Saturday, June 30, 2012

Spike Lee

SPIKE LEE is a notable writer, director, producer, actor, and author who revolutionized both the landscape of independent cinema and the role of black talent in film. Widely regarded as a premiere African-American filmmaker, Lee is a forerunner in the ‘do it yourself’ school of filmmaking.

Spike’s latest endeavor is the follow-up documentary If God is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise, which revisits the recently storm-ravaged GulfCoast region as residents attempt to rebuild in their cities while also demanding assistance and accountability from their political leaders. This film comes on the heels of When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, the groundbreaking first documentary that followed the plight of Americans stranded in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. The release of If God is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise will coincide with the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in the summer of 2010.

Lee’s recent theatrical release Miracle at St. Anna is set in 1944 and chronicles the story of four black American soldiers who are members of the US Army as part of the all-black 92nd "Buffalo Soldier" Division, trapped behind enemy lines in Tuscany, Italy during World War II. An avid sports enthusiast, Lee also completed a one day 18 camera documentary shoot focusing on NBA standout Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers. Produced for ESPN, the unique piece is entitled Kobe Doin’ Work. Another recent project, Passing Strange: The Movie – showcases the critically acclaimed Broadway musical, which explores the travels of a young African American musician in search of himself. Passing Strange debuted at the Sundance Film Festival.

Other critical and box office successes have included such films as Inside Man, 25th Hour, The Original Kings of Comedy, Bamboozled and Summer of Sam. Lee’s films Girl 6, Get On the Bus, Do the Right Thing and Clockers display his ability to showcase a series of outspoken and provocative socio-political critiques that challenge cultural assumptions, not only about race, but class and gender identity as well. His debut film, the independently produced comedy She’s Gotta Have It earned him the Prix de Jeunesse Award at the Cannes Film festival in 1986 and set him at the forefront of the Black New Wave in American Cinema. His second feature, the very profitable and critically acclaimed School Daze, helped launch the careers of several young Black actors. Lee’s timely 1989 film, Do the Right Thing, garnered an Academy Award® nomination for Best Original Screenplay, and Best Film and Director awards from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Lee’s Jungle Fever, Mo’ Better Blues, Clockers and Crooklyn were also well received by critics and fans alike. His epic drama Malcolm X starring Denzel Washington, received two Academy Award® nominations.

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, and raised in Brooklyn, Lee returned south to attend Morehouse College. After graduation, he returned to Brooklyn to continue his education at New YorkUniversity’s Tisch School of Arts in Manhattan, where he received his Master of Fine Arts Degree in film production. He founded 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, based in the FortGreene section of Brooklyn, where he has resided since childhood.

In addition to his film achievements, Lee has produced and directed numerous music videos for diverse artists including Chaka Khan, Tracy Chapman, Anita Baker, Public Enemy, Bruce Hornsby and Michael Jackson. His other music videos include work for the late Miles Davis and Phyllis Hyman, Naughty by Nature and Arrested Development.

Lee’s commercial work began in 1988 with his Nike Air Jordan campaign. Collaborating with basketball great Michael Jordan on several commercials, Lee resurrected his popular character, Mars Blackmon from She’s Gotta Have It. He has also completed a PSA for UNCF entitled Two Michaels, which also features Michael Jordan. Lee is also well known for his Levi’s Button-Fly 501, AT&T and ESPN television commercials. His other commercial ventures include TV spots for Philips, Nike, American Express, Snapple and Taco Bell. Lee has also directed several Art Spot Shorts for MTV and a short film featuring Branford Marsalis and Diahnne Abbott for Saturday Night Live.

Lee is also involved in documentaries and sports programs. He completed the Emmy and Oscar®-nominated documentary 4 Little Girls for HBO and received an Emmy Award for his piece on Georgetown’s John Thompson for HBO/Real Sports.

Additionally, Lee has authored six books on the making of his films. The fifth book, Five For Five served as a pictorial reflection of his first five features. He then followed up with Best Seat in the House, authored with Ralph Wiley. Lee and his wife Tonya Lewis Lee co-authored two children's books entitled Please, Baby, Please and Please, Puppy, Please. Most recently he authored a retrospective book about his film career entitled That's My Story and I'm Sticking to It.

Ever moving into new areas, Spike Lee has combined his extensive creative experience into yet another venture: partnering with DDB Needham, he created Spike/DDB, a full-service advertising agency.

During the 1980s, Spike Lee began creating feature films that have gone on to separate him from other filmmakers. In 1986, Lee directed his independently produced comedy She’s Gotta Have It. This film garnered him the Prix de Jeunesse Award at the Cannes Film festival. Mr. Lee’s feature films would go on to be nominated and for some, win many highly competitive and well respected awards. His film Do the Right Thing, released in 1989, is considered to be timely by many within the industry including critics and even by many of the film’s overall viewers. Do the Right Thing reaped an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay and won Best Picture and Best Director awards from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.

Spike’s feature films are famous for shining the light on controversial topics such as race, class and a variety of relationships that many other directors may choose to shy away from. Jungle Fever, released in 1991, was one of Lee’s most controversial films. It brought to the forefront some of the reactions and feelings that people may feel towards interracial relationships. The following year would be a huge one for Spike when he released Malcolm X, which chronicled the life, career, and tragic death of one of America’s greatest Civil Rights Activists. This film garnered Denzel Washington, who played the title role, an Academy Award Nomination for Best Actor. In 2006, Lee’s Inside Man was a box office hit. Marking a pivotal moment in this acclaimed Director’s career. It is Spike’s highest grossing film to date. On SEPTEMBER 26, 2008, Lee released Miracle at St. Anna, an epic film telling the story of four African American soldiers and their heart wrenching experiences while stationed in Italy during World War II. Currently, Passing Strange The Movie is available on DVD.


