As a content agency championing diversity and inclusion in media, we strive to accurately reflect the robust experiences of people of color. For pocstock’s inaugural Future of Black America Top 50, we wanted to go beyond the usual high-profile representatives of the culture. We recognize that diversity goes beyond race, so while all our honorees are Black, they represent diversity of age, profession, and level of public knowledge.
There are many names you will recognize and many others you may not, but will — and should — very soon. These esteemed honorees span politics, media, fashion, technology and business, but also the fitness and wellness spaces, which, in light of the pandemic highlighting the need for more mental health resources, have become even more important.
This list is by no means exhaustive. Some people we have the privilege of knowing , and some are avid champions of diversity, inclusion, equity and belonging. All of them we admire and believe represent the breadth of Black excellence across many industries. Thankfully, there were so many people to choose from; however, it proved difficult to narrow our list to fifty.
So here they are, in no particular order. Read more about them, be inspired, follow their careers and their stories and give them their flowers. Enjoy.
Stacey Abrams — Georgia lawmaker, voting rights activist and author. Stacey’s work in increasing voter turnout in Georgia was instrumental in securing President Joe Biden’s victory and flipping the Senate with Georgia’s recent run-off and special elections. Earlier this month, she was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts. In 2018, she founded Fair Fight, an organization focused on fighting voter suppression.
Senator Raphael Warnock — Pastor and US Senator, Georgia. Former senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta (former pulpit of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King), Senator Raphael Warnock assumed his position as Senator of Georgia on January 20th, 2021. His main focus is on affordable healthcare and overall quality of life for the residents of Georgia.
Amanda Gorman — Biden Inauguration poet laureate. Twenty-two-year-old Amanda Gorman became the youngest poet laureate to ever recite words at a presidential inauguration in her self-penned piece, “The Hill We Climb,” that encouraged Americans to unite and come together. Gorman was named the Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles at age 16 where a few years later, while studying sociology at Harvard, became the National Youth Poet Laureate, the first to hold this position.
Brandon Scott — Mayor of Baltimore. In December 2020, thirty-six-year-old Brandon Scott was sworn in as the youngest mayor in a century for the city of Baltimore. Scott joined the city council in 2011 and during his eight year tenure, he launched the first-ever legislative initiative to build healthier and safer neighborhoods and re-invest in the city’s youth. Throughout his political career he has been working to defund the police and allocate funds to the community, lessen group violence, explore the city’s substance abuse, trauma and housing.
Rosalind G. Brewer — Group President and COO of Starbucks. On March 15, 2021, Rosalind will become CEO of Walgreens, making her the only Black woman serving as CEO of a Fortune 500 company and only the third Black woman ever to lead a Fortune 500 firm.
Gregory A. Adams — Chairman and CEO of Kaiser. With a background in nursing, Gregory A. Adams was named chairman and CEO of Kaiser in December 2019. Prior to his role he served as executive vice president and group president for Kaiser regions.
Ashley Allison — National Coalitions Director for Joe Biden. Formerly the Deputy Director in the Office of Public Engagement while Barack Obama was president, Ashley Allison is the National Coalitions Director for the Biden administration. She avidly fights for Black and LGBTQ+ rights, economic justice, and fair housing. Allison was a huge asset to Biden’s victory by ensuring various constituencies, movements, communities, and groups voted.
Telfar Clemens — Fashion designer. Brooklyn and Liberian designer, Telfar Clemens has gained traction over the years for his genderless, luxury and affordable fashion brand that is for the people. Clemens set out to make luxury, highly crafted items that could be affordable for underrepresented communities. Most known for his three sizes of shopping bags, Clemens has a celebrity following and cult fans that keep his merchandise sold out minutes after it drops.
Charlene Carruthers — Activist & Author. Charlene Carruthers fights for Black liberation daily through her work, encouraging young people to become activists to create justice and freedom for all. She has run campaigns for Center for Community Change, Color of Change and is the author of Unapologetic: A Black, Queer and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements.
James Rucker — Co-founder, Color of Change. James Rucker founded Color of Change in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, as an online citizen space to strengthen the political voice of African Americans and allies. Prior to Color of Change, Rucker was the grassroots director for Moveon.org.
Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison — Co-founders, GirlTrek. Vanessa Garrison and Morgan Dixon are two best friends highly concerned about the obesity levels and health concerns in the Black community, specifically for Black women. With this in mind, they created GirlTrek, a walk and talk mediation that helps celebrate Black women and Black people, by getting them ready for the fight with each walked step. As the largest health organization for Black women in America, they are quickly approaching their goal of 1 million Black females to reclaim the streets, get fit for the revolution and create a safe space to unwind.
Eric Adams — Brooklyn Borough President. A former policeman and state senator, Eric Adams was the first Black man elected Brooklyn Borough President in 2013. He’s also a candidate running for New York City mayor in 2021.
Jessica O. Matthews — Founder & CEO, Uncharted Power. What started off as a toys and sports products manufacturer, Uncharted Power is focused on creating infrastructural solutions to cost-efficient energy for the developing world. Founded by Jessica O Matthews, Uncharted Power raised $7 million back in 2016, the largest Series A ever raised by a Black female founder.
Dr. Randal Pinkett — Chairman & CEO, BCT Partners. Dr. Randal Pinkett is a respected author and sought-after speaker who is Chairman & CEO of BCT Partners, a multimillion-dollar research, training, consulting technology and data analytics firm named among the largest African American-owned businesses by Black Enterprise and one of the top 10 most innovative diversity and inclusion consulting companies by Manage HR.
Rashida Jones — President, MSNBC. As the new President of MSNBC, Rashida Jones is the first Black woman to lead a major cable news network. Over the years, Rashida has been a key player in MSNBC and NBC’s annual triple digit growth. She leads daily programming and has led many major event coverages over her two decade tenure, such as: election nights, primary and presidential debates, political conventions and more.
Trey Baker — National Director for African-American Engagement, Joe Biden for President. Trey Baker spearheaded the necessary coalitions to win Joe Biden his presidential seat by growing endorsements, engaging allied partners and supporting in-state infrastructures.
Meredith Lilly — Attorney, Campaign Manager and Political Strategist. Meredith Lilly is sought-after attorney and community organizer who is former Senior Advisor to the Regional Administrator of the United States General Services Administration (GSA) under the Obama administration. Post-appointment, her efforts contributed to the victory of Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms in 2017. More recently, Meredith served as Senior Advisor to the Warnock for Georgia campaign.
Terrence Clark — President & CEO, NYNJ Minority Development Supplier Council. As head of the Council, Terrence provides operational oversight and carries out full management and operational responsibilities for the Council staff including personnel, administration, work delegation and performance evaluations. He also provides supervision and direction related to the Council program areas and activities in the Council’s market areas which are the State of New York and New Jersey up to the Trenton area.
Shelly Bell — Founder of Black Girls Ventures. A computer scientist and serial entrepreneur, Shelly Bell is the founder of Black Girls Venture, an organization focused on social and financial capital for Black and Brown women-identifying founders. Since launch, the corporation has funded dozens of women and in 2021 she and her team announced a partnership with athletic powerhouse Nike that entails a $500K investment as part of their commitment to support opportunities for Black Americans.
Derrick Johnson — President & CEO, NAACP. American lawyer, Derrick Johnson became the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) president and CEO in 2017. He’s dedicated to improving the lives of Mississippi residents.
Kimberly Bryant — Founder of Black Girls Code. Kimberly Bryant started her organization, Black Girls Code, as a way to provide more opportunity to women of color. A computer programmer herself, Black Girls Code is an organization that educates young girls (age 7–17) on computer science and technology.
Dr. Roger A. Mitchell — Chair of the Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention for the National Medical Association. A board-certified in anatomic and forensic pathologist, Dr. Mitchell co-authored the paper entitled The Violence Epidemic in the African American Community: A Call by the National Medical Association for Comprehensive Reform highlighting the impact of violence in the United States. He is also the author of The Price of Freedom: A Son’s Journey.
Michele Ghee — CEO, EBONY & Jet Magazines. As newly-named CEO, Michele Ghee will lead the resurgence of these iconic Black titles. She’s also Managing Partner of the Stratechic Alliance and author behind The stratechic 2.0 Her Plan. Her Power. Her Purpose.
Matthew A. Cherry — Writer and Director, Hair Love. This award-winning short film is a beautiful depiction of a father and daughter’s relationship. It follows the father learning how to do Zuri’s curly, coily and kinky curls. The bond shown is effortless and teaches readers all the things Black hair can do. Matthew does a great job at showing Black girls that their hair is beautiful and to have patience.
