Essence magazine has chosen Barack Obama as its most influential person of the year in a special year-end issue, which recognizes the 25 most distinguished African-Americans who have made a difference.
“President-elect Barack Obama’s historic win was the pinnacle of an amazing year in African-American achievement,” says the magazine’s editor-in-chief Angela Burt-Murray. “Essence is so proud to acknowledge the top 25 African-Americans who followed suit with extraordinary steps in news, music, film, politics, activism and fashion and emerged as the game changers of 2008.”
December’s Most Influential List also features newsmakers like Gwen Ifill and Donna Brazile who helped shape this year’s news and captured the attention of millions while making a powerful impact on the media landscape.
Celebrities who raised the bar and achieved enormous success are saluted as well, like Tyler Perry who became the first African-American to own a major television and movie studio and Will Smith who broke barriers at the box office.
Following the pattern of historical moments in African-American history, New York Governor, David Paterson makes the list as the first black governor of New York and the first blind governor of any state.
In a special tribute to African-American women in radio, the list boasts Michel Martin, Adaora Udoji, Michele Norris, Bev Smith and Farai Chideya.
Below is Essence magazine’s 25 Most Influential List:
Barack Obama – President-elect
Donna Brazile – Political Strategist, Commentator
Gwen Ifill – Journalist
Valerie Jarrett – President and CEO, The Habitat Company, Adviser
to Barack Obama
Queen Latifah – Singer, Actress, Jenny Craig Spokesperson
Will Smith – Box Office Titan
Wyclef Jean – Musician, Activist
Kanye West – Hip-Hop Artist, Producer
will.i.am – Musician, Activist
Tyler Perry – Writer, Actor, Director, Producer, Studio Owner
Michel Martin – Tell Me More, Host
Adaora Udoji – The Take Away, Host
Michele Norris – All Things Considered, Host
Bev Smith – The Bev Smith Show, Host
Farai Chideya – News & Notes, Host
Van Jones – Founder and President, Green For All
Ian Smith, M.D. – Diet Expert, Author, Television Host
David Paterson – Governor, New York
Bethann Hardison – Advocate for Black Models
Phill Wilson – CEO, Black Aids Institute
Reverend Leah Daughtry – CEO, Democratic National Convention
Mark Whitaker – Washington Bureau Chief, NBC News
Candace Parker – WNBA Star
Patrick Robinson – Lead Fashion Designer, GAP
James Rucker – Internet Civil Rights Activist