While the main-stream media tends to focus on stories regarding black celebrities based upon pure speculation, slanderous lies and or unsubstantiated allegations; they rarely shed light on African American philanthropists and their unselfish efforts of giving and genuine love to help others, regardless of ethnicity. Being that BCG is all about black philanthropy, we’d like to take the time to recognize the top five black philanthropist off all time. Here are the most influential celebrities that made our list this year, and the good news was it was hard because so many celebrities give back and you know we love that!
Oprah Winfrey; Since receiving her Oscar nomination for her debut film performance in “The Color Purple,” actress, multi-media mogul and philanthropist Winfrey has gone on to establish herself as one of the most influential and well-known figures in entertainment and philanthropy. With her net worth estimated over $2.5 billion, Winfrey has been dedicated to supporting educational initiatives and raising awareness of issues that affect women and children, both in the United States and around the globe. In 2007 The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa opened, with 150 low-income seventh-and-eighth graders, the school now enrolls over 300 students. It’s mission is to provide a nurturing educational environment for academically gifted girls who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. She has helped over 5,000 students receive their college education. Oprah has donated millions of dollars to various charities and organizations, with most of her money going to three foundations: The Angel Network, The Oprah Winfrey Foundation, and The Oprah Winfrey Operating Foundation. She has helped over 5,000 students go to college including over 100 Morehouse men who were featured on her final episode of the Oprah Winfrey show. On top of all this, Oprah also has a will that will donate 1 billion dollars to charity. Oprah Winfrey is, beyond all doubt, one of the greatest philanthropists in the 21st century.
Michael Jackson; according to the 2000 Guinness Book Of World Records, Jackson supported more charities (39) that year, via money donations and sponsorships, than any other entertainer. Jackson’s financial contributions have helped in relief efforts in dilapidated regions throughout the world mainly providing clean drinking water, food and medical supplies. Jackson applied immense amounts of currency and time towards relief assistance for A.I.D.S. and cancer research, as well as to combat world hunger. In 1984, Jackson equiped a 19-bed-unit at Mount Senai New York Medical Center. This center is part of the T.J. Martell-Foundation for leukemia and cancer research. Later in the year, he visited the Brotman Memorial Hospital, where he had been treated when he was burned very badly during the producing of a Pepsi commercial. He donated all the money he received from Pepsi, $1.5 million, to the Michael Jackson Burn Center for Children.In 1992, he established the Heal The World Foundation, whose work has included airlifting 6 tons of supplies to Sarajevo, instituting drug and alcohol abuse education and donating millions of dollars to less fortunate children. Michael Jackson wrote “We Are The World” with Lionel Richie in 1985 and performed it as part of an all-star single to raise money for Africa in 1985, it was one of the highest grossing songs of all time, with more than 30 celebrities taking part in the effort. Before his death in 2009 Jackson had plans to team up with rapper Akon to help rebuild local school in West Africa. The king of pop also, often visited hospital patients, raising their morale with his presence.
Russell Simmons; few other celebrities combine hip-hop and philanthropy as well Russell Simmons. The hip-hop icon, philanthropist, and entrepreneur, founded the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation and the Hip Hop Summit Action Network in an effort to get more young people involved in and exposed to the arts and social causes.Since being established the Rush Philanthropic has served over 700,000 urban youth, directed millions in funding, and established two arts exhibits and education facilities. He is a man who is outspoken on many causes, using his celebrity for good his work with anti-slavery charity, the Somaly Mam Foundation, which aims to help women who have been previously forced into sex slavery, and he was feted for his contributions at the organization’s gala in New York. As a spokesperson for PETA, he has urged action against companies including KFC. Through his work with the Hip Hop Inauguration Ball he helped elect President Barack Obama. His latest effort aims at not only gun violence, but also the prison industrial project, aimed at fair sentencing for black people across the US. The list of charities supported by Mr. Simmons could go on for day, let’s just say giving back is one of his major priorities.
Tom Joyner; he is the “hardest working man in radio” is also the hardest working man for Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Since 1998, the Tom Joyner Foundation has raised more than $55 million to provide financial assistance to students attending HBCUs. The foundation also supports a variety of initiatives including the Arts as well as HIV/AIDS peer educator programs and increasing the number of certified instructors at the schools. Joyner has been an advocate for voter registration and throughout the year promotes voter registration over the air, on his website and during his live ‘Sky Shows’ broadcasts. To improve healthy living, Joyner holds a ‘Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day’ every April or September. On that day, he rallies families and friends to go to the doctor to get a check up to prevent any health problems, and particularly treat any existing issues. Last year he teamed up with Allstate Insurance, for quotes for education, through the program for every quote received Allstate donated $10 to support students at HBCUs. Fans also had the chance to vote for their favorite HBCU culminating in Allstate donating over $50,000.So party with a purpose if you ever get a chance to sail with Tom Joyner and friends on a Fantastic Voyage. It’s the number one money maker for the foundation and supports HBCU’s nationwide.
Muhammad Ali, has devoted his life to helping promote world peace, civil rights, cross-cultural understanding, interfaith relations, humanitarianism, hunger relief, and the commonality of basic human values. His work as an ambassador for peace began in 1985, when he flew to Lebanon to secure the release of four hostages. Ali also has made goodwill missions to Afghanistan and North Korea; delivered over $1 million in medical aid to Cuba; traveled to Iraq to secure the release of 15 United States hostages during the first Gulf War; and journeyed to South Africa to meet Nelson Mandela upon his release from prison. In addition to his international efforts, Ali is equally devoted to helping charities at home. He has visited countless numbers of soup kitchens and hospitals, and helped organizations including the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Special Olympics. He also annually participates in Celebrity Fight Night, which generates funds for the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona.Ali once said, “I’ve always wanted to be more than just a boxer. More than just the three-time heavyweight champion. I wanted to use my fame, and this face that everyone knows so well, to help uplift and inspire people around the world.” During the Atlanta Child Murders case, Ali put up a $400,000 reward for information leading to information on the cases. In November 2005, Ali and his wife Lonnie opened the Muhammad Ali Center in their hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. Both an education center and museum experience, the Ali Center inspires children and adults to be as great as they can be, and encourages people around the globe to form new commitments in their lives in areas of personal growth, integrity, and respect for others. He said he was the greatest and he just may be.