Director Justin Simien with two guests at The Root 100 Release List Reception on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., Aug. 19, 2014
Getty Images for The Root

On Tuesday evening The Root—the No. 1 black news site—hosted The Root 100 List Release Reception, sponsored by Infiniti, at the Dr. Daniel Fisher House in Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., to celebrate The Root 100 honorees for 2014. Hosts Henry Louis “Skip” Gates Jr., editor-in-chief of The Root; Donna Byrd, publisher of The Root; and Lyne Pitts, managing editor of The Root, were joined by various influential guests, including Shonda Rhimes, executive producer of Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy; Gugu Mbatha-Raw, star of Belle; Amma Asante, director of Belle; Mara Brock Akil, writer and producer of The Game and Being Mary Jane; Justin Simien, director of Dear White People; and Benjamin Todd Jealous, former president of the NAACP.
Since 2009 The Root has honored the top 100 African-American influencers, politicians, journalists, community organizers, entertainers and athletes for their work in the community. Honorees between the ages of 25 and 45 are measured and eventually ranked according to their influence in the world and on social media. This year's list includes Rhimes; Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.); soccer player Tim Howard; Newark, N.J., Mayor Ras Baraka; and Orange Is the New Black actress Laverne Cox.

“We are excited to announce the individuals who have made significant accomplishments and outstanding contributions in their fields over the past 12 months,” says Pitts. “The reception is our way of celebrating the honorees’ endeavors and contributions while encouraging friendly competition of guessing the actual ranking.”


The ranking of the list will be revealed on Wednesday, Sept. 10. This year The Root 100 will feature an additional honoree through the People’s Choice Award. Receiving more than 400 nominations every year, the site receives a plethora of nominations for local community leaders. For the first time, The Root’s readers will have the opportunity to select from five finalists, one of whom will become The Root’s 101st honoree. The Root will announce the five People’s Choice Award nominees on Sept. 17, and readers will vote for the winner from Sept. 17 to Oct. 8 on the news site. The winner will also be announced at The Root 100 Awards Gala in November.

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