ESSENCE Magazine Presents 25 Most Influential of 2008

ESSENCE magazine reflects back on the epic year that was 2008 and recognizes 25 distinguished African-Americans who have made a difference. From the rise of political figures to the celebrity activists changing the world and entertainers breaking artistic ground ESSENCE honors the extraordinary trailblazers that made 2008 an unforgettable year.

President-elect Barack Obama received the most votes in an online poll on, earning recognition as the “Readers’ Choice” for the year’s most influential African-American. The December issue of ESSENCE features 20 of the Most Influential List, with reporting the complete list of honorees.

“President-elect Barack Obama’s historic win was the pinnacle of an amazing year in African-American achievement,” says Angela Burt-Murray, editor-in-chief, ESSENCE. “ESSENCE is so proud to acknowledge the top 25 African-Americans who followed suit with extraordinary steps in news, music, film, politics, activism and fashion and emerged as the game changers of 2008.”

The list features the newsmakers like Gwen Ifill and Donna Brazile who helped shape this year’s news and captured the attention of millions while making a powerful impact on the media landscape. Celebrities who raised the bar and achieved enormous success are saluted as well, like Tyler Perry who became the first African-American to own a major television and movie studio and Will Smith who broke barriers at the box office. Following the pattern of historical moments in African-American history, New York Governor, David Paterson makes the list as the first Black governor of New York and the first blind governor of any state. In a special tribute to African-American women in radio, the list boasts Michel Martin, Adaora Udoji, Michele Norris, Bev Smith and Farai Chideya. These influential African-Americans and more are featured in the December issue of ESSENCE and on

SOURCE Essence Communications Inc.