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When you are looking for motivation, it is often much more effective to watch a video than it is to read. This is because you have a chance to quiet one part of your brain, so that you can fully experience what you are listening to and seeing.
It also helps to know that the speaker understands you, whether it is because they share your experience or come from a place where you are now.
Black motivational speakers understand what it is like to be black in a way that nobody else can. They have first-hand experience with what is needed to rise above current situations such as inequality, the school-to-prison network, and living in poverty. They understand how difficult it can be to rise above the mindset that living in such situations instills and succeed in a world that appears to be thwarting all your efforts.
The following black inspirational speakers come from a variety of backgrounds. They include a woman who knows firsthand the feeling of fear and loss as a result of losing two of her friends in the church bombing in Birmingham. There is a daughter of one of the most influential black leaders we have ever known… and a man who has built an empire from a small business that started in his garage.
While there are so many more, today we will focus on 11 of the top black inspirational speakers for 2023.
Table of Contents
1. David Olusoga
David Olusoga was born in Nigeria in January 1970 to a Nigerian father and mother from the UK. At the age of five, he moved with his mother to the UK and spent years feeling the sting of racism. Trying to understand what was behind the racism, he made it his mission to study all he could.
As he got older, he went to school and got a degree. He took off without stopping and has spent years writing books, six in all, and working on films that help the world see the inequalities in racism, not only in black America but in Germany and other areas. He has written and directed, at least in part, 11 films.
Currently, he continues to write and speak. He is considered one of the UK's foremost experts on history. His talks include:
- Systematic racism in the workplace
Take a listen to his speech on the battle over statues, heritage, and history.
2. Makaziwe Mandela
The very name Mandela evokes a sense of inspiration in much of the world. Makaziwe Mandela is the oldest daughter of the late Nelson Mandela and grew up under his direct influence. She was born May 1, 1954, and lived through a great deal of the uprisings in Africa.
Not only has she continued to promote her father's values of liberty, respect for everyone and abolishing discrimination, but she's used her experience of growing up as a woman to help fight the discrepancies she has witnessed in how women are treated. She has made women's empowerment her biggest focus over the years.
Makaziwe Mandela gives speeches focusing on:
- Racial equality
- Gender equality
- Women's empowerment
Here you can see her speech as she accepts the 2019 Presidential Global Citizen Award:
3. Uju Asika
Uju Asika is a blogger, a mother, and a journalist. She has written two books and many articles and has an award-winning blog titled Babes About Town. She's made three different countries home at one point or another in her life, but keeps much of her early life out of the public eye.
Uju Asika has made it her mission to teach parents throughout the world how to raise children who see equality in everyone. It is hard parenting a non0racist child in a world very much focused on race. Her talks focus on:
- Race issues
- Anti-racist parenting
For a look at her energetic, down-to-Earth style, check out this interview with Uju:
4. Cassandra Worthy
Change is inevitable and is the perfect opportunity to shake things up and rocket forward into what lies ahead. This is the message Cassandra Worthy speaks. Change gives an organization the chance to grow, but it is also the perfect time for the individuals involved to grow to their greatest potential.
Cassandra Worthy has created a system she calls Change Enthusiasm, and she is sharing this with some of the world's biggest corporations. Her energetic speaking style gets people motivated. Her topic of choice is:
- Change Enthusiasm
Take a listen at this vibrant speaker!
5. Charlene Carruthers
Charlene Carruthers isn't one to sit back and let the world pass her by. She is an activist herself and has founded the Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100) to give today's young people the foundation they need to speak up and speak out for black rights. She works in activism for the LGBTQ+ community, black rights, women's rights, and more.
Charlene uses storytelling in a way that adds depth to all her talks. She is a filmmaker and scholar as well as an activist. She is a frequently sought-out speaker on college campuses. Her talks center on:
- Black Heritage
- Building on a dream
Take a listen to Charlene Carruthers as she talks about black liberation:
6. Charles Blow
Charles Blow was born in 1970 in a small, serrated town in Louisiana. He was determined to grow past the expectations of failure this environment placed on him. After college, he joined a newspaper as a graphic designer. Eventually, he became part of the op-ed staff of the New York Times, where he still works. His commentary runs the gamut when it comes to societal and political events and he's not afraid to tackle the hard subjects that others bypass. He is the author of The Devil You Know: A Black Power Manifesto.
Charles Blow is a speaker who discusses:
- Income inequality
- Teen pregnancy
- LGBTQ+ acceptance
- The relationship between journalism and justice
Listen as he discusses his autobiography, Fire Shut Up My Bones.
7. Fania Davis
Fania Davis grew up in a world that was rife with racial discontent. She mourned two of her friends who died in the bombing of a Sunday school in Birmingham, AL. An avid activist, she got her law degree and spent 27 years as a trial lawyer. Taking a break, she studied the indigenous healers, especially those in Africa, and decided to incorporate that healing knowledge to those in the justice system. Her work with restorative justice, especially on the youth level, is ongoing.