Friday, June 29, 2012

First Black Female NASCAR Driver Seeks Community Support

Nationwide (May 14, 2012) -- Professional racecar driver Tia Norfleet has visions of giving to a community that supports her. As the first, youngest and only African-American female driver on the NASCAR circuit, Tia Norfleet has set the stage to opening the doors of diversity in a highly controversial and predominately male oriented sport.

With lawsuits that have been filed as well by other minorities, which have accused NASCAR of racial discrimination, many people wonder why and how can Norfleet compete in this division of racing. "It is sheer passion and instinct that drives this youngster to want to compete in this sport, she was born to compete," says Isaac Hayes, spokesperson/CEO of the online fund raising organization,

Norfleet comes from a family with a history in racing. Her father Bobby Norfleet made his NASCAR debut at the Portland International Raceway road course on March 26, 2000, where he competed against NASCAR driver Bill Lester making that race historical. It was the only time in NASCAR history that two African-Americans drivers have competed at the same time.

With many accolades of her own including being spokesperson for the Safe America Diving program, and appearing in commercials such as the Verizon wireless, numerous magazine ads and radio and television interviews. Tia Norfleet has given Black women everywhere new hope in following their dreams.

The million dollar question that many people ask is, will the NASCAR community accept Tia for who she is, and that is according to Hayes, a true competitor. "Our goal is to raise funds needed for everyone to find out," says Edward Williams, founder of the medium sized marketing company Team Tia.

Taking a page out of the country's 44th President Barack Obama's playbook, going grassroots to make history. Williams said "If President Obama can raise $700 million, surely we can raise $5 million to get Tia on the track. We have a good team and I think with the public's help we can get Tia on the track and testing in two weeks.

"To ensure the success of this effort to fundraise," says Hayes, CEO of, "we have inked a lucrative deal with Alvin Kline, the social media guru and wed success agency team to head this unique grassroots online crown funding campaign."

Hayes continues, "I am confident that Alvin Kline along with Team Tia and the additional benefits and memorabilia we are offering the donors at should allow us the chance to find out." As Tia prepares to take the wheel, the world holds on and wonders if the community that she supports will support her. The answer awaits at the finish line.

For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact Issac Hayes at (877) 239-4924 or email or visit


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sweet Blackberry

Our mission at Sweet Blackberry is to bring little known stories of African American achievement to children everywhere. Unfortunately, our schools often lack the time and resources to teach our children more than a handful of stories of African Americans in history. These triumphant stories of individuals surmounting the odds and making invaluable contributions to our society are inspirational and empowering, illustrating for our children the concept that tremendous obstacles are actually opportunities for greatness. In addition to gaining historical knowledge and perspective, children of all races and ethnicities will feel a sense of shared history.

Sweet Blackberry launched to critical acclaim in February 2005 with its first DVD release, “The Journey of Henry ‘Box’ Brown.” Narrated by Emmy award-winning actress, Alfre Woodard, “The Journey of Henry ‘Box’ Brown” brings to life for young children an extremely important chapter in American History, telling an extraordinary tale of human courage about a man who shipped himself, in a box, from Virginia to Philadelphia to freedom.

Sweet Blackberry’s second film, “Garrett’s Gift,” was narrated by award-winning actress, Queen Latifah. It tells the story of young Garrett Morgan, a creative-minded child who was finally able to focus his talents and energies and become one of the country’s most highly regarded inventors.

Sweet Blackberry’s films, “The Journey of Henry ‘Box’ Brown,” and “Garett’s Gift,” have both enjoyed a long run on HBO and HBO Family, and have both garnered several awards, including the Parent’s Choice Award.

Pulling from a deep tradition of storytelling through both words and music, Sweet Blackberry brings a wealth of talent to the screen. Sweet Blackberry’s stories are narrated by actors from film and television, and the narration is complemented by vibrant, eclectic music.

Sweet Blackberry’s plans are to create content that works across multiple media platforms, leveraging the power of stories to teach and reach young children wherever they may be.

Sweet Blackberry was founded by actor/writer, Karyn Parsons (The Fresh Prince of Bel Air). As a new mom, Parsons was motivated by a strong desire to instill a sense of culture and heritage to her daughter. Inspired by her own mother and upbringing, Parsons created Sweet Blackberry—delivering to all children, stories that need to be told and heard.

This culture is American culture; this history is American History.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

J. Bruce Llewellyn

J. Bruce Llewellyn was born on July 16, 1927, in New York, NY, to Charles and Vanessa Llewellyn, Jamaican immigrants. His parents moved the family to White Plains and he went straight from graduating White Plains High School to enlisting in the Army. He served four years and was honorably discharged after obtaining the rank of second lieutenant.

With the help of the G.I. Bill, he went on to earn a B.S. from the City College of New York. Using the lessons of hard work and perseverance his parents instilled in him, he earned his degree while at the same time operating a small liquor store in Harlem. That was the beginning of his formal education and the launch of his entrepreneurial career. He went on to attend Columbia, NYU and finally to earn a law degree from New York Law School in 1960.

After graduation, Mr. Llewellyn first went into the New York County District Attorney’s office and very quickly into practice at Evans, Berger, & Llewellyn in New York. Realizing he had another calling, and wanting to try his hand at public service, he became the Regional Director of the Small Business Development Corporation, the Deputy Commissioner of the NYC Housing and Development Administration and the Executive Director of the Upper Manhattan Small Business Development Corporation. Disappointed in the slowness of bureaucratic government and determined to be “in charge” of his own future, Mr. Llewellyn jumped at the first chance to buy his own business. The opportunity came along in the form of Fedco Foods.

