs Take Action initiative in June 2020 after the protests of Justice for George Floyd swept the nation. Marshall says “the Mavericks organization has pledged a minimum of 10,000 employee volunteer hours and $5 million to support local communities via education, scholarships, mentorship and public policy.” She continues to give back to the communities that need it and encourages everyone to dreaming big, having focus, and taking action.

Rashida Jones, 39, MSNBC president, is the first Black executive to run a major television news network. She oversees Breaking News stories like the presidential election and the coronavirus outbreak. She set rating records for two Town-Hall specials and brought more diversity to daily news at MSNBC.

Raphael Warnock, 51, is Georgia’s first Black senator, as well as the first Black Democrat Senator from the South. Warnock reflected on his mother in a live-streamed victory speech, “The 82-year-old hands that used to pick somebody else’s cotton went to the polls and picked her youngest son to be a United States senator.” Warnock trailblazed his way all the way to the Senate after being born the son of a slave.

Victor J. Glover, 44, first Black astronaut to live and work at the International Space Station for an extended stay. Of more than 300 NASA astronauts who have been sent to space, only 14 have been Black Americans and Glover being the first one to have an extended stay.

With the exception of the already famously talked about Obama, Harris, O’Neal, and Keys, we don’t hear about these other amazing Black leaders and trailblazers in our society. Black people have been and are still doing amazing things in this country and we should take more time to appreciate them and all their work.[related title=”Unrecognized Black Leaders” stories=”2343″ align=”left” background=”on” background_color=”#ffffff”