Top 30 Most Influential Black Politicians In New York. Photo: knowinsiders.
Top 30 Most Influential Black Politicians In New York. Photo: knowinsiders.
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Every single one of these influential change agents has something to teach us; most notably, they are all striving to improve the world and speak out against injustice, inequality, and misfortune. The world we live in today has been greatly shaped by these leaders as well.

At a time when the political and cultural environment has become even more antagonistic to the idea of Black achievement, this list of honorees serves as a reminder of the beauty and genius of Blackness. We have summarized the top 30 most significant Black politicians as follows:

Who are the most influential black people in New York?

1. Eric Adams, New York City Mayor

As an NYPD officer, a state senator, the president of Brooklyn Borough, and currently the 110th mayor of the city of New York, Mayor Eric Adams has served the people of New York City. He provided a voice to a broad coalition of working families from all five boroughs and is spearheading the effort to revive the city's economy, lessen inequality, enhance public safety, and create a more resilient and healthier metropolis that benefits every New Yorker.

Like a great number of New Yorkers, Mayor Eric Adams faced hardship as a child but overcame it.

Eric and his family, being the sixth child born in Brownsville and brought up in South Jamaica by a single mother who did housework, were never sure if they would return home to find food on the table or an eviction notice on the front door. And when Eric was fifteen, he witnessed an act of injustice that would change his life: he was beaten by police in the basement of a precinct house.

However, as noted, Eric chose to use his suffering as motivation and changed the police force from within, refusing to give in to his rage. After joining the NYPD, he rose to prominence as one of the department's most vocal officers, denouncing racism and bias within the force and advocating for significant changes.

2. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, State Senate Majority Leader

Born and raised in New York, Andrea Stewart-Cousins was raised by parents who valued education and community service. Her commitment to supporting working families' needs and the underprivileged, coupled with these ideals, have made her stand out as a progressive leader and public servant.

Greenburgh, Scarsdale, and portions of White Plains, New Rochelle, and Yonkers are presently represented by Senator Stewart-Cousins, who was first elected to the State Senate in 2006. She was chosen as Majority Whip and Vice-Chair during her time as a Westchester County legislator. She wrote and passed historic laws while serving as a county legislator, notably the county's first human rights legislation. Andrea Stewart-Cousins was the first African American to hold the position of Director of Community Affairs for the City of Yonkers prior to her election.

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins has received numerous honors and recognitions for her extensive legislative work and community service, according to Eleanor's Legacy named her a "Trailblazer of Democracy," New York Communities for Change gave her the "Delores Huerta Award," the Business and Professional Women's Club named her "Woman of the Year," the Community Health Association of New York State named her "Legislator of the Year," Pace Law School named her "Leader in Social Justice," and New York State Family Planning Advocates named her "Champion of Choice." Additionally, Andrea Stewart-Cousins has been inducted into the Spirit of Women Archive of the American Women of African Heritage and the Women's Hall of Fame of Westchester County.

3. Carl Heastie, Assembly Speaker

Top 30 Most Influential Black Politicians In New York

The 100th Speaker of the New York State Assembly is Carl E. Heastie. Being the first African-American to lead the 150 members of the Chamber, who represent communities all over the state of New York, is a historic distinction for him. Leading the Assembly Majority since February 3, 2015, he has worked to improve communities and advance the Families First agenda, which places a high priority on thoughtful investments in the economic, social, health, and safety of New York families. The Assembly has achieved several historic triumphs under his direction, fulfilling the Assembly Majority's pledge to increase opportunities for success in local communities throughout the state.

Heastie, a lifelong supporter of workers' rights, chaired the Assembly Labor Committee before taking office as Speaker. In 2015, he spearheaded the fight for $15 in the New York State Legislature with the backing of his Majority colleagues. He was the main negotiator in the successful increase of the minimum wage. The successful implementation of a graduated plan to raise the minimum wage throughout the state in 2016 marked the culmination of these efforts and gave workers at the bottom of the economic ladder a fair shot at success and financial independence. Prior to taking office as Speaker, he was also a leading proponent of the Wage Theft Prevention Act, which gave the State Department of Labor the tools it needed to identify and prosecute wage theft cases and assist disgruntled employees in recovering unjustly withheld wages.

