February is dedicated to remembering black women and men, who have defined history by innovating and excelling in their respective fields. Though there are countless extraordinary black people across the globe, the following 28 represent each day of Black History Month. Some of them continue to inspire our hearts and minds to this day. Some have passed, but their legacies live on through their art form, their entrepreneurial ventures, their contribution to the sciences, their sportsmanship, their research, their social activism, and their ceaseless perseverance against all odds. Each day for the final week of this month, we will highlight a few influential black people, and show gratitude for their originality and brilliance. Take a moment to regard these honorable people, and share their greatness with a friend.
The world was first introduced to Eric Marlon Bishop, otherwise known as Jamie Foxx, on the hit 90's sketch comedy series In living Color. He hilariously played the role of "Ugly Wanda," amidst other budding comics Damon, Kim, Shawn, & Marlon Wayans, Jim Carrey, David Alan Grier, Tommy Davidson, and the show's creator/writer Keenan Ivory Wayans. From there, he cultivated his comedy, acting, and musical career through his own self-titled TV Show, The Jaime Foxx Show, which aired from 1996 to 2001. Later success on the big screen came from his uncanny portrayal of musical icon Ray Charles, for which he won Best Actor from both the Academy Awards and the Golden Globe Awards. After such prestigious achievements, Jaime shifted toward an old love for music. In 2005, he became the fourth artist to receive both an Academy Award and have a #1 album in the U.S. Not many know that music was the first of Jaime's many talents, having taken up piano and singing at age 5. He went so far as to attend the United States International University on scholarship to study classical music and composition. Though being funny and telling jokes also came naturally to Jaime from a young age, his first performance on a comedy stage merely happened as a dare by a former girlfriend. Presently, Jaime returns to bringing laughter into homes as host and executive producer of the the gameshow entitled "Beat Shazam."
Always entering the stage with a jovial "YQY," (yass queens yass), Jessica Williams & Phoebe Robinson are the hosts and producers of the incredibly funny podcast 2 DOPE QUEENS. What could be a more fulfilling job than going to work with your best friend, and telling life stories to a sea of strangers? The duo has done just that, and to such critical acclaim that they have gone from podcast to television broadcast as a new HBO series-bringing both women back to familiar territory. Williams had paid her dues as a senior correspondent on The Daily Show for four years, and Robinson got her start as a staff writer for MTV's Girl Code. Together they have created an LGBTQ, non-conformative, women positive atmosphere, where a diverse medley of both fresh talent and well-known friends in the industry come to perform comedy acts.
Professionally known as Whoopi Goldberg, the very funny Caryn Elaine Johnson is more recently known for her role as talk show co-host on the Emmy Award Winning broadcast The View. Past acting performances have deemed her one of few artists to have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and Tony award. Her most powerful roles often aimed to affect social progression on a multitude of themes such as race, sexuality, and feminism, which align with her off-stage efforts in social activism. Whoopi has used her celebrity to advocate for human rights, the LGBTQ community, AIDS, and the legalization of marijuana.
"By any means necessary," Spike Lee has revolutionized the role of black talent in Hollywood, directing, producing, and acting in over 50 films. His pictures such as Do The Right Thing, Malcom X, Love & Basketball, and Rodney King have become a series of outspoken and provocative socio-political critiques informed by an unwavering commitment toward challenging cultural assumptions, not only about race, but also class and gender identity. Lee is the recipient of two Peabody Awards, and in 1993, he joined the faculty at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in the Graduate Film Program. There, he received his Master of Fine Arts, and was appointed Artistic Director in 2002.