Friends from Different Cultures: Influential African American Figures

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1734 |

Pages: 4|

9 min read

Published: Aug 31, 2023

Words: 1734|Pages: 4|9 min read

Published: Aug 31, 2023

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Examining Prominent African American Figures
  3. Doug Franklin: Influential Figure
  4. Conclusion
  5. References


When the average person thinks about significant African American figures, most people would include the following: Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama, Martin Luther King Jr., Maya Angelou, and the list keeps going on. Other people might bring up African American figures that were influential through sports like Muhammid Ali, Tiger Woods, Jackie Robinson, Jesse Owens, Michael Jordan, and many more. Here’s the thing though. Everyone knows who these people are and what they did, but barely anyone asks how they did it. They don’t know the amount of adversity that they had to fight through. They don’t know how much pain and suffering they had to go through. They tend to look at what is on the surface, rather than what is below, including friends from different cultures. In fact, that goes for every person out there. Everyone has to fight through some sort of adversity to get where they want to be. But the amount of suffering that some have to go through is unfathomable. I’m not only here to tell you what these prominent African American figures did in society, but I’m also here to say how they did it, and what they had to go through to get where they needed to be.

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Examining Prominent African American Figures

Many people know Oprah Winfrey as a T.V icon. She was the first African American woman to be a billionaire. She had her own show running from 1986 to 2011. Then in that same year, she received her own broadcasting station. She endorsed Barack Obama for when he ran for president. Oprah led a campaign to ​establish a database of convicted child abusers. She is an incredibly successful person in society and should be a person that everyone looks up to. But it’s not because she is only successful, it’s because of what she did to get to be successful. She didn’t have everything handed for her, she had to work for what she wanted. It was not easy being a black girl in a predominantly white school. In fact, it took a toll on her mentality. Many things took a big toll on her mentality. At the age of 9, she was raped, and at the age of 10, she was molested. With those thoughts in the back of her head, it started getting her into trouble. At age 14, she came to terms with being pregnant and ended up miscarrying. It was not an easy road for her to go along. After that incident, her father encouraged her to take a hard look at her life, and she did. She had to read a book a week and write a report on it for her dad and stepmother. After this, it is school where she really excelled. She eventually got sponsored by a man named John Heidelberg, who was the owner of WVOL Radio Station in Nashville, Tennessee. He was very impressed by this senior in high school. She ended up getting a job reading the news right after school. At age 19, she became the first black female to hit the air in Nashville. Oprah starred in talk shows starting with, “People Are Talking” along with Richard Sher. She did not associate with the formal style that was news broadcasting, so she resonated more with her bubbly attitude talking with other people. She then starred in her own television talk show originally called, “A.M Chicago” but was eventually changed to “The Oprah Winfrey Show”. In all of these talk shows, she would not argue with people, rather she would just sit down and listen to what they had to say. She was so successful in this manner because mostly everyone familiarized themselves with her. She had a very spunky personality and everyone loved it. She shared so much of herself in her talk shows and that was something that really nobody ever did on a T.V show. She shared her stories about being sexually abused in her life and it was not because of sympathy. She shared her stories because she wanted to help others realize that they are not the only ones going through rough patches in life. And that is exactly why she was so successful is because she was honest with her watchers and the people she talked to. Oprah was the kind of person to really feel like she was related with everyone else in some way, shape or form. People called her different but she never felt different. She always had this upbeat attitude and it never got to her. That is what women admire about her so much is that she doesn’t let negativity get to her. Whether it would be about her gender or her race, she still has the same attitude and has influenced a lot of people around the world.