4. Letitia James, State Attorney General

The 67th Attorney General of the State of New York is Letitia "Tish" James. She is a seasoned lawyer and public servant with decades of experience and a long list of achievements. She is the first elected attorney general of New York and the first woman of color to hold a statewide position.

Ms. James became the first woman of color to hold citywide office when she was elected Public Advocate for the City of New York in 2013, as reported by In her role as Public Advocate, Ms. James represented the City's most vulnerable communities and acted as a watchdog over government agencies in New York City. She made the office of the Public Advocate into a powerful force for change.

In order to address the widespread gender wage gap, her office handled more than 32,000 complaints from constituents and passed more legislation than all previous Public Advocates combined. Among the groundbreaking laws she passed was one that forbade inquiries about past salaries from being asked during the hiring process. By pressuring the biggest pension fund in New York City to remove its investments from gun and ammunition dealers, Ms. James effectively challenged the gun industry. She fought in court on behalf of kids and families on matters like tenant protection, kids in foster care, and kids with disabilities. In November 2017, Tish James was re-elected to a second term as Public Advocate by an overwhelming majority of New Yorkers.

5. Hakeem Jeffries, Chair, House Democratic Caucus

Hakeem Jeffries is the representative for the diverse Eighth Congressional District in New York, which includes a sizable portion of Queens and much of Brooklyn. Representative Jeffries is a member of the House Budget Committee and the House Judiciary Committee. He is currently serving his fifth term in the US Congress.

Representative Jeffries was chosen by his peers to serve as the Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus in November 2018. He is currently the fifth-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives in that role. Along with his roles as co-chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, where he contributed to the creation of the For The People agenda, he was also the Whip of the Congressional Black Caucus in the past.

Rep. Jeffries is a tenacious defender of social and economic justice in Congress. He has put in a lot of effort to protect our health care from right-wing attacks, reform our criminal justice system, assist residents affected by the COVID-19 pandemic's devastation, and improve the economy for average Americans.

Rep. Jeffries was one of the most successful lawmakers in the 116th Congress, shepherding several bills with strong bipartisan and stakeholder support through the House of Representatives and into law.

6. Adrienne Adams, New York City Council Speaker

Top 30 Most Influential Black Politicians In New York

The Speaker of the New York City Council is Adrienne Eadie Adams. Selected by her peers in January 2022, she serves as the first African American Speaker of the Council, which is the most diverse and female-majority in New York City history. She is the first female representative for District 28, which includes the Queens neighborhoods of Jamaica, Richmond Hill, Rochdale Village, and South Ozone Park. She was elected to the City Council in November 2017.

After years of inequality and underfunding, Speaker Adams brought unprecedented levels of funding—including investments in housing, parks, schools, libraries, and sanitation services—to her district during her first term. She supported funding for cultural institutions, health care, digital access, adult and child literacy, neighborhood food pantries, small business support, and Fair Futures—an initiative that offers services and mentorship to foster youth—while serving on the Budget Negotiating Team.

She battled to establish more testing and vaccination sites in her district, which lacked equitable resources despite having one of the highest COVID-19 case rates in the entire City, as reported by during the peak of the pandemic. As Co-Chair of the Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus (BLAC) of the Council, Speaker Adams promoted funding increases for CUNY's research institutions, programs aimed at preventing foreclosures, and numerous other community-based projects. The Education Equity Action Plan, an endeavor to introduce a thorough K–12 Black Studies Curriculum for all students in New York City’s public schools, was also funded by the City Council under her direction.

7. Crystal Peoples-Stokes, Assembly Majority Leader

Assemblywoman Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes was promoted to Majority Leader of the New York State Assembly in December 2018. Since 2003, Peoples-Stokes has represented Buffalo's 141st Assembly District.

Peoples-Stokes was raised in Buffalo, New York, where she was born, as reported by Peoples-Stokes, who is the daughter of a sanitation worker and a school teacher, attended Buffalo Public Schools before attending Buffalo State College to obtain her master's degree in student personnel administration and her bachelor's degree in elementary education. A Medaille College Honorary Doctorate is also in Stokes' possession. Before joining Citizen Action of New York and the Buffalo Urban League, she had a brief career as a school teacher. After being appointed Majority Leader in 1998, Peoples-Stokes continued to serve on the Erie County Legislature from 1993 until 2002.

