25 Black Influencers Who Are Making History

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6 Black influencers' portraits

Consumers want brands to do more than provide a simple product or service in today’s social landscape. They want brands that show genuine integrity and run campaigns that support the issues that are most important to them. 

Now, all brands have to ask themselves a pivotal question: What do we really stand for? 

Over the last several years, the Black Lives Matter movement and protests inspired many brands to stand up for social justice and uplift Black voices. The movement also paved the way for a new generation of social media activists who share the same vision. Together they form partnerships that transcend traditional brand-creator collaborations and promote a more inclusive and equitable world for marginalized communities. 

Here is a look at why diversity is critical for your influencer marketing strategy, brands that are doing it right, and some of today’s Black influencers on social media that are making history.  

Why diversity is important in influencer marketing

A successful influencer marketing strategy requires brands to form authentic partnerships with social media creators. These creators generate buzz and excitement through honest product endorsements and can be the champions marketers need to develop long-term brand love.  

Influencers accomplish this by telling a brand’s story. But what happens when a chunk of the population gets left out of that story? The brand not only isolates millions of potential fans but also gives the impression that some voices matter more than others. 

For 67% of adults in the U.S., “diversity and inclusion” means racial equality. That is why representation is so essential for influencer marketers. 

Business experts, including the Harvard Business Review, note that diversity and inclusion are essential to better innovation and collective problem-solving. Simply put, brands that welcome alternative perspectives perform better when marketing and improving their products and services. Inviting diversity into your influencer marketing strategy makes a far broader audience reach and a better chance of forming authentic relationships with everyone in your target audience. 

Brands that take a vocal stance on diversity and equality improve their standing with consumers even further. Research shows that 31% of consumers will stop frequenting a store that does not take a public stand on diversity and inclusion. Nearly 45% will go out of their way to visit a store they’ve never frequented. 

Bar graph of showing how a majority of US adults show their support for a company that makes a commitment to diversity and equality initiatives on social media
Image via Insider Intelligence

Transcription: How U.S. Adults Show Their Support for a Company that Makes a Commitment to Diversity and Equality Initiatives

49% of respondents show support on social media.

44% of respondents go out of their way to go to a store they’ve never frequented.

44% of respondents spend more money at the store.

31% of respondents stop frequenting a store that does not publicly support diversity and inclusion.

Note: ages 18-64; among respondents who are more likely to support a company that makes a commitment to diversity and equality initiatives. 

Source: ThinkNow, “Diversity & Inclusion: Brands and Consumer Purchase Intent.” June 8, 2021

But in today’s social environment, there is far more at stake than just a brand’s bottom line. Companies now have a responsibility to use their reach and resources to become levers of change for marginalized communities and inspire action that leaves a lasting impact on society.

Here is a look at a few companies that have answered the call and taken social activism to the next level. 

Brands uplifting Black voices on social media

1. Ben & Jerry’s

Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream is a leader in corporate activism, first linking its brand to social causes in 1988 with its “Peace Pop” flavor. The company has ramped up its efforts for change in recent years, supporting numerous movements, including voting rights, racial justice, LGBTQ+ rights, and climate justice. 

Ben & Jerry’s recently partnered with Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp organization in an effort to divest from prisons and policing and invest in vital community services. 

2. LEGO

LEGO is committed to celebrating and supporting Black creators through its Rebuild the World Campaign. The company partnered with artist Ekow Nimako who shares its vision of pushing culture forward. 

In the wake of George Floyd’s murder in 2020, LEGO also donated $4 million to Black youth organizations and pulled ads for police and White House toy sets. 

3. Niantic

Niantic, the software development company best known for creating Pokémon GO, supports community initiatives, including BLKOUT Murals and Monumental Reckoning. They also provided funding to five developers in 2021 as a part of their Black Developers Initiative. The company said it plans to expand its social impact work into 2022. 

25 Black influencers who are making history

1. Marie Beecham

Marie Beecham is a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) educator and a social justice advocate. Her goal on social media is to make tough racial and social equity topics digestible for everyone. 

Marie gained a massive following during the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020 when her post titled “How To Ally” went viral. The slideshow accumulated more than 250,000 likes and provided instructions on how to “act with urgency” and “talk about racism with other White people.”

You can also follow Marie on Twitter and Facebook

2. Mel D. Cole

Mel D. Cole is a documentary photographer who has captured the hip-hop and nightlife scene for the last 20 years. Mel shifted his focus in 2020 to photographing Black Lives Matter protests and those compelled to take action against police brutality and social injustice. He recently released a collection of American Protest Photographs 2020-2021

You can also follow Mel on Twitter

3. Kelvin Davis

Kelvin Davis is an artist, activist, and creator of the body-positive men’s fashion blog Notoriously Dapper. The blog inspires all men to love themselves, stay positive, and always be kind. The recently released Notoriously Dapper book was nominated for the NAACP Image Awards and serves as a how-to guide for becoming a modern gentleman with style and body confidence. 

