Seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton has been named as the most influential Black person in Britain by The Powerlist 2021, the annual list of the most powerful people of African, African Caribbean and African American heritage in the UK.
The 35-year-old made history last weekend when he clinched a seventh World Championship, making him the most successful driver in history as he equaled Michael Schumacher’s record. The Formula One superstar, who is the only Black driver in the sport, has been a major supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement and recently launched The Hamilton Commission to improve diversity in UK motorsport, the Mirror reported.
“It’s an absolute honour to be named number one on The Powerlist, I really really appreciate it. This for me is a monumental moment,” the sportsman said. “I’m so proud to be acknowledged, especially within the black community. Everyone on this list is so inspiring and leading in their own industry, I’m honestly thrilled to be mentioned alongside them.”
The Powerlist, now in its 15th year, honors inspirational men and women in various industries including business, politics, the arts, science and technology. Hamilton, who came in at number one on the prestigious list, was joined by the following Black personalities who made it to the Top Five.
2. Professor Kevin Fenton
Public Health England director Professor Kevin Fenton was ranked just behind Hamilton, becoming the second most influential Black person in Britain for his work leading the fight against coronavirus, including minimizing the impact on BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) communities. Fenton was a leading practitioner tackling HIV and Aids issues for three decades before being appointed regional director of Public Health England for London in April 2020.
Fenton, who is “truly honoured” to be included in the Powerlist said: “I have been lucky enough to experience support and encouragement from mentors and peers throughout my career, which combined with hard work, has enabled me to take advantage of opportunities and deal with challenges along the way.
The grime artiste was number three on the list. The 27-year-old in June pledged £10 million ($13 million) to UK organizations and movements fighting for racial equality, justice reform and Black empowerment. The award-winning rapper, in a statement, said: “I’m lucky enough to be in the position I’m in and I’ve heard people often dismiss the idea of racism existing in Britain by saying ‘if the country’s so racist how have you become a success?!’ and I reject that with this.
“I am not the UK’s shining example of what supposedly happens when a black person works hard. There are millions of us. We are not far and few. We have to fight against the odds of a racist system stacked against us and designed for us to fail from before we are even born.
“Black people have been playing on an uneven field for far too long and this pledge is a continuation in the fight to finally try and even it.”
4. Michaela Coel
The actor, screenwriter and director has appeared on the list for the first time, grabbing the fourth spot. Coel is best known for creating and starring in the E4 sitcom “Chewing Gum”, earning the BAFTA Award for Best Female Comedy Performance. Also known for her role in the BBC One/HBO comedy-drama series “I May Destroy You”, the actress recently revealed that she was once sexually assaulted by strangers. She also highlighted how her own experience of sexual assault influenced the series “I May Destroy You”.
5. Edward Enninful
Enninful, who in 2017 became the first man and the first Black editor to take the helm of Britain’s most powerful fashion publication, Vogue, was number five on the list. Enninful migrated to Britain from Ghana as a child and was in 2016 made an officer of the Order of the British Empire for helping to improve diversity in the fashion industry. For many years, Enninful has been advocating for better representation in many sectors apart from fashion. This year, following the death of George Floyd, he joined the Black Lives Matter protests in London and wrote a powerful piece in Vogue.
“In the ’90s, as a young, black, gay man living in London, I would go on a lot of Gay Pride marches. We were protesting about freedom and gay rights, as well as the numerous LGBTQIA+ lives that had been lost. The protests happening this week felt united in their desire for freedom, with the spectre of violence that hangs over minorities evident for all to see. I suppose in that sense I have come to see George Floyd as almost a spiritual leader. His life has been felt,” he wrote.