Peoples-Stokes is known for being a tenacious supporter who prioritizes principles and people over politics. She has played a crucial role in guaranteeing that women- and minority-owned businesses have an equal opportunity to win state contracts. She is an unwavering advocate for diversity in our state. She was chosen to be the chair of the Assembly Subcommittee on MWBE in 2012 in appreciation of her efforts. She was named Chair of the Assembly's Governmental Operations Committee in 2015. This committee is responsible for monitoring requests for FOIL, ethics reform, state police, homeland security, preparedness for emergencies and disasters, MWBE, victims of crime, human rights, and military and naval affairs. She was chosen by her peers to serve as Chair of the bipartisan and bi-cameral New York State Legislative Women's Caucus in June 2017.

8. Gregory Meeks, Member of Congress

Congressman Meeks's background is a major contributor to his empathy and teamwork skills. His family left Rock Hill, South Carolina, during the Great Migration and moved north, settling in East Harlem. Growing up in a public housing project, he knew from a young age that he wanted to practice law. He was motivated by a mother and father who sacrificed much to guarantee their children would have the same opportunities for success that they themselves never experienced. Meeks inherited from his parents a strong sense of social justice, a strong sense of community, and a readiness to lend a helping hand to those in need.

He brought these principles with him to Adelphi University, where he graduated with a history bachelor's degree. Meeks embraced the jurisprudence of Charles Hamilton Houston and his hero, Thurgood Marshall, while attending Howard University Law School. Following that, Congressman Meeks held positions as chief administrative judge for New York State's worker compensation system, prosecutor for a special anti-drug taskforce, and assistant district attorney for Queens County. He was chosen to serve in the New York State Assembly in 1992 and remained there until 1998, when he emerged victorious in a special election to represent New York's Fifth Congressional District.

Currently serving his thirteenth term in Congress, Congressman Gregory W. Meeks has committed his time and talents to representing one of the most diverse constituencies in the country. Representative Meeks has gained the respect of both Democrats and Republicans for his work on behalf of his district, New York City and State, and the country at large. He is regarded as a capable, morally grounded, and sensible leader. Congressman Meeks is an advocate for improving the Affordable Care Act, which was passed under President Obama. Congressman Meeks is a member of the New Democrat Coalition (NDC), the largest ideological caucus in Congress, which is made up of progressive, pro-growth Democratic members. The NDCC Trade Task Force is co-chaired by him.

9. Jamaal Bailey, Chair, Bronx Democratic Party

Top 30 Most Influential Black Politicians In New York
Records show that New York state Sen. Jamaal Bailey's father, Stanley, is an employee of the city Board of Elections. Steve Sanchez/Pacific Press/Shutterstock

State Senator Jamaal Bailey has dedicated himself to increased police supervision and criminal justice reform during his five years in office. This includes promoting the Clean Slate Act and laws that increase the legal age of arrest and prosecution of minors from 7 to 12 years old, which Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law in December. As the leader of the Bronx Democratic Party, Bailey also continues to have a significant influence on political developments in the Bronx, according to a report from

According to Jamaal, we need to rethink education by emphasizing the whole child and paying closer attention to the outside influences that affect our kids. It is our responsibility to provide our kids with the resources they need to succeed. Students should receive academic, social, and emotional support from us from an early age until they graduate and enroll in college. More funding is required for the humanities, music, sports, and the arts in order to develop well-rounded people.

Our kids need to have more access to gifted and talented programs, which will increase their chances of getting into the best high schools in New York. To thrive in the 21st-century economy, we must get ready. We need to make sure that we are offering soft skills like credit counseling and financial literacy in addition to technical training and job training. These are essential for developing a society of people who will protect their wealth and provide a better life for their families. According to, we need to address income inequality, close the wage gap, and provide more opportunities for all members of our communities.

10. Al Sharpton, Founder and President, National Action Network

According to, Al Sharpton, whose full name is Alfred Charles Sharpton, Jr., was born in Brooklyn, New York, on October 3, 1954. He is an American politician, minister, and civil rights activist who founded the National Action Network in 1991 and went on to host a political talk show on MSNBC.

