Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream that all people would one day be treated as equals. Born in 1929, King lived in a time when unfair laws in Southern states segregated, or separated, African Americans from whites.
King used peaceful ways to work toward making his dream come true. He made speeches and led marches. Today, King is a hero to many people.
February is Black History Month. To celebrate, TIME FOR KIDS asked African-American leaders in different fields to tell us about their heroes. Read about the famous African Americans whom they look up to. Who are your heroes?
Scott, 47, was born in North Charleston, South Carolina. Of 100 U.S. Senators, he is the only one who is black.
"I grew up playing football, and Syracuse's Ernie Davis was someone who inspired me. He was the first black man to win the Heisman Trophy, as well as the first black man to be the first pick of the NFL draft. He paved the way for many. His strength and determination have left their mark."
GABRIELLE "GABBY" DOUGLAS
At the 2012 Summer Olympics, Douglas, then 16, won gold in both team and all-around events. She is the first African American to do that.
"Martin Luther King inspires me. He stood up for what he believed in, and I really respect that."
JAMES E. WEST
In 1962, West helped invent a special microphone. It is in many things, from phones and computers to video cameras and hearing aids. West, 81, is in the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
"Granville T. Woods was born in 1856 in Columbus, Ohio. He is my hero because of the many inventions he made, including a microphone that he sold to Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone."
Born in Ethiopia and raised in Sweden, Samuelsson, 42, owns restaurants in New York City and Sweden.
"The African-American chefs that inspire me are Leah Chase, Patrick Clark and Sylvia Woods. They opened so many doors for us future chefs. Of course, there's also Michelle Obama, who is teaching children to eat better."
Keys, 31, has won many awards. Her fifth album, Girl on Fire, came out on November 27.
"A musical inspiration for me was Nina Simone. She was a classical pianist. She also did jazz and wrote her own songs. She spoke out about social issues that she felt weren't right. She was a really powerful voice."
Nelson, 38, is an artist. His children's book I Have a Dream came out in October. In it, Nelson illustrates Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous speech.
"There are so many figures to choose from, but if I had to choose just one, I'd have to say the artist Ernie Barnes. He painted people in a way that made me feel something deep in my soul when I looked at his paintings."