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40 Black Writers Whose Work Changed The World

These Black screenwriters, poets, authors, and songwriters have left an indelible mark on readers everywhere.

In honor of Black History Month, these are some of the many Black writers whose work has been a cultural game changer in the United States and throughout the world.

1. Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder performs at a mobilization event in Detroit, Michigan, hosted by Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden and former US President Barack Obama, in October of 2020

2. James Baldwin

James Baldwin laughs in a photo from October of 1963

3. Ava DuVernay

Ava DuVernay at the 4th Annual Celebration of Black Cinema and Television presented by The Critics Choice Association on December 06, 2021

4. Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou smiles during a visit to Massachusetts for an event

5. Issa Rae

Issa Rae at the 2021 Vulture Festival at The Hollywood Roosevelt on November 13, 2021

6. Leon Bridges

Leon Bridges poses at the 2021 Soul Train Awards at The Apollo Theater on November 20, 2021

7. Lorraine Hansberry

In this 1959 photo, Lorraine Hansberry sits in her New York City apartment at 337 Bleecker Street, which is where she wrote "A Raisin In The Sun"

8. Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey at the New York City premiere of Tyler Perry's "A Fall From Grace" on January 13, 2020

9. Tyler Perry

Tyler Perry at the New York City premiere Of Netflix's "Don't Look Up" at Jazz at Lincoln Center on December 05, 2021

10. Langston Hughes

A portrait of Langston Hughes from 1942

11. Berry Gordy

Berry Gordy attends the 44th Kennedy Center Honors at The Kennedy Center on December 05, 2021 as an honoree

12. Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison witnesses the unveiling of a memorial bench to remember the abolition of slavery in Paris in 2010

13. Tupac Shakur

Tupac Shakur at a 1996 movie premiere in New York

14. Lauryn Hill

Lauryn Hill performs at the Madcool Festival in Madrid on July 11, 2019

15. Rita Dove

Rita Dove sits on stage at the 2019 Hutchins Center Honors W.E.B. Du Bois Medal Ceremony at Harvard University in 2019

16. Spike Lee

Spike Lee attends the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures opening gala on September 25, 2021

17. Ryan Coogler

Ryan Coogler at the 10th Annual AAFCA Awards on February 06, 2019

18. Alice Walker

Alice Walker on the campus of Michigan State University on April 31, 1998

19. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at the Dior Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2020 show at 2020 Paris Fashion Week

20. Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey talks to the crowd at Oprah's 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus Tour on March 07, 2020 in Denver, Colorado

21. Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith attends the 16th Rome Film Festival on October 17, 2021

22. Michelle Alexander

Michelle Alexander at the2016 Harlem Women's Round-table Conversation in New York City

23. Saeed Jones

Saeed Jones at an event with BuzzFeed's "AM To DM" to discuss "How We Fight for Our Lives: A Memoir" in New York City on October 08, 2019

24. Nikki Giovanni

Poet Nikki Giovanni talks on stage at the 12th Annual Afropunk Brooklyn Festival at Commodore Barry Park in 2016

25. Ne-Yo

Ne-Yo at the Pride Of Britain Awards 2021 at The Grosvenor House Hotel in October 2021

26. Prince

Prince on stage at half time during Super Bowl XLI between the Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears at Dolphins Stadium in Miami, Florida on February 4, 2007

27. Zora Neale Hurston

A portrait of Zora Neale Hurston in the late 1930s or early 1940s

28. Brit Bennett

Brit Bennett at the Women's Prize for Fiction awards ceremony at Bedford Square Garden, London on September 8, 2021

29. Shonda Rhimes

Shonda Rhimes poses at the 2020 Vanity Fair Oscar party hosted by Radhika Jones on February 09, 2020

30. Amanda Gorman

Amanda Gorman recites a poem at U.S. President Joe Biden's inauguration on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.

31. The Notorious B.I.G.

Notorious B.I.G. poses on the red carpet event for a 1995 concert

32. Phillis Wheatley

A portrait of Phillis Wheatley, which was made when she was around 20 years old

33. Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates poses on the red carpet of the Gordon Parks Foundation: 2018 Awards Dinner & Auction on May 22, 2018

34. Michaela Coel

Michaela Coel at The 2021 Met Gala on September 13, 2021

35. Frederick Douglass

A photo of Frederick Douglass from the year 1880

36. Michael Jackson

A photo of a smiling Michael Jackson in 1981

37. Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks to a crowd of about 7,000 people on May 17, 1967 at UC Berkeley's Sproul Plaza

38. Ida B. Wells

A portrait of American journalist, suffragist and Progressive activist Ida Wells Barnett in the 1890s.

39. W.E.B. Du Bois

An undated portrait of W. E. B. Du Bois

40. Malcolm X

Malcolm X smiles a portrait in Rochester, New York on February 16, 1965

Make sure to head right here for more of BuzzFeed's Black History Month coverage.

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