Sharpton became an ordained Pentecostal minister at the age of ten, having started preaching at the age of four. He established a nationwide youth organization in 1971 that supported African Americans' rights to social and economic justice. After earning his diploma from Brooklyn's Tilden High School in 1972, he briefly attended Brooklyn College. A vibrant and well-liked figure in the African American community, he started contentious protests that at times led to altercations with the police and received extensive coverage in the national media. Affirmative action and compensation for African Americans for the enslavement of their ancestors were two progressive policies that Sharpton championed through the National Action Network, a civil rights organization founded in 1991.

When Sharpton first entered politics in the 1990s, he ran unsuccessfully for New York state senator and mayor of New York City positions on the Democratic Party. He made an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination in 2004.

11. George Gresham, President, 1199SEIU

Gresham was born to a family of domestic workers in Virginia in 1955. His mother worked as a maid, and his father was a butler and chauffeur. Sharecroppers made up his grandparents. Up until the age of eight, when he and his family moved to New York, he was raised in Virginia and attended segregated schools. Later on, according to, his father worked as a truck driver and an activist for the Teamsters Union.

Since 2007, George Gresham has served as president of the 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, located in New York. It has more than 300,000 members, making it the biggest union in the city. Additionally, he works for the national Service Employees International Union (SEIU) as an executive vice president.

Gresham has a lengthy history in labor unionism and left-leaning politics; prior to holding office, he served as an officer and member of 1199 SEIU for 32 years. His father was an activist in the Teamsters union. Because of his membership in 1199SEIU, he is also a member of the executive board of the national Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Gresham is a well-known figure in New York politics thanks to his role as president of the 1199SEIU. Gresham has been a member of Mayor de Blasio's transition team, the host committee for New York City's failed bid to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention, and she has spoken at the Women's March against the Trump administration.

12. Jumaane Williams, New York City Public Advocate

Since 2019, Jumaane Williams has held the position of Public Advocate for New York City. From 2009 to 2019, he served as the 45th District representative for Brooklyn in the New York City Council.

Jumaane is a Grenadian-born Brooklynite of the first generation. After receiving a diagnosis of Tourette Syndrome and ADHD as a teenager, he persevered through the public school system, attending classes from pre-school through master's.

Jumaane has fought for historic legislation to bring about revolutionary change while he has been at City Hall. Jumaane sponsored the Community Safety Act during his first term in an effort to put an end to the misuse of stop, question, and frisk by the NYPD. The legislation overrode the veto of then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg and helped end the use of illegal policing tactics, which were more common in communities of color. It also established the NYPD's Office of Inspector General, which is tasked with looking into unethical or illegal practices within the department.

Jumaane Williams' website states that in his more than ten years of public service, he has never once stopped standing with marginalized communities to fight for justice and equity for all, and he has never shied away from risking his life for this cause. He has been arrested more than any other elected official in New York while serving as an advocate for a variety of causes, including housing rights, immigration rights, and women's rights.

13. Keechant Sewell, Commissioner, New York City Police Department

Top 30 Most Influential Black Politicians In New York

In December 2021, new Mayor Eric Adams named Keechant L. Sewell the 45th Police Commissioner of the City of New York. She was the Chief of Detectives for the Nassau County Police Department before.

Sewell became a member of the Nassau County Police Department in 1997 and was the class speaker upon graduating from the police academy. While on patrol in the Fifth Precinct of Elmont, New York, she was chosen to work as a police liaison to the Wayside Home for Girls and as a school resource officer. After completing undercover operations, she was given the title of Detective and assigned to the Baldwin First Squad, where she conducted investigations and helped bring charges in multiple cases that were successfully prosecuted.

Sewell was assigned as a patrol supervisor after being promoted to sergeant, and he later joined the Internal Affairs Unit as an investigator. After that, Sewell rose to the rank of Detective Sergeant, managing efforts for drug and gun interdiction and suppression in the First and Narcotics/Vice squads.

After completing the 235th session of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, she was chosen by her fellow graduates to serve as the class spokesperson for the commencement speech of the National Academy.

14. Damian Williams, U.S. Attorney for the Southern, District of New York

The Southern District of New York's United States Attorney is Damian Williams. Mr. Williams is the chief federal law enforcement officer for the District, which was founded in 1789 and includes the boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx in New York City, as well as the counties of Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, and Westchester. He was nominated by President Biden in August 2021 and confirmed by the US Senate in October 2021.