Fedco Foods, a 10-store chain of supermarkets, would prove to be just the right fit for Bruce. He bought the business in 1969 and expanded it from 10 stores to 29 stores that covered Harlem and the South Bronx. It would become one of the largest minority businesses in the US.

J. Bruce Llewellyn’s career history could be viewed as a virtual microcosm of twentieth-century achievement. He traveled an unconventional path to become the owner of his own business, spent nearly three decades in the public-service sector and built not one but several major successful companies. By 1985, having sold Fedco Foods and partnered with Julius Erving, he became the Chairman, CEO and majority owner of Philadelphia Coca Cola Bottling Co. The company made history when it went from being the 15th largest bottler in the country to being the fourth largest and expanded its territory to include the state of Delaware. He had already bought and sold the ABC-TV affiliate (WKBW) in Buffalo, New York and then in 1986 negotiated the purchase of the New York Times Cable business leaving him the major shareholder in one of the largest cable business in the country. He had become one of the most successful African American entrepreneurs of his generation and paved the way for many to follow.

He served on the board of American Can, Primerica, JP Morgan Chase, Chase, Manufacturers Hanover Trust Co., Adolph Coors Co. and Essence Communications.

His public service career was just as distinguished. President Jimmy Carter tapped him to serve as the President of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation requiring confirmation by the United States Senate. He served with the rank of Ambassador for the President’s full term in office and left to join the prestigious law firm of Dickstein, Shapiro & Marin in Washington, DC. He was again tapped by the government to serve on the Russia Fund (Fund for Large Enterprise), the US Small Business Administration Advisory Council on Small Business and President Bill Clinton’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiation.

He was famous for saying “education and business are the emancipators of a group of people.” Because of his strong feelings that there needed to be more money available to graduate students in areas that would support business careers, he established a million-dollar scholarship program in the Graduate School of the City University of New York specifically for students in business, computer science and related fields. He served on the board of Graduate Center of the City University of New York and the United Negro College Fund.

Mr. Llewellyn received ten honorary doctorate degrees including ones from City College, New York Law School, and Howard University.

He received numerous awards including The Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training International Business Leadership Award, The Business Policy Review Council Corporate Pioneer Award, The 100 Black Men Founders Award, Northside Center’s Mamie Award and the annual Associated Black Charities Black History Makers Award.

In 1998 Mr. Llewellyn, had double open-heart surgery. The resultant complications eventually caused his kidneys to fail. He was placed on dialysis in 2006 and died of renal failure. He was eighty-two years old. He is survived by his wife, Shahara Ahmad-Llewellyn, his daughters, Kristen Lisa Llewellyn, Alexandra Clancy, Jaylaan Ahmad-Llewellyn, his sister, and his granddaughter.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Three Doctors

The Three Doctors Foundation mission is to inspire and motivate youth through education, to achieve leadership and career success in their community through the formation of positive peer and mentor relationships. The Three Doctors Foundation stands on the premise that “Our Children Can Not Aspire To Be What They Can Not See”.

Our vision is to serve as a positive model for inner city youth and families across the nation. We will utilize our experience, status and programs as platforms to encourage community development, volunteerism and leadership.

We are passionate about touching the lives of inner city community members so that they become empowered and act as change agents to improve the quality of life for themselves and others. We are committed to promoting respect, diversity and life balance within these communities, acting as role models and advocates for the underprivileged.

Increase community volunteerism and leadership. Improve the quality of life among inner city youth and families. Generate key partnerships with community leaders and peer organizations to maximize program results.

Brings together members who share the common goal of implementing concepts that will change the publics attitude towards involvement in inner-city community development, while enlarging the roles of individuals uniquely positioned to influence individuals, in community outreach efforts.

Create a supportive environment, which enables individuals to perform to their potential. By actively valuing different backgrounds and perspectives, fostering teamwork among heterogeneous communities and maximizing contributions to the mission of The Three Doctors Foundation by providing financial assistance and the overall support and help individuals need in attaining their goals. We come together to exchange ideas that have a positive and meaningful impact on the community.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Kenny Leon

In September, Mr. Leon will direct a world premiere of ‘Every Tongue Confess’ starring Phylicia Rashad at the Arena Stage in D.C. while criss-crossing the country directing Private Practice for ABC at the same time. A familiar face on Broadway, Mr. Leon will return to direct ‘Mountaintop’ winner of London’s Olivier Award for best new play.

Named one of Financial Times “Top 20 Southerners to Watch” Kenny Leon is one of the most exciting and acclaimed Directors in American theatre today. In 2010 his hit Tony Award Broadway show ‘Fences’ garnered 10 Tony Nominations, including Best Director, the most nominations ever for a play revival, set box office records and received the Tony award for best Revival of a Play, Best Actor and Best Actress. Past Tony nominations include, his Broadway productions of ‘Radio Golf’, ‘Gem of the Ocean’ and ‘Raisin In The Sun’, starring Sean Combs, Phylicia Rashad and Audra McDonald. Mr. Leon was nominated for Best Director by the Directors Guild of America for the film version of ‘A Raisin In The Sun’ which also received Emmy and Golden Globe nominations and won 3 NAACP Image Awards. He is the recipient of many awards including the Drama Leagues, the Julia Hansen Award for a lifetime of excellence in theatre, MIT Eugene McDermott Humanitarian Award as well as the Abby and Christopher Awards. He has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, CNN, NBC, Charlie Rose and PBS among other shows. He was also featured as People’s Magazine 50 most beautiful, and the ‘Face of Martell’s national and international advertising campaign.

