There are many famous African Americans; chief among them are President Barack Obama and Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and the late Thurgood Marshall. Prominent African American entertainers include former talk show host Oprah Winfrey and the actor Will Smith.
The United States' 44th president, Barack Obama, is the first African American to hold the office. First elected as a Democratic senator from Illinois, Obama was sworn in as President in January 2009, after defeating John McCain.
The first African American Supreme Court Justice was Thurgood Marshall, who joined the Court after being appointed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1967. Marshall, a liberal, had successfully argued the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case before the Court in 1952. As a justice, he championed social and civil rights issues. Upon his retirement, in 1991, he was replaced by fellow African American Clarence Thomas, a conservative. Thomas was a controversial choice and came under much scrutiny during his confirmation hearings, especially amid allegations of sexual harassment by his former law clerk, Anita Hill. Thomas has not sought the limelight but became known as a conservative judge who favors a strong Executive branch.
Oprah Winfrey is another famous African American. "The Oprah Winfrey Show," aired from 1986 through 2011, and was the most popular talk show of its time. Through it, Winfrey became a hugely influential cultural taste maker, and her influence was credited with launching the careers of talk show host Dr. Phil McGraw, interior designer Nate Berkus and many authors through her book club.
African American actor Will Smith is one of Hollywood's top actors. He is widely regarded as one of the top draws in the industry, and has starred in hits such as "Independence Day," "I Am Legend" and the "Men in Black" franchise of movies.