In my life there have been many influences and many inspirations. As I looked into history and into society, I am grateful to have found intelligent, creative, ingenious, and ambitious Black men to be inspired and challenged by. I created a list of the top five Most Inspirational Black Men in my life to share the achievements of successful Black Men in America and also to provide potential inspiration for Black men looking to find an example of what it is to function at one's full capacity in their community.
Russell Simmons - Hip hop and fashion entrpreneur, writer, and activist animal rights, Russell Simmons is the epitome of an accomplished Black man. His clothing collections include Phat Farm, Argyleculture, and American Classics. He also heads Rush Communications which includes Simmons' clothing lines, his movie production house, and his Run Athletics division. Russell Simmons is also the writer of the self-help book Do You! 12 Laws To Access The Power In You To Achieve Happiness And Success.
Sean "Diddy" Combs - Another power player in the hip hop and fashion industry, Sean Combs has made a name for himself through his Bad Boy record label which has signed numerous R&B and hip hop artists, and his clothing line Sean John. Diddy received the Council of Fashion Designer's of America Award for Menswear Designer or the Year in 2000 and also in 2004. His "go hard or go home" attitude keeps him at the business chain among Black executives and his reign over the entertainment industry continues to grow.
Andre Leon Talley - The previous editor-at-large for Vogue, Andre Leon Talley has gained considerable influence in the world of fashion over the past 25 years. He has become a front-row staple at fashion shows and his attention to up-and-coming designers. He is also responsible for introducing Michelle Obama to designer Jason Wu and being an influential fashion force for the Presidential family. He published a memoir titled A.L.T.: A Memoir in 2003.
Spike Lee - One of the greatest Black filmmakers of all time and a master of Black creative production, Spike Lee has proven successful in providing films that accurately shed light on the Black experience with films such as Boyz n Da Hood, School Daze, Do The Right Thing, and Malcolm X. Spike Lee encourages awareness in his films and also in his speakings his denotes the importance of education to the Black community and not just as a "white thing". Spike Lee has employed many Black activists and public speakers in his films and many notable Black actors and actresses.
Fonzworth Bentley - Gaining his fame through working as Diddy's personal assistant, Fonzworth Bentley has been the catalyst for the renaissance of the urban gentleman. His dapper and classical style and his culture have also gained him recognition. Bentley hosted the show G's to Gents on MTV and used the show to take at-risk men off the streets and give them a chance to improve themselves. He is the author of the self-help book Advance Your Swagger: How to Use Manners, Confidence, and Style to Get Ahead.