The Black Historical Personalities Who Changed the World!
Martin Luther King, Kwame Nkrumah, Harriet Tubman, and Malcolm X, among other Black extraordinary leaders and individuals, have positively altered the course of Black history; paving the way for resilient generations who continue to carry the glowing torch of Black empowerment. These generational heroes are tenaciously making remarkable impacts across the globe today.
People of African descent have endured challenging times and have often had to risk their lives and their voices to change the injustice they experienced.
Reflecting on the bravery and generational impact of these Black figures, here are 10 historical Black figures who made unprecedented impacts on the world.
Toussaint Louverture (1743 – 1803)
Toussaint Loverture was the leader of the slave uprising in Haiti. He spearheaded the successful military uprising in Saint-Domingue in 1791, and over the following years, consolidated his power and influence by re-establishing the plantation system with wage labor.
Millions of people of African descent, both free and enslaved, were motivated to seek freedom and equality throughout the Atlantic world by Toussaint Louverture and the Haitian Revolution. The only Atlantic slave society to overthrow its oppressors was led by Toussaint and other black Saint-Domingue leaders.
The colony was able to abolish slavery thanks to Louverture, and the country proclaimed its independence as the Republic of Haiti in 1804.
Sojourner Truth (1797 -1883)
Sojourner Truth (Isabella Baumfree) was an African-American abolitionist and proponent of women’s rights. Truth was born into slavery in Swartekill, New York, but managed to escape and reach freedom in 1826, along with her young daughter.
She was fervently religious and believed that God had called her to speak on slavery and other modern issues across America.
She gave a well-known extemporaneous speech entitled “Ain’t I a woman?” at a Women’s Rights Convention in Ohio, in 1851 in support of equal rights for women and blacks.
Frederick Douglas (1818 – 1895)
Fedrick Douglass, a former slave, rose to prominence as a leading figure of the Black movement and one of the most well-known black leaders of the nineteenth century.
He gave a speech to abolitionists who were gathering in Massachusetts at the time to discuss ending the practice of enslaving people. He described to them his time spent as a slave, and was such a gifted public speaker that he began touring the northern states; attempting to persuade large gatherings of people to stop the practice.
His anti-slavery speeches and autobiography, which detail his life as a slave, had a great impact on public opinion.
Booker T. Washington (1856 – 1915)
Booker T. Washington overcame numerous obstacles that prevented him from pursuing an education despite being born into slavery. There were no schools nearby after his family was granted freedom by the Emancipation Proclamation.
However, he didn’t let that deter him. The former slave traveled across Virginia by foot and train for 500 miles without any money and a map at the age of 16 in order to attend school. He later founded Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, where he served as the school’s first principal and teacher because he was motivated to share knowledge with others.
Washington also served as a consultant to US Presidents Taft and Roosevelt. He was frequently regarded as the de facto leader of African-Americans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He argued for a gradual approach to enhancing Black Americans’ access to education and opportunities in life.
Ida B. Wells (1862- 1931)
Less than a year to the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, which freed slaves, Ida B. Wells was born into slavery in Mississippi.
Wells was a trailblazing newspaper editor and journalist who made use of her position to look into the South’s lynching customs. She spent months traveling the South, conducting interviews with locals and looking into records of previous assaults. Although she was attacked for her publications, she moved to another state and continued to write about Black discrimination.
She was also a fearless advocate for women’s suffrage and civil rights, and a 1909 NAACP founding member.
Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)
Nelson Mandela fought against apartheid in South Africa for the majority of his life.
Following the Rivonia Trial, he was detained and sentenced to life in prison for plotting to overthrow the government in 1962. Between Robben Island, Pollsmoor Prison, and Victor Verster Prison, Mandela spent 27 years in prison.
He later became the first elected president of South Africa after apartheid. Mandela was also admired for his capacity for forgiveness and willingness to engage with South Africa’s white community. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for helping to end racial segregation in South Africa.