Published on March 17th 2010 by Leon Shepherd

Often times we can be somewhat critical of a celebrity’s lavish and self-absorbed lifestyle. But there are many celebrities who give back to their communities as well as support numerous charities. Many give substantial donations and spend quality time with their charities, often with very little fanfare. So, as a show of appreciation, this list recognizes the Top 10 African American Celebrities who understand the true meaning of philanthropy; by giving donations/contributions and being an active participant in their communities and charities.


10. Usher


Donations/Charities, $1.5 million.  R & B singer Usher has donated $1 million dollars to a non-profit organization supporting youth to use their talents to become corporate and community leaders. He has also donated an additional $500,000 to other charities.


9. Ludacris


Donations/Charities, $1.5 millionHip-hop artist & actor, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, founder of The Ludacris Foundation has donated $1.5 million to support grass roots organizations that work to help young people achieve their dreams.


8. Tyler Perry

Donations/Charities, $2 million Last year, movie & television producer, Tyler Perry  donated $1 million to the NAACP, the largest gift ever presented to the group by an individual. Last month, Perry donated $1 million to Haitian relief.



7. Alicia Keys


Donations/Charities, $3 million Singer-songwriter, Alicia Keys charity, Keep A Child Alive, provides live saving medication for AIDS victims in Africa. The charity has raised over $3 million dollars.


 6. John Johnson


Donation/Charities, $4 million Ebony & Jet founder & publisher, the late John Johnson had made donations totaling over $4 million to Howard University and numerous other charities.


5. Shelia Johnson


Donations/ Charities, $8 million BET co-founder, Shelia Johnson is a Global Ambassador for CARE, a humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. The organization has raised over $8 million.


4. Bill & Camille Cosby


Donations/Charities, $24 millionBill & Camille Cosby have donated to educational institutions since 1986. Their $20 million dollar gift to Spelman is the largest ever in the history of Black institutions.


3. Tom Joyner


Donations/Charities, $55 millionRadio personality, Tom Joyner, created The Tom Joyner Foundation to provide financial assistance to students at historically black colleges & universities (HBCUs). Since 1998, the foundation has raised more than $55 million.


2. Oprah Winfrey


Donations /Charities, $300 million Talk show host Oprah Winfrey has contributed millions to numerous charities. Two of her charities include The Oprah’s Angel Network, $51 million; The Oprah Angel Network Katrina, $10 million, and a personal contribution of $40 million to create a Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa.


 1. Michael Jackson 

Donations/Charities, $350 million  Michael Jackson was not only the King of Pop, but also the King of Charity. Jackson donated over $350 million to over 40 charities & organizations, including, Make-A-Wish Foundation, American Cancer Society, and the United Negro College Fund. The Guinness Book of World Records has the legend listed under Most Charities Supported by a Pop Star.

Entertainment, Miscellaneous | Comments (13)

13 Responses to “Top 10 Philanthropists”

  1. Lenora Dorsey Says:

    I think you got this list perfectly. What I really like about these people is that you know they’re passionate about the charities that they support or the organizations they belong too. I think that Don Cheadle is very passionate about his work as well.

  2. Leon Says:

    Thanks Lenora. And you’re right about Don Cheadle.

  3. Shack Says:


    Had no idea the KOP was so generous. Sure you know (and you’ll most likely post in your weekly news TT) that even in death, he (his estate) just made a $250m deal w Sony….unbelievable

  4. Terrance Says:

    Usher and John Johnson were a surprise but not everyone else. Thanks for this list,Leon.

  5. Leon Says:

    You’re welcome, Terrance.

  6. Shack Says:

    Also proud of Luda…aka Chris Bridges. Hands down the Best Rapper (current day) Do I smell another Top Ten?

    Did everyone know he was related to Katt Williams?

  7. Cathleen WIlliams Says:

    I love Luda! He is not only a great business man he is a tremendous artist and philanthropist. I am proud that he is one of the hip hoppers of our day, A great example for all.

    Of course Alicia Keys and the others are great also. Mary J has an awesome charity for women FAWN, would love to see her make this list next time.
    Great Job Leon, and a great idea! Would love to have you on my TV show. Are you in NYC?

  8. Leon Says:

    Hey Cathleen, thanks for taking the time to visit and share your comments. I appreciate your feedback.
    And I agree, Mary J does have an awesome charity for women. She is definitely someone I respect.
    And by the way, even though I live in Calif., I would still love to be on your show.
    Maybe one day we can make it happen.

  9. Jeanette Davis ("Author") Says:

    All of your lists are informative and inspirational.

    Thank you for your research and consistency in printing the data. Keep up the good work. We love it and we love you for sharing!

  10. Leon Says:

    Thanks for your positive comments and feedback Jeanette. I appreciate it.

  11. Shonee Says:

    Great list Leon. After MJJ passed, I read where John Johnson was one of his financial advisers, glad to see they are both on this list.

  12. JYL Says:

    I think you might want to double check. I do believe multi-millionaire Reginald Lewis gave $2 million to the NAACP through Ben Chavis when Chavis was selected to replace Benjamin Hooks.
    Applause to Tyler Perry for his $1 million donation, it does rank up there in terms of support for the NAACP.

  13. Leon Says:

    JYL, welcome to BlackTopTens!
    When I wrote that the $1 million dollar donation by Tyler Perry was the largest in the history of the NAACP, it wasn’t my opinion, that information came directly from the NAACP website,
    And I checked and found no mention of Reginald Lewis donating $2 million to the NAACP.
    Thanks for sharing your comments.