Black Figures Changing The World Around Us – by Kenaoel Adamu

a paper collage of different black skin tones

As we take this month to recognise and learn about the triumphs, tribulations, and untold stories of Black history, lets also spend some time recognising the present and acknowledging Black figures in our lifetime that have changed, and are changing, the world around us, putting their stamp on the future’s Black history.

One of the most prominent Black figures that has changed the modern world is Barack Obama. His presidency run from 2009 until 2017 arguably marked the pinnacle of Black progression and excellence. Despite facing all manner of oppression, segregation, racism, and bigotry, Barack Obama, a Black man, ascended to the highest position of power as head of state. He undoubtedly defied the odds and inspired a wave of Black children and youth to pursue their ambitions rather than submitting to the constraints of society, thus certainly changing the world around us. However, Obama isn’t the only prominent Black figure in politics. Dr Tedros became the first Black male Director-General of the World health Organisation on July 1st 2017 and was re-appointed on May 24th 2022. He had a vital role of advising government policies across the globe during the early Covid-19 pandemic. Furthermore, Kwasi Kwarteng recently got appointed by the current prime minister, Liz Truss, as the first Black Chancellor of the Exchequer, the highest position of power that a Black man has ever reached in UK government.

It’s evident that politics can change the physical, economic, and social landscape of a country, but we can also impact and alter culture, mindset, and attitude through art, such as music, literature, design, and film. Another area in which Black figures have played a key role throughout history and in the present day. In 2018, we saw the late Chadwick Boseman take on the role as the Black Panther, the first mainstream Black superhero of African descent. Since then, we now see Halle Bailey, a Black woman, play the renowned role as Little Mermaid. She is the second Black woman to play the role of a Disney princess, demonstrating a positive shift in people’s attitude towards Black people playing typically White protagonist roles.

Overall, there are a number of Black figures that have played a crucial role in changing the world around us, with noticeably significant accomplishments in a broad range of fields since the start of the 21st century. Although Black people remain underrepresented in numerous different areas, particularly in STEM careers with more action needing to be done to reduce this such as donating to schools’ outreach programs, there’s no doubt that the distance and progress made by today’s Black figures is monumental.

To read more about Black people changing the modern world, check out this article from CNBC on 23 Black Leaders Who Are Shaping the World Today

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