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100 Most Influential People of All-Time (80-71)

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We continue our discussion of who are the most influential people in that has ever lived. We already discussed a lawyer that fought in the case of the century (more on his client in a later entry), an MMA fighter who captivated the imagination of fight fans around the world, and former Disney star turned icon.

But what about a PBS TV host who instantly reached GOAT status? A New Orleans rapper who may have been the reincarnation of Shakespeare. And a Pro Football Hall of Famer who matched his brother by getting two rings.

Here are the 100 Most Influential people of all time 80-71.

80. Mr. Fred Rogers (1928-2003)- Educator/TV Host.

Mr. Rogers’s Star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame.

When we were young, we did not like “baby shows.” Especially those pesky live-action shows that seem to have been preachy beyond belief. However, when we arrive at adulthood, we look back with appreciation of these “baby shows.” Only a few people have had an influence over our childhood. The main person who comes to mind is Presbyterian Minister and Educator Fred Rogers.

Additionally, his iconic children’s television show, he created a sense of warmth and empathy among his viewers. Through the power of active engagement, Rogers encouraged children to embrace their individuality and navigate the complexities of emotions. Transitioning seamlessly between tender moments and educational segments, he seamlessly connected with viewers.

Thus, his impact extended beyond the screen, embodying kindness in action. Rogers’ legacy endures as a testament to the transformative force of genuine compassion. In a world often marked by chaos, his active commitment to understanding and nurturing stands as a timeless beacon of positivity. Sadly, we lost the beloved icon to stomach cancer on February 27, 2003.

79. Pele (1940-2022) – Futbol Legend

From Tres Coracoes, Brazil comes a name synonymous with the game of Futbol (soccer). Edson Arantes do Nascimento, popularly known as “Pele” is soccer’s most iconic player ever! So much that professional wrestlers AJ Styles and Finn Balor have attacks named after the late soccer legend. With his mesmerizing skills, he captivated audiences, effortlessly weaving through defenses and scoring breathtaking goals. Beyond the pitch, Pele’s philanthropy and advocacy work further amplify his influence, leaving an indelible mark on society

Pele/Shutterstock

Pele effortlessly transitioned from prospect to legend. With his high-flying and flashy playing style, it wasn’t difficult for Pele to make a name for himself. Subsequently, he inspired generations, uniting fans worldwide through his charisma and sportsmanship. It is challenging to rival his success (we’re looking at you David Beckham), including three FIFA World Cup titles, solidified his status as an icon.

In retirement, his name resonates, representing excellence and perseverance. Pele’s legacy, etched in the annals of football history, continues to inspire and uplift millions, affirming his timeless significance. Pele, the iconic Brazilian footballer, amassed an astounding record throughout his illustrious career.

Moreover, he scored over 1,000 career goals, securing his place as one of the sport’s most prolific strikers. Winning three FIFA World Cup titles with Brazil in 1958, 1962, and 1970, he remains the only player to achieve such a feat. Pele netted 77 goals in 92 appearances for the Brazilian national team, showcasing his unmatched skill and enduring legacy in football history. Pele passed away on 29 December 2022 of complications from Colon Cancer at 82 years old.

78. Cornel West – Philosopher/Author

Dr. Cornel West/Shutterstock

Dr. Cornel West, a prominent philosopher, political activist, and public intellectual, exerts considerable influence through his impassioned advocacy for social justice and his incisive critiques of systemic oppression. Firstly, his eloquent articulation of complex ideas resonates deeply with audiences, compelling them to reexamine prevailing ideologies.

Additionally, West’s unwavering commitment to challenging power structures empowers marginalized communities and fosters dialogue toward meaningful change. Moreover, his prolific writings, spanning topics from race and class to democracy, serve as a beacon of truth in a cruel world. His engaging speaking engages audiences worldwide, starting a fire of activism and introspection.

Furthermore, he has written numerous influential books covering a wide range of topics. In “Democracy Matters,” West examines the erosion of democratic ideals and the need for grassroots activism to revitalize democracy. “Black Prophetic Fire” celebrates the legacies of African American leaders who fought for justice and equality, while “Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud” offers a deeply personal reflection on his own life and experiences. Just to name a couple.

West continues to shape discourse, inspire action, and advocate for a world where all individuals can thrive free from oppression and injustice.

