Ebony Magazine Now Includes Some Educators Among Its List of Most Influential Americans

In the past JBHE has criticized Ebony magazine’s annual selections of the 100 Most Influential Americans because it included obscure black politicians and heads of black shriners’ organizations but consistently ignored most of the nation’s top black educators.

Maya Angelou, author, poet, and professor at Wake Forest University, was routinely included on the Ebony list and is included again this year. But it must be noted that Professor Angelou sits on an Ebony advisory board and therefore it would be most unlikely that the magazine would fail to include her on the annual list of influential Americans. But in past years other prominent black educators failed to make the list.

Now Ebony is taking a higher road. Included on this year’s list are several African Americans who hold high-profile positions in higher education. Among the 100 Most Influential African Americans this year are:

•  Michael Eric Dyson, Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities at the University of Pennsylvania;
•  John Hope Franklin, James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of History at Duke University;
•  Henry Louis Gates Jr., W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University; and
•  Cornel West, Class of 1943 Professor of Religion at Princeton University.

Yet there are notable omissions. Typical omissions include Ruth Simmons, president of Brown University, H. Patrick Swygert, president of Howard University, William Julius Wilson, University Professor at Harvard, Johnnetta Cole, president of Bennett College, Shirley Ann Jackson, president of Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute, Derrick Bell of New York University School of Law, Lani Guinier of Columbia Law School, and Christopher Edley, dean of the Boalt Hall law school at Berkeley, to name just a few.