The Root Reveals Its Annual List of the 100 Most Influential African Americans

The Root 100 2017 Topped by Jordan Peele and Solange Knowles Also Includes Historic Emmy Award-Winners Lena Waithe and Donald Glover – Full List Available Here (

FUSION TV Slates Primetime Special for The Root 100 2017 for November 21

SEPTEMBER 19, 2017 – Today The Root is revealing its annual list of the most influential African Americans, ages 25 to 45. The Root 100 2017 honors the innovators, the leaders, the public figures and game changers whose work from the past year is breaking down barriers and paving the way for the next generation. This year’s list of honorees serves as a reminder of the beauty and brilliance of blackness in America. A special interactive feature that highlights the contributions of all the honorees can be found here.

The Root 100 2017 is presented by the 2018 Toyota Camry. “Toyota is honored to have a continuous integrated partnership with The Root. The Root has been a pivotal platform and voice for African Americans and this year’s list provides a spotlight for the amazing and diverse accomplishments taking place,” the company said.

The 2017 honorees will be recognized at The Root 100 Gala on November 9, 2017 at Guastavinos in New York City. For the first time, FUSION TV will air the event as a primetime special on November 21. Additional details to be announced.

The Root’s Editor-in-Chief Danielle Belton: "At a time when things may feel at their darkest, these are the individuals providing the light, illuminating our culture, bringing issues out of the shadows and forcing a society, often reticent to deal with racial issues, to fully face the realities of black life in America. Whether one wants to see them or not, their light shines upon all as a beacon commanding our attention and calling our eyes to black brilliance in the face of insurmountable odds. These 100 honorees–from entertainment, the arts, sports, media, politics, business, science and technology–not only represent the best of what America has to offer, they are America, in all its exceptionalism. They are what makes our country great and we should be so bold to listen to what they have to say about love, life, work and art in this country of ours." Read the full post from the site’s editors here.

The 2017 edition of The Root 100 recognizes talent from a range of backgrounds including: Jordan Peele (#1) wrote, produced and directed “Get Out,” one of the most significant movies of the year. Solange Knowles (#2) released one of the most political albums of the year with A Seat at the Table. The album peaked at No. 1 on the music charts, which put Solange and big sis Beyoncé (#11) in the rarefied class of siblings who have had No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 chart in the same calendar year.

The list also includes two historic Emmy Award-winning actor-directors: Lena Waithe (#41) became the first black woman to win an Emmy Award for comedy writing, and Donald Glover (#6) took home Emmy Awards in both the acting and directing categories for his FX series “Atlanta,” making him the first black director to ever win in the comedy category.

Ta-Nehisi Coates (#5)–whose collection of essays, We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy, arrives in October–is one of the foremost thinkers and writers of his generation on the timeless subjects of race and culture. Roxane Gay (#7) released her best-selling memoir Hunger this year, which focused on her experience with obesity, identity and the struggles to live comfortably in her body.

Colin Kaepernick’s (#17) refusal to stand for the national anthem may have cost him a job, but he inspired other black athletes to take similar actions, remains committed to social activism. S. Lee Merritt (#8) is the "people's lawyer," representing victims of police brutality such as Jordan Edwards, Deandre Harris and Marlin Gipson. Chokwe A. Lumumba (#9), who was elected mayor of Jackson, Miss., who became the youngest mayor in the city's history, hopes to turn Jackson into "the most radical city in the country" using his own brand of progressive politics.

Bozoma Saint John (#10) joined Uber this year as chief brand officer to help make the company great again. Mary Spio (#52) is a deep-space engineer and entrepreneur is best known for founding Ceek, a company that has partnered with giants like Google, Apple, T-Mobile and Universal Music Group to bring virtual reality experiences to people around the world.

See the Complete The Root 100 2017 List Here

Hundreds of people are nominated by the site's readers and staff and scored to determine The Root 100. Every year the list is created using a unique algorithm that calculate a person’s REACH–the people they touch through media and Twitter followers–and their SUBSTANCE–the impact of their work, graded on a scale of 0 to 10–to determine their INFLUENCE, which determines their ranking. The Root is the premier news, opinion and analysis destination for African-American influencers.

The Root provides smart, timely coverage of breaking news, thought-provoking commentary and gives voice to a changing, more diverse America. The Root was founded by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Donald Graham in 2008. Follow The Root on Twitter @TheRoot and on Facebook.

The Root’s Editor-in-Chief Danielle Belton is available for interviews, contact David Ford ( with requests.


Toyota (NYSE:TM) has been a part of the cultural fabric in the U.S. and North America for 60 years, and is committed to advancing sustainable, next-generation mobility through our Toyota and Lexus brands. During that time, Toyota has created a tremendous value chain as our teams have contributed to world-class design, engineering, and assembly of more than 33 million cars and trucks in North America, where we operate 14 manufacturing plants (10 in the U.S.) and directly employ more than 46,000 people (more than 36,000 in the U.S.).  Our 1,800 North American dealerships (nearly 1,500 in the U.S.) sold almost 2.7 million cars and trucks (2.45 million in the U.S.) in 2016 – and about 85 percent of all Toyota vehicles sold over the past 15 years are still on the road today.  

Toyota partners with community, civic, academic, and governmental organizations to address our society’s most pressing mobility challenges. We share company resources and extensive know-how to support non-profits to help expand their ability to assist more people move more places. For more information about Toyota, visit