From Malcolm X in the USA to Nkrumah in Ghana, history is never complete without such names popping up. Today we are going to look at the part 1 of our compilation of History’s greatest black achievers.
Aimé Césaire – Writer, born 1913
Born in Martinique, the co-founder of the literary and political movement Négritude is one of the Caribbean’s most popular writers. A campaigner against African colonies, Césaire also published Une Tempête in 1968, a radical adaptation of The Tempest.
Marcus Garvey – Civil rights activist, 1887-1940
Garvey became an inspiration for future civil rights activists by travelling across America urging African-Americans to be proud of their heritage and to return to the continent. He founded the Black Star Shipping Line and United Negro Improvement Association.
Arthur Wharton – Footballer, 1865-1930
Best known as the first professional black footballer in the English League, Wharton also excelled at cycling, cricket and running. In 1886 he became the fastest man in Britain. In 2004 he was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame.
Rosa Parks – Activist, 1913-2005
Parks’s refusal to give up her seat on an Alabama bus in 1955 became a symbolic moment in the American civil rights movement. The fallout launched Martin Luther King Jr to fame. The incident sparked a mass boycott of the transport system by the black community.
Susana Baca de la Colina – Singer, born 1944
Baca has played a major role in the resurgence of Afro-Peruvian music. Inspired by the music she heard as a child, she has founded the Centro Experimental de Musica Negrocontinuo (Institute of the Black Continuum), dedicated to the genre.
Martin Luther King – Civil rights activist, 1929-68
The figurehead of the American Civil Rights Movement, King became a national hero after leading the successful Montgomery bus boycott. In 1964 he received the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his work. He was assassinated on 4 April 1968.
Bob Marley – Musician, 1945-81
Bob Marley brought reggae to a worldwide audience and is a hero in Jamaica as well as being seen by many Rastafarians as a prophet. His albums and shows with his band, The Wailers, were legendary. In 1978 he was awarded the United Nations’ Medal of Peace.
Learie Constantine – Cricketer, politician, lawyer, 1901-71
One of the finest all-rounders in cricket, Constantine moved to England from the West Indies to play professionally. He became involved in politics, fighting discrimination. He was the first black Governor of the BBC and the first black life peer.
Oprah Winfrey – Media tycoon, born 1954
A living American institution, she is seen by some as the most influential woman in the world. At the centre of her various projects is her TV chat show which is syndicated around the world. In 2006 Winfrey became the world’s first black woman billionaire.
Pelé – Footballer, born 1940
Christened Edson Arantes do Nascimento Pelé, he is regarded as the world’s greatest footballer. Playing for his native Brazil, Pelé won the World Cup three times. In 1999 the BBC named him the second greatest sportsperson of the millennium.
Nelson Mandela – Political activist, born 1918
A key anti-apartheid figure in South Africa, Mandela spent 27 years in prison for the cause. After his release, he became the country’s first fully democratically elected president and leader of the African National Congress. In 1993 he won the Nobel Peace Prize.
Gaspar Yanga – Rebel slave leader, 1570-1609
The leader of a slave revolt in Mexico that led to the creation of a slave colony in the mountains which, with a population of around 500, existed for more than 30 years. After violent clashes, Yanga obtained a treaty that gave the slaves their freedom.
Benedita da Silva – Politician, born 1942
Born in a Brazilian shantytown, Benedita Souza da Silva Sampaio is a key political figure, fighting for the rights of the underprivileged. In 1994, she became Brazil’s first black woman Federal Senator, and she has served as Governor of the State of Rio de Janeiro.
Frederick Douglass – Abolitionist, writer, statesman, 1818-95
A former slave, Douglass became one of the primary abolitionists in America. His books and speeches focused on his experiences. He started The North Star, a newspaper edited and written by black people. He later campaigned for the rights of women.
John Archer – Campaigner, 1863-1923
In 1913, John Archer was elected Mayor of Battersea, the first person of African descent to reach such a position in the UK. An equality campaigner, he chaired the Pan-African Congress in London in 1921 and was president of the African Progress Union.