List of Famous African Americans
Throughout History 



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 over the past several hundred years.

Included here are some of the best.

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

Shown here 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. 

Click here to see Famous African American Quotations




List of Famous African Americans



ALABAMA

Hank Aaron                  Baseball Player     1934-

Charles Barkley            Basketball Player  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 Athlete        1961-

Joe Louis                      Boxer                  1914 - 1981

Willie Mays                   Baseball Player     1931-

Jesse Owens                Track Athlete        1913 - 1980

Satchel Paige               Baseball Player     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 Player  1963-

Barry Bonds                 Baseball Player     1964-

Calvin Broadus             Musician              1972-

Michael Dorn                Actor                   1952-

Flo Griffith-Joyner         Track Athlete        1959 - 1998

Etta James                   Musician              1938-

John Singleton              Film Director        1968-

Serena Williams            Tennis Player        1981-

Venus Williams             Tennis Player        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 Player     1919 - 1972

Nipsey Russell              Comedian            1918 - 2005

Alice Walker                 Writer                  1944 -

George Wallace            Comedian             1952 -




HAWAII

Barack Obama              U.S. President      1961-





IDAHO

York           Traveler with Lewis & Clark     1790(?) - ?



ILLINOIS

Carol Moseley Braun     Senator               1947 -

Gary Coleman              Actor                   1968 - 2010

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 -

Jermaine Jackson         Musician               1954 -

Marlon Jackson            Musician               1958-

Michael Jackson           Musician               1958 - 2009

Randy Jackson             Musician               1956 -

Tito Jackson                 Musician              1953 -






IOWA

Eugene Baker               Baseball Player    1925 - 1999




KANSAS

Gwendolyn Brooks        Poet                   1917 - 2000




KENTUCKY

Muhammad Ali             Boxer                   1942 -




LOUISIANA

Louis Armstrong           Musician              1901 - 1971

Fats Domino                 Musician              1928 - 2017






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 Player  1959 -

Calvin Peete                 Golfer                  1943

Smokey Robinson         Musician              1940 -

Diana Ross                   Musician              1944

Stevie Wonder              Musician              1950 -




MINNESOTA

Prince                          Musician              1958 - 2016




MISSISSIPPI

Medgar Evers               Activist                1925 - 1963

Robert L. Johnson         Media Exec          1946 -

James Earle Jones        Actor                   1931 -

Mamie Oliver                Professor             1945? - 

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 Athlete       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 - 2012

Jacob Lawrence            Artist                   1917 - 2000

Shaquille O'Neal           Basketball Player  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 Player   1950 -

Laurence Fishburne       Actor                   1961 -

Whoopee Goldberg       Comedian           1955 -

Gregory Hines              Dancer                1946 - 2003

Lena Horne                  Musician              1917 -

Kareem Abdul Jabar      Basketball Player  1947 -

Michael Jordan             Basketball Player  1963 -

Eddie Murphy               Comedian            1961 -

Colin Powell          U.S. Army General       1937 -

Chris Rock                   Comedian             1966 -

Al Roker                      Weatherman         1954 -

Tupac Shakur               Musician / Poet     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 Player 1936 - 1999

Billie Holiday                 Musician              1915 - 1959

Reggie Jackson             Baseball Player     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 Perry                Football Player     1962 -



 

SOUTH DAKOTA

 



TENNESSEE

Aretha Franklin             Musician              1942 - 2018

Morgan Freeman          Actor                   1937 -

Alex Haley                   Writer                  1921 - 1992

Isaac Hayes                 Musician/Actor      1942 - 2008

Samuel L. Jackson        Actor                   1948 -






Wilma Rudolph             Track Athlete        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 Athlete        1966 -

Jimi Hendrix                Musician               1942 - 1970






WASHINGTON DC

Edward Brooke             Senator               1919 - 2015

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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