Celebrating Black Neurodivergent Role Models

by Kat Harhai on February 22, 2022

Happy Black History Month! This Black History Month, we’re celebrating Black neurodivergent role models who have made, and continue to make, history.

This list is adapted from our Instagram series. We wanted to make an accessible place for folks to come back to and learn more about these role models. This is not an exhaustive list by any means.

Morénike Giwa Onaiwu

Tumi Sotire, @TheBlackDyspraxic

Simone Biles

  • ADHD
  • Olympic gymnast
  • Tied for the most decorated gymnast of all time, with a combined total of 32 Olympic and world championship medals
  • Simone’s website

Kayla Smith, @BeingKaylaSmith

Amanda Gorman


  • Autistic
  • Musician, songwriter, DJ, author, and director
  • Musician in the Roots, the Randy Watson Experience, and the Saturday Night Live band among others
  • Co-founder of OkayPlayer and Okay Africa
  • Collaborated with Black Thought and Disney Jr to create “Rise Up, Sing Out” a new animated children’s series aimed to empower Black youth

Lois Curtis

  • Autistic
  • Artist
  • A plaintiff in the 1999 Olmstead Supreme Court decision, in which the court decided that disabled people have a right to receive state-funded supports in the community, rather than in institutions, affirming community living as a civil right
  • A feature on Lois Curtis from The Art of Autism

Clary Chambers

  • Dyslexic, ADHD
  • Best described as a creative optimist Clary Chambers (she/her/hers) works to make the invisible visible. As the founder/CEO of SparkClarity, Clary creates spaces for chronically ill and disabled folks to see and find community as a speaker, speaking coach and accessibility consultant. When she’s not spreading joy online you can find her gardening with her fiancée Percy (she/they) and dog Ginny.
  • Book Clary as a speaker or consultant

Armani Williams

  • Autistic
  • The first openly autistic professional NASCAR driver
  • To date, Armani has 18 wins and two championships as a professional NASCAR driver
  • A feature on Armani from DIVERSEability magazine

Solange Knowles

  • ADHD
  • Singer, songwriter, performance artist, and actress
  • Her art includes her critically acclaimed albums A Seat at the Table and When I Get Home

Anita Cameron

  • Autistic
  • Disability rights activist for nearly 40 years
  • Longtime leader of the self-advocacy and independent living movements
  • Member, national organizer, strategist and police negotiator with ADAPT
  • One of the organizers who helped get the ADA passed in 1990, including the Capitol Crawl
  • Passionate about transportation issues, voting rights and accessibility, LGBTQ liberation, and emergency preparedness for people with disabilities
  • Anita’s blog

Harry Belafonte

  • Dyslexic
  • Jamaican American singer, songwriter, activist, and actor
  • First Black person to win an Emmy Award
  • Has also won three Grammy’s and a Tony Award
  • Active in the civil rights and anti-apartheid movements

Maya Angelou

Angela Weddle

  • Autistic
  • Visual artist, illustrator, and board member at the Art of Autism
  • From her website: “Weddle seeks to create a sensory immersive experience with her art from a range of diverse influences including autism, cerebral palsy, synesthetic aspects of music, especially jazz, light, sound, rhythm, daily life, urban and natural landscapes, and perceptual and psychological experiences.”
  • Angela’s website
  • Purchase her art

Danny Glover

  • Dyslexic, epileptic
  • Actor, director, and activist
  • Known for his prominent roles in Lethal Weapon, The Color Purple, Angels in the Outfield, and supporting roles in Silverado, Dreamgirls, Sorry to Bother You, and The Last Black Man in San Francisco
  • Was a member of the Black Student’s Union at San Francisco State University, which collaborated in a five-month strike to establish the first Black Studies Department and first School of Ethnic Studies in the U.S.

Octavia Spencer

  • Dyslexic
  • Actress, author, and producer
  • Her work in films including The Help, Fruitvale Station, and Hidden Figures have won her an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, and three Screen Actors Guild Awards, among other accolades

Morgan Harper Nichols

Kalin Bennett

  • Autistic
  • College basketball player
  • First openly autistic person to play D1 basketball
  • Began college basketball career at Kent State University, has since transferred to Morehouse College. Will be eligible for the NBA draft in 2024. If drafted, Kalin would be the first openly autistic professional basketball player.

