While many celebrities and media figures have used their power and wealth for their own good, there are those who have fought to make the world a better place. Here are several African Americans who made us proud in 2011.
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1. Oprah Winfrey
While her OWN network might be struggling, we have to commend Oprah for creating it. Oprah has continued to be a grand worldwide philanthropist, helping out in countries like Haiti and South Africa. In all, Oprah has contributed more that $300 million to national and worldwide causes.
2. Neil DeGrasse Tyson
In a world where basketball players and rappers are idolized and scientists are ignored, Neil Degrasse Tyson has become a popular astrophysicist, hosting the “NOVA scienceNOW” on PBS, and serving as the director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space. This year, Tyson announced that he will be hosting a sequel to his mentor Carl Sagan‘s show, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage.
3. Cory Booker
Cory Booker is smart, hardworking, and one of the driving forces in the transformation of Newark, N.J. Booker has done a lot for the city, including cleaning up snow, using Twitter to address the concerns of his constituents, and having Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerburg, pledge millions of dollars to help Newark’s struggling schools. Booker has a bright future in politics and hopefully he can expand what he has done for Newark to the whole country.
4. Ben Jealous
Ben Jealous has made the NAACP relevant again in the 21st century. Whether it be through making the Tea Party responsible for their racism or pushing against voter ID laws that would disenfranchise Black voters, Jealous has made the NAACP a powerful force. Jealous has also been a powerful advocate for making sure that African Americans get the education they deserve.
5. Michelle Obama
The First Lady has done an excellent job as an advocate for military wives, home gardening and healthful eating — all while supporting the man with the toughest job in America. While we would like to see Michelle use some of her Harvard and Princeton education to take on substantial issues, like Hillary Clinton did when Bill was in the White House, she has become a shining example of Black motherhood and womanhood.
6. Charles Woodson
After helping the Green Bay Packers win a Superbowl in February, Charles Woodson continued his leadership and defensive skills by helping the team become contenders again with an excellent season so far. While many NFL players make news for breaking the law, Woodson made news by donating $2 million to a Michigan hospital in 2009.
7. Al Sharpton
After years of being an activist and advocate for African Americans, Al Sharpton has taken his role to the mainstream, becoming the first Black talk show host on MSNBC. Sharpton has also continued to champion Black causes, such as Troy Davis and police brutality, all while becoming one of President Barack Obama‘s most enthusiastic supporters in the media.
8. Barack Obama
Though we may not agree with every decision Barack Obama has made this year, he was weathered the storm of the tumultuous economy and a Republican Party that is more concerned with taking him down than helping the country. Obama has fulfilled his campaign promises of withdrawing troops from Iraq and getting Osama Bin Laden all while keeping his trademark cool. Obama has also proven to be a competent and steady president and an excellent role model for children around the world.