The 2011 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded today to three women from African and Arab countries, for their roles as activists.
In total, there have been 16 Black Nobel Prize winners; 12 of them being Peace prize recipients. Martin Luther King Jr., Barack Obama, and Nelson Mandela are all among the list of prestigious recipients.
Here’s a list of all the Black Nobel prize winners.
1. Ralph Bunche
Ralph Johnson Bunche was an American political scientist and diplomat who received the 1950 Nobel Peace Prize for his late 1940s mediation in Palestine. He was the first person of color to be so honored in the history of the Prize. He was involved in the formation and administration of the United Nations and in 1963, received the Medal of Freedom from President John F. Kennedy. [WIKIPEDIA]
2. Albert John Luthuli
Albert Luthuli was a South African teacher and politician. Lutuli was elected president of the African National Congress (ANC), at the time an umbrella organisation that led opposition to the white minority government in South Africa. He was awarded the 1960 Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the non-violent struggle against apartheid. He was the first African, and the first person from outside Europe and the Americas, to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. [WIKIPEDIA]
Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for being an iconic figure in the advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world, using nonviolent methods following the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. King is often presented as a heroic leader in the history of modern American liberalism. [WIKIPEDIA]
4. Anwar El Sadat
Muhammad Anwar al-Sadat was the third President of Egypt, serving from 15 October 1970 until his assassination by fundamentalist army officers on 6 October 1981. In his eleven years as president he changed Egypt’s direction, departing from some of the economic and political principles of Nasserism by re-instituting the multi-party system, and launching the Infitah economic policy. [WIKIPEDIA]
Sir (William) Arthur Lewis was a Saint Lucian economist well known for his contributions in the field of economic development. In 1979 he won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, becoming the first black person to win a Nobel Prize in a category other than peace. [WIKIPEDIA]
6. Desmond Tutu
Desmond Mpilo Tutu is a South African activist and retired Anglican bishop who rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid. He was the first black South African Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa and primate of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa (now the Anglican Church of Southern Africa). [WIKIPEDIA]
7. Wole Soyinka
Akinwande Oluwole “Wole” Soyinka is a Nigerian writer, poet and playwright. He was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature, where he was recognised as a man “who in a wide cultural perspective and with poetic overtones fashions the drama of existence”, and became the first African in Africa and in Diaspora to be so honoured. In 1994, he was designated UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Goodwill Ambassador for the promotion of African culture, human rights, freedom of expression, media and communication. [WIKIPEDIA]
8. Derek Walcott
Derek Alton Walcott is a Saint Lucian poet, playwright, writer and visual artist who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992 and the T. S. Eliot Prize in 2011 for White Egrets. His works include the Homeric epic Omeros. Robert Graves wrote that Walcott “handles English with a closer understanding of its inner magic than most, if not any, of his contemporaries”. [WIKIPEDIA]
9. Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison is an American novelist, editor, and professor. Her novels are known for their epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed characters. Among her best known novels are The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon and Beloved. She also was commissioned to write the libretto for a new opera, Margaret Garner, first performed in 2005. [WIKIPEDIA]
10. Nelson Mandela
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, and was the first South African president to be elected in a fully representative democratic election. Before his presidency, Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist, and the leader of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC). In 1962 he was arrested and convicted of sabotage and other charges, and sentenced to life in prison. Mandela served 27 years in prison, spending many of these years on Robben Island. Following his release from prison on 11 February 1990, Mandela led his party in the negotiations that led to multi-racial democracy in 1994. As president from 1994 to 1999, he frequently gave priority to reconciliation, while introducing policies aimed at combating poverty and inequality in South Africa. [WIKIPEDIA]
11. Kofi Annan
Kofi Atta Annan /ˈkoʊfi əˈnɑːn/ (born 8 April 1938) is a Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the UN from 1 January 1997 to 31 December 2006. Annan and the United Nations were the co-recipients of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize for his founding the Global AIDS and Health Fund to support developing countries in their struggle to care for their people. [WIKIPEDIA]
Wangari Muta Mary Jo Maathai (1 April 1940 – 25 September 2011) was a Kenyan environmental and political activist. She was educated in the United States at Mount St. Scholastica and the University of Pittsburgh, as well as the University of Nairobi in Kenya. In the 1970s, Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, an environmental non-governmental organization focused on the planting of trees, environmental conservation, and women’s rights. In 1986, she was awarded the Right Livelihood Award, and in 2004, she became the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for “her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.” Maathai was an elected member of Parliament and served as assistant minister for Environment and Natural Resources in the government of President Mwai Kibaki between January 2003 and November 2005. In 2011, Maathai died of complications from ovarian cancer. [WIKIPEDIA]
13. Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.
Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Obama is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he was the president of the Harvard Law Review. He was a community organizer in Chicago before earning his law degree. He worked as a civil rights attorney in Chicago and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004. He served three terms representing the 13th District in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004. [WIKIPEDIA]
14. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (born 29 October 1938) is the 24th and current President of Liberia. She served as Minister of Finance under President William Tolbert from 1979 until the 1980 coup d’état, after which she left Liberia and held senior positions at various financial institutions. She placed a very distant second in the 1997 presidential election. Later, she was elected President in the 2005 presidential election and took office on 16 January 2006. Sirleaf is the first and currently the only elected female head of state in Africa. [WIKIPEDIA]
15. Leymah Gbowee
Leymah Roberta Gbowee is an African peace activist responsible for organising a peace movement that brought an end to the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003. This led to the election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in Liberia, the first African nation with a female president. She, along with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Tawakkul Karman, were awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work”. [WIKIPEDIA]
16. Tawakel Karman
Tawakel Karman is a Yemeni politician who is a senior member of Al-Islah and a human rights activist who heads the group Women Journalists Without Chains that she created in 2005. She, along with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee, were awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work”. [WIKIPEDIA]