Prior to founding Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company, he served 11 years as Artistic Director of the Alliance Theatre. Kenny’s directorial credits span an incomparable range of work, from classic theatre, to drama, to comedy, to opera, to musicals, to musical revues, to film.

Kenny served as Artistic Director of the 10-play August Wilson Century Cycle at the Kennedy Center marking the first time all ten plays were produced in repertory under one roof. Among others, he directed ‘Swimming Upstream’ with women of New Orleans and the impact of Hurricane Katrina on their lives and city, and ‘Breaking the Silence’ a United Nations event, aimed at bringing awareness to child abduction across the globe. In London he Directed Flashdance: The Musical, which toured the UK through May of 2009, and also served as Stage Director on Alicia Keys’ “As I Am” worldwide tour, which launched in the UK, toured Europe, and finished in North America. He staged the world premiere of Toni Morrison’s opera Margaret Garner, featuring mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves at the Michigan Opera House and the Auditorium here in Chicago. Margaret Garner was also produced at Opera Company of Philadelphia, and Cincinnati Opera.

He has produced works by and for all Americans, including: Disney and Elton John’s ‘Elaborate Lives: The Legend of Aida, Alfred Uhry’s ‘The Last Night of Ballyhoo, Pearl Cleage’s ‘Flying West and Blues For an Alabama Sky’ among others. He produces the “August Wilson Monologue competition” an annual competition currently in 5 major cities that provide workshops and training to hundreds of teenagers for competition in national finals on Broadway and is currently producing a documentary film about the importance of ‘The Arts’ in our lives.

Holding honorary doctorates from Roosevelt University, among others, Mr. Leon is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University. He gives workshops and has been the featured speaker for many arts organizations, corporations, universities, awards shows, political gatherings and churches, including, Aspen Ideas Festival, Yale, Northwestern, Tish, Coca-Cola, Grantmakers of America, and Association of Performing Arts in New York, to name a few.


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Display of Power: How FUBU Changed a World of Fashion, Branding and Lifestyle

With worldwide distribution, the FUBU brand is an international symbol of empowerment and success, standing as a blueprint for young business people looking to chart their own course.

In Display of Power: How FUBU Changed a World of Fashion, Branding and Lifestyle, Daymond John (Founder and CEO) gets to the heart of his unlikely run to the top of the fashion world, and shines compelling light on what it takes to succeed-from the dizzying street corners of his old neighborhood to the dazzling corner offices of corporate America-and what it takes to harness and display the power that resides in us all.

"Daymond John is a driven, visionary leader who is not afraid to take risks. This brief glimpse into his life and mind is also a look at the new generation of CEOs. If you want to own your own business, or if you're a veteran executive who wants to know the mindset of this changing world, Daymond walks you through in Display of Power. A must read." -Russell Simmons, Media Mogul

"Daymond John brings his signature style to the world of books, and Display of Power is a must-read for anyone wondering how a kid from Hollis, Queens could climb to the very top rungs of the fashion industry." -Montel Williams, TV Talk Show Host

"This book details the amazing story of how FUBU inspired a new generation of entrepreneurs. The brand's success reaches across the globe to more then 60 countries. In Korea, FUBU is the #1 sports casual brand with over 70 stores. Daymond John's story is an inspiration to businessmen and women worldwide." -Soo Kee Lee Sr., Managing Director, Samsung Corporation

"Display of Power is a remarkable read for all. Daymond John's story is more than how the fashion world was turned inside out by FUBU. It's a lesson on how to overcome obstacles in life and how to unleash your latent talents to make your dreams come true. It's also a very valuable tool for the business world-from start-up companies finding their way, to large companies where policies and politics can often smother the entrepreneurial spirit. And finally, it's a story of how the crucible of life experiences formed the pathway for John to create the exceptional lifestyle brand we know as FUBU!" -Don Franceschini, Vice Chairman [Ret.], Sara Lee Corporation

Friday, June 22, 2012

Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists

Giving Back lifts up seldom-celebrated traditions of giving among Americans of African descent. Rarely acknowledged as philanthropy, these centuries-old cultural customs and beliefs nevertheless continue to have an impact on lives and communities. Images and narratives of more than 200 people commemorate the legacy of black philanthropists - from generous donors of wealth to ingenious givers carving a way out of no way.

In Giving Back, Valaida Fullwood poignantly chronicles the African American philanthropy experience. Intimate vignettes and candid reflections reveal a myriad of philanthropic practices grounded in faith, mutuality, and responsibility. Fullwood juxtaposes personal accounts from a cross section of black philanthropists with fascinating quotes from givers and game-changers across cultures to illuminate transcendent truths and elicit new thinking about philanthropy.

Photographer Charles W. Thomas Jr. beautifully captures images that portray the joy, aspirations, remembrance, and resilience that characterize black philanthropy. Pairing photographic portraiture and narrative, Thomas and Fullwood give readers over 160 artful page spreads that enliven the soul of philanthropy and honor the legacy of America's black philanthropists.

A perfect gift book, Giving Back offers wells of inspiration for generous spirits and lovers of photography, culture, and humanity. Every book purchased will keep giving, since the proceeds will be invested in philanthropic causes - and since the stories themselves will inspire readers to give.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bryant Terry

Bryant Terry is a chef, food justice activist, and author of three books, including his latest The Inspired Vegan. He is also the host of Urban Organic, a new multi-episode web series. His interest in cooking, farming, and community health can be traced back to his childhood in Memphis, Tennessee, where his grandparents inspired him to grow, prepare, and appreciate good food. Bryant completed the chef’s training program at the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts in New York City. He holds an M.A. in American History from New York University and a B.A. with honors in English from Xavier University of Louisiana. From 2008 to 2010, Bryant was a fellow of the Food and Society Policy Fellows Program. He lives and creates in Oakland, California, with his wife and daughter.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Cleveland student David Boone worked hard to go from homeless to Harvard

CLEVELAND, Ohio — David Boone had a system.