You can also follow Kelvin on Twitter and Facebook

4. Ava DuVernay

Ava DuVernay is an award-winning filmmaker known best for directing the movies I Will Follow, Middle of Nowhere, and Selma. She was the first Black woman to win the Sundance Film Festival Directing Award and the first Black woman nominated for a Best Picture at the Oscars. In 2017, TIME included Ava on its list of the 100 most influential people in the world. 

You can also follow Ava on Twitter and Facebook

5. Ijeoma Oluo

Ijeoma Oluo is a writer, speaker, “internet yeller,” and the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller So You Want to Talk About Race? She appeared on the TIME100 Next list in 2021 and was featured twice on the Root 100 list. Ijeoma recently released a new book titled Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America

You can also follow Ijeoma on Twitter

6. Jahmal Cole

Jahmal Cole is an activist, public speaker, and author. His nonprofit organization My Block, My Hood, My City mentors underprivileged kids in Chicago through educational programs and field trips. Jahmal’s mission is to inspire a deep community connection and provide everyone within it with the tools they need to succeed in life. 

You can also follow Jahmal’s mission on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube

7. Lynae Vanee

@_lyneezy Can I get an AMEN?! 🗣 This should hold you til Sunday. (Pt.2) #fashiontiktok #blackhistory #andreleontalley #parkinglotpimpin ♬ original sound – Lynae Vanee

Lynae Vanee is a former high school teacher who now “edu-tains” audiences on social media on issues dealing with race relations, Black history, and comedy. Lynae grew her audience from 2,000 to roughly half a million followers in 2020 thanks to her weekly “Parking Lot Pimpin” segments that dive deeply into any and all racial and social issues. 

You can also follow Lynae on YouTube and Facebook

8. Raquel Willis

Raquel Willis is a writer, cultural organizer, and transgender activist. She has served as the director of communications for the Ms. Foundation, executive editor of Out magazine, and national organizer for the Transgender Law Center. During her time at Out, Raquel won a GLAAD Media Award for her Trans Obituaries Project, which highlighted violence against trans women of color. 

You can keep up with Raquel’s work on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn

9. W. Kamau Bell

W. Kamau Bell is a standup comedian and the host and executive producer of the CNN docu-series United Shades of America with K. Kamau Bell. He is the ACLU celebrity ambassador for racial justice and recently wrote a book simply titled The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell: Tales of a 6’4″, African American, Heterosexual, Cisgender, Left-Leaning, Asthmatic, Black and Proud Blerd, Mama’s Boy, Dad, and Standup Comedian. His latest standup special, Private School Negro, is now available on Netflix.  

You can find more of Kamau’s content on Twitter and Facebook

10. Kahlil Greene

@kahlilgreene This is for the people that still don’t get it! #aave #awkwafina #culturalappropriation #hiddenhistory #blackculture ♬ original sound – Kahlil

Kahlil Greene is on a mission to “bridge the gap between Gen Z and leading institutions with captivating content on the history and future of diversity, equity, and inclusion. When he was 19, Kahlil was elected as Yale’s first Black student body president. Now, the “Gen Z Historian” educates an audience of more than 500k followers on all matters related to racial and social justice. 

You can also catch Kahlil’s lessons on Instagram and LinkedIn

11. Yara Shahidi

Screenshot of Yara Shahidi's Instagram post
Image via Instagram

Yara Shahidi is an actress best known for her role in the sitcom Black-ish and spin-off series Grown-ish. She won an NAACP image award in 2014 and signed with New York Women Management modeling agency in 2016 with the hope of inspiring more women of color in diverse character roles. In 2020, Disney cast Yara as Tinkerbell in the upcoming live-action Peter Pan film. 

You can also follow Yara on Facebook

12. Marques Brownlee

Marques Brownlee, also known as MKBHD, is a professional ultimate frisbee player and world-famous YouTuber. Millions of people across multiple platforms count on Marques for his tech reviews and tune into his podcast, Waveform, where he discusses the latest technology to hit the market. 

You can also follow MKBHD on Instagram and Twitter

13. Robby Novak

Robby Novak portrays Kid President on television and on his popular YouTube series. His videos are produced by his brother-in-law Brad Montague. Although viewers can’t expect any new Kid President content, Robby and Brad have an upcoming show where they travel the United States meeting kids who are “trying to make the world a little more awesome.”

14. Rachel Ricketts

Rachel Ricketts is an activist, attorney, and author of the best-selling book Do Better: Spiritual Activism for Fighting and Healing from White Supremacy. Her mission is to help Black and indigenous women reclaim freedom of the mind, body, and soul. 

