14 Inspiring Black People You Need to Follow on Instagram

Writing this story has felt impossible. With all of the black death and racism caught on camera last week, finding the words to type on this page is, well, complicated. As I sit on my mom’s couch in Atlanta, my eyes are so heavy I can barely keep them open, but my mind is so busy I can’t sleep. Black journalists and content creators have a tough job: we are tasked with processing our trauma while creating content for people to consume. Many times we are tasked with writing content to speak to the times, which is frankly exhausting.

Grappling with the fact that we must grieve, educate, and ensure the names of Atatiana Jefferson, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and countless others don’t get forgotten is important—but heavy. While we balance all of those tasks, we also witness the on-going cycle of white people minimizing our history and experiences.

We deserve better; our community deserves better. So, before I share the accounts of the people who inspire me because of their dedication to speaking out and educating the world, I challenge you to do a few things before entering these communities. Yes, I said communities, because, for black women, these voices create safe spaces for us to share our stories and speak candidly. First, you must understand that while these individuals are public figures and activists, they are human. They are actively teaching and advocating, but are grieving too. Secondly, leave your opinions at the virtual door. If you are not a part of our community, you should be listening. Lastly, you must do your research and remember that it is not our job to educate you.

Read the work of James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Roxane Gay, Maya Angelou, Zeba Blay, and Antonia Opiah (I could list MANY more) because literature is always one of the best ways to educate yourself. In addition, here are 14 accounts to follow if you’re ready to educate yourself and become a true ally.


1. Ava DuVernay | @ava

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I miss this. #femalefilmmakerfriday

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Filmmaker and director Ava DuVernay, in my opinion, needs little introduction. DuVernay’s award-winning Netflix documentary 13th and the mini-series When They See Us should be required viewing for anyone wishing to understand systematic racism.


2. Rachel Elizabeth Cargle | @rachel.cargle

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Good morning 🌞 I woke up this morning thinking of revolution. Head to the link in my bio to RSVP. • Thinking about what our ancestors and past leaders left for us. What tools and direction and foresight they offered. • When James Baldwin reminded us: “It is a very peculiar revolution because, in order to succeed at all, it has to have as its aim the reestablishment of the Union. And a great, radical shift in American mores, in the American way of life. Not only does it apply to the Negro, obviously, but it applies to every citizen in the country. This is a very tall order and desperately dangerous, but inevitable in my view because of the nature of the American Negro’s relationship to the rest of the country, of all these generations, and the attitudes the country’s had toward him, which always was, but now has become overtly and concretely, intolerable. • When Malcolm X made clear: “Concerning nonviolence, it is criminal to teach a man not to defend himself when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks.” • When Fannie Lou Hammer started: “There is one thing you have got to learn about our movement — three people is better than no people” • When Nikki Giovanni explained: “We put our lives on the line because we understand that our lives were always on the line.” • When Angela Davis said, ““I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.” • I’ll be giving a Public Address on Revolution this upcoming Saturday evening. If you’d be interested in hearing my words and my teachings please use the link in my bio to RSVP and you’ll receive the viewing details Saturday afternoon. • This live address will include my official response to the brutality happening to black bodies in the US. I will be pulling from the words of revolutionaries before us. I will be offering resources for action and highlighting the movement on the ground so that we all can show up in revolutionary ways. • I’m looking forward to being in conversation and community with you all. • TL:DR – the revolution is coming, RSVP link in bio. • Will I see you there? • #revolutionnow

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You have likely seen screenshots of Rachel’s posts on your social media feed. She is an activist and the founder of The Loveland Foundation, which offers therapy support to black girls and women.


3. Zeba Blay | @zebablay

Zeba Blay is a senior culture writer at HuffPost whose work I have long admired. She most recently penned, “Amy Cooper Knew Exactly What She Was Doing,” and it is a must-read.


4. Yara (يارا‎) Shahidi | @yarashahidi

Yara Shahidi is an actress, philanthropist, and activist who is carving out space for Black women in Hollywood and beyond.


5. Austin Channing Brown | @austinchanning

Austin Channing is the author of I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness, and the co-creator and executive producer of The Next Question, “a video web series imagining how expansive racial justice can be.” 


6. Michelle | @michellesaahene


Michelle witnessed the arrest of Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson, two black men who were arrested at a Starbucks in Philadelphia in 2018 while waiting for a friend because they hadn’t placed an order. From Privilege to Progress, whose mission is to “desegregating the race,” was born out of that experience.


7. Cleo Wade | @cleowade

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I made this print when I found out I was pregnant because I wanted my daughter to grow up with these words in her room. ⠀ Today, I am selling it online for the first time ever with 100% of the proceeds going to The Antiracist Research & Policy Center. ⠀ Their mission is to convene and team up varied specialists to figure out novel and practical ways to understand, explain, and solve seemingly intractable problems of racial inequity and injustice. ⠀ Their research and policy work is deliberately antiracist. They consider racist policies and ideas, and not certain racial groups, to be the racial problem. ⠀ They strive to build an antiracist society of racial equity and justice. ⠀ Please join me in supporting their critical work. ⠀ Prints is 11×14 and available now on www.withlovecleo.com or link in bio ⠀ I love you.

