A prominent magazine geared toward young African-American women has named its top 25 most influential African-Americans who have made great strides for the black community.
Topping the list featured in Essence magazine is Sen. Barack Obama, one of the leading Democratic presidential candidates. The Illinois senator received the most votes in an online poll on Essence.com, earning him the recognition as the "Readers' Choice" for this year's most influential African-American.
"Making their voices heard on Essence.com, the overwhelmingly positive response from our 8 million readers for Senator Obama as African-American of the Year is noteworthy, as African-American women are predicted to be the tipping point for the Black vote in the 2008 election," said Essence editor-in-chief Angela Burt-Murray.
In response, Obama said he was "deeply honored."
"Michelle (Obama's wife) and I have long admired Essence for its invaluable role in celebrating the rich talents, beauty and spirit of African American women. It means a great deal to me to have the support of my fellow Essence readers."
Also in the top 25 are "The Jena Six" and the Revs. Jesse L. Jackson and Al Sharpton. The two well-known ministers helped lead a huge civil-rights demonstration with more than 10,000 people protesting against what they considered unjust treatment of six black teenagers from Jena, La., who beat a white schoolmate last year.
"Some of the most poignant moments in African-American history took place in 2007, from the unified stance that was taken in support of the Jena Six and the Rutgers University Women's Basketball team to the triumphant victory made by Barry Bonds," said Burt-Murray.
Rutgers University's Scarlet Knights, who were NCAA finalists, drew national support when radio host Don Imus called the basketball players "nappy-headed hos." The women's team accepted Imus' apology in April but noted that his statements were still unacceptable. Imus' comments further drew attention to greater culture ills such as lyrics associated with mainstream rap and hip-hop music that denigrate women.
Renowned minister Bishop T.D. Jakes has also been named one of the most influential African-Americans by Essence readers. The Pentecostal preacher, who leads Dallas megachurch The Potter's House and is author of several bestselling books, recently joined the conference of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, which convened African-American leaders from all sectors last month for the first time to help end the AIDS crisis. Jakes was also recognized by Time magazine in 2001 as America's best preacher.
Others in the top 25 list include entertainer Beyonce Knowles, Oprah Winfrey, Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith, and Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy who became this year the first black coach ever to win the Super Bowl.
25 Most Influential List:
• Senator Barack Obama
• Gina McCauley- Blogger, whataboutourdaughters.com
• Tyler Perry - Writer, Producer, Director
• Majora Carter - Environmentalist, Founder, Executive Director,
• Sustainable South Bronx
• Victoria Lanier- Former Youth Director, NAACP, Northeast Region
• Rev. Jesse L. Jackson - Civil Rights Activist, Minister
• Rev. Al Sharpton - Civil Rights Activist and President, National
• Action Network
• The Jena Six
• Beyonce Knowles - Singer, Songwriter, Actress
• Oprah Winfrey - Media Mogul, School Founder
• Timbaland - Music Producer, Recording Artist
• Cory A. Booker - Mayor of Newark, New Jersey
• Lovie Smith - Head Coach, NFC Champions, Chicago Bears
• Tony Dungy - Head Coach, Super Bowl Champions, Indianapolis Colts
• Deval Patrick - Governor, Massachusetts
• Don Cheadle - Actor, Activist
• Shonda Rhimes - Creator, Executive Producer, Grey's Anatomy and Private
• Venus Williams - Tennis Champion
• Charles Rangel - Chairman, House Committee on Ways and Means
• Barry Bonds - "Home Run King"
• Cynthia Tucker - Syndicated Columnist, Editorial Page Editor, Atlanta
• The Scarlet Knights - Rutgers University Women's Basketball Team, NCAA
• Kiri Davis - Filmmaker, Youth Activist
• Bishop T.D. Jakes - Founder, Senior Pastor, The Potter's House of
• Steve Harvey - Radio Personality, Comedian, Actor