Mr. Williams oversees the investigation and prosecution of all federal crimes as well as the litigation of all civil cases involving the United States in his capacity as United States Attorney. He oversees about 450 attorneys, special agents, paralegals, and other support personnel. In addition, Mr. Williams is the chair of the Attorney General's Advisory Committee (AGAC), a small group of US Attorneys that counsels the AG on issues of management, procedure, and policy.

Mr. Williams headed the Southern District of New York's Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force before being confirmed as the United States Attorney. Mr. Williams' primary focus as an Assistant United States Attorney was to look into and prosecute white collar crimes involving political and financial industry corruption. He brought charges against Congressman Chris Collins for insider trading and lying to the FBI, as well as against New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver for money laundering, bribery, and extortion.

15. Ingrid Lewis-Martin, Chief Adviser, New York City Mayor’s Office

Chaplain Lewis-Martin, a proud daughter of Panamanian and Barbadian descent, was reared in Brooklyn. She worked for seven years as State Senator Adams' chief of staff and for more than five years as his senior advisor before taking on the position of deputy Brooklyn borough president, according to

In 1983, Chaplain Lewis-Martin began his political career as a volunteer on the late Representative Major R. Owens' reelection campaign. Later, he took on the role of deputy campaign manager. Upon obtaining her license from the New York City Board of Education, Chaplain Lewis-Martin was employed as an English and social studies middle school teacher at her alma mater, I.S. 320 Jackie Robinson. In addition to being a teacher at the school from 1984 to 1992, she also held positions as graduation coordinator, dean of students, and modern and African dance instructor for the after-school programs. Subsequently, Medgar Evers College hired Chaplain Lewis-Martin as director of their Progressive Adolescent Vocational Exploration (PAVE) program, which allowed high school students to earn a maximum of 12 college credits within four years, after she had served as an instructor in one of the programs designed to help women on welfare earn their high school diploma and college degree. She also worked as a part-time assistant to Roger Green, a former assembly member.

16. David Banks, New York City Schools Chancellor

Top 30 Most Influential Black Politicians In New York

The largest school system in the country, the New York City Department of Education, is led by Chancellor David C. Banks. He was appointed on January 1, 2022. He was the founding principal of The Eagle Academy for Young Men, the first in a network of avant-garde all-boys public schools in Newark, New Jersey, and New York City, as well as the former president and CEO of the Eagle Academy Foundation.

Born in Brooklyn, David has lived in New York City his entire life. He attended P.S. 161 in Brooklyn and Hillcrest High School in Queens, where he graduated with honors from public schools in the city. He spent a year as a school safety officer before starting his first teaching position at P.S. 167, which was located on Eastern Parkway in his childhood neighborhood. Subsequently, he became a founding principal of the Eagle Academy for Young Men and the Bronx School for Law, Government, and Justice.

In David's view, education should be centered on a collaboration between communities and schools, guided by the values of character development, leadership, and academic excellence. He established the Eagle Academy Foundation to demonstrate that young men of color could receive a top-notch education for college preparation in a public school environment.

17. Sheena Wright, New York City Deputy Mayor for Strategic Initiatives

Sheena Wright, an American nonprofit executive born on January 6, 1970, is the first female president of United Way of New York City. She was chosen to lead the transition team of incoming New York City mayor Eric Adams in August 2021. She was named the Deputy Mayor of Strategic Initiatives for the Adams administration on December 20, 2021.

After graduating from law school, Wright worked as a lawyer for Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, in private equity firms, and as general counsel for Crave Technologies, a software startup that was owned by minorities, according to

During Wright's tenure, the Abyssinian Development Corporation—the business arm of the powerful Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem—saw a notable expansion in its portfolio as president and executive director.

She was appointed as the United Way of New York City's first female leader in its 79-year history on the day of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. She has participated in Hurricane Sandy and COVID-19 relief efforts in her capacity as president and CEO of United Way. She oversaw the ReadNYC program as well, which promotes literacy in children. Eric Adams appointed her to head the transition team for the mayoral candidate in August 2021.

18. Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, Chair, Brooklyn Democratic Party

Representing Brooklyn's Flatbush, East Flatbush, Midwood, and Ditmas Park, Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn is the Assemblymember, State Committee Woman, and District Leader for New York State's 42nd Assembly District.

Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, a native of Brooklyn, is the first elected engineer in the history of the New York State Legislature, the first elected Haitian American woman in New York City, and the first woman to chair the Majority County Party in Brooklyn.