Fania Davis speaks on:
- Restorative justice
- The school-to-prison pipeline
- Ending mass incarceration
Listen to her speak of the restorative justice promise.
8. Dr. Marc Lamont Hill
Lamont Hill is the author of six books and the host of the Coffee & Books podcast as well as a regular host on BET news and a writer for Huffington Post. Previously, he's held positions at numerous colleges. Born in Philadelphia, PA, he spent many years as a social justice advocate and has worked in solidarity and human rights movements.
Topics that Dr. Hill speaks on are:
- The school-to-prison pathway
- The war on education
Watch and listen as Marc Lamont Hill discusses gun control and abolishing the police.
9. Daymond John
Daymond John started his business from his home in the ghetto. Today, he's a former investor on Shark Tank and the founder/CEO of FUBO Clothing, a multi-million-dollar company. He's the author of an inspirational book that outlines what he calls his S.H.A.R.K. Mindset for success. He speaks up about not accepting excuses for why you can't succeed.
His speeches are full of advice on:
- Goal setting
- S.H.A.R.K. Mindset
Take a listen to his life advice.
10. Eric Thomas
Eric Thomas never knew his dad, grew up in poverty and found himself homeless. He never gave up, however, and today he is a pastor, author, and motivational speaker. His focus is mainly on working with disadvantaged youth in order to help them develop the mindset that they can succeed. He has developed an undergraduate retention program that has been successful.
Dr. Eric Thomas speaks on:
- Working toward dreams
- Stop procrastinating
Listen to him urge listeners to Go Do IT.
11. Bakari Sellers
Bakari Sellers is the son of civil rights activist Cleveland Sellers. At the age of 22, he made history by becoming the youngest African American elected to a government office. While he still aspires to politics, he is currently working as a lawyer and advocating for such causes as overcoming poverty, education, and how to create change while walking in faith. He is also an author.
Bakari Sellers speaks on:
- Civil rights
- Keeping your faith while fighting for change
Watch as he talks about his book.
Final Thoughts on Black Inspirational Speakers
Inspiration comes in many forms, and we can benefit from using all of them. There are inspirational short stories and songs that instill in us the motivation to keep going when times get tough.
Inspirational speakers can be found to address any area of your life that needs an extra push. There are Christian speakers and people who rose to success… despite the fact they were on the autism spectrum and society said they couldn't succeed.
I hope this list is only the beginning of your journey, and that you find at least one person you can turn to for that added push to keep moving forward.
Finally, if you want to take your goal-setting efforts to the next level, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals.
There are several notable black motivational speakers, including Aric Jackson, Les Brown, Eric Thomas, John Gaines, Lisa Nichols, Brandon McCall, Jamar Root, Iyanla Vanzant, and Tony Gaskins. Each speaker offers their unique style and message, inspiring audiences with their powerful stories and insights.How do I find an inspirational speaker? ›
- Dive into social media. ...
- Use speaker websites. ...
- Pay attention to networking and referrals. ...
- See how they interact with their audience. ...
- Reach out to your local Chamber of Commerce. ...
- Ask what your audience wants to see.
Oprah Winfrey is the world's #1 motivational speaker and one of the leading celebrity keynote speakers. She has been a TV host, actress, producer and philanthropist for over 30 years. Her show The Oprah Winfrey Show was the highest-rated program of its kind in history and she has received more than 50 Emmy Awards.Who is the most influential black leader? ›
Martin Luther King, Jr.
He was one of the founders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), which aims to achieve racial equality peacefully. He went down in history as a hero and one of the most influential leaders in the world.
Each year during Black History Month, the stories of figures like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and Rosa Parks are often elevated—and with good reason.Who was the black leader in education? ›
Mary McLeod Bethune
Mary McLeod Bethune became one of the most important civil rights leaders of the twentieth century. She was a lifelong educator- working as a teacher before founding Bethune-Cookman college which set educational standards for today's black colleges.
Fee ranges for most motivational speakers typically fall anywhere between $10,000 to $100,000 plus and are largely dependent on experience, recognition, and other variables.How much do you pay a motivational speaker? ›
Salary Range For Motivational Speakers
Here is the general outlook of how much speakers make per engagement: Beginners: $0 – $2500. Average: $2500 – $5000. Good: $5000 – $10,000.
Winston Churchill is arguably the most famous public speaker of them all, mostly due to the pivotal role that he played in leading the British through the Second World War.What is the greatest motivator of all? ›
Yes, fear is the most powerful motivator! But it doesn't have to be the only motivator you focus on. Your happiness and success are hugely dependent on whether or not core 'motivations' are being met.
- "Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all." ...
- "Do what you can, where you are, with what you have." ...
- "You take your life in your own hands, and what happens? ...
- "It's not the years in your life that count. ...
- "You can't use up creativity.