Influential figures throughout black history

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Guion Bluford is a retired astronaut and was the first African American in space.

■ Staff Reports / Metro service

Since 1926, Americans have recognized the accomplishments and influences of various individuals during the celebration of Black History Month. With February upon us once again, we focus on many of the people across the globe who have helped to shape black history.

Iman: Born Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid in Somali, this internationally recognized supermodel and actress is also a successful entrepreneur. After 20 years of modeling, Iman began her own cosmetics company, focusing on shades that were geared toward ethnic women. The business now reports annual profits of $25 million. Additionally, Iman is actively involved in a number of charitable works, including the Enough Project to end global trade conflicts over minerals and gems.

Guion Bluford: Bluford is a retired NASA astronaut and retired U.S. Air Force colonel. He participated in four space shuttle flights between 1983 and 1992. Bluford is known as the first African-American in space and holds honorary doctorate degrees from 14 different colleges and universities.

Photo source: mcg
Dr. Njoroge alongside his colleagues, developed a new Hepatitis C drug Victrelis® (Boceprevir) while working at the global pharmaceutical firm Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) labs in 2011.

George Njoroge: Born in Kenya, Njoroge is a scientist who is now the director of medicinal chemistry at Merck Research Laboratories. Njoroge was at the center of the development of the drug Victrelis, which was approved in 2011 by the FDA to treat Hepatitis C. Njoroge was inducted into the scientific Hall of Fame as a 2012 Hero of Chemistry by the American Chemical Society.

Amsale Aberra: Aberra is an Ethiopian-born fashion designer and entrepreneur. Her designs are known across the globe, and she has various couture shops, including one on Madison Avenue in New York City. Television producers often turn to Aberra when they need beautiful fashions for television and movies. Her designs have been featured on “Grey’s Anatomy,” “27 Dresses” and “American Wedding.”

Alek Wek: Wek is the first African model to appear on the cover of “Elle” magazine, a distinction she earned in 1997. Born in South Sudan, Wek has been a popular catwalk model and has also appeared in Tina Turner’s music video for “Golden Eye.” Wek is a member of the U.S. Committee for Refugees Advisory Council and educates others about the dire situation in Sudan and elsewhere in the world.

Photo source: mcg
Alek Wek, from South Sudan, was the first African model to appear on the cover of “Elle,” and is a member of the U.S. Committee for Refugees Advisory Council.

Oprah Winfrey: This American entertainment mogul is best known for her long-running and award-winning talk show, which was the highest-rated program of its time during its airing. Winfrey also acts and produces and is a noted philanthropist. Winfrey has frequently ranked among the most powerful women in the world and the most influential black person of her generation. Winfrey is the only black billionaire in North America.

Nelson Mandela: The world mourned the death of Nelson Mandela in late 2013. An anti-apartheid activist and philanthropist from South Africa, Mandela was the first black South African to hold the office of President and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election. Mandela spent 27 years in prison after leading a campaign against the apartheid government.

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