Assemblymember Bichotte Hermelyn is a member of the following committees: banks; education; government operations; health; higher education; housing; and the Subcommittee on Oversight of Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs), as reported by She also belongs to the Legislative Women's Caucus and the Legislative Caucus for Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislators. She is a member of the Women's Issues Task Force as well. Furthermore, Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed Assemblymember Bichotte Hermelyn to the NYC Advisory Council on Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise, and Governor Kathy Hochul appointed her to the Advisory Council on Domestic Violence.

19. Darcel Clark, Bronx District Attorney

Darcel On January 1, 2016, Denise Clark was appointed as the 13th District Attorney for Bronx County. She is the first African-American woman elected to the office of district attorney in New York State and the first woman in that role. In 2019, she was chosen again for a second term.

In order to fulfill her mission of "Pursuing Justice with Integrity," District Attorney Clark reorganized the Bronx District Attorney's Office to reflect 21st-century prosecution, emphasizing victim assistance, fairness to defendants, crime prevention, and community outreach. To reduce violence and corruption in the jails, she implemented the Vertical Prosecution model, established a Rikers Island Prosecution Bureau, a Conviction Integrity Unit, a Professional Responsibility Bureau, and a Public Integrity Bureau.

Initiatives like the Overdose Avoidance and Recovery Program, which places low-level offenders at risk of opioid overdose directly in treatment, and Bronx Community Justice, which entails "circles" of community volunteers resolving minor crimes with offenders outside of the criminal justice system, were pioneered by District Attorney Clark, according to

20. Ritchie Torres, Member of Congress

Democratic politician Ritchie John Torres represents the 15th congressional district in the state of New York. On March 12, 1988, Torres was born in the Bronx, New York. Given that his father is Hispanic and from Puerto Rico and his mother is African American, he considers himself to be Afro-Latino.

Torres made the decision to run for the New York Council's 15th district seat in 2013. With his victory, Torres made history as the year's youngest elected official, the first openly gay candidate elected in the Bronx, and the first openly gay member of the Afro-Latino community. He convened a New York City Council hearing in a public housing project as one of his first acts, giving constituents a unique chance to witness governance up close. Eventually, he was elected to lead both the Oversight and Investigations Committee and the Council's Committee on Public Housing. Torres has been a steadfast supporter of Israel and served as a delegate for Bernie Sanders at the 2016 DNC.

From 2013 through 2020, Torres was a member of the council. During his tenure, he contributed to the passing of more than 40 bills. He declared in July 2019 that he would be running to replace retiring Representative Jose E. Serrano of the 15th district. After winning the election in November 2020, Torres became the first Afro-Latino elected to Congress who is openly gay. As one of the nine co-chairs of the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus in the 117th U.S. Congress, he took office in January 2021. In addition to being vice chair of the Committee on Homeland Security, Torres, a resident of the South Bronx, is a member of the Committee on Financial Services.

21. Yvette Clarke, Member of Congress

Top 30 Most Influential Black Politicians In New York

Congresswoman Yvette Diane Clarke was raised in central Brooklyn and considers it an honor to serve her community. Her parents are immigrants from Jamaica, and she is proud of her Caribbean heritage. She brings this passion to Congress, where she co-chairs the Congressional Caribbean Caucus and works to strengthen ties between the US and the Caribbean Community. As the chair of the subcommittee on cybersecurity, infrastructure protection, and innovation, Clarke is a senior member of the House Committee on Homeland Security as well as the House Energy and Commerce Committee. According to, Clarke has been a part of the Congressional Black Caucus since entering Congress in 2007 and currently serves as its chair of the Immigration Task Force.

Congresswoman Clarke, who represents New York's Ninth Congressional District, has committed herself to upholding the high standards set by the late Honorable Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman and Caribbean American elected to Congress. The Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6) was a historic piece of legislation that Congresswoman Clarke introduced in the 117th Congress and it passed the House. A clear citizenship pathway would be provided by this legislation to 2.5 million DREAMers, recipients of deferred enforcement departure, and holders of temporary protected status.

22. Kyle Bragg, President, 32BJ SEIU

Following the unexpected passing of Hector Figueroa in July 2019, Kyle Bragg was elected by the executive board of 32BJ to the position of president on July 24, 2019. September 2021 saw Kyle re-elected to the position of President of 32BJ. The 2019 commercial contract, which increased standards and wages for tens of thousands of workers in New York and beyond, was successfully negotiated by 32BJ under Kyle's direction.

