The 25 most influential African-American leaders in US history to Name 25 most influential African-American leaders in U.S. history in commemoration of King holiday... to name 25 most influential African-American leaders in U.S. history in commemoration of King holiday Partners with Princeton University Professor Melissa Harris-Perry to Study and Rank the Impact of African-American History-makers; Survey Panelists Include Contemporary Academics, Artists and Activists, a division of NBC News, today announced the results of “TheGrio’s 2011 African-American Leadership Survey” in commemoration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The web-enabled poll, designed by Princeton University professor Melissa Harris-Perry, was completed by a group of contemporary academics, artists and activists.

As part of the survey, the assembled jury evaluated the impact of 170 African American
history-makers, based on measured influence, legacy of change, and continued
relevance over time. Based on these and other criteria, the panel named its “25 Most
Influential African-American Leaders of All Time”.

Notable results

-President Barack Obama is the only living leader among the Top 10
-Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is not among the Top 25, nor is he
among the Top 5 Legal and Business category
-While Rev. Jesse L. Jackson is among those named, Rev. Al Sharpton was not
among the Top 25
-Retired General Colin Powell is one of few conservatives to make the list
Four women are among the top 10: Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Ida B. Wells
Barnett and Ella Baker

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“Rather than simply relying on the editorial choices of a few individuals, TheGrio turned
to expert scholars and a diverse array of thought leaders to create a list based on a
serious assessment of the contributions of these individuals,” Dr. Harris-Perry
continued. “The ranking they produced is a compelling articulation of the depth and
breadth of African American leadership.”

“TheGrio is devoted to sharing the news, opinions, and contributions of black people in
America and around the world,” said Managing Editor David Wilson. “We are specifically
interested in understanding what the past teaches us about this moment and, more
importantly, how it helps us prepare for the future.”

The Top 5 leaders in each of four categories, as ranked by the panel, were also named.
The categories include:

– Political Leaders
– Legal and Business Persons
– Civil Rights Activists and Religious Figures
– Intellectuals and Artists

Full survey results are available at

The Jury for “TheGrio’s 2011 African American Leadership Survey”

Majora Carter
Barbara Young
Mark Anthony Neal
Roy Innis
Lonnie Isabel
Nina Kennedy
Darlene Clark Hine
William Jelani Cobb
Paula Giddings
Bakari Kitwana
Joshua Guild
Khalil Gibran Muhammad
Blair Kelley
Marc Morial
Shirley Sherrod
James Young
George Curry
Bev Smith
Clarence Lusane
Obery Hendricks
Mary Wilson
Lonnie Bunch
Robin D.G. Kelley
Peniel Joseph
Consuella Askew

Professor Harris-Perry, Managing Editor David Wilson and Dr. Lonnie
Bunch, Director of the Smithsonian African American Museum of African History and
Culture, will be available for one-on-one and/or group interviews.

About, a division of NBC News, is a daily online news and opinion platform
devoted to delivering stories and perspectives that reflect and affect African-
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About Melissa Harris-Perry
Melissa Harris-Perry is Associate Professor of Politics and African-American Studies
at Princeton University. Her academic research is inspired by a desire to investigate
the challenges facing contemporary black Americans and to better understand the
multiple, creative ways that African-Americans respond to these challenges.
Professor Harris-Perry is a contributor to MSNBC and regularly provides expert
commentary on U.S. elections, racial issues, religious questions and gender
concerns for both The Rachel Maddow Show and Countdown with Keith Olbermann.