There wasn't much the then-15-year-old could do about the hookers or drug deals around him when he slept in Artha Woods Park. And the spectator's bench at the park's baseball diamond wasn't much of a bed.
But the aspiring engineer, now 18 and headed to Harvard University in the fall, had no regular home. Though friends, relatives and school employees often put him up, there were nights when David had no place to go, other than the park off Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

So he says he made the best of those nights on the wooden bench.

His book bag became his pillow, stuffed with textbooks first -- for height, he says -- and papers on top for padding.

In the morning, David would duck into his friend Eric's house after Eric's parents left early for work so he could shower and dress before heading to class at Cleveland's specialized MC2STEM High School. David expects to graduate from there next month as salutatorian of the new school's first graduating class.

"I'd do my homework in a rapid station, usually Tower City since they have heat, and I'd stay wherever I could find," he said.

If you meet David Boone today, his gentle, confident demeanor and easygoing laugh betray no cockiness over racking up a college acceptance record that others brag about for him. He was accepted at 22 of the 23 schools he applied to -- including Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Brown and Penn.

He also gives no hint of the often harsh and nomadic life he has led. The medical problems he faced as a boy, a splintered family, being homeless -- it all could have left him bitter and angry.

But David says that giving up would have left him stuck in a dead-end life, so it was never an option.

"I didn't know what the results of not giving up were going to be, but it was better than nothing and having no advantages," he said. "I wanted to be in a position to have options to do what I want to do."

David was born to a young mother, who divorced his father when David was a little boy.

When David was a student at Sunbeam Elementary, medical problems put him in the hospital regularly, said Mary Solomon-Gatson, the school's former nurse. Even then, she said, he impressed her as a bright child. He was one of the school's few students to pass the state's achievement tests, she said, despite missing classes constantly.

Even at that school, which covers kindergarten through eighth grade, David said he was pushed to join gangs. He refused, fueling tension with gang members. Once, he says, they tried to jump him. Because his older sister dated a member of a rival gang, he said, the situation was that much worse.

"There was a lot of pressure for me to join. That was the life they lived, so it was the only life to live and they thought if I wasn't with them, I was against them," David said.

Family split up after attack

 In the summer after eighth grade, he said, gang members shot at his family's Eddy Road home. He attributes that mostly to the issue of his sister's boyfriend, but his whole family was affected.

No one was injured, but the family split up. His mother went to stay with a boyfriend, he said. His three sisters went to stay with friends and he went to his friend Eric's house -- for a while. Though Eric's family took him in for a short time, he said, he couldn't stay there permanently.

"We've been through a lot as a family," said his mom, Moneeke Davis. "There's been a lot of challenges and adversity."

But she said David was determined to build a better life.

"He's so focused, so driven and so humble," Davis said, adding that she is grateful for the people "the Lord put in [David's] path" to help him.

Sometimes he stayed with Solomon-Gatson, sometimes with Eric, sometimes with other friends and relatives, and sometimes in the park.

"It's a lot to take someone in, particularly a teenage boy," David said. "I was kind of upset that no one would, but I was never upset at any one person."

Though the park baseball diamond was mostly isolated from crime in other parts of the park, he soon decided it wasn't safe to sleep there. He says he developed a new plan: When he wasn't in school, he would sleep in parks during the day and roam and study at night, so he'd be awake and alert to trouble.
"If you sleep in the daytime in the park, people don't bother you," he said. "You're just taking a nap. It's acceptable."

In between studying at Tower City, he'd work at a now-closed boutique, he said, to buy food.
Science-focused program sparks his interest
Despite his troubles outside the classroom, school was much better.

Before leaving Sunbeam, David had applied to several district specialty high schools, including the John Hay School of Science and Medicine. But he was intrigued after attending a meeting at the Cleveland Public Library about the newly created MC2STEM High School, which teaches science, technology, engineering and math with a hands-on, projects-based program.

David likes tinkering and learns best by pulling things apart to see how they work. When he was 6, he says, he took apart the family television set and put it back together in working order. His favorite part of school, pre-high school, was an eighth-grade project about solar electricity. That let him dive in and make plans for a combined solar and wind farm that he was excited about.

MC2STEM caught his eye because it would allow him to work on projects at the Great Lakes Science Center, with General Electric at the Nela Park campus and with companies across the region. With a nudge from Solomon-Gatson, he applied and was accepted.

Instantly, he was hooked by an early project on alternative energy. That covered material he had worked on for his solar and wind farm project and had him working on it with GE engineers.

MC2STEM also pushed him -- hard.

"They don't accept mediocrity," he said. The school requires students to master a subject before moving on to the next. In the first two years, students receive an A in a class or an incomplete and keep taking the class until they earn an A.

MC2STEM also has longer school days and a year-round schedule with classes most of the summer.
An appetite for learning, and an ability to connect through the school, David has worked at Lockheed Martin and Rockwell Automation and landed a spot last year at the Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Like many students at MC2STEM, he took classes at Cleveland State University this spring, in subjects such as differential equations, calculus-based physics and an introduction to computer science.

MC2STEM Principal Jeff McClellan praised David's appetite for learning and his ability to connect with people who can help him learn what he needs.

"If you tell him that 'a person can help you with your calculus, make the call,' he'll do it," McClellan said. "He was getting up at 5 a.m. and coming in early to get caught up on his work."