Brandon Marshall

  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Former NFL player, current sports broadcaster
  • Early contributor to the public conversation surrounding the mental health of athletes when he disclosed his BPD diagnosis and benefits of mental health supports in 2011

Tyla Grant

Kelly Rowland

  • OCD
  • Singer, songwriter, and actress
  • Rose to fame in the 1990s as a member of Destiny’s Child and has since pursued a solo career
  • Has received 54 nominations and 19 awards, including 4 Grammy’s

Jumaane Williams

  • Tourette Syndrome, ADHD
  • Politician and activist
  • Has served as the New York City Public Advocate, been on the New York City Council, and is running for Governor of New York in the 2022 election
  • He has been arrested while demonstrating for social justice issues more times than any other sitting elected official in New York

Tylan Grant

  • Autistic
  • Actor
  • Made history at 16 years old by becoming the first autistic BIPOC actor to play an autistic character on a mainstream UK drama. Tylan plays Brooke Hathaway on the soap opera Hollyoaks
  • Tylan is nonbinary (he/they pronouns), and so is their character on Hollyoaks
  • Tylan’s Instagram page

Magic Johnson

  • Dyslexic
  • Former professional basketball player
  • Often referred to as the greatest point guard of all time and was honored as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996. He played 13 seasons for the Lakers, five of which they went on to win the NBA championship.
  • Contributed to destigmatizing HIV when he publicly disclosed his diagnosis in 1991

Tiffany Joseph @nigh.functioning.autism

  • Autistic, Epileptic, ADHD, OCD
  • Mom, disability advocate, and advisor
  • Autistic mom to neurodivergent children. Uses their blog and social media platforms to advocate for neurodivergent youth. Their content is an invaluable resource for parents looking to better understand and support their neurodivergent children.
  • Read their blog
  • Support their work via PayPal, CashApp, Venmo or Buy Me a Coffee

Stephen Wiltshire

  • Autistic
  • Architectural artist
  • Famous for his intricately detailed drawings of cityscapes after only having viewed them for a short period of time
  • Nicknamed “the human camera” for his ability to produce accurate drawings of cityscapes purely from memory
  • His art has been featured in galleries all over the world, where he has routinely shattered gallery attendance records
  • Purchase prints of his art

Clarence Page

  • ADHD
  • Journalist and senior member of the Chicago Tribune editorial board
  • His journalism has earned him numerous accolades, including a Pulitzer Prize, an ACLU James P. McGuire Award, and an Illinois UPI Award
  • Has also been inducted into the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame

Tiffany Hammond @fidgets.and.fries

  • Autistic
  • Mother, advocate, and storyteller.
  • Uses her experiences as an Autistic mother to two Autistic boys to guide others along their journey
  • Her activism is rooted in challenging the current perception of autism as a lifelong burden, and is guided by an intersectional lens.
  • Support her work via Patreon, PayPal, Buy Me a Coffee or by donating to the Hammond Boys Homeschool Education ClassFund

Lauren Melissa Ellzey @autienelle

Mohammed Ali

  • Dyslexic
  • Professional boxer and activist
  • One of the most significant sports figures of the 20th century, and frequently referred to as the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time
  • Was an anti-war and civil rights activist
  • Fun Fact: In 1971, Ali fought Joe Frazier in the Fight of the Century. An activist group used the highly anticipated and publicized event as an opportunity to pull off a burglary at the FBI office, knowing that many agents would be preoccupied with security at the fight. The burglary that ensued exposed the COINTELPRO operations in which the FBI had illegally spied on civil rights and anti-war activists, including Ali.

Timothy Boykin @BlackAutisticKing


Related Posts

1 Comment

  1. https://www.israelxclub.co.il/ on June 25, 2023 at 2:55 am

    Hello there! I just would like to give you a big thumbs up for the great information youve got right here on this post. Ill be returning to your web site for more soon.

Leave a Comment