As per, he was 32BJ's Secretary-Treasurer before taking on the role of President. Kyle was raised in the labor movement and has over 35 years of 32BJ membership. For 1199 SEIU, his father served as vice president and organizer in the 1960s and early 1980s. When Kyle was sixteen years old, he led his first strike and started actively organizing himself. He started his union activism while attending York College of City University as a shop steward and member of 1199. Leading the merger with Local 32E in 2001, Kyle brought 9,000 members from the Bronx and Westchester into 32BJ.

He expanded 32BJ's Residential Division to 37,000 members in New York City, Westchester County, Long Island, and New Jersey while serving as Secretary and Treasurer. With the 2014 residential contract, which included raises of more than 11% over four years, increased employer contributions to the pension fund, and no givebacks, 32BJ achieved a significant win under his direction. Similarly, Bronx residential members won a new 401k contribution from employers that will begin in the second year of the contract, as well as raises and benefits maintenance at the bargaining table in 2015. These triumphs in the residential division provided a solid basis for the union's commercial office cleaner contract negotiations in 2015.

23. Jabari Brisport, Chair, State Senate Committee on Children and Families

Born and raised in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, Senator Jabari Brisport has lived there his entire life. He is a proud Caribbean-American and the son of an undocumented immigrant. The 25th State Senate district of New York, which encompasses Fort Greene, Boerum Hill, Red Hook, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Sunset Park, Gowanus, and Park Slope, is represented by him.

Over ten years ago, Senator Brisport started spearheading campaigns in favor of a bill that would have made same-sex marriage legal in New York. This marked the beginning of his activism. Even though the bill was defeated in 2009, he persisted in raising awareness of the issue, and two years later, same-sex marriage was finally made legal in New York. According to, he carried on his activism as a member of the original Black Lives Matter movement, planning demonstrations and rallies and instructing demonstrators on what to do in the event that they are stopped or harassed by law enforcement.

Senator Brisport was an active member of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) union and a math teacher at a middle school in Crown Heights at the time of his election. As a public school teacher, he witnessed directly the stark injustices that our state's persistent underfunding of schools and sharp rise in police enforcement have caused for New York's youth, as well as how these injustices are exacerbated by the inability of many to obtain basic necessities such as housing and healthcare.

24. Alvin Bragg, Manhattan District Attorney

Alvin Bragg was chosen to serve as Manhattan's 37th district attorney. As a state and federal prosecutor, Alvin has lived in Manhattan his entire life and has dedicated more than 20 years to the cause of improving community safety and the equity of the criminal justice system.

Alvin worked as an assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York as well as an assistant attorney general at the New York State Attorney General's Office. In these capacities, Alvin dealt with a broad range of criminal cases, such as assault, armed robbery, gun possession, witness tampering, drug and weapon trafficking, violation of pay and hours, public corruption, money laundering, and antitrust offenses. He has effectively prosecuted, for instance, bribery schemes involving dishonest politicians from both parties, the owner of a multimillion dollar company for laundering millions of dollars for a global drug cartel, an FBI agent for making false claims, a government contractor for misappropriating about $1.7 million intended for internet access in public school classrooms, and people obstructing a reproductive health facility.

Alvin held several senior positions at the New York State Attorney General's Office from 2013 to 2018.

25. Errol Louis, Host, “Inside City Hall," NY1

Errol Louis is a CNN political commentator and the host of NY1's Inside City Hall, the best political news program in New York City. In addition, he leads the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism's Urban Reporting department. He previously hosted a talk show on WWRL radio and worked as a columnist and editorial board member for the New York Daily News. In addition to teaching at the Pratt Institute, Hunter College, Long Island University, and New York University, he has received multiple awards for his journalism. He graduated from Yale University with an MA, Harvard with a BA, and Brooklyn Law School with a J.D.

26. Latoya Joyner, Chair, Assembly Labor Committee

Latoya Joyner, a member of the New York State Assembly representing the 77th District, was born on September 13, 1986. She belongs to the Democratic Party.