Over time, McClellan learned one of the other reasons that David was coming in early was because he was bouncing from place to place to place.

So McClellan and his wife took in David. He lived with them for more than a year -- parts of 10th and 11th grade.

"My wife and I talked it over and said that we can't do everything for everybody," McClellan said. "But we could help him. It was just the right thing to do. He needed somewhere to go."
David is now living with his friend Eric again but said he was thankful to McClellan for the home when he needed one and for continuing to offer help after he left.

"There's nothing I can't call him for," David said.

Now the school and the district can brag about David's success. He turned down places like Yale and Princeton to go to Harvard, where he will study engineering and computer science. He also landed a Gates Millennium Scholarship, which will cover all of his college costs not covered by other aid.

He's almost sheepish talking about the stream of acceptance letters that poured in. He said he was happy with one Ivy League acceptance and stunned to receive more.

He said he knows he has both worked hard and had help from people to give him a chance.
"It wasn't all easy," David said. "It wasn't all fun and games. It was a lot of hard work and I just made it happen."


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Daymond John: Investing in America

Just before President Obama spoke to Congress and the nation in his State of the Union address, I sat down with Daymond John, founder of FUBU and one of the stars of the ABC reality show, "Shark Tank," to talk about entrepreneurship, angel investing, job growth, education and... transforming Silicon Valley.

Q: Do you consider yourself an angel?

A: Yes, I do. I'm not friends and family and I'm not part of a venture fund.

Q: Steve Blank, professor of entrepreneurship at Stanford University, says without a culture of risk capital in Silicon Valley, the global innovation hub it has become would instead be little more than a place with a bunch of smart engineers working out of their garages. That speaks volumes about the value of risk capital investment in developing an innovation ecosystem. You are part of that ecosystem. How important do you think it is for job growth and wealth creation?

A: I think it is by far the most important aspect of our ecosystem to have risk-taking investors and (access to) capital. The reason people come to us is because guys like us do not have the restrictions and the same amount of requests that the banks and the financial institutions have.

We do risk investments and 10 percent of our capital ends up creating a return, and the return is greater than all the risks taken. But there's a lot of capital put into the system that traditionally would never be deployed to these startup companies and we never get a return on it.

These companies and individuals often don't have to risk a lot of their personal finances. And once we deploy the capital and things do not go well, they are still in a position to move forward and create different and new entities after learning what has happened in the past. So, for various reasons, I think it's extremely valuable.

Q: Michael Arrington's now infamous remark to CNN's Soledad O'Brien, that he didn't know a single black CEO or entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, has raised the question of the underrepresentation of black founders leading tech startups. But it also raises the question regarding the lack of black angel investors in the space. What can be done to attract the participation of high net worth African Americans to get involved in angel investing and immediately develop minority angel groups as a method of spurring job growth and wealth creation?

Daymond John
Founder, FUBU; Star of "Shark Tank" (ABC)
A: I don't know the landscape of how many African American angels are out there. When I speak at a lot of the conferences, I think it's maybe a representation of the demographics of the United States. I do see about 10 percent African American angel investors and/or venture capitalists.

But I do agree there's a lack of CEOs and people of color in Silicon Valley.

I'm the kind of person that when I saw a lack of African Americans in the apparel business, that was something I set out to do and I lead by example.

My No. 1 agenda over the next five years is to change Silicon Valley -- the face of it -- by bringing the same mentality I had with FUBU, which is bringing popular culture -- all my artists, myself, my capital and my friends -- to Silicon Valley.

If you look at the last show (ABC's "Shark Tank" episode aired Jan. 20, 2012), Mark Cuban and I back a CEO of a tech company, "EZ VIP" (Alashe Nelson); that's my first foray into that territory. I don't necessarily know from any other standpoint how to make things happen besides attacking it myself.

Q: How can a culture of high-growth entrepreneurship and an urban innovation ecosystem be cultivated in Urban America?

A: I think it's an education process. I think African Americans are resilient and hustlers by nature. I think they need to understand that you can take that hustle to the boardroom, but it has to be an education process. Right now they don't understand how, but the (access to) the money is out there. Opportunities are there. I'm working with Startup America, and I work with the NFTE program as well as Babson University. So I work with a lot of programs that are trying to give African Americans information these opportunities exist.

Q: What do you think about Rick Santorum's assessment that bringing back the waning manufacturing industry is the best option for black Americans to earn income?

A: I can't say it's the best option. I think it's a needed option; and I don't think it's solely for African Americans. I think that is what we need as a country. I think the reason he's saying that is African Americans know how to be blue collar workers. Because the hurdles... and access to education may not be readily available, or they may not feel that is the way they want to go. Blue collar manufacturing can be something that can be easy to get into as you have seen historically in Detroit.

But, do I think manufacturing should be brought back to America as a whole? I think we should not only rely on the tech-based and new startups. Prices overseas on goods and labor has risen. I think as Americans, especially African Americans, we make the best products... and with the highest standard of quality. And I think we need to bring manufacturing here in general.

Q: As an investor in startups and early stage companies, what do you look for in the founders, the team and the presentation?

A: In the founders I look for a person I feel is trustworthy, driven and smart. I invest in the person first, because in the event the business fails the person and I can move forward and create another business.

In the business itself and/or the product, I love to look at things that have some kind of patent or proprietary aspect to it. I like to look at things that have been developed and re-developed over the course of time so I know the bugs are worked out of it. And in the business itself, I like to look at sales, by far. I want to see that there is a vetted track record of sales to show the price point has worked. And from a delivery and distribution standpoint, that it has worked and they have targeted a certain demographic and/or customer. I like to look at the scalability, that there is scale and upswing, and a place to make a profit, and great margins that will support the business.

