6 Influencers Who Help To Highlight The Power Of Black Representation

This February, HuffPost Black Voices is honoring black men and women who are paving the way to a better future for black America. As part of our “Black Future Month” series, we will highlight the work of deserving individuals who are striving to make the world a more inclusive place for generations to come.

For the final installment of our series, we’re honoring six dynamic influencers who shine with creativity, produce stellar platforms, and help to bring greater representation to the fields of arts and entertainment. We hope you admire their work and participate in the conversation online: #BlackFutureMonth. 

  • 1 Ryan Coogler | Director and Co-Founder of Black Out For Human Rights
    Gabriel Olsen via Getty Images
    Ryan Coogler is a director, activist and an incredible storyteller. Not only is he using his platform as a director to bring untold stories — such as that of Oscar Grant — to the silver screen, but he is also at the forefront of one of Americas rising civil rights movements. As the founder of the activist collectiveBlack Out For Human Rights, Coogler is rallying filmmakers, musicians, artists, activists and citizens to address human rights issues in the United States. The Creed director helped to organize the #MLKNOW event at Harlem’s Riverside Church in January, which brought together some of black Hollywoods biggest names to recite historical Civil Rights speeches in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

    Leading up to the event, Coogler opened up to Vice on how his activism is connected to his family lineage. If you peel the skin back, most people that come from marginalized groups, we all do, he said. Activism is survival. It’s what we have to do to survive. Everyone has uncles and grandparents that were activists in their own way. I’m no different.

  • 2 Marcus Prime | Illustrator
    Courtesy of Marcus Prime
    Marcus Tolbert (also known as Markus Prime) is using his vibrant canvas to illustrate and reaffirm the beauty of blackness. Prime consistently challenges issues of race and gender through his art, which he shares online. One of his most powerful examples of his work is animage he made last yearin response to the pool incident in McKinney, Texas, where a police officer aggressively manhandled a 15-year-old black girl.

    Prime said he uses his art tochallenge the status quo, which ultimately helps to empower those who praise it. I believe we can collectively achieve a better black future by owning more of our own businesses and pushing each other to become more educated and aware of the world around us, he told HuffPost. Knowledge literally is power. If we are able to empower ourselves we will be far more progressive.

  • 3 Amanda Seales | Comedian, Host, DJ
    Courtesy of Amanda Seales
    Amanda Seales is the epitome of black excellence. She’s a comedian, DJ, actress, host, public speaker and currently stars in her own hilarious comedy web series, “Get Your Life.” Through her work, Seales consistently speaks out about her experience as a black woman and draws attention to important issues of race and gender.

    Looking ahead, Seales wants to continue laying the groundwork that embodies social responsibility. I consciously create from a space that represents us, shetold HuffPost.Black culture is such a deep canon of excellence, and I feel a strong sense of accountability to reflect and encourage… in everything I do.

  • 4 Dennis Dortch and Numa Perrier | Co-Founders of Black & Sexy TV
    Courtesy of Dennis Dortch and Numa Perrier
    Dennis Dortch & Numa Perrier, co-founders of Black & Sexy TV, are paving the way for young, progressive black audiences in America. Through their online film and web series distribution service, Black & Sexy TV, the pair wants to change the focus of black people begging and pleading for acceptance by establishments such as the Oscars. We are some bad ass people with talent, beauty, style and lingo that other cultures co-opt worldwide on a daily basis, Dortch told HuffPost. We wont feel angry about an Oscar, if we dont subscribe to the idea that an Oscar is important. We wont get angry at yet another slave movie or servant character if we have our own shows and movies that reflect the current modern images of ourselves and our friends that we experience every day.

    Instead, the two say creating a better future requires black folks to take action in accepting and acknowledging their worth. “It’s so simple.We take responsibility for ourselves. Take back control of our images and ignore any negative ones as noise,” Perrier said. “Thats power. Thats a better black future that we are responsible for.”

  • 5 April Reign | Creator of #OscarsSoWhite
    Huffington Post
    April Reign is the creator of the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag and managing editor of Broadwayblack.com. Reign consistently advocates for better representation of people of color in film and she says her activism reflects her pride. “Being black to me means that I stand on the whipped shoulders of my ancestors because through their sacrifice, I am and I therefore have a responsibility to achieve everything that I am able,” she told HuffPost.

    Reign said she draws inspiration from men likeMalcolm X and that she hopes her work helps peoplehold their head a little bit higher andinspires others to move us all toward freedom. We have to recognize that until we are all free, none of us are, she said. So we must extend a hand to all segments of the black community because we all can learn from one another and grow with each other.

Read more: www.huffingtonpost.com

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