Ten Leaders with Vision that You Need to Know - Advancement Project - Advancement Project

Ten Leaders with Vision that You Need to Know

We are all #StillDreaming and working to achieve social, political and economic equality.

by Tiffany Ivey


Black History Month is not only a time to reflect on achievements of generations past, but also a season to celebrate the current generation of dreamers, leaders and visionaries. Black leaders are making their mark to prove that our dreams of Black liberation did not end with a speech by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. As a community, we are all #StillDreaming and working to achieve social, political and economic equality. Check out our list of leaders and visionaries whose work is writing the next pages of incredible history.

Keisha Bottoms

Keisha Lance Bottoms certainly tops our list as one of the most remarkable local leaders in the country. The newly-elected Mayor of Atlanta has an extensive background of service in southwest Hotlanta, promoting initiatives for those in underserved communities. With her new platform, Bottoms plans to pay it forward by increasing the transparency of the Atlanta Police Department, resolving property deed disputes for Atlanta Public Schools and advocating for the rights of all Atlantans. In true visionary form, Bottoms believes “Atlanta is the city where impossible dreams can take form.”

Kendrick Lamar

With hits like “Alright” and “The Blacker the Berry,” Kendrick Lamar is no stranger to addressing challenges that face the Black community. His explosive performance at the 2018 Grammys commented on police brutality and showed he is “a Black man willing to be honest with America.” Using his music to speak out against injustice, Lamar has undoubtedly created the soundtrack of the movement.

Angela Rye

Affectionately known for her frank political commentary on CNN, Angela Rye is a leader we have to celebrate for speaking truth to power and unashamedly calling out white supremacy, even at the highest levels of government. As an attorney and former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rye not only talks the talk, but walks the walk as principle and CEO of Impact Strategies, a political advocacy firm working to make big policy impact.

Jon Moody

In the field of modern art, Jon Moody is making his mark through paintings that comment on issues impacting the Black community. In addition to creating stunning portraits of Black artists, athletes and celebrities, Moody’s collaboration with the Obama White house on criminal justice reform and work on the highly anticipated Marvel film, “Black Panther,” shows how he’s making his dream of using art for social good a reality.

Ava DuVernay

Ava DuVernay has raised the bar and created a league of her own as a leading filmmaker. Highly acclaimed for her documentary “13th,” motion-picture “Selma” and TV series “Queen Sugar,” DuVernay has ensured that the story of Black people is told on the big screen. Her work has won her four Emmys and an Academy Award nomination. When she’s not directing, DuVernay amplifies films by people of color and women filmmakers through her community-based distribution collective, ARRAY.

Black Panther Cast and Crew

Black excellence at its finest, the cast and crew of Marvel film “Black Panther” is a necessary addition to our list of leaders with vision. The film features an almost all-Black cast, a Black director, Black writers and presents a beautiful vision of Africa at its finest and most advanced.

Collin Kaepernick

The revolutionary behind the #TakeAKnee movement, Colin Kaepernick has unapologetically taken a leadership role in the fight for racial justice. While his protest of police brutality cost him his NFL contract, his social justice philanthropy continues. Last month, he achieved his goal of donating $1 million to organizations making a difference in communities of color, including Advancement Project’s national office! His actions have inspired players, other NFL teams and people across the country to take a stance against injustice and hold officials accountable.

Chance the Rapper

A modern music trailblazer, Chance the Rapper is undoubtedly a leader of our time. Since rising to fame as an independent artist, the Grammy award-winning artist has utilized his platform to advocate for educational equity in Chicago Public Schools (CPS), testifying against school closures, donating millions to CPS and supporting college scholarships for students. His impact is not only felt through uplifting song lyrics but also through his public calls for racial justice.

Marley Dias

Last but certainly not least, is Marley Dias. At the age of 11, she made her mark by taking a stand against the lack of diversity in books at her school. In response to her frustration, she launched a campaign entitled #1000BlackGirlBooks with a goal of accumulating 1,000 books with Black girls as the main character. Not only has she collected over 9,000 books, she has also secured a book deal. We’re excited about the release!


Community leaders, educators, neighborhood organizers and YOU are making a difference in protecting and advancing dreams of thriving Black communities and schools that affirm and encourage the creativity of Black children. It’s YOU – beautiful freedom fighter, justice warrior – who is leading direct actions and demanding elected officials invest in our communities. You are a force to be reckoned with, and we have our eyes on the headlines and history YOU will make in 2018.