Q: How important is STEM education? (science, technology, engineering and math)

A: We are in a day and age of technology, science and coding and things of that nature. So, to understand the basics of it is very important. I know that even now, programmers and things of that nature we're outsourcing to China and India.

An average (American) kid who knows simple programming, science and math can get a job as a programmer easily. Those are the jobs that are available. I think whatever industry you're in, you're going to have to deal with that aspect of the business... whether you're making clothes or a new technology. So, I think by far it's one of the most important things we can do.

Q: What is the most important lesson you've learned as a star on ABC's "Shark Tank?"

A: I learned that, by far, it's the person pitching and the person behind the company. The person as a personal brand is more important than anything else. I've seen great products, and the person's sales were not reliable or believable or trustworthy or driven enoug ... and it died. And I've seen products that were things I would look over; and the person, no matter whether I invested in them or not, was resilient enough to get the job done and grow the product and/or the business.

Q: Tell me about an investment that didn't work out the way you thought it would, but the person in whom you invested made it worthwhile.

A: Companies sometimes take three to five years to show any kind of profit. But TC Pets, led by a young lady named Lisa Lloyd that I invested in, is very similar to the newer version of pillow pets. And it came out at a time that I think was a key time. She's been working and trying to get the product to flourish and to grow. And no matter what, over the last three years -- she has tried different routes, whether it be direct television or international distribution in kids stores, in plush toys, in furniture stores... I think that TC Pets still has viability. I think that it's something that will grow.

But by far Lisa is... I think she's a genius. I think she's a very driven woman, a woman with three kids who is an inventor. She knows how to license products, and Lisa and I have done other businesses. I value her now more than just a partner. I value her as a friend. That becomes way more valuable than the company.

Q: What one question would you ask of America or any of its leaders?

A: Where are the tax incentives for manufacturers and producers to develop factories and jobs here instead of having to go overseas?

If a garment costs me $50 to make here why would I be able to get it overseas for $40? I'd rather make it here, develop factories and jobs and deal with insurance and medical and everything else I have to do, employment and everything else. I'd rather do that here if there's a tax incentive for me to do it. If not, I can just send my money overseas and get a product cheaper without any of the hassle.

But, if you give incentives to manufacturers and people who create jobs, they will work with regards to building our communities and jobs and keep the money within our country. So, where are the incentives? I don't want to give my money overseas.

* * *


Monday, June 18, 2012

Michael Jordan - Quotes

“I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can't accept not trying.”

“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, and others make it happen.”

“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”

“My attitude is that if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength.”

“You must expect great things of yourself before you can do them.”

“To be successful you have to be selfish, or else you never achieve. And once you get to your highest level, then you have to be unselfish. Stay reachable. Stay in touch. Don't isolate.”

“If you quit ONCE it becomes a habit.Never quit!!!”

“Make It Happen”

“To learn to succeed, you must first learn to fail.”

“Don't let them drag you down by rumors just go with what you believe in.”

“Always turn a negative situation into a positive situation.”

“I've never lost a game I just ran out of time.”

“Everybody has talent, but ability takes hard work.”

“I Own the guy guarding me”

“Once I made a decision, I never thought about it again.”

“The minute you get away from fundamentals – whether its proper technique, work ethic or mental preparation – the bottom can fall out of your game, your schoolwork, your job, whatever you’re doing.”

“What is love? Love is playing every game as if it's your last!”

“I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”

“If you do the work you get rewarded. There are no shortcuts in life.”

“My mother is my root, my foundation. She planted the seed that I base my life on, and that is the belief that the ability to achieve starts in your mind.”

“Never say never, because limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.”

“I realize im black, but id like to be viewed as a person, and that is everybodys wish.”

“Failure is acceptable. but not trying is a whole different ball park.”

“The key to success is failure”

“As athletes, we're used to reacting quickly. Here, it's 'come, stop, come, stop.' There's a lot of downtime. That's the toughest part of the day. ”

“The basketball court for me, during a game, is the most peaceful place I can imagine. On the basketball court, I worry about nothing. When I'm out there, no one can bother me...”

“I play to win, whether during practice or a real game.”

“I failed so therefore I succeed. ”

“You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them.”

“I've failed over and over and over again in my life... and that is why I succeed”

“There is no "I" in team but there is in win.”

“I can accept failure, but I can't accept not trying”

“Every time I feel tired while I am exercising and training, I close my eyes to see that picture, to see that list with my name. This usually motivates me to work again.”


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Tray Chaney - Fatherhood

Tray Chaney aka Poot from HBO's The Wire - Fatherhood [Music Video] [@traychaney]
Directed by Lamar Tyler for Tyler New Media, Inc. [@lamartyler]
Produced by Don Cox for Fire Drop Music Group [@iamdoncox]
Available for Download Now on iTunes

Eric Thomas - Importance of Fathers

Eric speaks to middle school youth about the role of fathers in their lives, and shares with them his life-story.. Please visit For The Official Eric Thomas Website!

Saigon - Fatherhood

Nas - Daughters

Powerful Inspirational true story...Don't give up!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Myth of the Missing Black Father

Common stereotypes portray black fathers as being largely absent from their families. Yet while black fathers are less likely than white and Hispanic fathers to marry their child's mother, many continue to parent through cohabitation and visitation, providing caretaking, financial, and other in-kind support.