Ciara May — Founder, Rebundle. Entrepreneur Ciara May is the founder of plant-based hair extensions company Rebundle. The business seeks to bring Black ownership to the hair industry that mostly profits off Black people but has very few Black owners. The plant-based concept was derived from the lack of sustainable options to hair extensions.
Bryce Michael Wood — Founder of social justice podcast/series “For Your (Dis)Comfort”. A SoulCycle senior instructor, Bryce Michael Woods felt compelled to start the series “For Your (Dis)Comfort” following the widespread acknowledgement of police brutality and white supremacy that took place the summer of 2020. The multi-episode series looks to inform and educate allies on allyship and the Black experience through personal stories of Woods and guest speakers.
Chrissy Rutherford and Danielle Prescod — Founders, 2 Black Girls. Former high-fashion magazine editors and close friends, Chrissy Rutherford and Danielle Prescod are the founders of consulting agency 2BG (2 Black Girls). Birthed last summer during the racial reckoning, the pair work with influencers and companies to guide and educate on how to become better allies. The work helps brands with crisis management and achieve sustainable solutions for diversity and inclusion.
Gerren Keith Gaynor — Managing Editor, theGrio. Gerren’s words have been published in the New York Times, ESSENCE , EBONY and Black Enterprise. At theGrio, one of the leading Black news outlets in the country, Gerren has interviewed dozens of entertainers, politicians and public figures. He is also the host of theGrio’s flagship podcast, Dear Culture and its YouTube digital news countdown series, Grio Top 3.
Moikgantsi Kgama — Founder & Executive Director, ImageNation Cinema Foundation. Moikgantsi is founder of ImageNation Cinema Foundation, a Harlem-based nonprofit media arts organization that fosters media equity, media literacy, solidarity, cross-cultural exchange and highlights the humanity of Pan-African people worldwide. Among its directors and advisory board members are Ava Duvernay, Nelson George and Michaela Angela Davis.
Darian Hall — Co-founder, Heal Haus. Darian Hall founded Heal Haus, a space where men can heal and communicate hurt, after experiencing his own trauma with his biological father. The space has workshops, yoga and meditation daily classes and private sessions.
Abby Phillip — CNN Anchor, ‘Inside Politics’. Former CNN political correspondent, Abby Phillip is the new senior political correspondent and anchor of ‘Inside Politics Sunday’, which began airing on January 24th.
Ronald Skeete — Territorial Pathway of Hope Director. Mr. Skeete leads the overall coordination, oversight, and implementation of The Salvation Army’s nationwide poverty alleviation initiative, Pathway of Hope. In this role, he works across 16 states in the Southern Territory to break the cycle of poverty and help families thrive. In addition, he is a member of 100 Black Men of North Metro Atlanta, where he volunteers his time as a mentor to young men of color.
Samira Nasr — Editor-in-Chief, Harper’s Bazaar. Samira Nasr made history last summer as the first Black female editor-in-chief of a high fashion magazine, Harper’s Bazaar history. Prior to Harper’s she was the executive fashion director at Vanity Fair.
Van Jones — CNN commentator and CEO, REFORM Alliance. In addition to his work as commentator for CNN, he is the author of three New York Times bestsellers: The Green Collar Economy, Rebuild the Dream, and Beyond the Messy Truth. Van is also CEO of REFORM Alliance, an initiative founded by Jay-Z and Meek Mill that helps to transform the criminal justice system.
Aisha Glover — VP Urban Innovation, Audible. Aisha leads Audible’s Global Center for Urban Development, dedicated to expanding the company’s community and economic initiatives, focusing on advancing equality, racial justice and economic empowerment.
Julian Frederick — Chef and creator of The Step Stool Chef. Age is but a number for Julian Frederick, the 12-year-old chef and creator of The Step Stool Chef, an initiative looking to empower kids leadership skills via culinary arts. Frederick’s goal is to teach kids how to make dishes that are fun and relatable. He recently partnered with digital home cooking platform, SideChef, where young subscribers will learn basic cooking skills using math, science and reading in their experience.
Dee Marshall — CEO, Diverse & Engaged. Through her company, Diverse & Engaged, Dee C. Marshall works with corporate brands on diversity and inclusion programs to ensure an inclusive work culture. In addition, Marshall is the curator of Diversity on the Hill and founder of D&I Honors where Congress meets culture inclusion and belonging.
