List of Famous African Americans Throughout History 


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Scroll down for a list of famous African Americans throughout history. 

Obviously, there are many more famous African Americans than can be listed on a single page. But considering the challenges they've had to face throughout American History, it seems only fitting to acknowledge the many great contributions of African Americans to American culture. Included here are some of the best.

Below is a list (with photos) of outstanding African American artists, athletes, activists, educators, politicians and pioneers. Also noted are their professions, dates of birth, and the states where they grew up.

Shown above is a black power salute. The raised fist was a symbol of the Black Power movement in the 60s, which promoted economic, social, and political separation from whites in order to gain equality.


List of Famous African Americans

ALABAMA

Hank Aaron .......... Baseball .......... 1934-

Charles Barkley ..... Basketball ....... 1963-

Nat King Cole ........ Musician ......... 1919-1965

W.C. Handy ........... Musician ......... 1873-1958


Evander Holyfield ..... Boxer .............. 1962-

Coretta Scott King .... Activist ............ 1927-2006

Carl Lewis ............... Track & Field ..... 1961-

Joe Louis ................ Boxer ................ 1914-1981

Willie Mays ............. Baseball ............ 1931-

Jesse Owens ........... Track & Field ...... 1913-1980

Satchel Paige ............ Baseball ............ 1906-1982

Rosa Parks ................ Activist .............. 1913-2005

Condoleezza Rice ....... Politician ............ 1954-

Willie Tyler ............... Ventriloquist ........ 1940-

 

ALASKA

 

ARIZONA



 

ARKANSAS

Jocelyn Elders ..... Surgeon General .... 1933-

Daisy Bates ......... Activist ....... 1914-1999

 

CALIFORNIA

Eddie Anderson .... Actor .......... 1898-1977

 


Tyra Banks...................Model...................1973-

Charles Barkley.............Basketball..............1963-

Barry Bonds..................Baseball ...............1964-

Calvin Broadus..............Musician................1972-

Michael Dorn.................Actor.....................1952-

Flo Griffith-Joyner.........Track & Field .........1959-1998

Etta James...................Musician................1938-

John Singleton..............Director.................1968-

Serena Williams............Tennis ..................1981-

Venus Williams.............Tennis ...................1980-

Tiger Woods.................Golfer.....................1975

 

 

COLORADO

 

 

CONNECTICUT

 

 

DELAWARE

Sugar Ray Leonard.........Boxer.........1956-

 

FLORIDA

Angela Bassett................Actor..........1958-

Zora Neale Hurston..........Writer.........1891-1960

Daniel James....Aviator/4-Star General...1920-1978

 

Sidney Poitier..........Actor.............1927-

 

GEORGIA

Ray Charles........Musician......................1930-2004

Ossie Davis ....... Actor/Writer/Director.....1917-2005

Patrick Healy.......Catholic Priest..............1834-1910

Martin Luther King...Civil Rights Leader....1929-1968

Spike Lee................Producer/Director.....1957

Ma Rainey...............Musician..................1886-1939

Jackie Robinson ..... Baseball ..................1919-1972

Nipsey Russell ....... Comedian ............... 1918-2005

Alice Walker............Writer......................1944-

George Wallace ..... Comedian ................ 1952-

 

HAWAII

Barack Obama ........ U.S. President ........ 1961-

IDAHO

 



ILLINOIS

Carol Moseley Braun .... Senator .........1947-

Gary Coleman ............ Actor .............1968-

Miles Davis ............... Musician ......... 1926-1991

Redd Foxx ................ Comedian ....... 1922-1991

Bryant Gumbel ......... Newscaster ...... 1948-

Quincy Jones ............ Musician .......... 1933-

Bernie Mac ............. Comedian .......... 1958-2008

Richard Pryor .......... Comedian .......... 1940-2005

 

INDIANA

Janet Jackson .......... Musician ........ 1966-

Jermiane Jackson ..... Musician .........1954-

LaToya Jackson ....... Musician ......... 1956-

Marlon Jackson ....... Musician .......... 1958-

Michael Jackson ...... Musician .......... 1958-2009

Randy Jackson ........ Musician .......... 1956-

Tito Jackson ............ Musician .......... 1953-

 

