100 Famous African-American Men and Women of the 20th Century

African-American men and women have made great contributions to American society throughout the 20th century.

Whether you are researching a topic for Black History Month or just want to learn more, this listing of 100 famous African Americans will help you find people who truly achieved greatness by either advancing civil rights or making major impacts in science, government, sports, or entertainment.

Michael Jordan - Joe Patronite/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
Michael Jordan.

Athletes

  • Hank Aaron
  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
  • Muhammad Ali
  • Arthur Ashe
  • Charles Barkley
  • Wilt Chamberlain
  • Althea Gibson
  • Reggie Jackson
  • Magic Johnson
  • Michael Jordan
  • Jackie Joyner-Kersee
  • Sugar Ray Leonard
  • Joe Louis
  • Jesse Owens
  • Jackie Robinson
  • Tiger Woods

African Americans are some of the richest athletes in the world.

Authors

  • Maya Angelou
  • Ralph Ellison
  • Alex Haley
  • Lorraine Hansberry
  • Langston Hughes
  • Zora Neale Hurston
  • Toni Morrison
  • Walter Mosley
  • Richard Wright

Civil Rights Leaders and Activists

  • Ella Baker
  • Stokely Carmichael
  • W.E.B. DuBois
  • Medgar Evers
  • Marcus Garvey
  • Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Malcolm X
  • James Meredith
  • Elijah Muhammad
  • Rosa Parks
  • Bobby Seale
  • Fred Shuttlesworth
  • Emmett Till
  • Ida Bell Wells-Barnett
  • Walter White
  • Roy Wilkins

Entertainers

  • Josephine Baker
  • Halle Berry
  • Bill Cosby
  • Dorothy Dandridge
  • Sammy Davis Jr.
  • Morgan Freeman
  • Gregory Hines
  • Lena Horne
  • James Earl Jones
  • Spike Lee
  • Eddie Murphy
  • Sidney Poitier
  • Richard Pryor
  • Will Smith
  • Denzel Washington
  • Oprah Winfrey

Inventors, Scientists, and Educators

  • Archibald Alphonso Alexander
  • Patricia Bath
  • Bessie Coleman
  • David Crosthwait Jr.
  • Mark Dean
  • Charles Drew
  • Matthew Henson
  • Mae Jemison
  • Percy Lavon Julian
  • Frederick McKinley Jones
  • Ernest Everett Just
  • Mary McLeod Bethune
  • Garrett Augustus Morgan
  • Charles Henry Turner
  • Madame C.J. Walker
  • Booker T. Washington
  • Daniel Hale Williams

Politicians, Lawyers, and Other Government Leaders

  • Ralph Bunche
  • Benjamin Oliver Davis Sr.
  • Minnie Joycelyn Elders
  • Jesse Jackson
  • Daniel “Chappie” James
  • Thurgood Marshall
  • Kwesi Mfume
  • Colin Powell
  • Clarence Thomas
  • Andrew Young
  • Coleman Young

Singers and Musicians

  • Marian Anderson
  • Louis Armstrong
  • Harry Belafonte
  • Chuck Berry
  • Ray Charles
  • Nat King Cole
  • Miles Davis
  • Duke Ellington
  • Aretha Franklin
  • Dizzy Gillespie
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Billie Holiday
  • Michael Jackson
  • Robert Johnson
  • Diana Ross
  • Stevie Wonder
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