Joyner attended Richard R. Green High School for Teaching after graduating. Joyner was born and raised in the Bronx. She afterwards completed her undergraduate studies at SUNY Stony Brook and her legal studies at the University at Buffalo. Joyner belonged to Phi Beta Kappa and Chi Alpha Epsilon Honor Society at Stony Brook.

She had previously worked for the New York City Criminal Court and the New York State Bar. She first served as a community liaison in former Assemblywoman Aurelia Greene's district office before joining Bronx Community Board 4.

After being elected to the New York City Council in 2013, Assemblywoman Vanessa Gibson resigned from her position; the seat was empty for a year after her resignation. In a four-way primary, Joyner emerged victorious, assuming her place in the race.She would receive almost 95% of the vote in the general election.

On January 1, 2015, Joyner was sworn in for her first term. She is currently the chair of the Subcommittee on Diversity in Law.

27. Vanessa Gibson, Bronx Borough President

Top 30 Most Influential Black Politicians In New York
Vanessa Gibson (photo: William Alatriste/City Council)

In New York, the President of the Bronx Borough is Vanessa Gibson, a Democrat. Her first day of work was January 1, 2022. January 1, 2026, marks the end of her current term.

In New York, Gibson (Democratic Party) entered the race for president of the Bronx Borough. November 2, 2021, was her election day in the general election.

From 2013 to 2021, Gibson represented District 16 on the New York City Council.

Gibson served as the Democratic representative for District 77 in the New York State Assembly from 2009 to 2013.

Gibson received her M.P.A. in policy analysis and evaluation from Baruch College, City University of New York, and her B.A. in sociology from State University of New York at Albany. Her professional background includes working for state representative Aurelia Greene (D) as the district office manager and as a legislative assistant.

28. Jamaal Bowman, Member of Congress

The 16th District of Congressman Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D., is comprised of the Northern Bronx and portions of Westchester County, such as Yonkers, New Rochelle, and Mount Vernon. Bowman spent his early years living in rent-controlled apartments and public housing during his birth and upbringing in New York City. His mother reared him and provided for them with her salary as a post office worker. Rep. Bowman started his career as a crisis intervention teacher in a Bronx public school after receiving his degree from the University of New Haven. He later went on to obtain a doctorate in education from Manhattanville College and a master's degree in guidance counseling from Mercy College.

Running on a platform of revolutionary progressive policies that will better the lives of those who have been legally shut out of the American dream, Bowman was elected to Congress in 2020. Congressman Bowman is committed to enacting progressive legislation that combines racial and economic justice with climate justice, as well as to emphasizing the value of community investment and research.

29. Bill Thompson, Chair, City University of New York

Born on July 10, 1953, William Colridge Thompson Jr. is an American politician who held the position of 42nd Comptroller of New York City. He was sworn in on January 1, 2002, and on January 1, 2006, he was reelected to a second term of office. He declined to run for office again in 2009. Rather, he decided to run for mayor, and John Liu took over as comptroller in his place. Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York State appointed Thompson as chairman of The City University of New York's board of trustees on June 15, 2016. Thompson's term as chairman expires in June 2022.

As the Democratic and Working Families party's nominee for mayor of New York in 2009, Thompson ran unsuccessfully. In the 2013 mayoral contest, he also unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination.

From 2002 to 2009, William C. Thompson, Jr. was the Comptroller of New York City. He is a proud graduate of the public school system in New York City and the son of a judge and a teacher. Thompson is known for being a tenacious supporter of New Yorkers and for having sided with laborers who want fair labor laws and a livable wage.

30. Mary Bassett, Commissioner, State Department of Health

On December 1, 2021, Mary T. Bassett, M.D., M.P.H., was named Acting Commissioner of Health. On January 20, 2022, the New York State Senate confirmed her appointment. She was previously the FXB Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health as well as the Director of the François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University.

Before that, she held the positions of Deputy Commissioner of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Director of the African Health Initiative and Child Well-Being Prevention Program for the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. According to, Dr. Bassett was a member of the medical faculty at the University of Zimbabwe early in her career. She later worked as the Associate Director of Health Equity at the Rockefeller Foundation's Southern Africa Office.

She joined the Columbia University faculty after her return, holding the position of Associate Professor of Clinical Epidemiology in the Mailman School of Public Health. Dr. Bassett graduated from Harvard University with a B.A. in History and Science, Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons awarded him an M.D., and the University of Washington awarded him an M.P.H.

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