Ebony 2005 100+ Most Influential Black Americans

Article excerpt

THIS year's list of 100+ Most Influential Black Americans features a number of new entries, including a charismatic U.S. senator and an entertainment dynamo who has made an incredible connection with the masses.

Like the other new entries, they bring their own unique abilities and influence to the table. Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, after a highly publicized campaign that included a keynote address at the Democratic National Convention, is the only African-American U.S. senator, following in the footsteps of former African-American senators Edward Brooke and Carol Moseley Braun.

Among the other new names on the list are Henry Louis (Skip) Gates Jr., who has been called "one of the most powerful academic voices in America"; scholars, authors and motivational speakers Cornel West and Michael Eric Dyson, both of whom joined Tavis Smiley in the successful "Pass The Mic!" tour; Peter C. Harvey, attorney general of New Jersey; Sylvia Rhone, president of Motown Records and executive vice president of Universal Records; Alphonso Jackson, U.S. Secretary of Housing & Urban Development; and new congressional representatives--Gwen Moore of Wisconsin, Al Green of Texas and former Kansas City mayor Emanuel Cleaver II of Missouri.

Another new entry is actor, writer, producer, entrepreneur Tyler Perry, who has parlayed his "Madea" character into a multimillion-dollar stage-play and movie industry. In the midst of his whirlwind of activity, he has given hope to all of those who have witnessed his personal "rags to riches" story, all the while spreading the message that no matter one's situation, giving up is not an option.

The 2005 list also includes powerbrokers who have moved into new positions, including former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, who has replaced Colin Powell as U.S. Secretary of State. As the country's top diplomat, Rice has been described as "the most powerful woman in the world."

Having been absent from the list for a while, there are three dynamic individuals who have returned this year. U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney, who lost her Georgia seat to Denise Majette two years ago, regained that controversial seat in November. The fall elections also returned L. Douglas Wilder to the political spotlight. The former history-making Virginia governor has taken the reins as mayor of Richmond. And in the cultural arena, famed musician and jazz historian Wynton Marsalis is back on the list, thanks to his vision as artistic director of the world-renowned arts organization Jazz at Lincoln Center.

The 2005 list for the 100+ Most Influential Black Americans, like the lists in preceding years, was compiled by the editors of EBONY in consultation with powerbrokers and opinion leaders. Being featured on the list does not necessarily constitute an endorsement of any particular individual or ideology. Two criteria guided the experts and editors who made the final recommendations: 1. Does the individual transcend his or her position and command widespread national influence? 2. Does the individual affect in a decisive and positive way the lives, thinking and actions of large segments of the African-American population, either by his or her position in a key group or by his or her personal reach and influence?


U.S. Representative

1st District, N.C.


U.S. Representative

1st District, Mo.


U.S. Representative

14th District, Mich.


U.S. Representative

2nd District, Pa.


U.S. Representative

7th District, Ind.


U.S. Representative

5th District, Mo.


U.S. Representative

7th District, Md.


U.S. Representative

9th District, Tenn. …