Lewis Hamilton tops list of Britain's most influential black people

Lewis Hamilton and PHE professor Kevin Fenton top list of Britain’s most influential black people in year of BLM protests and Covid-19 pandemic

  • Lewis Hamilton is named number 1 for seven world titles and BLM campaigning
  • Black medics recognised for Covid work including PHE chief Prof Kevin Fenton
  • Stormzy, broadcaster Afua Hirsch and journalist Edward Enninful make top ten
  • Organisers say 2021 list celebrates those who have spoken out against racism
  • Marcus Rashford misses out on top ten but makes long list for his campaigning 

Lewis Hamilton has today been named Britain’s most influential black person in a list dominated by those who have campaigned to support the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Formula 1 star, 35, who won his seventh world title on Sunday, has encouraged drivers to take the knee before races, changed his Mercedes racing car from silver to black and set up a commission to get more black people into motor sport.

He has described topping the Powerlist 2021 as a ‘monumental moment’ but used the award to pledge he would not ‘stay silent’ on racism in F1 as Boris Johnson was urged to give him a knighthood.

Professor Kevin Fenton, London chief of Public Health England, was given second place by the Powerlist judges who said they wanted to celebrate black Britons who have helped fight Covid-19 and ‘spoken truth to power’ on how BAME communities have been disproportionately hit.

Grime star Stormzy, broadcaster Afua Hirsch, editor-in-chief of British Vogue Edward Enninful, historian David Olusoga are also recognised for campaigning against racial injustice.

Footballer Marcus Rashford made the longer list but not the top ten, despite twice forcing the Government into U-turns on providing free school meals during school holidays and today launching a national book club to encourage disadvantaged youngsters to read.   

Lewis Hamilton has been named Britain’s most influential black person for his sporting success and campaigning for the BLM movement


Professor Kevin Fenton, London chief of Public Health England, is second on the list followed by rapper Stormzy

Marcus Rashford has had an influential year on and off the pitch for his campaigning on child poverty and now literacy. He made the long list, but not the top ten

1 Lewis Hamilton 

Racing driver Hamilton, from a Stevenage council estate, has re-written the Formula One record books and, in the process, staked his claim to be considered among the greatest British sportsmen who have ever lived. He is the the only black driver in F1 and is campaigning to encourage more BAME people into the sport.

2 Prof Kevin Fenton 

Professor Fenton joined the Health Protection Agency (now PHE) in 1999 as director of the HIV and STI department. He is in charge of London’s response to Covid.

3 Stormzy 

Grime artist Stormzy, 27, has taken the British music scene by storm. He has also pledged £10m to fight for racial equality by 2030.

4 Michaela Coel 

Actress and screenwriter who wrote and starred in 2020 drama I May Destroy You 

5 Edward Enninful 

Editor-in-chief of British Vogue and campaigner for diversity in the fashion world.

6 Dame Donna Kinnair 

Chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing was inspired to become a nurse because of the care given to her severely asthmatic father. She has helped run several large London hospitals specialising in child protection and HIV services.

7 Jacqueline McKenzie

Director at Centre for Migration Advice and Research fighting forfor justice for victims of the Windrush Scandal

8 David Olusoga 

9 Afua Hirsch 

Journalist, author and broadcaster who recently made a documentary with Samuel L. Jackson exploring 400 years of the transatlantic slave trade.

10 Richard Iferenta  

Accountant and vice-chair of KPMG and sponsor of the business’ African Caribbean network.

The annual list of the most powerful people of African, African Caribbean and African American heritage in the UK is ranked by independent judges chaired by retired High Court judge Dame Linda Dobbs, in partnership with law firm JP Morgan. 

Michael Eboda, the chief executive of Powerful Media, has said the 2020 list, first published in 2007, is marked by the Black Lives Matter protests across the UK following the murder of George Floyd in the US in May.

Mr Eboda said: ‘The judges actually wanted to make it clear this year’s top 10 was quite deliberately different from years in the past.

‘I think in the past it has been a lot more corporate and business-focused, whereas this year it was about the two main issues that have affected black communities globally, which are Covid and Black Lives Matter’. 

Lewis Hamilton is the first sports star in the list’s 14-year history to claim the top spot. 

Reflecting on his legacy in the sport, Lewis Hamilton said he hoped his work outside of the car ultimately has a greater impact than his achievements behind the wheel.

