Notable African-Americans from the Hudson Valley
In honor of Black History Month, here is a look a the notable African-Americans who have ties to the Hudson Valley, presented in alphabetical order.
Beyonce Knowles and Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter: The superstar couple, who own a home in Scarsdale, each enjoy highly successful music careers and have won a combined total of 26 Grammy Awards. The two also have succeeded outside of music: Beyonce has been featured in high-profile films such as "Dreamgirls" and has a $50 million endorsement deal with Pepsi, and Jay-Z is a part owner of the Nets and founder of the record label Roc Nation.
James Blake: Tennis player James Blake, who was born in Yonkers, has been ranked as high as fourth in the world -- and first among Americans. The former Harvard student reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open in 2005 and 2006 and the Australian Open in 2008.
Cab Calloway: An accomplished jazz and big-band singer, Calloway, who is seen in this photo performing with Lena Horne, lived in Elmsford for more than 30 years. He's best known for his hit "Minnie the Moocher." The Grammys honored him posthumously in 2008 with an award for Lifetime Achievement.
Roy Campanella: Campanella, who lived for 15 years in Greenburgh with his family, was an eight-time All-Star catcher for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1940s and '50s. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969.
Mariah Carey: Former Bedford resident Mariah Carey is the bestselling female artist of all time, with more than 200 million albums sold to date and 18 Billboard No. 1 singles. She's currently a judge on the hit TV show. "American Idol."
Ernie Davis: Ernie Davis has spent 13 years as mayor of Mount Vernon, Westchester County's third-largest city. He returned to the mayor's seat in 2011 after a four year-hiatus. His tenure has been marred by controversy and difficulties tackling several ongoing problems in Mount Vernon, especially poverty and crime.
Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee: The couple lived in New Rochelle and were married for more than 50 years before Davis died in 2005. Though Davis and Dee were each acting legends in their own right, the two were jointly honored with a National Medal of Arts, Kennedy Center Honors and the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award.
Sean “Diddy” Combs: Combs, who was raised in Mount Vernon, was named Hip-Hop's Wealthiest Artist of 2012 by Forbes magazine, which estimated his worth at $550 million. Combs' wealth in part can be attributed to his music label Bad Boy Records, as well as his Sean Jean fashion line and deal with Ciroc vodka.
Laurence Fishburne: Fishburne, who owns a home in New Rochelle, is best known for his roles in "The Matrix" franchise. He is a Tony and Emmy winner and received an Oscar nod for 1993’s "What’s Love Got To Do With It."
Ella Fitzgerald: Raised in Yonkers, Fitzgerald was an iconic jazz vocalist known for her classic interpretations of the American songbook. A Peabody Award and Presidential Medal of Freedom were among the notable accolades she achieved in her lifetime.
Ben Gordon: Basketball player Ben Gordon starred at Mount Vernon High School before embarking on a successful career at the University of Connecticut. As a rookie with the Chicago Bulls in 2004-05, Gordon was named the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year.
Heavy D: Heavy D (real name Dwight Arrington Myers) was raised in Mount Vernon. Before dying in 2011 at age 44, he achieved fame as a rapper as part of Heavy D and the Boyz and as a solo artist.
The Isley Brothers: The Motown band (pictured is Ronald Isley), which won a Grammy Award for the 1969 hit "It’s Your Thing," owned a home in Palisades.
James Earl Jones: Jones, a Pawling resident, has an acting career that has spanned more than 50 years, including voicing Darth Vader in the "Star Wars" franchise. The actor received an honorary Academy Award in 2011 and also has won two Emmys and two Tony Awards.
Ken Jenkins: Jenkins, a Democrat from Yonkers, was elected to the Westchester Board of Legislators in 2007 and became chairman in 2012. In January, Jenkins announced his intention to run for Westchester County executive.
Eartha Kitt: Kitt, who lived in Pound Ridge for several years, was a renowned actress and singer best known for playing Catwoman in the "Batman" TV series and singing the classic holiday tune "Santa Baby." Kitt died in 2009 at age 81.
Branford Marsalis: Marsalis, who has called New Rochelle home, has won multiple Grammy Awards for his jazz saxophone performances.
Audra McDonald: McDonald, who lives in Croton-on-Hudson, is an esteemed television and Broadway actress. She has the distinction of winning five Tony Awards, including the award for lead actress for 2012's "Porgy and Bess."
Art Monk: Raised in White Plains and a member of the White Plains High School football team, Art Monk was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008 after he amassed 940 receptions, 12,721 yards and 68 touchdowns during his 16-year NFL career, most of which he spent with the Washington Redskins. At one point, Monk, who was a member of three Super Bowl championship teams, was the NFL's all-time leader in receptions.
Toni Morrison: Novelist Toni Morrison, a Grand View-on-Hudson resident, wrote such classic novels as "Song of Solomon" and "Beloved" and is one of the literary giants of her generation. She has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
Eddie Murphy: Murphy, who once owned a home in Dutchess County, is a groundbreaking comedian and one of Hollywood's top box-office stars, largely due to the success of the "Beverly Hills Cop," "Shrek" and "The Nutty Professor" franchises.
Floyd Patterson: Boxer Floyd Patterson was living in Mount Vernon in 1954 when he became the youngest man ever to win the world heavyweight title. He died in 2006 and lived the final years of his life in New Paltz, where he is buried.
Jermaine Paul: The Monroe native and Harriman resident is a pop and gospel singer who won the second season of NBC's reality TV competition "The Voice."
Sidney Poitier: Poitier, who briefly resided in Pleasantville in the early 1960s, was the first African-American to win an Oscar for Best Actor for 1963's "Lilies of the Field," and he also was awarded an honorary Oscar in 2002. He is best known for the films "To Sir, With Love," "In the Heat of the Night" and "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner."
Phylicia Rashad: The Tony Award-winning actress, who has called Mount Vernon home, is best known for her role as Clair Huxtable on "The Cosby Show."
Ray Rice: Running back Ray Rice, who starred on the football team at New Rochelle High School, has rushed for at least 1,100 yards each of the past four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens and was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2009, 2011 and 2012. He led his team through the season and to a Super Bowl win in 2013.
Betty Shabazz: Shabazz was the widow of civil rights pioneer Malcolm X. After her husband's death in 1965, Shabazz and her family moved to Mount Vernon, where she continued to be an important voice in the civil rights movement. In 1997, at age 61, she died of of third-degree burns when her apartment was set ablaze by her grandson. Mary J. Blige, who was raised in Yonkers, portrayed Shabazz in the 2013 TV movie "Betty and Coretta."
Nina Simone: Simone, a former Mount Vernon resident, was a renowned jazz singer with a unique deep, raspy voice. She died of natural causes in 2003 at age 70. A biopic bearing her name is currently in production with Zoe Saldana playing the lead role.
Andrea Stewart-Cousins: Stewart-Cousins, a democrat from Yonkers, was elected to the State Senate in 2006, after serving on the Westchester County Legislature. In December 2012, Stewart-Cousins was elected State Senate minority leader in Albany.
Denzel Washington: Raised in Mount Vernon, Washington is one of the most distinguished actors of his generation. He's starred in films including "Malcolm X" and "Glory," and has won two Academy Awards and one Tony Award.
Vanessa Williams: Chappaqua resident Vanessa Williams was crowned Miss America in 1983. Since then she's had a diverse career in movies, television, music and on Broadway, including earning multiple Grammy, Emmy and Tony Award nominations.
Sylvia Woods: Mount Vernon resident Sylvia Woods owned the world-famous Sylvia's Restaurant in Harlem. She died July 2012 at age 86.