February is Black History Month, and we're taking a look forward.
From actors to politicians to philanthropists, these 20 black men, women, and children are poised to do incredible things in 2018.
Erin Jackson is making history at the Winter Olympics.
This year's Winter Olympics will mark a few different historic firsts, not the least of which is Erin Jackson's introduction into the games as the first African-American woman on the United States speed skating team. The kicker? Jackson, 25, has only had about four months of training in the sport before qualifying.
Common continues to be a force for good.
Common, born Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr., is a recording artist, actor, and the first rapper to win an Emmy, a Grammy, and an Oscar. His message transcends lyrics and his dedication to several different causes is clear. As "hip hop's unofficial ambassador," 45-year-old Common has taken the time to speak out at the Women's March and help those in need, including donating $10,000 to a Harlem arts school
Colin Kaepernick continues to spark national conversation.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick opened the door for a national conversation this year as he took a knee during the National Anthem in support of the rights of people of color and in protest against police brutality. Beyond the field, 30-year-old Kaepernick has been dedicated to philanthropy, pledging to raise $1 million for different charitable foundations and announcing the creation of his own youth empowerment camp.
Tabria Majors is breaking barriers in the modeling industry.
27-year-old model Tabria Majors is breaking new ground when it comes to representing for "curvy" women and women of color everywhere, from appearing in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue to proving that Victoria’s Secret ads shouldn’t begin and end with straight-size models.
Marsai Martin will take a starring role this year.
13-year-old "Black-ish”" star Marsai Martin’s resume is already impressive, and it’s only growing in 2018. The actor will be producing and starring in her own movie, "Little," which will begin its production this year. The project is Martin’s first studio feature film. Not only is the comedy based on her own script idea and story concept, it’s also backed by the producers behind the wildly successful "Girls Trip."
Brenda Lawrence is standing with survivors.
Michigan Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D) is using her platform to keep history from repeating itself. Lawrence believes that the way to for that to happen is to remember women like Recy Taylor, whose emotional story of rape and injustice was the subject of Oprah Winfrey’s powerful Golden Globes speech. Not only did Lawrence, 63, attend the State of the Union wearing a red pin in Taylor’s honor, she’s also standing in solidarity with victims of sexual violence everywhere.
Ta-Nehisi Coates is making strides in literature.
Ta-Nehisi Coates is a prolific author who's not only won the praises of the likes of Toni Morrison and Oprah Winfrey, he's also sold millions of copies of his books, with titles including the newly-released "We Were Eight Years In Power" and the award-winning "Between The World And Me.” Coates, 42, is currently working with director Ryan Coogler and actor Michael B. Jordan on the upcoming feature film "Wrong Answer.”
Tarana Burke stands at the helm of the #MeToo movement.
With Tarana Burke at the helm of the #MeToo movement, so many survivors of sexual assault and harassment have been able to tell their stories and seek justice. As the movement continues to gain strength, Burke, 44, is using her own power to speak at different events and encourage help and healing for others.
Jahkil Jackson is giving back to his community.
Though he may only be 10 years old, Jahkil Jackson is doing big things. The Chicagoan spent 2017 crafting 5,000 "blessing bags" full of necessities for the city’s homeless population and catching former president Barack Obama’s attention on Twitter. In 2018, Jackson’s upping the ante and setting his sights on 6,000 more bags to give to those in need.
Brandon Frame is celebrating men and boys of color.
If you’re not already one of the 188,000 people following TheBlackManCan on Instagram, your feed could use probably use the added inspiration. Founder Brandon Frame created TheBlackManCan, Inc. in 2010 as a blog to highlight and celebrate the achievements of men and boys of color.
Since then, TheBlackManCan has evolved into a series of programs, workshops, and social media campaigns, each inspiring and awe-striking for positive reasons.
Laverne Cox continues to make strides for LGBTQ people.
"Orange Is The New Black" star and transgender activist Laverne Cox is taking her talent to the next level in 2018 as she expands into hosting. 45-year-old Cox is the face of Lifetime’s "Glam Masters," a Kim Kardashian-produced beauty/makeup competition show. Between all of her onscreen duties, Cox still had time to make history as the first out trans woman to appear on the cover of Cosmo.
Sterling K. Brown is becoming a household name.
More often than not, "This Is Us" fans probably find themselves cheering for Sterling K. Brown. Brown, 41, recently became the first black man to win the award for outstanding male actor in a drama series at the SAG Awards, as well as the first black man to win a Golden Globe for a TV drama. His Golden Globes speech was emotional and powerful, and hopefully, there will be even more wins and speeches to cheer for in the future.
Dr. Michael Lindsey leads important conversations.
Education is one of the greatest tools in the fight for equality, so Dr. Michael Lindsey, the director of the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research and a Constance and Martin Silver professor of Poverty Studies at New York University, is hoping to "change the narrative" for black boys and men through an educational podcast and informative series of conversations about everything from LGBTQ issues to mental health solutions to the legal justice system.
Sonia Lewis is helping people tackle their student debt.
Sonia Lewis is better known as the "Student Loan Doctor," but now she's also known as the founder of the first black-owned and the first woman-owned student loan debt repayment company in the United States. Lewis uses The Student Loan Doctor, LLC. to coach, teach, and help those affected by student loan debt before, during, and after their education.
Jackie Aina is dominating on beauty YouTube.
YouTube beauty guru Jackie Aina has charmed over 2 million subscribers with her brutal honesty, hilariously real video concepts, and of course, her very own theme song. Aina, 30, has been a voice for so many women of color on YouTube, discussing her experience in the beauty industry and creating quality products for her many followers.
Ryan Coogler is set to have a banner year with "Black Panther."
Ryan Coogler is the director behind the highly-anticipated “Black Panther” movie, as well as several other past blockbusters. 31-year-old Coogler has made sure to use the film as a vehicle for changing the often racially homogenous superhero genre, breaking stereotypes and breaking records before the movie has even hit theaters.
Frederick T. Joseph is helping kids see themselves on screen.
New Yorker Frederick T. Joseph is definitely one of the many people planning to go see “Black Panther.” In fact, Joseph set up a GoFundMe to help the kids of the Harlem Boys & Girls Club all go see the movie ... and raised over $26,000 in four days. Nearly a month later, Joseph’s idea surpassed its $10,000 goal by over $30,000.
Lena Waithe continues to break barriers on TV.
"Master of None" writer and star Lena Waithe left viewers emotional when she gave a moving speech about her identity and the struggles of the LGBTQIA community at the Emmys in 2017. In 2018, Waithe, 33, launched her show "The Chi," which she created to show a "human side" of her native south side of Chicago and to honor its residents.
Serena Williams is one of the greatest athletes in the world.
When isn’t Serena Williams the very definition of powerful? Her legacy lives beyond her most famous plays or her riches. The 36-year-old new mom is hoping to head back to the court in 2018 after taking some time off to bond with her daughter, plan her wedding, and get back in fighting shape.
Tarell Alvin McCraney is set to continue his writing success.
The man behind "Moonlight" is now ready to make his mark on Broadway. 37-year-old Tarell Alvin McCraney’s latest work, "Choir Boy,” is set for New York City stages, with its run beginning in the Manhattan Theatre Club’s 2018-2019 season. The musical centers around students at a prestigious school for boys and explores the role of toxic masculinity in the lives of black men as they grow up.