Current Black Heroes in Every Field Because Representation Matters


By Andrew Pillow

As the world is reveling in the success of Black Panther, we should use this opportunity to discuss blacks in other fields that don’t get a lot of attention. Part of the appeal of Black Panther is that many black kids had never seen a black superhero before; this is true for many other fields as well.

  • My students had never seen a current black inventor.
  • My students had never heard of black directors.
  • My students were shocked to learn of the existence of black race car drivers.
  • There are many other fields like coding and software engineers where students knew blacks existed, but couldn’t actually name one.

In order to combat the non-representation that we see on TV, here are some black people in other fields your students may not know.  For the purposes of this list, I am only highlighting fields students perceive as traditionally white dominated. 

Startup founders: Who are some black examples of Mark Zuckerberg? 

Riana Lynn – Founder and CEO of FoodTrace, a startup that builds mapping apps and software for food sourcing management.

Tristan Walker – Founder & CEO of Walker & Company Brands.

Christopher Gray – Founder of a Scholarship app called Scholly. He received an investment on the show, Shark Tank.

Inventors and Engineers: Who are some black examples similar to Elon Musk?

Lonnie Johnson – Nuclear Engineer with tons of different patents, but you probably know him best for inventing the Super Soaker water gun.

Mark Dean – Computer scientist who holds three of the nine patents for being the co-creator of the 1981 IBM personal computer. Inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Other Sports: Who are successful black athletes in sports that aren’t basketball, football, or track and field?

Lewis Hamilton (Racing) – He is one of the first black Formula 1 driver.  He’s also currently ranked number 1 in the world and on track to be the greatest ever.  

Ibtihaj Muhammad (Fencing) – She is an Olympic level sword fighter that made waves when she became the first woman to wear a hijab while competing for the United States. She eventually won a bronze medal.

Simone Manuel (Swimming) – This swimmer pulled a huge upset to win the 100 metres freestyle. Which gives her legitimate claim to being the fastest female swimmer in the world.

Movie Directors: Who are black examples similar to Steven Spielberg?

Ryan Coogler – He’s only directed three movies, but they were Fruitvale Station, Creed, and Black Panther which were all massive successes.

Antoine Fuqua – He has directed a ton of movies but he is probably best known for Training Day.

This is by no means an “exhaustive list” of people, but hopefully it gives you a good start on finding current non-rappers and basketball players  you can share with your students.