I see this question as a positive one. What factors have helped? Certainly we can't forget the brave people of the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s and beyond. We can make a list of movers and shakers who came forward during that time that helped to empower African Americans in society, politics, and at home at the local levels. Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. are only a few famous ones that start the list. The process was slow, but African Americans who got roles in the movies gave pride to their people. Sidney Potier won an academy award in the 1960s which helped to bring attention to his ability to be a leading character. Movies like "The Red Tails" and "The Help" which came out in the last year show those who stayed the course and fought for what they belived in during times of great prejudice. I'm sure we can think of others if we keep going, from war heroes to Barrack Obama, there are always those emerging when opportunities arise.