The 25 Most Influential Black American Leaders of All Time

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Even as an African-American sits in the most powerful position in our nation, there are those who ask if African-American leadership is in crisis.

Slavery and Jim Crow were easy targets. Who couldn’t set their mind on freedom? The drama swirled around the method, not the result. There was no pretense of freedom packed with landmines hiding under the age-old labels of racial, gender and economic oppression, to name a few. Still, if great leadership comes with no statute of limitations, what cues should we take from theGrio’s black leaders survey to alleviate our current crisis?


In assessing our greatest leaders of all time, what statement are we making about the times in which we live? We definitely shouldn’t view this as just a top ten list. Instead, we should really ask ourselves what leaders, if any, would resonate today. Just because a person’s contribution during their era remains undeniable does not necessarily mean that those same tactics are still viable. Regardless of who tops the list or gets overlooked, the overall point is that it’s time for us to turn our full on attention onto leadership.