Steve Jones — Founder & CEO, pocstock. Steve is a serial entrepreneur who has spent the last 20 years creating innovative technology solutions to solve everyday problems. Steve is currently building pocstock into the world’s largest diversity content agency on a mission to change the way people of color are seen around the world.
Neneh Diallo — SVP, Client Experience Corporate Communication, Current Global. Neneh Diallo is a public affairs executive with over 20 years of experience in strategic communications, developing and implementing communications campaigns related to health, energy, conflict security, and private sector investment. She is also a seasoned filmmaker, having most recently produced four short documentaries on the U.S. led Ebola recovery program in West Africa.
Kyrie Irving — Athlete and philanthropist. Kyrie Irving is not just a famous basketball player for the Brooklyn Nets, but a philanthropist who has donated over $2 million to the WNBA and families in need in New York City. WNBA players are severely underpaid and were not paid if they didn’t show up to the Bubble (where practices and games were held during the pandemic) so Irving donated money to players.
Laverne Cox — Actress and activist. American actress and LGBTQ+ activist, Laverne Cox is best known for her role in Orange Is The New Black where she plays Sophia Burset. Cox is not shy to the spotlight being the first transgender woman to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy, win a daytime Emmy award, and appear on Time Magazine and Cosmopolitan South Africa.
Larry Scott Blackmon — CEO, Blackmon Organization. In addition to his role as CEO of the Blackmon Organization, a leading consulting firm, Larry serves as VP of Public Affairs for Fresh Direct where his work builds on FreshDirect’s existing community and charitable partnerships across a variety of issues including fighting hunger, nutrition education and career development.
Jessamyn Stanley — Body positive advocate and co-founder of The Underbelly. Jessamyn Stanley is a yoga instructor who teaches for all bodies and all levels. Her community, The Underbelly, welcomes “everyone who feels overlooked and underserved by the wellness industry”. Based in North Carolina, Stanley encourages students to ask “How do I feel?” instead of “How do I look?” during her classes. Jessamyn recently graced the cover of Cosmopolitan UK.
Pastor Michael Todd — Senior Pastor, Transformation Church. With his wife, Natalie Todd, Pastor Michael Todd claims that Transformation Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma is a hot church, as in humble, open and transparent. He touches his congregation and millions of social media followers with his authentic stories and revelations for the Bible.
Danita Johnson — President of Business Operations for D.C. United Soccer Team. Danita is the newly-named President of Business Operations for D.C. United, making her the first-ever Black president in Major League Soccer history. Until recently, she was president and COO of the Los Angeles Sparks WNBA team.
Alex Toussaint — Instructor, Peloton. Alex Toussaint, senior instructor for Peloton, has a military background that inspires his no excuses mentality to teaching. A favorite among celebrity Peloton devotees and as one of the fitness platform’s most popular instructors, Alex pulls in over 20,000 riders each class, teaching with vigor and discipline.
Janeen Uzzell — COO, Wikimedia. Since 2019, Janeen has served as Chief Operating Officer for the Wikimedia Foundation, which hosts Wikipedia. In this role she works to evolve the organization’s operations to match the growing needs and goals of the organization. Prior to joining the foundation, she was head of Women in Technology at General Electric (GE), where she cultivated a culture across their workforce of 300,000 employees which accelerated the number of women in technical roles.
Tyler Mitchell — Celebrity photographer. Brooklyn photographer and filmmaker Tyler Mitchell made history as the youngest Black photographer to shoot for American Vogue with his Beyoncé cover in 2018, and again in 2020 for Vice President Kamala Harris. His work is focused on documenting a “new aesthetic of Blackness”.
Tabitha Brown — Social media personality. Tabitha Brown created a Tik Tok account in March 2020 and has since gained over 4 million followers and 3 million on Instagram for sharing her love of food and self-love. She encourages non-cooks to get up and start by introducing them to fun and quick vegan meals.
Charles Blow — Author and journalist, The New York Times. Charles Blow joined The New York Times as a columnist for politics, opinion and social justice. His memoir, Fire Shut Up In My Bones was released in 2014. His latest book, The Devil You Know: A Black Power Manifesto hit bookstores in January 2021.
We began our yearlong “IncludeUS” campaign in January with a livestream discussion on Dr. Martin Luther King Day about Black America’s new social contract in light of the new administration. Our goal is to preach and abide by this message by celebrating these honorees not only during Black History Month but throughout the year, amplifying their stories and partnering with them to give them a platform to continue uplifting others. We hope you will continue to join us.