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 44th President and first black U.S Commander in Chief, Barack Hussein Obama II, was elected with more votes than any candidate in history. Prior to his Presidency, the civil rights attorney and professor at the University of Chicago Law School, Obama began a career in public service by leading his community through grassroots organizations and later served 10 years total between the Illinois State Senate and as junior United States Senator from Illinois. Former President Obama was able to pull the United States out of one of the worst economic crises since the great depression. Other accomplishments include the Obama administration's establishment of policies to prioritize a clean energy future and enacting the Affordable Care Act-a health system aimed to reach the masses. Not only was he a just politician, he prided himself as a family man. He led the country with high morals, and inspired much needed social change through his profound speeches.
Ursula Burns, a leading woman and American business executive, bears an impressive resume of title roles as a global advisor providing strategic counsel for the world's largest and most complex companies. Becoming CEO of Xerox in 2009, placed her on the map as the first black woman CEO to head a Fortune 500 company. Forbes magazine listed her multiple times as one of the 100 most powerful women in the world. Burns' leadership skills garnered the support of former President Barack Obama, who appointed her as leader of the STEM Program of the White House from 2009 to 2016, as well as, head of the President's export council from 2015-2016. She currently resides as chairwoman of Veon, a senior advisor to Teneo, and will soon join the board of the beverage company Diageo.
Twice listed as a New York Time's Best Seller, author Roxane Gay's writing reveals personal experiences ranging from feminist and racial issues, gender identity and sexuality, body image and rape culture. The rawness and candidness of such difficult introspection makes for a deeply intellectual, emotional, and humanizing read written with unequivocal simplicity. She works currently as an associate professor of English at Purdue University, as well as, a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times, founder of Tiny Hardcore Press, and co-editor of PANK a non-profit literary arts collective.
American rapper Jay-Z is ranked and respected as one of the greatest MC's of all time by many. Born Shawn Corey Carter, Jay-Z came from small beginnings, and began free-styling and writing lyrics as a teenager. Praised for his clever wordplay and fast-paced lyrical flow and with 13 albums under his belt, Jay-Z has earned the record holding position on the US Billboard 200 list for having the most number one albums by a solo artist at 14. His success in the music industry lead him to branch out in various entrepreneurial endeavors spanning from clothing lines to real estate and record labels. Most recently, he has turned toward his love for the sports arena, launching the sports agency Roc Nation Sports and becoming a certified NBA and MLB sports agent. In 2003, Jay-Z, together with his mother, founded The Shawn Carter Foundation, which has assisted eligible students facing socio-economic hardships through college. Reaching a more family-oriented realm in his life, Jay-Z and singer/wife Beyoncé continue to grow and raise their family, while using their celebrity and artistry to influence the world.