8 Black Living Icons Who Has Made Inspiring Impress To The World

by Duke Magazine

Inspiration is what is employed in all human endeavors to keep the grind for a good life going. Inasmuch as life is not a rollercoaster, our minds must always connect to the right plug to to get our actions enhanced with optimism. The best food for the mind is inspiration to achieve the seemingly impossible feat. Behind every success story, there is an inspiration. Nonetheless, success in a measure of contributions to the world, and not a function amassed fortunes.

In this light, there are evidently innumerable African-American legends (men and women) who have imprinted an indelible contributions to the world in different scopes of entertainment, art, science, sports, politics, law, and others.

Legendary paragons like Martin Luther King Jr., Muhammad Ali, Malcom X, John Lewis, Maya Angelou, Nelson Mandela, George Washington Carver, Rosa Parks, Jack Robinson are inspiring personalities that crops up the mind when the thoughts of an inspiring world linger. 

However, there are several living legends, who continue to impact our world today. These men and women are enigmas of pride and aspiration. It is an endless list albeit, but here are eight (8) quintessence of inspiration amongst the Black people.

Veteran thespian, Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman is undoubtably  one of the best actors of his generation, with his ability to connect between the past and present acting dispositions. A true hero and multiple award winner. As a boy, he exuded talent in acting with his usual diminutive and calm style, mixed with an impeccable approach and eloquence.

Freeman began garnering awards at age 12 after starting off his career at 9. America noticed Freeman through roles on the soap operas “Another World” and the PBS kids’ show “The Electric Company in 1971”.

His rise and journey to success has been steady and consistent. In a career that has spanned almost six decades, Freeman has spent most part of it featuring in some of the best movies you can think of.

Freeman received Oscar nominations for his performances, and has also won a Golden Globe Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award.

Inductee of 2020 TV Hall of Fame, Cicely Tyson

Cicely Tyson

Cicely Tyson, 96, is the first black actress to feature in a television series. Also, she was the first black woman to win an Emmy as a lead actress in a television movie, and the first black actress to receive an honorary Oscar.

With prior stints in modeling, Tyson is well-known for playing the roles of powerful African-American women, as portrayed in the widely-patronized 1970s television mini-series “Roots”.

For her incredible over 80-year-career, the nonagenarian has received a Kennedy Center Honor, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, a Tony, and multiple Emmy awards. This year, Tyson was inducted into the 2020 TV Hall of Fame.

Multi-Grammys award winner, Quincy Jones

Quincy Jones

The multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, composer, arranger, film and television producer has a career spanning over 60 years in the entertainment industry with a recognition record of 80 Grammy Award nominations, 28 Grammys, and a Grammy Legend Award in 1992.

Jones, 87, a legendary record producer and one of the great musical figures of the 20th Century produced the classic Jackson albums “Off the Wall,” “Thriller” and “Bad”.

“At each stage in his remarkable career, he’s been the first. He’s been somebody who’s walked through that door before everybody else has. That’s given people behind him enormous confidence. And he’s done it with grace.”

Those are the words of former President Obama used to describe writer-producer-arranger-composer in the new documentary “Quincy”.

The octagenarian music legend, Shirley Caesar

Shirley Caesar

Shirley Ann Caesar-Williams, known professionally as Shirley Caesar, is an 81-year-old award-winning gospel singer, songwriter and recording artist with a music career spanning over 70 years. She is known as the “First lady of Gospel”. Also called the “Queen of Gospel”, Caesar has gone to win 11 Grammy Awards, as well as, 15 Dove Awards. She has been honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award for her contribution to the art of recorded music.

In 1969, she launched the Shirley Caesar Outreach Ministries to help serve the needs of the people of Durham, and the organization became a registered nonprofit in 1981, funded in part by Caesar’s performance fees.

Caesar was elected to the Durham City Council in 1987. Caesar became a pastor at the Mount Calvary Word of Faith Church in Durham, where her husband, Bishop Harold Ivory Williams, also served until his passing in 2008.

Political and civil rights figure, Jesse Jackson

Jesse Jackson

Often underrated in the pantheon of historical significance, Jesse Jackson’s inputs helped shape the racial politics in modern U.S. He was preaching intersectionality before it became a buzzword for the Twitterati.

Prior to Barack Obama, Jackson was the most successful African-American to vie for the seat of U.S. presidency. In 1984 and 1988, Jackson had varying degrees of success to become the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee.

In 1988, apart from the usual call for the rights and dignity of black people, Jackson asked Americans to recognize Palestine as a state while calling out Israel’s atrocities. He was also against higher taxes on America’s richest 10% and demanded a cut in military spending up to 15%.

Jackson also demanded the creation of a single-payer health care system. 

Civil rights advocate, Ruby Bridges

Ruby Bridges

At a time when America was starting to break down the segregation policies in its institutions, a young girl would face the brunt of being the first black child to attend an all-white school in 1960. Her name is Ruby Bridges and she was just six years old at the time.

She is an American civil rights icon and a lifelong activist for racial equality. She established The Ruby Bridges Foundation to promote tolerance and create change through education. In 2000, she was made an honorary deputy marshal in a ceremony in Washington, DC.

Her experience inspired a famous painting by American artist Norman Rockwell, which was placed at the White House by erstwhile President Barack Obama.

Over the years, 65-year-old Bridges has dedicated her life to promoting tolerance and unity. During the recent civil unrest, she wrote on Instagram that “it’s crucial we stand united to protect Black & Brown lives!”

NBA legend and motivational speaker, Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson

His retirement from pro-basketball was announced at three different times: 1991, 1992 and 1996. During his career, he won three NBA MVP Awards, played in nine NBA Finals and 12 All-Star games, and bagged 10 All-NBA First and Second Team nominations.

He got called up into The Dream Team, the 1992 United States men’s Olympic basketball team which won the Olympic gold medal that year.

Johnson has been an advocate for HIV/AIDS prevention and safe sex, as well as an entrepreneur, philanthropist, broadcaster and motivational speaker. He was named by Ebony magazine as one of America’s most influential black businessmen in 2009.

In 2019, the 60-year-old basketball legend received the 2019 NBA Lifetime Achievement Award

Seasoned author, Sharon M. Drapper

Sharon M. Drapper

Sharon M. Drapper has been honored at the White House six times, and was chosen as one of only four authors in the nation to speak at the Library of Congress National Book Festival Gala in Washington, D.C., and to represent the United States in Moscow at their Russian Book Festival.

She is a children’s writer, professional educator and public speaker. She has been honored as the National Teacher of the Year and was selected as Ohio’s Outstanding High School Language Arts Educator and Ohio Teacher of the Year. She holds three honorary doctorates.

Drapper is the acclaimed author of the Sassy series. She is also the author of many books for teens, including the New York Times bestsellers “Copper Sun,” the 2007 Coretta Scott King Award winner.

She wrote “Forged by Fire,” the 1998 Coretta Scott King Award winner, as well as “Tears of a Tiger,” winner of the CSK/John Steptoe New Talent Award, and “The Battle of Jericho” and “November Blues,” both Coretta Scott King Honor Books.

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