Honorees from TIME Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” include writers, scientists, athletes, musicians and politicians - people from various walks of life who are shaping the world, for better or worse.
Released Thursday morning, the 2016 list highlights people embodying a “breakthrough” in some way or another, said TIME managing editor Nancy Gibbs.
“Down to the last person, they have the power to make us think. And they are using it,” wrote Gibbs about this year’s honorees, who are divided into five categories including Pioneers, Titans, Artists, Leaders, and Icons.
Below are some of the people defining Black Excellence in 2016:
"Today Ibtihaj is one of the best fencers in the world—and an observant Muslim woman. This summer, she will represent the U.S. at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. And when she competes for her country, representing all of us, she will be the first American Olympian to do so while wearing the hijab. Ibtihaj embraced what made her stand out, and she’s an Olympian because of it." - Keith Ellison
"A staunch critic of restrictive visa policies and the deep-rooted prejudices behind them, Zerai takes the view that “no one is illegal.” Instead, he advocates vocally, tirelessly for solutions to the problems driving people to flee war, persecution or even environmental changes in their home countries, and for more humane policies to help them reach safer conditions." - Ai Weiwei
“Many of our sports heroes are sold to us based on their superhuman skill level. But every so often we get to experience one who combines these superior physical gifts with humility and grace while also letting us into his life to share the journey to greatness with him.” – Misty Copeland
“My master plan: Dwayne becomes the governor of Florida in eight years and the President in 12, and he’s the best President we’ve had since Ronald Reagan.” - Peter Berg
“He claimed the National Book Award for best nonfiction this year, but don’t think that this is the culmination of his work. He has much more to say, and we will all be the wiser for reading it.” - Bryan Stevenson
“Maybe it’s funnier for the writers, but truth was I felt sanguine about ending Stringer Bell’s arc in the third season of The Wire. For one thing, it made sense thematically to impale both Bell and Bunny Colvin simultaneously on the horns of reform. For another, I knew Elba, as true a leading man as I’d ever encountered, was not going to starve.” - David Simon
“On the biggest screen, he confers humanity and beauty on people told they are innately without it.” - Ta-Nehisi Coates
Taraji P. Henson
“When you are on set with Taraji, she listens, but she also questions. She challenges everyone to go the extra step to get it right. She has a deep understanding of the human condition, and she displays it with her eyes—the pain, the happiness, the love, the laughter. She probably would have been a great silent actor, but then the world wouldn’t have had Cookie.” - Lee Daniels
“Kendrick should be applauded for inviting us to face things that are uncomfortable, for celebrating our will to survive and for being audacious enough to grapple with the questions that we all need to answer if we ever hope to get free.” - Alicia Garza
“In speaking out against female genital mutilation, Jaha Dukureh has refused to let horror be silenced. When she was an infant, her external sexual organs were amputated in her native Gambia. Now living in Atlanta, she founded Safe Hands for Girls to fight the practice both internationally and in the U.S., where 500,000 women have been or are at risk of being victimized.” - Peggy Orenstein
“President Obama and my husband were two God-fearing, charismatic black men dedicated to public service and to their wives and two daughters. They were both voices for the voiceless who got up with smiles when they got knocked down.” - Jennifer Pinckney
“His leadership is authentic, and his focus on equality is nothing short of revolutionary, a clarion call for the world of philanthropy and an inspiration to those of us working for a more just and loving world.” - Elton John
“He always does his homework, so his questions are thoughtful and insightful. He doesn’t take his privileged position in our country for granted, and he doesn’t insert himself into the story. People liked Walter Cronkite because they trusted what he had to say, and Lester is from that same mold.” - Scott Kelly
“What Dr. Mukwege and his team at Panzi Hospital do is extraordinary. Theirs is a reality where 48 women in the DRC are raped every hour, according to a 2011 report. They have treated more than 46,000 victims of sexual- and gender-based violence—6-year-olds and octogenarians alike. Beyond healer to these women and girls, Dr. Mukwege is hope.” - Jill Biden
“Usain makes music on the track; he runs with great joy, with passion and with soul. He has that smile, that Jamaican flair. It’s a swagger and confidence that we all really enjoy. A lot of people who get to that superstar level pretend to be somebody else. I think that’s the thing I like most about Usain. He’s real.” - Ziggy Marley
“If he were to retire tomorrow, he would still be among the very best champions who have ever lived. And I think he’s just getting started. The sky is the limit for him.” - Mario Andretti
“She’s an icon, a boss and a role model to all these young girls out here on how to do it the right way. Her work ethic speaks volumes and has yielded these results. The scary thing is she’s still going. Ha! Nicki Minaj will go down as one of the best to do it in the history of music.” - Lil Wayne
Read the full list of TIME Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” here.