Motivational speakers can come in all shapes, sizes, and races. They can come from different experiences and educational backgrounds as well. What makes them unique are the things they have been through, how they handled perseverance, and how they can share those experiences with an audience.
Black Motivational Speakers also tend to have a unique perspective as well. While things in 2020 are much better than they were even a half century ago, true equality has yet to be achieved. All of the top motivational speakers have experienced unique situations and hardships that leave them uniquely qualified to speak to audiences.
Unless you are in the world of motivational speaking, however, it can be difficult to know which motivational speakers are better than others and which black motivational speakers tend to draw the most attention.
Here are some of the best African-American motivational speakers today as well as their backgrounds and what makes them uniquely qualified to speak around the world.
#1. Bernice King
Who better to speak to audiences than the daughter of the great Martin Luther King, Jr.? While that alone makes Ms. King uniquely qualified to speak to audiences across the globe, she is much more than just the daughter of a famous civil rights leader.
Much the same as her father, she began activism in the ministry at the age of 16. From that time going forward, she would carry on in her father’s footsteps. This includes demonstrations of every kind, even being arrested for demonstrating in a few different instances.
She also became the second woman to be ordained at Ebenezer Baptist Church, an honor not to be taken lightly. King has spoken directly with presidents throughout her time as an activist, discussing the problems of poverty, violence, and racism that remain in America.
Using her motivational and familial background, she has been motivational speaking since 1998. Speaking at colleges across the country as well as organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club, she has continued to use her religious background as a uniting factor in an attempt to bridge the gap between races that is still felt today.
#2. Jordan Peele
One half of the comedy duo of Key & Peele, Jordan Peele has since become more recognizable to the American public, thanks to his film Get Out. The film won several awards and received universal critical acclaim.
The film also won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. This made Peele the first African-American to win the award in this specific category. Get Out also opened to massive commercial success, garnering over $250 million with just a $4.5 million budget.
I remember Peele from his time on Key & Peele, a show on Comedy Central that featured sketches of a number of characters the duo had created. And while he is still very much recognizable for his comedic performances, his move into the world of film is beginning to gain him universal fame.
Peele speaks on his experiences as an African American in both the comedy and filmmaking worlds, often in a comedic light. He preaches that emotions are things to be praised, not feared, and that trying to fit into a theoretical box is not something that we should be doing.
Peele is a favorite of younger audiences because of his recent successes in the film industry as well as his experience as a comedian. Being able to reach younger audiences is something that you can see in him, thanks to a laid-back comedic approach to his motivational speaking.
#3. Daymond John
Daymond John is no doubt best known as one of the investors on the hit television show Shark Tank. He has sat alongside the likes of Kevin O’Leary, Barbara Corcoran, Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner, Kevin Harrington, and others throughout 11 seasons.
He and the cast listen to the pitches of those looking to market their products in hopes finding the next great investment idea. It is this that has gained John notoriety throughout the country but there is far more to him than you or I may have realized.
As the show will teach you, John is all about branding. His belief in branding is evident not only in his television appearances but in his personal mantra. Brands have recognition and power and John believes in both of these things fervently.
He also speaks of general motivation, setting goals, and driving yourself forward to complete those goals. Finding motivation sounds as if it is a simple thing but simply having the drive to go forward is not enough.
John explains his own personal experiences negotiating and becoming an entrepreneur. He talks about his success, yes, but he also talks about his failures. We all have failures but as John points out, it is how we bounce back from those failures that really dictates who and what we are.
Just as importantly, John speaks about negotiating for women. He explains how to go into negotiations with even the biggest in the business world and his observations and experiences from seeing women negotiate in the business world.
#4. Van Jones
While some of the others on this list made their names through some more traditional avenues, Jones is a news commentator, an author, and an attorney (non-practicing). Jones has also co-founded several different nonprofit organizations to aid in the battle for social justice. Jones also hosts The Van Jones Show, where he discusses a wide array of topics.
Jones has been time and again called one of the most creative minds and influential people and he even served as President Barack Obama’s Special Advisor for Green Jobs. He is currently the president of Dream Corps, which is classified as a “social justice accelerator” that has a series of advocacy initiatives such as #yeswecode, #cut50, and Green for All.
He began his career by being active in church and attending Yale Law School while also working towards social justice matters. He was even among several law students who were selected by the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights to serve as legal observers during the trial of four officers charged in the beating of Rodney King.
Jones’s motivational speaking tours cover his Green for All campaign as well as the #YesWeCode movement. The former poses the question of whether or not environmentalism can be for everyone and what steps can be made to bridge the racial divide in that area.
The #YesWeCode initiative is meant to discuss and analyze race, gender, and what he calls the digital divide. It is an initiative working to help 100,000 young adults of color find employment in the technology sector. He touches on cultural barriers on both sides as well as the biggest obstacles in the tech sector from a racial standpoint.
Jones’s experience as a civil rights attorney as well as a TV personality have also made him uniquely qualified to discuss the current flaws with the prison system and how to reduce the prison population by working towards bipartisan solutions.
#5. Spike Lee
Spike Lee has been a part of the pop culture scene as a filmmaker going back to his 1986 film She’s Gotta Have it. Over that time, Lee has directed, produced, and written a litany of different films that have gained commercial and critical success.
What sets Lee apart from other filmmakers is that he often comes from a place of being provocative and outspoken when it comes to his socio-political critiques not only on race but gender identity and class as well.
In addition to becoming a revolutionary and influential figure in contemporary cinema, he has helped to change the role of black talent in the world of Hollywood. During his time as a filmmaker, he has helped to tear down some of the marginalized portrayals and stereotypes that had been established for African American performers.
Lee is also one of the most influential and largest draws when it comes to public speaking. Because of his exceptional background in filmmaking, he brings a unique perspective to any setting where his speaking is requested.
Most of all, he draws a crowd. Who wouldn’t want to see one of the best and most recognizable directors speak at their university? He certainly has unique perspectives on race, gender, inequalities, and the stereotypes that he has faced in his own industry and outside of it.
Lee continues to change the way that his audiences view these touchy and difficult-to-approach topics by continuously putting his own spin on each topic. And his “do-it-yourself” filmmaking style brings grittiness and a sense of reality to each and every story that he embarks on.
His sometimes-brash demeanor is just his presentation in the film world. Audiences around the country have noted what a successful and easy experience it was having Lee not only speak at their university but answer all of the questions that they had to ask him.
Those qualities are what make a truly great motivational speaker and Lee is one of the most sought-after names in the African-American motivational speaking world.
Related Reading: 10 Tips How to Become a Motivational Speaker