The Root Unveils Annual List of Most Influential African-Americans Under 45

Beyonce and Michelle Alexander: a pop superstar and a law professor. Kanye West and David Adjaye: a hip-hop icon and a “starchitect.” Tyra Banks and Toure: a supermodel-turned-entrepreneur and a political pundit who wants to redefine blackness. Today, leading African-American news site The Root unveiled its highly-anticipated list The Root 100 — a list of the most influential young African-Americans, where unusual juxtapositions are not accidental.

The Root 100 indentifies African-American influencers 45 and under who shape our daily conversations with work that matters. This year for the first time, individuals who made the list have been ranked. “To identify and rank The Root 100, we developed a formula that defines influence as the marriage of reach and substance,” said Omar Wasow, The Root Contributing Editor and internet pioneer who created the ranking formula. “Broadly, we defined reach as how many people this person touches through his or her work. For substance, the editorial team scored each person based on how much he or she enriched our lives and made the world a more interesting, fun, beautiful or just place.” The formula incorporates data from Lexis/Nexis, Google and Twitter to determine the final “Influence” score.

This year’s list contains well-known names but it also includes powerful behind the scenes individuals such as Tristan Walker at hot Internet startup FourSquare; Angela Rye, Executive Director of the Congressional Black Caucus and Michelle Alexander, the Ohio State law professor who has redefined the conversation about black incarceration. This year over 500 nominations were submitted for the award.

“The Root 100 reflects the richness and variety of leadership in the African-American community, a breadth and range of talent who are having an impact on our lives and our communities — boldly or quietly,” said Managing Editor Joel Dreyfuss.

The Root will honor the 2011 winners with an exclusive awards reception on Saturday, November 5th at The Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C. The invite-only event is sponsored by Starbucks.

The full list of The Root 100, including biographies, photos, and details on why each honoree was selected can be found at www.theroot.com .

Pictured: Atlanta canidate for Mayor Kasim Reed and Recording Artists Ludacris at South Cobb High School to give turkeys to families in need on November 24, 2009 in Austell, Georgia. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)