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I was introduced to Cleo Wade via the Netflix show Shine On with Reese. Her work is grounded in building community, and her book, Heart Talk: Poetic Wisdom for a Better Life, is one of the best investments I have ever made.


8. Brittany Packnett Cunningham | @mspackyetti

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🗣Any analysis of protest that does not include the police and government’s response is wrong. Period. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 👀We’ve seen wall to wall coverage of alleged protestor action, but little has been made in mainstream spaces of the unprovoked violence, undercover tactics, and deeply harmful strategies of the police and the governments who fund them. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 💸In LA, the government is funding an LAPD who we have *watched* attack protestors unprovoked *live on TV* *just this week* to the tune of an EXTRA ~$200M dollars, even while it already had over 50% of a strapped budget. That’s a 7% INCREASE in the @LAPDhq’s budget, all while Los Angeles cut housing spending by 9% and jobs spending by the same. #PeoplesBudgetLA ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 📓SUFFICE IT TO SAY: As we strengthen our language (rebellion, not riot) and our understanding (white supremacy is violent every day), so too must we deepen our analysis of the police & government response- specifically to the livelihood of Black people. The investment has never and will never be the same. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #LinkInBio to the original thread, so you can read the embedded articles, learn more, and share them. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The struggle continues. Let’s get free. ❤️✊🏾

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Brittany Packnett Cunningham is a trail-blazing activist who you should be following on Twitter. She is also an NBC News and MSNBC Contributor, and the co-host of Pod Save The People alongside civil rights activist DeRay.


9. Indya Moore | @indyamoore

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Thank you so much for challenging my creativity during quarantine and choosing me for your summer 2020 issue cover @wonderland! Because I am in quarantine I had no choice but to be my own creative director. This was as challenging as it was vulnerable. For this Wonderland cover issue I chose to tell an authentic story of my average day in quarantine through images of me engaging in intimate every day scenarios at home with an unconventionally fashionable edge. Let's call it, realness with a twist 😉 Pre Order Link In Bio! Thank you @baileysltr for such an awesome interview love!! It was so fun and you're so sweet and so cool your questions were awesome! Thank you Lisa, Josh and especially my partner for being so supportive and helpful during this creative process. Thank you Toni for being such a genius creative, and choosing me for this! I hope so much to meet you in person and hopefully even work together again! Photographed by Indya's partner Fashion edited by Toni Blaze via Zoom Editorial Director Huw Gwyther Entertainment Director Erica Cornwall Overall Mother of the house of Wonderland @HuwGwyther Overall Mother of the house of Publicity @alyx34 Overall Mother of the house of Management @callicompany Overall Mother of the house of Agency @joshrotten

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You may know Indya Moore as Angel Evangelista on the FX series Pose, but Moore is a social activist who was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2019.


10. Rachel Lindsay Abasolo | @therachlindsay

Many people know Lindsay from season 21 of The Bachelor. My first interaction with her social media was when she shared this video about why non-black people should never use the n-word. The lawyer-turned-television-personality uses her platform well.


11. Shelby Ivey Christie | @bronze_bombshel

Shelby Ivey Christie’s motto is “woke, but make it fashion.” Activism comes in many forms, and Christie’s dedication to documenting our history through fashion and holding brands accountable is what makes her so special.


12. Jackie Aina | @jackieaina

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a delicate woman 😌

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Jackie Aina is simply a beauty influencer to many, but in my book, she is a beauty icon and social activist. She uses her platform to unapologetically make space for black women, not just in the beauty industry, but in the world.


13. Amanda Seales | @amandaseales

Amanda Seales is an actress, talk show co-host, and activist that gives it to us straight with no chaser. 


14. Lindsay Peoples Wagner | @lpeopleswagner

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in @christopherjohnrogers today for a good cause, #CJRatHome sharing my inspirations and organization to donate to to help others! 🦋⁣ ⁣ “The things I find most inspiring during these times are just being able to connect with family and friends on a different level than we ever have before. I've spent countless hours looking at the #ChristopherJohnRogers collection in person and online, but even today, I was able to actually sit with the piece and admire the intricacy and artistry in all its glory, and it just made me feel grateful for CJR and our friendship, and how blessed we are to be able to enjoy things like fashion and not have to worry about where our next meal is coming from. So in that spirit of gratefulness, the charity of my choice is @feedingamerica because every dollar you give can provide 10 meals to children and families in need.” To donate, please head to stories 💙⁣

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Lindsay Peoples Wagner took the reins of Teen Vogue in 2018, and she and her writers have continued to create content that moves the needle forward. People-Wagner is empowering the next generation of journalists and changemakers, and it shows through pieces like Zyahna Bryant’s story, “An Anti-Racist Action Guide.”



Editors’ Note: This article was originally titled “14 Inspiring Black Women You Need to Follow on Instagram”, but after publication was adjusted to “14 Inspiring Black People You Need to Follow on Instagram” as not all featured in this article identify as a female.