Top 5 most influential Black leaders of all time: Heroes

Top 5 most influential Black leaders of all time: Heroes

Harriet Tubman

Brave abolitionist who escaped slavery and led hundreds of family members and slaves to freedom through becoming the conductor of the underground railroad from 1850-1860.  She made a total of 19 trips from the South to the North in efforts to transport as many slaves possible. Harriet Tubman also served in the Civil War as a spy helping the union army.  After the war ended Mrs. Tubman dedicated her life to helping the elderly as well as impoverished slaves. My favorite quote by Harriet Tubman- “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world”

Nelson Mandela

Social rights activist, politician and philanthropist who became South Africa’s first Black president from 1994 to 1999.  Nelson Mandela fought 20 years for a nonviolent and peaceful defiance against the South African government and its unfair rulings and racist policies.  Being such a successful civil rights activist Mr. Mandela earned the noble peace prize in 1993 and his legacy lives on till this day. My favorite quote by Nelson Mandela- “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

A legendary leader, minister, and scholar who ended the legal segregation of African-Americans and created the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  Martin Luther King Jr. started his journey at a struggling Baptist church with only 13 members.  He actively fought for equality and racial justice for all, which led to many remarkable, changing movements.  In 1962 he delivered his inspirational “I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with over 250,000 marchers.  Sadly, he was assassinated in 1968 being only 39 years old.  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s powerful message and impeccable leadership changed the face of American history forever and we celebrate him every year on the third Monday in January which is a federal holiday in his name reminding everyone of his outstanding accomplishments for our country.  My favorite quote by MLK- “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that”. 

Muhammed Ali

Philanthropist, activist and three-time world heavy-weight boxing champion making him one of the greatest boxers of all time.  Muhammed Ali had a very likable and charming personality and was admired for his religious, social and political stances.  On April 28,1967 Muhammed Ali refused induction to the U.S. Army for the war against Vietnam.  Following the refusal Ali was stripped of his championship titles and rights to box in the U.S. he was also sentenced to 5 years in prison all for refusal of induction into the U.S. armed forces.  His actions were very honorable and his proof of being against any sort of killing or war made history for him in the civil rights movement and he won the hearts of millions with his activism for the rights of people of color.  His spiritual journey as a Black Muslim serves as an inspiration to many and his legacy will always remain.  My favorite quote by Muhammed Ali- “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”

Malcolm X

African American leader, supporter of Black nationalism, and a minister.  Malcolm X served as the spokesperson for the Nation of Islam in the 1950’s through the 1960’s.  His relentless efforts grew the Nation of Islam from 400 members to 40,000 members.  His teachings of no tolerance for racism and violence for Blacks went hand in hand with Martin Luther King Jr’s and Muhammed Ali’s views.  He worked with Elijah Muhammed another leader for the Nation of Islam to expand his movement globally and then established a newspaper “Muhammed Speaks” to further relay his message.  As Malcolm’s efforts began to make a dramatic change to the Civil Rights Movement for Blacks, he was assassinated like MLK was as he took stage on February 21, 1965 to speak in Manhattan. My favorite quote by Malcolm X- “There is no better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance next time.”

By: Aisha Zaidi Bhatia

Aisha Zaidi Bhatia is Journalism and Mass Communications student. Passionate about global issues and human rights. Aspires to raise awareness and change the world through her writing.

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