In 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood proudly before supporters and objectors to deliver one of the world’s most prominent speeches. Amongst civil rights activists at the Lincoln Memorial, he spoke the words millions of Black people believed, but did not have the platform to say. His speech was said with conviction, rhetoric, and overall, the ability to resonate throughout the hearts and souls of all humans then and now. Every Black person living in this era knew it was a must for racism and discrimination to be eradicated. Awareness of these injustices and the changes needed to solve these issues were mandatory. What’s worse is that even now, the current generation of Blacks is and will be forced to fight the same fight. Dr. King’s famous “I have a dream…” speech has been recited by millions and used whenever people quantify how far Blacks have come as it relates to racism and inequality in America. But should the distance traveled from enslavement to the current state be the measuring stick for Black people, or should true humanity and unquestionable equity moving forward be the high bar standard requirements for all people?

As CORE Magazine unveils our prestigious list of honorees for the 2022 CORE 100 Most Influential Blacks Today special issue, this group of champions is further positive proof of the resilience and brilliance of Blacks. It’s with great honor that we share the stories and esteemed accomplishments of these 100 amazing Black people with the world.

The 100 distinguished honorees in this edition are inspirational as they currently remove barriers, which pave the way for generations to come. The second edition CORE 100 of influential individuals includes businessman, investor, and “Shark,” Daymond John; Dallas Cowboys quarterback, Dak Prescott; innovative world-renowned artist, Janet Jackson; MLB Hall of Famer, Ken Griffey Jr.; U.S. Representative and congresswoman, Sheila Jackson Lee; Jackson State football commit, Travis Hunter; Good Morning, America’s anchor, Robin Roberts; producer and highly acclaimed actor, Samuel L. Jackson; Pittsburgh Steelers head coach, Mike Tomlin; businessman and former professional football player, LaVar Ball; outstanding actor, Sherwin David “Wood” Harris; lawyer and TV personality, Star Jones; and award-winning actress and producer, Debbie Allen.

More honorees of the CORE 100, who set a bar several strive to reach is the pioneer and exceptional businesswoman, Ursula Burns; “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” Tina Turner; businesswoman, fashion designer, and philanthropist, Tina Knowles-Lawson; civil rights attorney and media expert, Areva Martin; published writer and activist, Elizabeth Leiba; producer and TV personality, Alexis “Fly” Jones; political analyst and BalyProjects founder, Jacquie Baly; author of The Waymakers, equity strategist, speaker, and transformational leader, Tara Jaye Frank; trial attorney, Heather Palmore; actor and producer, Shelton Jolivette; sports marketing pioneer, Dr. Marc Williams; senior pastor, author, speaker, life coach and therapist, Dr. Estrelita Bruce; author, speaker and pastor, Dr. Renee Fowler; civil rights attorney and judge, Carlos Moore; Cito Gaston the first African-American manager in Major League Baseball history to win a World Series title; Atlanta Braves third base coach and former MLB manager, Ron Washington; and former Miami Dolphins Head Coach Brian Flores.

As successful as these people have been in their given fields, they all have faced roadblocks and sometimes insurmountable odds to arrive at the doorstep of being a Champion Of Real Excellence. During many of the interviews, I was painfully reminded of how our country’s past is still alive and kicking in our present. It may be wrapped differently and carefully presented to pass the smell test of the Diversity Equity & Inclusion (DEI) teams all companies seek to employ as a shield of protection, but regardless, this unfair disadvantage is unable to be ignored.

Let’s start with the facts, Blacks continue to live in a world and country that is constructed for us to fail. Let me make this abundantly clear, Black people are not looking for a handout. We simply want the same opportunities afforded to our counterparts, yet history continues to prove that’s not the case. Blacks have been so good for so long at so many things. We can do anything when given an equal opportunity at success. We have already proven our ability while simultaneously having targets on our backs. We don’t want to be hired because we’re Black. We just don’t want to not be hired because we’re Black.

Blacks are asking to stop having to be overqualified and still be overlooked. Those opposed to true humanity and fair treatment for all humans, constantly and consistently move the goal line every time Blacks approach or conquer the existing finish line. At first, it was enslavement, segregation, redlining and the denial of education, then it was our lack of experience and let’s not forget about the systemic biases weaved into the pros and cons of your credit score, after that came the advanced education with expertise, and despite all those obstacles Blacks continue to navigate the rough terrains in route to becoming Champions Of Real Excellence.

Is racism still a problem in 2022, Yes or No?

Please give some context to support your answer to the above question. You can email your answer to core100@core-mag.com.

DIVERSITY EQUITY & INCLUSION (DEI) is designed to be the defense against racism and inequality. But is DEI accomplishing what it’s definition states?

Diversity is being asked to the dance. Inclusion is being asked to dance. Integration is everyone dancing to their own songs.
— Dr. David Kirkland

The problems with diversity and inequality are less evident to the surface-level thinker at entry levels or even at mid-levels of advancement. It’s at the top of the mountain where critical decisions are being made, where you don’t see Blacks having a seat at the table or a fair chance to reach the top of the mountain. We currently live in a society where the top has long been reserved for and dominated by white male leaders. Unquestionable equity will represent a shift in power. It’s a shift that Blacks have been fighting for but unable to attain given the status quo. In the past two years there has been a heightened focused called to social injustice, diversity and equity. Our country has been awakened by tragic events and the possibility of a shift in power towards equality for all is greater than ever. Blacks are now fighting for that shift in power differently and our demands are being heard. It’s like the great Fredrick Douglass once said, “Power never conceded anything without a demand. It never has and it never will.”

What’s Needed

Modern-day society needs leaders like Branch Rickey, who in 1947, signed Jackie Robinson for the Dodgers and helped integrate African American players into Major League Baseball. We need Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “I have a dream…” speech from 1963, to no longer be referred to as a dream and instead becomes universally accepted as the reality for all humans. I believe Tara Jaye Frank said it best during her CORE 100 Most Influential Blacks Today interview, “Equity is power. It’s a power we all need to have better access to.” —Tara Jaye Frank, 2022

In closing, I want to congratulate the 2022 CORE 100 Most Influential Blacks Today for using their platforms, voices, talents, and expertise for the greater good of humanity. Your journeys are a mark to and reminder of the beauty, boldness, and brilliance of Black Excellence. It is with great honor and respect that CORE Magazine highlight and promote your excellence.

As you read these stories about champions, I encourage you to reflect back on your own life and ask yourself if you’ve set your bar high enough. Striving to achieve anywhere near what these phenomenal people have achieved will prevent anyone from accepting anything less then excellence and immediately positioning oneself inside the arena with Champions Of Real Excellence.

As we peel back the layers of racism, social injustice, and inequality in 2022 it’s crystal clear that although slavery has been abolished and freedom granted; We all can and need to do better!

The editor-in-chief is out, but I will leave you all with this very important point; there is one thing all humans should get everyday and that is, “an equal opportunity at life!”

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