Time Magazine has released their annual list of the most influential people of 2017. The list includes important figures including world leaders, artists, and athletes. The 2017 list includes a number of African and African-American individuals of note. Among those who made the list this year are athletes LeBron James, Simone Biles, and Colin Kaepernick, musicians John Legend and Alicia Keys, actress Viola Davis, entertainer RuPaul, Women’s March organizer Tamika Mallory, and civil rights legend John Lewis. Other honorees this year include the following:
Chance the Rapper is a beloved rapper and philanthropist from Chicago. As fellow rapper Common writes, he is a pioneer for making music from an “unapologetically inspiring and Christian perspective—music that transcends age, race and gender.”
Jordan Peele was honored for his groundbreaking movie Get Out. Profiler Barry Jenkins called the film “astonishing.” Jenkins also wrote about how Peele has long “used comedy to shed light on the murky detritus of American exceptionalism.”
Oprah Winfrey wrote the profile for honoree Colson Whitehead. Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, a historical novel about slavery, won a Pulitzer Prize and reached the top of the NYT Bestseller list. Winfrey describes Whitehead’s book as “ground-shifting.”
Donald Glover started as a staff writer on 30 Rock. In Tina Fey’s profile, she writes about how he left the show to become an actor with her blessing. She knew that “he should go be a star.” He did just that on Atlanta.
Leslie Jones, known not just for her comedic work but also for being the target of horrific vitriol and threats on Twitter, was profiled by actor Russell Crowe. Crowe highlighted not just her honest and edgy humor, but also her “kindness…and the way she owns all of who she is.”
Groundbreaking director Ava DuVernay was profiled by Venus Williams. Williams describes DuVernay as inspiring and courageous, a woman who “makes it her mission to tell important stories…and to empower important storytellers.”
Kathryn Bigelow describes writer and director Barry Jenkins as someone who can “give voice to those who have not been heard.”
Painter Kerry James Marshall was profiled by Grant Hill. Hill describes Marshall as an artist who “forces people to assess the American experience through the black experience.”
Bernard J. Tyson is a leading figure in the field of public health and the CEO of nonprofit health plan Kaiser Permanente. Profiler John Lewis describes how Tyson spearheaded a focus on preventative care and brought the importance of mental and emotional health into the conversation.
Biram Dah Abeid is a Mauritanian who has spent the majority of his life working against slavery. He is the founder of the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement and plans to run for President of Mauritania.
Ghanaian-British Architect David Adjaye designed the National Museum of African American History and Culture. As profiler Thelma Golden describes, Adjaye’s design is “true to the earthbound burdens of centuries of oppression and struggle, while at the same time displaying the faith, joy and triumphs of African-American life.”
Fatou Bensouda is the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and a former Gambian Justice Minister. As she prosecutes genocides and war crimes, she fights for justice in Africa and beyond.