List of black Nobel laureates

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The Nobel Prize is an annual, international prize first awarded in 1901 for achievements in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, and Peace. An associated prize in Economics has been awarded since 1969.[1] As of November 2021, Nobel Prizes had been awarded to 943 individuals,[2] of whom 17 were Black recipients (1.8% of the 943 individual recipients).

Black people have received awards in three of six award categories: twelve in Peace (70.6% of the black recipients), four in Literature (23.5%), and one in Economics (5.9%). The first Black recipient, Ralph Bunche, was awarded the Peace Prize in 1950. The most recent, Abdulrazak Gurnah, was awarded his Nobel Prize in Literature in 2021.

Two Black laureates – Barack Obama and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf – were presidents of their countries (the United States and Liberia respectively) when they were awarded the prize, while Ahmed was Prime Minister of Ethiopia when he was announced as winner.


One Black person has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics.

Year Image Laureate Country Comment
1979 W. Arthur Lewis  Saint Lucia First and (so far) only black person to win a Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences; first West Indian to win a Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences[3]


Four Black people have been given the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Year Image Laureate Country Comment
1986 Soyinka, Wole (1934).jpg Wole Soyinka  Nigeria First Black person to win the Nobel Prize for Literature[4]
1992 Derek Walcott.jpg Derek Walcott  Saint Lucia
1993 Toni Morrison.jpg Toni Morrison  United States First Black woman to win a Nobel Prize[5]
2021 AbulrazakGurnahHebronPanel (cropped).jpg Abdulrazak Gurnah  United Kingdom Gurnah moved to the United Kingdom in the 1960s as a refugee following the Zanzibar Revolution[6]


12 Black people have been given the Nobel Peace Prize.

Year Image Laureate Country Comment
1950 Ralph Bunche - 1963 March on Washington.jpg Ralph Bunche  United States First Black person to win a Nobel Prize[7]
1960 Albert Lutuli nobel.jpg Albert John Luthuli  South Africa First Black African to win a Nobel Prize
1964 Martin Luther King Jr NYWTS.jpg Martin Luther King Jr.  United States Youngest African American to win a Nobel Prize
1984 Desmond Tutu (47327456801) (cropped and adjusted).jpg Desmond Tutu  South Africa
1993 Nelson Mandela 1994.jpg Nelson Mandela  South Africa
2001 Kofi Annan.jpg Kofi Annan  Ghana
2004 Wangari Matthai 2001 (cropped).jpg Wangari Maathai  Kenya First environmentalist to win the Nobel Peace Prize
2009 Official portrait of Barack Obama.jpg Barack Obama  United States
2011 Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, April 2010.jpg Ellen Johnson Sirleaf  Liberia
2011 Leymah-gbowee-at-emu-press-conference.jpg Leymah Gbowee  Liberia
2018 Denis Mukwege par Claude Truong-Ngoc novembre 2014.jpg Denis Mukwege  Democratic Republic of the Congo
2019 Abiy Ahmed during state visit of Reuven Rivlin to Ethiopia, May 2018.jpg Abiy Ahmed  Ethiopia

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Nobel Prize" (2007), in Encyclopædia Britannica, accessed 14 November 2007, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online:

    An additional award, the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, was established in 1968 by the Bank of Sweden and was first awarded in 1969

  2. ^ "All Nobel Laureates". Nobel Foundation. Retrieved 2019-10-11.
  3. ^ "Unsung Heroes". Time. 2007-12-01. Archived from the original on February 10, 2007. Retrieved 2010-05-08.
  4. ^ "Wole Soyinka Biography".
  5. ^ Grimes, William (1983-10-08). "Toni Morrison Is '93 Winner of Nobel Prize in Literature". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-08.
  6. ^ "Nobel Literature Prize 2021: Abdulrazak Gurnah named winner". BBC News. 7 October 2021. Archived from the original on 7 October 2021. Retrieved 9 October 2021.
  7. ^ Ralph Bunche, PBS.

External links[edit]