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In Celebration of Black History Month: The Hidden Black Influencers of Our Generation

Celebrating #BlackHistoryMonth

Our culture is full of entrepreneurs, activists, influencers, musicians, and authors that inspire us to dream bigger and work harder.

Dorothy Height

“The godmother of the Civil Rights Movement,” – Barack Obama.

Dorothy Height was a civil rights and women’s rights activist who advocated for improving circumstances and opportunities for African American women and was also the National Council of Negro Women.

Later in life, she was honored by President Bill Clinton with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Height the Congressional Gold Medal by President George Bush.

Miriam Makeba

“I kept my culture. I kept the music of my roots. Through my music, I became this voice and image of Africa and the people without even realizing,” – Miriam Makeba 

Known as mother Afrika and the Empress of African Song, Miriam Makeba was a South African singer and human rights campaigner.

She brought international attention to African music and is known as the pioneer of African Pop. Makeba also sparked a conversation about apartheid and white minority governments in South Africa.

Pat Mcgrath

“I was struck by the way she (Pat McGrath) interpreted colour and by her ideas about beauty and femininity. She never used cosmetics to try to mask a woman.” – Armani 

Pat Mcgrath is a British makeup artist who has won the Isabella Blow Award for Fashion Creator at the Fashion Awards. In 2017, she was named the most influential makeup artist in the world by Vogue.

Later on in her life, she began a makeup line called Pat Mcgrath Labs which is now worth over a billion dollars, and is one of the few black women on Times 100 most influential people of 2019.

Virgil Abloh

“I’m thrilled to how his (Virgil Abloh) innate creativity and disruptive approach have made him so relevant, not just in fashion, but in popular culture today.”- (CEO of Louis Vuitton) Burke

Virgil Abloh is the chief executive director of the 2013 Milan based fashion line known as Off-White, after the fashion line’s debut it has become an iconic brand in Hip Hop and Streetwear.

In 2018, he was named artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear. Up until this point no man of African descent had been named artistic director of the French Fashion Line, which makes Virgil Abloh the first African American to hold the title.

Barry Jenkins

“When a black story reaches an audience, and there’s a black creative as a writer, director, or producer, you expect that the audience is receiving it unfiltered.” – Barry Jenkins

Barry Jenkins is a film director, producer, and screenplay writer who gained acclaim from his movies: Moonlight and James Baldwin’s movie adaptation of If Beales Street Could Talk.

His movie, Moonlight, won a Golden Globes and Oscar for Best picture, and another Oscar for Best Screenplay Adaption. Moonlight inspired many black and gay youth to continue telling their stories through film and has encouraged the film industry to give more opportunities to people of color.

Tomi Ayedemi

“I loved myself so much I gave myself a twin named Tomi. Everything started out fine. But then I didn’t write another black character until I was 18. I look at that gap, and just the thought of me sitting alone in my room reinforcing the lies the world told us pisses me off”. – Tomi Ayademi

Tomi Aydemi is the author of the New York Times Bestselling series Legacy of Orisha. Upon her book publication, she gained much praise for her imaginative storytelling of African Fantasy which led to Fox 2000 acquiring the film adaptation rights to her book.

The success of her series has helped African Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Afrofuturism continue to thrive as the genre is now becoming more and more mainstream.