IOWA

Eugene Baker ......... Baseball ........... 1925-1999

 

KANSAS

Gwendolyn Brooks ... Poet ................ 1917-2000

 

KENTUCKY

Muhammad Ali ........ Boxer ............... 1942-

 

LOUISIANA

Louis Armstrong ....... Musician ........... 1901-1971

Fats Domino ............ Musician ........... 1928-

Jellyroll Morton ...... Musician .......... 1890-1941

Wynton Marsalis ..... Musician ......... 1961-

 

MAINE

 

 

MARYLAND

Eubie Blake ............ Musician .......... 1887-1983

Frederick Douglass ... Abolitionist ...... 1817-1895

Matthew Henson ...... Explorer .......... 1866-1955

Thurgood Marshall ... Supreme Court Judge ... 1908-1993

Harriet Tubman ........ Abolitionist ...... 1820-1910

 



MASSACHUSETTS

W.E.B. Dubois .......... Writer/Activist ... 1868-1963

Phyllis Wheatley ........ Poet ................ 1753-1784



 

MICHIGAN

Ralph Bunche ........... Diplomat ............ 1904-1971

Magic Johnson .......... Basketball ........... 1959-

Calvin Peete ............. Golfer ................. 1943

Smokey Robinson ...... Musician ............. 1940-

Diana Ross ............... Musician .............. 1944

Stevie Wonder .......... Musician .............. 1950-

 

MINNESOTA

Prince ..................... Musician ............... 1958-

 

MISSISSIPPI

Medgar Evers ........... Activist .............. 1925-1963

Robert L. Johnson ..... Media Exec ......... 1946-

James Earle Jones ..... Actor ................. 1931-

Walter Payton ........... Football .............. 1954-1999

Charley Pride ............ Musician ............. 1938-

Richard Wright .......... Writer ................ 1908-1960

 

 

MISSOURI

Maya Angelou ........... Writer ................. 1928-

Josephine Baker  ....... Entertainer .......... 1906-1975

Chuck Berry ............. Musician ............... 1926-

George Washington Carver..... Botanist ... 1861-1943

Langston Hughes ....... Writer ................ 1902-1967

Jackie Joyner-Kersee ... Track & Field ...... 1962-

MONTANA

Bill Picket ................ Rodeo Star ..... 1870-1932

 

 

NEBRASKA

Malcolm X ............... Activist .......... 1925-1965

 

 

NEVADA

 

 

NEW HAMPSHIRE

 

 

NEW JERSEY

Count Basie ........... Musician ............. 1904-1984

Hurricane Carter ..... Boxer ................. 1937-

Whitney Houston .... Musician ............. 1963-

Jacob Lawrence ...... Artist .................. 1917-

Shaquille O'Neal ..... Basketball ........... 1972-

Queen Latifah ........ Rapper/Producer ... 1970-

Paul Robeson ......... Actor/Activist ....... 1898-1976

Clerow "Flip" Wilson ... Comedian ......... 1933-1998

NEW MEXICO

Jay Wright................. Poet ................ 1935-

 

NEW YORK

James Baldwin .......... Writer .............. 1924-1987

Harry Belafonte ......... Entertainer/Humanitarian ... 1927-

Cab Calloway ............ Musician ........... 1907-1994

Godfrey Cambridge .... Comedian ......... 1933-1976

Diahann Carol ........... Entertainer ........ 1935-

Sean "Puffy" Combs ... Musician ........... 1971-

Sammy Davis Jr ........ Entertainer ........ 1925-1990

Julius Erving ............. Basketball ......... 1950-

Laurence Fishburne .... Actor ............... 1961-

Whoopee Goldberg ..... Comedian ......... 1955-

Gregory Hines ........... Dancer.............. 1946-2003

Lena Horne ............... Musician ........... 1917-

Kareem Abdul Jabar ... Basketball ......... 1947-

Michael Jordan ........... Basketball ........ 1963-

Eddie Murphy ............. Comedian ......... 1961-

Colin Powell ............... U.S. Army Gen... 1937-

Chris Rock ................ Comedian .......... 1966-

Al Roker ................... Weatherman ...... 1954-

Tupac Shakur ............ Musician ............ 1971-1996

Al Sharpton ............... Activist .............. 1954-

Sojourner Truth ......... Abolitionist ......... 1797-1883

Luther Vandross ........ Musician .............. 1951-2005

Denzel Washington ..... Actor ................. 1954-

Damon Wayans ......... Comedian ............ 1960-

Keenan Ivory Wayans .. Entertainer ......... 1958-

Kim Wayans ............. Entertainer ............ 1960-

Marlon Wayans .......... Entertainer ........... 1972-

Sean Wayans ............ Entertainer ........... 1971-

 