15. Tamika D. Mallory

Tamika D. Mallory is a social justice leader and movement strategist. She served as the youngest-ever executive director of the National Action Network and one of four co-chairs for the 2017 Women’s March on Washington, the country’s largest single-day demonstration. She has been named one of TIME’s 100 most influential people and made Fortune’s list of the world’s greatest leaders.  

You can also follow Tamika on Twitter and Facebook

16. Temi Coker

Temi Coker is a graphic designer and photographer known for incorporating layers of his Nigerian culture into his unique artistic style. Temi doesn’t just want to create art—he wants to create “powerful experiences that move and challenge beauty standards.” He has collaborated with major companies like Apple, Adobe, Footlocker, Google, and more. 

You can follow more of Temi’s work on Twitter and his website

17. Taylor Cassidy

@taylorcassidyj did someone say magic? 😌✨ Black Girl Magic Minute: @Essence and @Danielle Bonaparte #blackgirlmagic#photographytiktok#blacktiktok#melanin ♬ Are You That Somebody – Aaliyah

Taylor Cassidy uplifts Black voices and culture on her social media channels through her series Fast Black History and Black Girl Magic. She was named one of TikTok’s 2020 Voices of Change: Most Impactful Voices and will participate in the channel’s #BlackCreatives program to help 100 Black creators and musicians launch their careers on TikTok. 

You can also follow Taylor on Instagram and Twitter

18. Kori Coleman

Kori Coleman is an artist and the executive director of D-Composed Chicago. D-Composed is a Black chamber music collective on a mission to “empower society through the power of Black composers.” Kori cultivates a playlist of Black musicians meant to “redefine what it means to be a composer.”

You can follow along with Kori and D-Composed mission on Facebook and YouTube

19. Marvin-Alonzo Greer

@mag_the_historian Reply to @beyoncesroach black folks out here supporting yt supremacy #hatian #haiti #blackhistory #blackhistorymonth #blackdiaspora #africandiaspora ♬ original sound – user955104880284

Marvin-Alonzo Greer, also known as MAG the Historian, is a historical interpreter, public historian, and activist. He is the lead historical interpretation and community engagement officer for the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission. Marvin-Alonzo played an integral role at other major museums and historical institutions like the Atlanta History Center and Colonial Williamsburg. 

You can find Marvin-Alonzo’s insights on his blog, Instagram, and Twitter

20. GloZell Green

GloZell Green is a comedian and actress best known for her hugely popular YouTube channel that features funny stories about her life and song parodies. GloZell interviewed President Barack Obama in 2015 to discuss racial profiling, officer-involved shootings, and other topics related to social justice. 

You can find more of GloZell’s content on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

21. Nick Courmon

@ndcpoetry Their nrratives have gone unheard for too long! #BlackTikTok #blackhistory #blackhistorymonth #edutok #blm #poetry #teacher #germany #fyp ♬ original sound – Nick Courmon

Nick Courmon is a poet and a Black Lives Matter activist who believes in art as a way of opening the door to difficult conversations. He founded NDC Poetry to use “poetry, spoken word, creative writing, and performance to educate, uplift, and edify others. 

You can follow along with Nick’s mission on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn

  1. 22. Angela Davis
25 Black Influencers Who Are Making History 1

Angela Davis launched a food blog in 2012 that eventually enabled her to leave her finance job and cook full time. She is now a private chef who helps nurture authenticity and creativity in her audience’s personal cooking journey through digital storytelling. 

You can see Angela in action on Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube

23. Wesley Taylor

Wesley Taylor is a portrait and lifestyle photographer who prides himself on capturing life’s most special moments. In his words, Wesley captures the moments that “remind us why we love each other, how delicious a meal was, and how to take notice of things that truly matter.”

You can find more of Wesley’s work on Facebook

24. Ailsa Emmel

Ailsa Emmel is a certified nurse-midwife working to spread her knowledge about women’s health. Her weekly posts touch on topics from birth control to breastfeeding and everything in between. 

25. Jessica Nabongo

Jessica Nabongo is a writer, entrepreneur, public speaker, and prolific traveler. In 2019, she became the first documented Black woman to visit every country in the world. 

You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and her blog

Conclusion: Black creators are champions for causes and campaigns

Now that a new generation of social media activists has collided with those making racial justice waves for years, the right voice exists for every brand that wants a partner who shares their vision for social change. The passionate, engaged following of these unique social media creators makes them ideal partners for brands ready to share what they stand for with the world.

Frequently Asked Questions

The top five Black influencers ranked by the largest number of Instagram followers are:

  1. Dwayne Johnson: 297 million followers
  2. Beyonce: 237 million followers
  3. Nicki Minaj: 174 million followers
  4. Kevin Hart: 136 million followers
  5. Zendaya: 128 million followers

Dwayne Johnson is the most-followed African-American on Instagram with 297 million followers.

Dwayne Johnson is the most famous Black influencer with 297 million followers on Instagram.

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