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Posted on Feb 26, 2016

19 Black Characters Who've Shaped Us

Let's love up on 'em.

ABC / Warner Bros.

To celebrate the last week of Black History Month, we asked the BuzzFeed Community what black characters have shaped and inspired them throughout the years. Here are their answers.

1. Rochelle, The Craft

Columbia Pictures / Via Facebook: plugins

2. Susie Carmichael, Rugrats

Nickelodeon / Via

"I love that she was the smart one who was kind and sweet. It was awesome to have a relatable cartoon." – Triadacross

3. Celie Johnson, The Color Purple

Warner Bros. / Youngfaith97 / Via

"She overcame the obstacles that were placed in front of her, and believed in herself. She still maintained a relationship with her sister, and I have a younger sister, so I relate. Even when she thought that there was no hope for her, she gained confidence in herself." – Youngfaith97

4. Whitley Gilbert, A Different World

NBC / Tsehaiv / Via

"Her character literally has stuck with me from middle school to now. Everything about Whitley was about growth and development as a young black woman in college and after college. Her role gave me a voice." – Tsehaiv

5. Ifemelu, Americanah

Knopf / Pattayah / Via

"Americanah was the first time I ever saw a story compare American and immigrant families accurately and without being too cliché. I was born in America, but my parents immigrated here with very little family. I grew up in a mostly white neighborhood and always felt like the odd one out, not only because of how I look, but also because of how different my home life was from every other person I knew. I feel like I’ve been lucky enough that I’ve found many friends later in life who also come from immigrant families with similar experiences, but reading Americanah was the first time i really felt like our stories were being represented in mainstream media." – Pattayah

6. Denise Huxtable, The Cosby Show

NBC / Via

Via Kadijak2.

7. Tiana, Princess And the Frog

Disney / Juliae402d009a9 / Via

"She was the first Disney princess who was truly a person to look up to, for her hard work ethic and ability to be kind and understanding to everybody she met." – Juliae402d009a9

8. Angela Moore, Boy Meets World

ABC / Lalar43a7bea16 / Via

"Angela from Boy Meets World taught me to be brave...I was raised in a household that didn’t ever say whether it was OK to like different guys, and I was scared to ask where that line was. She showed me differently. I grew up with that show and loved it. Her and Moesha. She always did things her way." – Lalar43a7bea16

9. Raven Baxter, That's So Raven

Disney Channel / Via

10. Khadijah James, Living Single

Warner Bros. / Nikiag / Via

"She was so strong, independent, and funny. She taught me to be confident, beautiful, and that you could have a man love you even if you are not a size two." – Nikiag

11. Olivia Pope, Scandal

ABC / ShaunyBuzz / Via

"Even through all of her messy altercations, this character has forever changed my life." – ShaunyBuzz

12. Billie Ray Valentine, Trading Places

Paramount Pictures / Kevneilc / Via

"He saw through the shallow underpinnings of the elite class and kept it real…and outsmarted the folk who thought he was beneath them." – Kevneilc

13. Guinan, Star Trek: The Next Generation

14. Miranda Bailey, Grey's Anatomy


"She hasn't been through as much sh*t as Meredith Grey, but Miranda is goals! She's smart. She doesn't take crap from her peers, and as much as she is a genius she also had a few rough months of anxiety and second guessing her greatness – basically being a human being. She loved again after her first marriage and married a guy who is not professionally her equal but who gives her everything she needs in a partner. I think that's dope and super hard to do in real life, but a real reality for a lot of black women." – Stephanie Kennard

15. Jessica Pearson, Suits


"If I was an attorney, I'd want to be like Jessica! She also doesn't take crap from her peers. She's super smart and basically dresses for the gawds! Like, it's better than Olivia Pope's wardrobe and I'd fight anyone on this point." – Stephanie Kennard

16. Storm, X-Men

20th Century Fox / Via

Via ActorAnon.

17. Winifred 'Freddie" Brooks, A Different World


"Watching A Different World introduced me to the idea of attending an HCBU. Seeing Whitley and Freddie's success at Hillman helped me to see that I didn't have to have life perfectly figured out. It taught me that as much as my parents love, support, and want the best for me, I don't have to fulfill their dreams for my life to make them proud – accomplishing my dreams will make them just as proud! And it has so far!" – Stephanie Kennard

18. Jodie Landon, Daria


"She always spoke to me. I was in honors classes, and I was almost always the only black guy in the class. Because I was always in those classes, most of my friends became the white people from those classes. And most black people know what it feels like being the only black person, or one of the few – pretty much makes us ambassadors for all of Negroland. Jodie was the unintended ambassador. The one who felt pressure to always be the smart, well-spoken, well-rounded person of color. And that's something that I even still feel in my early 30s. But at least I had someone (fictional) who could share the struggle." – Randolph W. Oliver

19. Will Smith, Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air

Warner Bros. / Anonymous

Via Anonymous.

Hit the comments to tell us more of the black characters who've inspired you! And don't forget to follow the BuzzFeed Community on Facebook and Twitter to be featured in future posts!

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