Doug Franklin: Influential Figure

There is one person that sincerely influenced me in my life. He helped my father accomplish many things in politics and vice versa. He has been an inspiration to many people in Trumbull County including myself. This man is Doug Franklin, the current mayor of Warren. He is the first African American to be mayor of Warren. He has always been a part of my life considering that I was born into a family of politics. As a young child, I didn’t really know anything about politics and how things work. I didn’t know what he did as a politician. And to befrank, I didn’t know what African American men and women went through in the past. I just saw people like him different, but I didn’t know how different they were treated. He talked to me about his toughest challenge through his job. He said, “Overcoming stereotypes had to be the toughest thing overall. Ya know, it’s been going on through daily life. But what really helps is realizing who you are as a person, and it gives me an opportunity to do what I love.” Everyone faces challenges in their lives on the path of doing what they want to do. There is just a fine line between people that step down from the task or knocking that challenge out of the way.

Doug Franklin was born and raised in Warren, Ohio. He described Warren as, “The perfect breeding ground for what he wanted to do.” It was a very compact community and was a city that had many politicians come from there. He first went to Washington Elementary school that was a predominantly black school. Even though he was in a school that specified a certain race, there were three white kids that he became friends with. He never thought of them as completely different, and they never thought of him as completely different. Because of family, he moved to a different school called Laird Ave. Elementary. This school, unlike Washington Elementary, was predominantly white. There, he developed new friends from different cultures.

But at the same time, he was being called names because of his race. He didn’t take offense to it, all it did was motivate him to keep going through life. He also joked that God was, “Preparing him for his career.” during this time. When it was time for high school, he attended Warren Western Reserve, where he met two teachers that influenced him to go to college. Nobody in his family went to college and he wasn’t planning on going either. He thought he would graduate from high school and work somewhere in the city and make money for the rest of his life. One teacher was a white man that helped him in college applications, and the other was an older, black man that had a civil rights background. Both of these people saw something in him that he didn’t see in himself. When he graduated from Western Reserve, he aimed for a degree in Political Science and American Government at Kent State. Halfway through college, he got hired at GM, and almost stopped going to college, but got pushed by his family who said that he was he was too close and should keep going to get his degree. He stated this as being the hardest part of life. He would go to school from 8:00 to 2:00 and then have a 12-hour shift at GM starting at 4:00. When he got into politics, it was tough for him to start moving. He then gained help from my father Michael O’Brien and Michael’s mother. They influenced him to get into politics and supported him throughout his career. Through my grandmother and my father, he was able to obtain the following titles: Precinct Committee Person, Fourth Ward Councilman, Councilman at Large, President at Council, Director of Public Service and Safety, and is currently serving his second term as Mayor of Warren. Without my father’s and grandmother’s help, I don’t know where he would be today.


Doug Franklin has shown me that you can do anything you want in life, as long as you have the ability to work hard and believe in your talent. That goes not only for me, but everyone in this society. He said, “You can go anywhere you want to go in life, as long as you have the ability to work hard and believe in your talent. You have to do both regardless of all obstacles. I am an example of that. I’m standing on the shoulders of a lot of great men and women who worked hard.” Him, along with Oprah, do not stress the fact that they are black and are doing great things. They are just great people doing great things, and that is what I admire most about them. They do things for the service of the people. Mayor Franklin also pointed out that, “I am a person that just so happens to be black. I just want to be considered as a great mayor. I want to be the best human I can be, and that is what it really is all about. Being the best human you can be and living your best life.” These people have shown me what it is like to be a leader, and these are the people I aspire to be like in my future.


  1. Dai, Y. (2015). How Does Oprah Winfrey Influence Society? [Blog post]. HASTAC.

  2. The Undefeated. (n.d.). The Undefeated 44 Most Influential Black Americans in History: Oprah Winfrey.

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  3. CRF-USA. (n.d.). An Overview of the African American Experience.

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Friends from Different Cultures: Influential African American Figures. (2023, August 31). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 19, 2024, from
“Friends from Different Cultures: Influential African American Figures.” GradesFixer, 31 Aug. 2023,
Friends from Different Cultures: Influential African American Figures. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 19 Apr. 2024].
Friends from Different Cultures: Influential African American Figures [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2023 Aug 31 [cited 2024 Apr 19]. Available from:
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