 

NORTH CAROLINA

John Coltraine ................................... Musician ............................................ 1926-1967

Moms Mabley .................................... Comedian ........................................... 1897-1975

Thelonius Monk .................................. Musician ............................................ 1917-1982

Nina Simone ...................................... Musician ............................................ 1933-2003

 

 

NORTH DAKOTA

 

 

OHIO

Halle Berry ................. Actor .................... 1966-

Dorothy Dandridge ... Entertainer ............. 1922-1965

Paul Laurence Dunbar ..... Poet ................. 1872-1906

Toni Morrison .............. Writer ................. 1931-

Granville Woods ........... Inventor ............. 1856-1910

 



OKLAHOMA

Ralph Ellison .............. Writer ................ 1914-1994

Wayman Tisdale ......... Basketball, Jazz Guitarist ....... 1914-1994

 

 

OREGON

 

 

PENNSYLVANIA

Ed Bradley ................. Journalist ......... 1941-2006

Wilt Chamberlain ........ Basketball ......... 1936-1999

Bill Cosby ..... Comedian/Producer/Writer ...... 1937-

Billie Holiday .............. Musician ........... 1915-1959

Reggie Jackson .......... Baseball ............ 1946

Judith Jamison ............ Dancer ............. 1943-

Will Smith .................. Actor ................ 1968-

 

 

RHODE ISLAND

 

 

SOUTH CAROLINA

James Brown ........... Musician ............ 1933-2006

Chubby Checker ....... Musician ............ 1941-

Dizzy Gillespie .......... Musician ............ 1917-1993

Jesse Jackson ............ Activist ............. 1941-

William "Refrigerator" Perry ..... Football ... 1962-

 

 

SOUTH DAKOTA

 

 

TENNESSEE

Aretha Franklin ......... Musician ......... 1942-

Morgan Freeman ....... Actor .............. 1937-

Alex Haley ................ Writer ............. 1921-1992

Isaac Hayes ........... Musician/Actor .... 1942-2008

Samuel L. Jackson ...... Actor ............. 1948-

Wilma Rudolph ......... Track & Field ......... 1940-1994

Tina Turner ............... Singer .................. 1939-

 

 

TEXAS

Alvin Ailey ...... Dancer/Choreographer ...... 1931-1989

George Foreman ............ Boxer ............... 1948-

Jamie Foxx ................ Comedian ............. 1967-

Bernard A. Harris Jr ... Astronaut/MD ......... 1956-

Beyonce Knowles .......... Musician ............. 1981-

 

 

UTAH

 

 

VERMONT

 

 

VIRGINIA

Archibald Alexander ......... Educator .......... 1772-1851

Arthur Ashe ..................... Tennis ............. 1943-1993

Clara Brown ................. Philanthropist ....... 1800-1880

Ella Fitzgerald ................. Musician ............ 1918-1996

Wanda Sykes ................ Comedian ............ 1964-

Booker T. Washington ...... Educator ........... 1856-1915

Douglas Wilder ............... Politician ............ 1931-

 

 

WASHINGTON

Gail Devers ............ Track & Field .......... 1966-

Jimi Hendrix .............. Musician ............. 1942-1970

WASHINGTON DC

Edward Brooke ........ Senator .............. 1919

Duke Ellington ......... Musician ............. 1899-1974

Marvin Gaye ............. Musician ............ 1939-1984

 

 

WEST VIRGINIA

Henry Louis Gates ..... Educator ............ 1950

 

 

WISCONSIN

Al Jarreau ................. Musician ............ 1940-

Oprah Winfrey .... Talk Show Host/Philanthropist .... 1954

 

 

WYOMING

 

 



 

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