Meet The Root 100, 2010 Edition
The Root unveils its latest list of young African-American pace setters and game changers. LeBron and Wyclef made the list this year; so did Ayanna and Kendrick. Find out who else.
We have highlighted a number of performers whose careers are still on the rise, among them Jay Electronica, Janelle Monáe, Esperanza Spalding, Daniel Bernard Roumain and the Carolina Chocolate Drops. We like them because they lift black music out of the box into which some critics try to shove it.
There is a long tradition of entrepreneurship in our community. We sought those who promised innovation, like Natalia Allen, who designs sustainable fashion; and Will Packer, probably the most powerful black filmmaker in the Hollywood mainstream.
The Root 100 includes people who have thought deeply about our history as well as the present state and future of black America. Michelle Alexander at Ohio State; Glenda Carpio at Harvard; Eddie Glaude at Princeton and Crystal Feimster at Yale; and Tia Myles at Michigan are among the emerging academic stars whose exciting research will alter our self-definition for years to come.
With an election coming up in November, we couldn't help selecting some politicians who may break new ground. Kasim Reed in Atlanta and Ayanna Pressley in Boston represent a new generation of post-civil rights politicians firmly grounded in their communities but with appeal across racial lines. We didn't pass up the hopefuls, either, in this tumultuous political year. The headliner has to be Kendrick Meek, the Miami congressman fighting an uphill battle to become the first black U.S. senator from Florida. Then there's Ryan Frazier, running for Congress in Colorado on the Republican ticket; and Tim Scott, a GOP candidate for Congress in South Carolina who could become the second Republican to join -- and alter -- the Congressional Black Caucus.
Politics involves processes. The legislators in the spotlight depend on a support staff of smart and sophisticated men and women. So do the companies and industrial groups who must plead their cases to elected officials. Blacks are still too rare in these roles on Capitol Hill, but we've ferreted out several who play an important part in this complex and sometimes messy course of action. Mike Strautmanis is an aide to Valerie Jarrett, close friend and special adviser to President Obama. Chaka Burgess is an advocate for biotech giant Amgen. David Sutphen calls himself a "connector" between the private and public sectors.
For all our progress in the last 40 years, there are plenty of challenges facing the African-American community. We have a wealth of individuals who have dedicated themselves to solving problems at home and abroad, among them Malika Saada Saar, who has tackled human trafficking; John Hope Bryant, whose Project Hope has invested $900 million in poor communities in the U.S. and South Africa; and the twin surgeons Vincent and Vance Moss, who paid their own way to treat civilians in Afghanistan.
The point of The Root 100 is to celebrate the depth and reach and daring of black America. It's a snapshot of 2010. There are many others who could have been -- should have been -- on this list. Drop us a line and let us know who we missed at email@example.com.