1. Maya Angelou
Maya ‘s struggles out of poverty and into the world of fame tell the tale of a woman’s journey from nothing to something.
2. Pierre Toussaint
The Venerable Pierre Toussaint was a former slave from the French colony of Saint-Domingue who was brought to New York City by his owners in 1787. There he eventually gained his freedom and became a noted philanthropist to the poor of the city. Freed in 1807, after the death of his mistress, Pierre took the surname Toussaint in honor of the hero of the Haitian Revolution which established that nation.
After his marriage in 1811, Toussaint and his wife performed many charitable works, opening their home as an orphanage, employment bureau, and a refuge for travelers. He contributed funds and helped raise money to build St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, New York on Mulberry Street. He was considered “one of the leading black New Yorkers of his day.”
3. Donna Summer
She started her life as a bad girl. She ended her life as an amazing upstanding Christian woman. Her life is a tale of encouragement.
4. Archbishop Wilton Gregory
He was 1st African American president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) from 2001 to 2004.
5. TD Jakes
PBS Religion and Ethics Newsweekly named Jakes among America’s “Top 10 Religious Leaders.”
6. Msgr. Bernard J Quinn
Fr. Quinn chose to sever the Black people of Brooklyn and took on The KKK to defend orphans. His story of faith and service is inspiring.
7. Tony Orlando and Dawn
Tony Orlando an Dawn took Las Vegas and television by storm. Their success as a trio was nothing short of a landmark.
8. Dr. Dre
From 1984 until present he has been taking, music, business and philanthropy by storm,
9. Stevie Wonder
Wonder has recorded more than thirty U.S. top ten hits and won twenty-two Grammy Awards (the most ever won by a solo artist) as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award. He has also won an Academy Award for Best Song, and been inducted into both the Rock and Roll and Songwriters[
10. Althea Gibson
American tennis player and professional golfer, and the first black athlete of either gender to cross the color line of international tennis. In 1956 she became the first person of color to win a Grand Slam title (the French Open). The following year she won both Wimbledon and the U.S. Nationals (precursor of the U.S. Open), then won both again in 1958, and was voted Female Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press in both years.
11. Thurgood Marshall
President John F. Kennedy appointed Marshall to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in 1961.
12. The Winans Family
The Winans Family is the first family of gospel.
13. Brat Pack
The famous Rat Pack, led by Frank Sinatra, which included fellow performers Dean Martin, Joey Bishop, and Peter Lawford, a brother-in-law of John F. Kennedy and Sammy Davis Jr. entertained the world and maintained strong friendships.
14. Jackie Wilson
American singer and performer. Known as “Mr. Excitement”, Wilson was important in the transition of rhythm and blues into soul. He was considered a master showman, and one of the most dynamic and influential singers and performers in R&B and rock n’ roll history
15. Andraé Crouch
Crouch was a key figure in the Jesus Music movement of the 1960s and 1970s. As a result, helped bring about contemporary Christian music, and began to bridge the gap between black and white Christian music.
The famed family survived trials tribulations and tragedy.
17. Rick James
During James’ Motown heyday in the late 1970s and early ’80s, James, in demand. His story lives on in musical legends.
18. LLoyd Price
He has owned a record label, food company, a night club and is currently producing a play. He later became a builder, erecting 42 town houses in the Bronx.Price was promoting his autobiography The True King of the Fifties: The Lloyd Price Story and was working on a Broadway musical called “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” in conjunction with a team that includes producer Phil Ramone. The musical details how rock and roll evolved out of the New Orleans music scene of the early 1950s.
19. Derek Jeter
Star of New York Yankees, who is amongst the most revered in baseball.
20. Berry Gordy
History making music leader who changed the music game with Motown Records.
21. Smokey Robinson
Partner to Berry Gordy and singer writer was deemed a national treasure in 2006. Robinson was one of five Kennedy Center honorees, along with Dolly Parton, Zubin Mehta, Steven Spielberg and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
22. Diana Ross
Diana Ross had the distinction of being a triple threat. She is the recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 2007 and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.
23. Adam Clayton Powell Jr.
He was the first person from New York of African-American descent to be elected to Congress, and the first African American from the North to be elected in the Post-Reconstruction Era after one man from Illinois.