77. Peyton Manning – Pro Football Hall of Famer

With two Super Bowl titles to his credit (one with the Colts, the other with the Broncos), it is safe to say that Peyton Manning is a part of one of the greatest eras of Quarterbacks of all time. Like his 7-Time Super Bowl Champion rival (more on him later), Manning’s skills and knowledge of the game were passed down from his father Archie Manning.

Manning with The Colts/Shutterstock

Additionally, Manning’s charisma and relatability endear him to fans across generations, fostering a lasting connection that transcends sports. His commitment to community service and charitable causes underscores his desire to make a positive difference in the world. Peyton’s resilience and determination propelled him to greatness, inspiring countless individuals to strive for excellence in their own endeavors.

To coincide with his two Super Bowl titles, Manning amassed an impressive total of 71,940 passing yards over 18 NFL seasons, placing him second on the all-time list at the time of his retirement. He holds the record for the most career touchdown passes with 539, further solidifying his place among the greatest quarterbacks in history. Additionally, his remarkable consistency is evident in his 14 Pro Bowl selections, indicative of his enduring excellence. Peyton Manning continues to shape and inspire, leaving an indelible mark on the world of sports and beyond.

76. Issa Rae – Actress/Executive Poducer

Issa Rae/Shutterstock

Where in the world do we begin? From her own YouTube series “Awkward Black Girl,” to her iconic series “Insecure” Issa Rae has become a force in Hollywood in record time. First, Rae’s authentic storytelling resonates deeply with audiences, offering refreshing perspectives on race, identity, and relationships. Moreover, her creation of the critically acclaimed HBO series “Insecure” has sparked important conversations about representation and diversity in television.

Furthermore, her unwavering commitment to authenticity and self-expression empowers others to embrace their uniqueness and pursue their dreams. Rae’s resilience and determination have propelled her to the forefront of the entertainment industry. Through her work both in front of and behind the camera, she continues to challenge stereotypes, inspire change, and redefine success on her own terms.

She has received multiple nominations for prestigious honors, such as the Primetime Emmy Awards, Golden Globe Awards, and NAACP Image Awards. Notably, her HBO series “Insecure” has been lauded by critics and audiences alike, earning Emmy nominations for Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for Rae herself. Her impact extends beyond traditional awards, as she has been celebrated for her efforts to promote diversity and representation in the entertainment industry.

75. Taylor Swift – Singer/Songwriter

With the 66th Grammys now behind us, a few things have changed about the public opinion of Taylor Swift. Let’s clear the elephant in the room. She did snub Celine Dion, who is in fact a global treasure and used the Grammys to promote her new album. Was it the time or place? No, it was not. Now that we’ve cleared the air, back to why Taylor (love her or hate her) is influential.

Taylor’s influence extends across various realms, shaping music, culture, and activism. Transitioning seamlessly from country to pop, Swift has navigated genres, broadening her reach and impact. Beyond the stage, Swift leverages her platform for social change, advocating for LGBTQ+ rights, women’s empowerment, and political engagement.

Taylor Swift/Shutterstock

In the digital age, Swift harnesses social media to connect intimately with fans, cultivating a loyal community. Her transparency and authenticity foster a sense of kinship, empowering fans to embrace their individuality and express themselves confidently. Her accolades include 14 Grammy Awards (featuring a record four Album of the Year wins), a Primetime Emmy Award, 40 American Music Awards, 40 Billboard Music Awards, and 23 MTV Video Music Awards.

Overall, Taylor Swift’s influence is profound and multifaceted, leaving an indelible mark on music, culture, and activism, resonating with audiences globally and inspiring generations to come. So other publications, we’re going to let y’all finish, but Taylor Swift is one of the most influential people of all-time.

74. Donald Glover – Rapper/Singer/Actor

Just like Issa Rae, Donald Glover is the epitome of both talent and black excellence. There is nothing that this guy CAN’T do. Donald Glover’s influence reverberates across entertainment, shaping film, television, music, and social commentary. A once-in-a-generation talent, Glover can maneuver between roles as an actor, writer, director, and musician, Glover defines versatility and creativity.

In the music industry, Glover, under the moniker Childish Gambino, revolutionizes hip-hop, blending genres and pushing artistic boundaries. His iconic track “This Is America” sparks critical discourse on race and violence, cementing Glover’s status as a cultural provocateur.

Childish Gambino/Shutterstock

Although highly skilled as an actor, rapper, singer, and whatever else he does, he also quite the activist. Off-screen, Glover’s activism and philanthropy amplify his influence, advocating for social justice and supporting marginalized communities. His commitment to diversity and inclusion inspires change, shaping the landscape of entertainment and beyond.