He said: ‘I want to look back on Formula One in 10 years’ time and really see change because yes, we have this Black Lives Matter moment and there’s a mic and people are hearing it, but you’ve got to really do the work to activate change.’

Professor Fenton was ranked just behind the seven-time F1 world champion and ahead of Stormzy for leading the capital’s response to coronavirus, including minimising the impact on BAME communities.

His role at PHE involves working closely with the capital’s public health leaders and borough council chairs in how best to respond to coronavirus, alongside advising London mayor Sadiq Khan. 

Professor Fenton, who was a leading practitioner tackling HIV and Aids issues for three decades prior to his appointment to becoming London’s regional director at PHE in April 2020, said he feels ‘truly honoured’ to be included in the Powerlist. 

He said: ‘To play a small part in it has been a humbling experience and I feel extremely proud of the work we have carried out.

‘But it does not stop here. There is still a long way to go and we will continue working hard to stop the spread of this virus as we move through the winter and into the New Year.’ 

Actress and screenwriter Michaela Coel, who wrote and starred in 2020 drama I May Destroy You is in fourth. 

She is followed by Edward Enninful – editor-in-chief of British Vogue.

Dame Donna Kinnair, chief executive, Royal College of Nursing is in sixth followed by Jacqueline McKenzie, who fought for justice for victims of the Windrush Scandal.


Actress and screenwriter Michaela Coel (left) , who wrote and starred in 2020 drama I May Destroy You is in fourth with Edward Enninful (right) – editor-in-chief of British Vogue, in fifth


Dame Donna Kinnair, chief executive, Royal College of Nursing (left) is in sixth followed by Jacqueline McKenzie (right) , who fought for justice for victims of the Windrush Scandal


In eighth is historian and broadcaster David Olusoga , who was behind the shows Black and British: A Forgotten History and Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners. Journalist Afua Hirsch, who fronted the documentary series Enslaved with Pulp Fiction actor Samuel L Jackson is ninth

Richard Iferenta , vice-chair of KPMG was given the tenth spot

In eighth is historian and broadcaster David Olusoga, who was behind the shows Black and British: A Forgotten History and Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners.

Journalist Afua Hirsch, who fronted the documentary series Enslaved with Pulp Fiction actor Samuel L Jackson is ninth, with Richard Iferenta, vice-chair of KPMG in tenth. 

There is a longer unranked list of black people from the arts, business, education, health and sport including  John Boyega, Idris Elba, Dame Sharon White, Sir Lenny Henry, David Lammy and Anthony Joshua.

The full Black Powerlist 2021 

The arts, fashion and design (Unranked)

Chi-Chi Nwanoku, OBE – Founder, Artistic & Exec Director Chineke!;

Duro Olowu – Fashion Designer

Dr Shirley J Thompson, OBE – Composer, Artistic & Music Director, Writer, Educator, University of Westminster

Pat McGrath MBE – Founder, Pat McGrath Cosmetics

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye – Artist

Francesca Hayward – Principal Dancer, Royal Ballet

Grace Wales-Bonner – Founder and Creative Director at Wales Bonner

Kobna Holdbrook-Smith – Actor/Founding Member Act for Change

John Boyega – Actor

Idris Elba OBE – Actor, Producer

Business (Unranked)

Alan Smith – Global Head of Risk Strategy and Chief of Staff, Global Risk, HSBC

Camille Drummond – Vice President, Global Business Services, BP

Eric Collins – CEO and Founding Member, Impact X Capital Partners

Jason Black – Co-founder of Crep Protect and Co-Owner of Crepe and Cones

Lindelwe Lesley Ndlovu – CEO, AXA Africa Specialty Risks, Lloyd’s of London

Netsai Mangwende – Head of Finance for Great Britain, Willis Towers Watson

Pamela Hutchinson – Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Bloomberg

Sandra Wallace – UK Managing Partner, DLA Piper

Tevin Tobun – Founder and CEO, GV Group (Gate Ventures)

Yvonne Ike – Managing Director and Head of Sub Saharan Africa region, Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Paulette Rowe – CEO, Integrated and E-commerce Solutions, Paysafe Group

Nadja Bellan-White – Global Chief Marketing Officer at VICE Media Group, former Executive Partner, WPP Team Leader at Ogilvy

