Robert Earl "Bobby" Moore is the birth name of actor, producer, and sports commentator Ahmad Rashad, who formerly was a wide receiver and four-time Pro Bowler for the Minnesota Vikings (1976–1982). He previously played for the Buffalo Bills (1974), the St. Louis Cardinals (1972–1973), and the University of Oregon (Oregon Sports Hall of Fame, College Football Hall of Fame). Born in Portland, Oregon, he graduated from Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma, Washington.
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Beah Richards (1920–2000), born Beulah Richardson in Vicksburg, Mississippi, was an author, poet, playwright, and actress who left the South for New York City in 1950 to pursue an acting career. In 1965, she received a Tony nomination for Best Actress (Dramatic) for her appearance in James Baldwin's The Amen Corner on Broadway. She won an Academy Award nomination for her role in the 1967 film Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.
Actor Billy Dee Williams (1937– ), born William December Williams in New York City, has graced audiences with his performances on screen, television, and stage. He is best remembered for his role as Lando Calrissian in the Star Wars episodes of The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983) and is also known for his roles opposite Diana Ross in Lady Sings the Blues (1972) and Mahogany (1975).
Chadwick Aaron Boseman (1976– ), born in Anderson, South Carolina, is a film and television actor, director, and producer, who, in 2017, played the title character in the film Marshall—about the early career of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall when he was a young civil rights attorney. He is well known for earlier films such as Captain America: Civil War (2016), Get On Up (2014), and 42 (2013). He is also a playwright, whose script Deep Azure was nominated for a 2006 Joseph Jefferson Award for New Work.
Carol Diann (or Diahann) Johnson, born in The Bronx, New York, is the birth name of award-winning singer and actress Diahann Carroll (1935–2019), who in 1962 won a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical for her part as a high-fashion model in the Broadway musical No Strings and in the late 1960s became the first black American with a middle-class lead, in the television sitcom Julia, for which she received a Golden Globe Award for Best TV Star—Female (1968), becoming the first African American to win the Golden G
In 1999, when Gwen Ifill (1955–2016) debuted as moderator and managing editor on the PBS political affairs roundtable program Washington Week, she became the first woman of African descent to host a nationally televised public affairs program in the United States. Born Gwendolyn L. Ifill in New York City, she graduated with a bachelor's degree in communications from Simmons College (1977) in Boston, Massachusetts, the city where she began her career in journalism at the Boston Herald American.
Award-winning operatic soprano Jessye Norman (1945–2019), born Jessye Mae Norman in Augusta, Georgia, made her debut at the Berlin Opera in 1969 and at New York’s Metropolitan Opera in 1983.
Executive chef Leah Chase (1923–2019), born Leah Lange in Madisonville, Louisiana, and known as the Queen of Creole Cuisine, brought style, class, Creole food (gumbo, shrimp stew, Jambalaya), and a haven of safety to Dooky Chase's Restaurant during the U.S. civil rights movement, when she prepared food for the mixed-race Freedom Riders and civil rights leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., many of whom gathered in the upstairs meeting room to strategize the next approach, move, march, or event.
Neil deGrasse Tyson (1958– ), born in New York City, is an astrophysicist whose writings and presentations have brought outer space a little closer home for understanding. In addition to serving as the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space in New York City, where his research interests include star formation, exploding stars, dwarf galaxies, and the formation of the Milky Way, he is a prolific author, speaker, and television presenter.
Nelsan Ellis, born Nelson Leon Ellis (1977–2017) in Harvey, Illinois, was an award-winning actor and a playwright. As a child, he moved with his family to Bessemer, Alabama, then back to Illinois (Dolton), where he graduated from Thornridge High School. While studying performing arts at The Julliard School, he wrote an original play, Ugly, which portrayed the effects of domestic abuse after his sister Alice was shot to death by her husband in 2002.