Black Celebrities Who Uplift Communities and Give Back in a Big Way
These philanthropic stars have built schools, advocated for marginalized communities, donated to COVID relief efforts and more. In honor of Black History Month, take a look at the stars making a difference every day
The filmmaker has a long list of philanthropic credits to his name. Most recently, he received the coronavirus vaccine on-camera in order to help de-stigmatize vaccinations amid the ongoing pandemic in a new TV program called COVID-19 Vaccine and the Black Community: A Tyler Perry Special.
Perry has supported civil rights through large-scale and individual donations, making history in 2009 with the largest-ever individual contribution — $1 million — to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in celebration of the organization's 100 year anniversary. He also has a history of covering the expenses for rent, funerals and college education for those in need, particularly in his Atlanta community.
The Los Angeles Lakers star was named TIME’s Athlete of the Year in recognition of his tireless activism, which includes spearheading the creation of More Than a Vote, a nonprofit aimed at thwarting voter suppression and motivating Black voters to make their voices heard at the polls.
In addition to becoming one of the most vocal proponents of social issues throughout his time in the NBA, James has given back to his community, opening the I Promise School in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. The inaugural class was surprised with free tuition to Kent State University when they recently visited the Ohio college at a part of class trip.
The singer's BeyGOOD organization has been a big supporter of communities of color, helping Black-owned small businesses secure funding throughout 2020 and assisting organizations across the country that were providing communities with basic needs, like food, water, household supplies, mental health support and COVID testing. She also released her song "Black Parade" to benefit her Black Business Impact Fund, which was administered by the NAACP.
Throughout the pandemic, Rihanna and her Clara Lionel Foundation (CLF) have been working to help marginalized communities that have been affected domestically and worldwide. In March 2020, the CLF donated $2 million, alongside JAY-Z’s Shawn Carter Foundation, to support communities in New York City and the Los Angeles area. In April she donated $4.2 million to address a surge in domestic violence in L.A. as part of Jack Dorsey's #StartSmall, and later that month, she donated to support COVID-19 rapid response efforts in New Orleans, the Caribbean and Africa.
Oprah has made giving back a cornerstone of her career, and the mogul has stepped up even more during the pandemic, donating $10 million to COVID relief efforts and fighting food insecurity. She also released her Oprah Talks COVID-19 series, which focused on how the illness is having a deadly impact on Black America and why it is more necessary than ever that people understand the seriousness of the disease.
After facing years of prejudice in Hollywood as a woman of color, the actress and rapper made it her mission to help uplift other women in the industry. Latifah launched the Queen Collective, in partnership with Proctor & Gamble, a program that works with female filmmakers to finance, make and distribute their films. Latifah also mentors each participant throughout the process.
She also teamed up with the American Lung Association to host its first-ever livestream benefit #Act4Impact to raise money for the organization’s COVID-19 Action Initiative. The initiative aims to highlight the alarming, disproportionate effects of the pandemic on Black and Latino communities throughout the United States and to work on solutions to close the gap: distributing free cloth masks, advocating for accessible, affordable coronavirus and flu vaccines and investing in respiratory research and other programs.
The Oscar winner has been a longtime donor and spokesperson for the Boys & Girls Club; he's raised millions of dollars to help complete the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture; and has been a mentor to younger actors, including the late Chadwick Boseman. He once quietly paid for Boseman and several of his Howard University classmates to attend an acting program at England’s Oxford University.
The SAG-AFTRA Foundation honored the Scandal star with its Actors Inspiration Award for giving back to her fellow actors as well as the community at large. She has been a proponent of civil rights and was appointed by President Barack Obama to the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities in 2009. She received the NAACP President’s Award in 2013 for her commitment to public service and civil rights. Time magazine also included her in its annual Time 100 list of most influential people.
The EGOT winner established his Show Me campaign, which pledges to help end the cycle of poverty. He's also teamed up with Ronald McDonald House Charities to support families with sick and injured children by providing resources and helping them stay together during treatment. Additionally, he's donated to several organizations throughout his career, including Feeding America, Red Cross, Make-A-Wish Foundation and Global Citizen.
The singer co-founded Keep A Child Alive to empower children and young people with the necessary resources to live healthier, happier lives. The organization provides financial and programatic support to nine community organizations in Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda and India, and serves over 150,000 people each year.