Roni Savage – Managing Director, Founder of Jomas Associates

Dean Forbes – President, The Access Group

Dame Sharon White – Chairman, John Lewis Partnership

Tara Lajumoke – Managing Director, Financial Times

Adrian Joseph – Managing Director, Group AI and Data Solutions, BT Group

Femi Bamisaiye – Chief Information Officer, HomeServe UK

Yemi Edun – Founder and CEO, Daniel Ford & Co and Daniel Ford International

Emeka Emembolu – Senior Vice President – North Sea at BP

Tunde Olanrewaju – Senior Partner, McKinsey & Company

Media, Publishing and Entertainment (Unranked)

Akala – Educator, Rapper, Poet, Activist

Anne Mensah – Vice-president of Content UK, Netflix

Amma Asante MBE – Writer, Director

Charlene White – ITN News Anchor

Femi Oguns MBE – Agent, Founder and CEO of Identity Theatre

Education (Unranked)

Gary Younge – Journalist; Author; Professor of Sociology, University of Manchester

Lorna Clarke – BBC Controller of Pop Music

Marcus Ryder – Executive Producer of Multimedia, Caixin Global

Paulette Simpson – Executive, Corporate Affairs and Public Policy, Jamaica National Bank; Executive Director, The Voice Media Group

Reggie Yates – Writer; Director; Broadcaster

Reni Eddo-Lodge – Journalist, Author

Sir Lenny Henry – Actor, Writer, Campaigner

Vanessa Kingori MBE – Publisher, British Vogue

Bernadine Evaristo – Writer, Professor of Creative Writing, Brunel

Hugh Muir – Senior Assistant Editor, The Guardian

Annette Thomas – CEO Guardian Media Group PLC

Dorothy Koomson – Author

Kamal Ahmed – Editorial Director, BBC News

Politics, Law and Religion (Unranked)

David Lammy – Shadow Secretary of State for Justice, Member of Parliament for Tottenham

Dr Sandie Okoro – Senior Vice President and Group General Counsel, World Bank

Joshua Siaw MBE – Partner, White & Case

Dr Kathryn Nwajiaku – Director, Politics and Governance, Overseas Development Institute

Martin Forde, QC- Barrister

Rose Hudson-Wilkin – Bishop of Dover

Segan Osuntokun – Managing Partner, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner

Harry Matovu QC – Barrister

Marcia Willis Stewart QC – Director, Birnberg Peirce & Partners

Stephanie Boyce – Deputy Vice-President, Law Society of England and Wales

Patrick Vernon OBE -Political activist and social commentator

Public sector and politics

Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon – MBE CEO and Co-Founder, STEMettes

Dr Margaret Casely-Hayford CBE – Chair, Shakespeare’s Globe; Chancellor, Coventry University; Non-Executive Director, Co-op Group

Marvin Rees – Mayor of Bristol

Dr Nira Chamberlain – President of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications

Professor Funmi Olonisakin – Professor of Security, Leadership and Development at King’s College London; Founding Director of African Leadership Centre

Lord Simon Woolley – Co-founder/Director, Operation Black Vote

Sonita Alleyne OBE – Master, Jesus College, Cambridge

Professor Patricia Daley – Vice Principal at Jesus College Oxford

Science, Medicine and Engineering (not ranked)

Dr Emeka Okaro- Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist

Dr Ian Nnatu – Consultant Psychiatrist

Dr Joy Odili – Consultant Plastic Surgeon

Dr Sylvia Bartley – Senior Global Director, Medtronic Foundation

Samantha Tross – Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

Professor Laura Serrant OB – Head of Department and Professor of Community and Public Health Nursing at Manchester Metropolitan University

Professor Jacqueline Dunkley Bent OBE – Chief Midwifery Officer, NHS England

Martin Griffiths – Lead trauma surgeon, Royal London & National Clinical Director for Violence Reduction, NHS

Dr Paula Franklin – Chief Medical Officer at Bupa Global and UK

Dr Jacqui Dyer MBE – President, Mental Health Foundation

Sport (Unranked)

Anthony Joshua – World Heavyweight Boxing Champion

Dina Asher-Smith – World champion sprinter

Raheem Sterling – Footballer

Marcus Rashford – Footballer and campaigner

Tech (Unranked)

Ebele Okobi – Public Policy Director Africa, the Middle East & Turkey, Facebook

Ije Nwokorie – Senior Director, Apple

Nneka Abulokwe OBE – Founder and CEO, MicroMax Consulting

Jacky Wright – Chief Digital Officer & Corporate Vice President, Microsoft, US

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