Skip to main content
Search this site
Explorations in Black Leadership
About the Site
About the Book
A prominent activist during the 1960s, as well as a successful playwright. Founder of the Black Arts movement.
Journalist and syndicated columnist for the Washington Post with a strong reputation for independent thinking on national and international issues
Executive director of the Black Leadership Forum and modern civil rights leader
First African American support officer and third appointed general in the U.S. Air Force
Bobby Lee Rush
Georgia native Bobby L. Rush found his voice for civil rights in Chicago through the Illinois Black Panthers Party, Chicago City Council and, since 1992, as the Congressional Representative for the state's 1st District
A founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and professor of history and civil rights at the American University and the University of Virginia. For 12 years, national Chair of the NAACP.
Both a prominent comedian and civil rights activist, Dick Gregory has combined those talents to draw attention to social injustices and, more recently, to advocate for alternative medicine and nutrition.
Freeman A. Hrabowski
President of University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and a fierce advocate for science and math education for minority students
A leader in the YWCA and the National Council of Negro Women, civil rights activist Dorothy Height has fostered humanitarian causes and social action issues to promote inter-race and inter-class communications around the world for more than seven decades.
L. Douglas Wilder
Mayor, state senator, and the first African American governor of any state in the U.S.
Professor of social ethics, past president of the Interdenominational Theological Center, president of Morehouse College, and Director of Religion at Chatauqua Institution
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, former Assistant Attorney General, and professor of history and American culture at George Mason University
Sanford D. Bishop, Jr.
With strong ties to both southern Alabama and Georgia, U.S. Congressman Sanford Bishop, Jr., has served his Georgia constituents as a political leader at the state and federal level since 1977.
Gwen L. Ifill
Moderator and managing editor of Washington Week, senior correspondent for The PBS NewsHour, and moderated the 2004 and 2008 Vice Presidential debates
1960s civil rights activist with SNCC and main organizer of COFO’s Freedom Summer project. In 1982, Moses created the Algebra Project to support mathematical literacy for disadvantaged students.
Entrepreneur, publisher, businessman, and philanthropist; founder of Black Enterprise magazine; inducted into U.S. Business Hall of Fame.
Aaron S. Williams
Former Director of United States Peace Corps, 2009-2012
Member of the US Congress from 1971 to 2017 and a powerful advocate for the disadvantaged
Eleanor Holmes Norton
An activist for civil rights causes, Eleanor Holmes Norton has served in the U.S. House of Representatives for the District of Columbia since 1990 and is an advocate for statehood, gender equality, human rights, and justice.
Educated at Stanford and Harvard universities, law professor and author Charles Ogletree draws on his academic career to educate others about civil rights and the U.S. justice system through his writings and commentary in national media.
Mary Frances Berry
An outspoken advocate for social justice and civil rights, Mary Frances Berry is a distinguished professor at the University of Pennsylvania and renowned author.
John Lewis has represented the 5th District of Georgia, including Atlanta, in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1986. Additionally, he was a founding member of SNCC, organizer of the historic March on Washington, and Freedom Rider.
Bakari T. Sellers
The son of civil rights activist Cleveland Sellers, Bakari Sellers is an attorney and was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives at the age of twenty-two.
A former Rhodes Scholar, Benjamin T. Jealous is the youngest President and Chief Executive Officer in the history of the NAACP.
John Conyers Jr.
A champion of civil liberties, Congressman John Conyers is a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, serving in the U.S. House of Representatives from the Fourteenth Congressional District, Michigan from 1965 to 2017
Past president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund
Poet, author, and professor Nikki Giovanni remains committed to the fight for civil rights and equality. Author of more than two dozen books of poetry and essays.
Armstrong R. Williams
Journalist, businessman, talk show host, and author representing Conservative values
A new powerful voice in the theatre, exploring race, gender, and the human condition
Calvin Butts III
Pastor of the renowned Abysinnian Baptist Church in New York City and President of SUNY College at Old Westbury
As chief financial officer and mayor of Washington D.C., Anthony A. "Tony" Williams earned his reputation as a savvy money manager, leading a financial recovery effort for the capital city and increasing economic opportunities and affordable housing.
Educator, political leader, and ardent advocate for health care, welfare reform, and children's and women's issues
U.S. Senator and the first African American mayor of Richmond, Virginia
Civil rights activist and lawyer, Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and Chancellor of North Carolina Central University.
Attorney and civil rights activist -- one of the leading lawyers in Brown v Board of Education representing Prince Edward County; indefatigable challenger to segregation and discrimination laws
Poet Laureate, Pulitzer prize winner, recipient of National Medal of Arts, National Humanities Medal, and professor of English at The University of Virginia.
James E. Clyburn
Since 1993, Congressman James Clyburn has served in the U.S. House of Representatives from the Sixth Congressional District, South Carolina, as a leader for environmental justice and civil rights.
Educator, clergyman, and elected official -- served in U.S.House of Representatives, was president of Wilberforce University, and serves as Senior Pastor of AME Church in Queens, NY.
Carol Moseley Braun
Chicago native, principled stateswoman and practicing attorney, Carol Moseley Braun made history in 1992 after being elected the first African-American woman U.S. Senator, representing Illinois.
William H. Gray III
Former member of U.S. Congress from Philadelphia; past president of the United Negro College Fund; and Baptist minister
Civil rights activist, pastor, and lawyer
Political leader in the U.S.Congress, active in the fight against global HIV/AIDS, and a strong opponent of the War in Iraq
First African American and second woman to represent Wisconsin in the U.S. Congress
First African-American woman president of the NEA, former Dean of The George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development, and active leader of international educational associations
Bill T. Jones
Artist, choreographer, dancer, theater director and writer – Executive Artistic Director of New York Live Arts
Feminist, activist, author, and scholar, as well as a major figure in the Civil Rights movement with an international following
Raised in segregated Lynchburg, Virginia, Vivian Pinn is the first full-time director of the Office of Research on Women’s Health at the National Institutes of Health, where she advocates on behalf of women and women’s health issues.
A visionary educational leader who has created a powerful safety net for the children and families of Harlem through the Harlem Children’s Zone.
Past president of the National Urban League and civil rights lawyer
Johnnetta B. Cole
Anthropologist, educator, and museum director - First African-American President of Spelman College; President of Bennett College; Director of Smithsonian's Museum of African Art.
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the U.S.