With his groundbreaking series “Atlanta,” Glover has garnered critical acclaim, earning numerous awards, including multiple Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series and Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series.

Lastly, As a musician under the moniker Childish Gambino, Glover has achieved widespread recognition, winning Grammy Awards for his innovative and socially conscious music, including the acclaimed track “This Is America.”

73. Jayne Mansfield (1933-1967) – Entertainer

Mansfield Postage Stamp/Shutterstock

Jayne Mansfield’s influence reverberates throughout the realms of Hollywood glamour, sexuality, and feminist discourse. From a successful stage actress to a Hollywood starlet in the 1950s, Mansfield captivated audiences with her magnetic presence and voluptuous figure. She defined the “blonde bombshell,” getting attention and challenging traditional ideas of femininity.

Through her provocative roles in films like “The Girl Can’t Help It” and “Promises! Promises!”, Mansfield pushed boundaries, embracing her sexuality on screen and sparking controversy. Her fearless approach to challenging societal norms paved the way for future generations of actresses to explore themes of sexuality and empowerment.

Behind the scenes, Mansfield leveraged her fame to advocate for women’s rights, using her platform to address issues such as gender equality and reproductive rights. Despite facing criticism and scrutiny, she remained unapologetic, championing causes close to her heart. Her legacy endures in popular culture, inspiring artists, actresses, and feminists alike to embrace their sexuality and challenge societal norms with confidence and grace.

72. Lil Wayne – Rapper

From Hollygrove, New Orleans, Louisiana, comes arguably the greatest wordsmith since William Shakespeare (more on him in the top 20). Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. is widely regarded as one of the greatest rappers ever! From a child prodigy to a prolific artist, Wayne’s meteoric rise to fame catapulted him into the spotlight. With his distinctive flow and unparalleled lyricism, he redefined the rap game. Through his groundbreaking albums like “Tha Carter” series (2 was the best), Lil Wayne introduced innovative sounds and storytelling techniques, pushing the boundaries of hip-hop.

Lil Wayne/Shutterstock.

His collaborations with industry heavyweights further solidified his influence, as he mentored and inspired a new wave of artists. Wayne easily went into the world of fashion; he launched successful clothing lines and collaborations, leaving a mark on fashion. His philanthropic missions, including his work with charitable organizations and initiatives, show his commitment to giving back to his community.

Lil Wayne’s influence borders different genres, as his music continues to resonate with audiences worldwide. With his dedication to his craft approach to pushing artistic boundaries, he remains a cultural icon in the world of hip-hop. Weezy F. Baby (please say the baby) has won five Grammy Awards, eleven BET Awards, four Billboard Music Awards, two MTV Video Music Awards and eight NAACP Image Awards.

Honorable Mention – Dr. Umar Johnson

Umar Johnson’s influence on the African-American community is profound and far-reaching. With his speeches and activism, he has sparked critical discourse on issues such as education, mental health, and systemic racism. Transitioning from academia to grassroots advocacy, Johnson’s dynamic presence and charismatic leadership inspire followers to mobilize for social change. Despite controversy and criticism, his unwavering commitment to uplifting his community solidifies his influence as a prominent voice for empowerment and liberation.

71. Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945) 32nd POTUS

FDR Postage Stamp/Shutterstock

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s influence reshaped the course of American history, leaving a mark on the nation during one of its most horrifying periods. Transitioning into the presidency amidst the Great Depression, Roosevelt initiated bold reforms through his New Deal programs, aiming to soothe economic issues and restore faith in the government. With his dynamic leadership and innovative policies, he recreated the role of the federal government, expanding its powers to intervene in the economy and provide social welfare.

Through his fireside chats and charismatic speeches, Roosevelt rallied the American people, instilling hope and confidence during times of crisis. Transitioning into World War II, his leadership steered the nation through the global conflict, mobilizing resources and forging alliances to secure victory.

Roosevelt’s influence extended beyond his presidency, as his legacy shaped the modern welfare state and established the Democratic Party’s commitment to social justice and economic equality. His vision for a more just and prosperous America laid the groundwork for decades of progress and reform.

Overall, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency fundamentally transformed the role of government and set a precedent for leadership in times of adversity.

Written By

Shane Kidd-Walker is a Graduate Film Student at Florida State University. He is also an alumnus of Hinds Community College and THE Alcorn State University.

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