Black History Month Spotlights

Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons

Hannah Providence, Staff Writer

Rihanna

Robyn Rihanna Fenty is set to receive the NAACP President’s award this year, a prestigious award that is well-deserved for the musician and fashion mogul.

After a long and successful musical career with 14 number-one singles on the billboard charts, eight studio albums, and over 250 million records sold, Rihanna decided to try her hand in the fashion industry.

In 2017, she launched Fenty Beauty in partnership with LVMH (the French luxury goods giant) and generated about $100 million in its first few weeks. It has since grown into a $3 billion operation and Rihanna owns about 15% of the company.

She has since become the first black woman to head a luxury brand for LVMH.

“I could never identify with that word, ‘weak’” – Rihanna

Kobe Bryant

When news came out about Kobe Bryant’s sudden death in a helicopter crash in late January, it felt as if the world came together to mourn his loss.

Kobe Bryant will go down in history as one of the most talented and influential NBA players. His list of records and accomplishments are extensive and when he retired in 2016, his legacy was cemented far beyond his lifetime.

He has accumulated the third-most all-time points scored, he won two gold medals for America’s Olympic basketball team and won five NBA championships over his career. He even became the first black person to win an Oscar award for Best Animated Short Film in 2018 for his role in “Dear Basketball.”

“Great things come from hard work and perseverance. No excuses.” – Kobe Bryant

Jay-Z

Shawn Corey Carter, also known as Jay-Z, has achieved something every rapper dreams about. In 2019, Jay-Z was named the first rapper billionaire.

After decades in the music industry with 14 number one albums and 22 Grammy awards, Jay-Z has spent a lot of his time making hit songs and expanding his portfolio.

In numbers, Jay-Z’s net worth comes from the following: his line of champagne “Armand de Brignac” ($310 million), cash and investments ($220 million), Jay-Z’s cognac “D’Ussé” ($100 million), his streaming platform Tidal ($100 million), his entertainment company Roc Nation ($75 million), as well as his music catalog, art collection, and real estate property (totaling $195 million).

“I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man!” – Jay-Z

Oprah Winfrey

In 2003, Oprah Winfrey made history when she became the first black woman on Forbes magazine’s “World’s Richest People” list with a $1 billion net worth.

The media tycoon has been in the industry since she was 19 as the “youngest and first female anchor for WTVF-TV in Nashville” according to Insider. And that wasn’t the only first for Oprah.

She is the first woman to own and produce her own talk show, she is North America’s first black multi-billionaire, as well as the first black woman to join Business Week’s “Top Philanthropists” list.

Throughout her long and successful career, Oprah has delved into acting, producing, journalism, and television media dominating the entertainment industry and growing her wealth to $2.7 billion.

“Anything you can imagine, you can create” – Oprah Winfrey

Robert F. Smith

The richest black man in America made headlines after announcing that he would pay the student loan debt of the 2018 graduating class of Morehouse College (around 400 students).

Smith, CEO of Vista Equity Partners, has accumulated $5 billion in net worth from his firm that buys and sells software firms. His company has around $46 billion in assets under management and although it does not publicly release reports of their results, the New York Times believes that it is “one of the best-performing firms in the country.”

Although Smith keeps a low profile, his philanthropy and financial support for the black community are heard loud and clear.

“Change the world in the way that only you can” – Robert F. Smith

Serena Williams

Serena Williams is one of the most talented tennis players to step foot on the court. Her talent has taken her to the World Tennis finals 92 times, where she’s scored 72 wins. She also holds the most Grand Slam titles than anyone in the history of professional tennis, with 23.

In 2018, Williams nearly died after the birth of her daughter. She became an activist and has become a spokesperson for health care inequality.

Williams is a force to be reckoned with, off and on the court as a five-time Wimbledon singles champion, three-time U.S. Open singles champion, a singles and doubles Olympic gold medalist. She is the oldest player to hold all Grand Slam titles in singles and the Olympic Gold simultaneously.

“A champion is defined not by their wins, but by how they can recover when they fall” – Serena Williams