This volume captures the meaning and practice of black fatherhood in its many manifestations, exploring two-parent families, cohabitation, single custodial fathering, stepfathering, noncustodial visitation, and parenting by extended family members and friends. Contributors examine ways that black men perceive and decipher their parenting responsibilities, paying careful attention to psychosocial, economic, and political factors that affect the ability to parent. Chapters compare the diversity of African American fatherhood with negative portrayals in politics, academia, and literature and, through qualitative analysis and original profiles, illustrate the struggle and intent of many black fathers to be responsible caregivers. This collection also includes interviews with daughters of absent fathers and concludes with the effects of certain policy decisions on responsible parenting.

Friday, June 15, 2012

I Got Your Back: A Father and Son Keep It Real About Love, Fatherhood, Family, and Friendship

The final collaboration from Eddie and Gerald Levert: an intimate glimpse into their lives, their passions, and their musical legacy. But most important, I Got Your Back gets inside the special and rare father-son bond that these two R&B legends shared. Eddie and Gerald put their hearts and souls on the line and talk about their failures, concerns, fears, and triumphs as father and son. With a powerful message of reconciliation for broken families, Eddie and Gerald explore the themes of fatherhood, male bonding and male-female relationships. The book includes moving tributes from Eddie, Patti LaBelle, Steve Harvey and others, as well as treasured family photographs.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

In this lyrical, unsentimental, and compelling memoir, the son of a black African father and a white American mother searches for a workable meaning to his life as a black American. It begins in New York, where Barack Obama learns that his father—a figure he knows more as a myth than as a man—has been killed in a car accident. This sudden death inspires an emotional odyssey—first to a small town in Kansas, from which he retraces the migration of his mother’s family to Hawaii, and then to Kenya, where he meets the African side of his family, confronts the bitter truth of his father’s life, and at last reconciles his divided inheritance.

 Pictured in lefthand photograph on cover: Habiba Akumu Hussein and Barack Obama, Sr. (President Obama's paternal grandmother and his father as a young boy). Pictured in righthand photograph on cover: Stanley Dunham and Ann Dunham (President Obama's maternal grandfather and his mother as a young girl). From the Trade Paperback edition.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

In Daddy's Arms I Am Tall: African Americans Celebrating Fathers

Fatherhood is celebrated with honor, humor, and grace in this intergenerational collection of poetry by new and established African-American writers. The book testifies to the powerful bond between father and child, with a profound message to people everywhere that family is the greatest gift and that fathers are among the most influential heroes. Twelve outstanding poems come to life through the spirited artwork of Javaka Steptoe.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Daughters of Men

From actress Sanaa Lathan to Georgia State Supreme Court chief justice Leah Ward Sears, many African-American women attribute much of their success to having a positive father figure

In Daughters of Men, author Rachel Vassel has compiled dozens of stunning photographs and compelling personal essays about African-American women and their fathers. Whether it's a father who mentors his daughter's artistic eye by taking her to cultural events or one who unwaveringly supports a risky career move, the fathers in this book each had his own unique and successful style of parenting. The first book to showcase the importance of the black father's impact on the accomplishments of his daughter, Daughters of Men provides an intimate look at black fatherhood and the many ways fathers have a lasting impact on their daughters' lives.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Pop: A Celebration of Black Fatherhood

In 51 visually stunning, emotionally compelling portraits, acclaimed photographer Carol Ross presents a hopeful, heartwarming, and caring view of black fatherhood in the United States. In an era that pays little positive attention to black fathers, Ross’s inspirational perspective on the relationships between black men and their children is vitally important—and long overdue.

Ross’s richly textured duotone photographs reveal a group of devoted fathers whose common bond is their profound love for their children. For her subjects, Ross has selected men from all walks of life—college professors, filmmakers, technicians, construction workers, and corporate executives—along with well-known music executives, directors, entertainers, and actors, such as Antonio L. A. Reid, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Funk Master Flex, Doug E. Doug, and Melvin Van Peebles. Film star Samuel L. Jackson, photographed with his daughter, provides the book’s foreword, and each portrait is accompanied by a poignant personal recollection by the father depicted.

Exquisitely designed, Pop: A Celebration of Black Fatherhood finally gives black men their own voice about their experience as fathers. Inspired by her own father, Ross’s book is, in her words, “a round of applause, a bow, a ‘God bless you,’” to all those fathers who “take their children to that place where, one day, they can fly on their own.”

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters

In this tender, beautiful letter to his daughters, President Barack Obama has written a moving tribute to thirteen groundbreaking Americans and the ideals that have shaped our nation. From the artistry of Georgia O'Keeffe, to the courage of Jackie Robinson, to the patriotism of George Washington, President Obama sees the traits of these heroes within his own children, and within all of America's children.

Breathtaking, evocative illustrations by award-winning artist Loren Long at once capture the personalities and achievements of these great Americans and the innocence and promise of childhood.

This beautiful book celebrates the characteristics that unite all Americans, from our nation's founders to generations to come. It is about the potential within each of us to pursue our dreams and forge our own paths. It is a treasure to cherish with your family forever.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Uncommon: Finding Your Path to Significance

The New York Times bestseller is now in softcover with a bonus chapter on how the “Dare to Be Uncommon” movement is reaching schools, teams, and families across the country and an update on Tony’s life since retiring as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. What does it take to live a life of significance? When Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy took home the trophy in Super Bowl XLI, fans around the world looked to him as the epitome of success. Athletic victory, professional excellence, fame and celebrity, awards and honors—he had it all. But even in that moment, he knew those achievements had little to do with his ultimate significance as a man.

Coach Dungy still passionately believes that there is a different path to significance—a path characterized by attitudes, ambitions, and allegiances that are all too rare but uncommonly rewarding. In the New York Times best seller Uncommon, Dungy reveals secrets to achieving significance that he has learned from his remarkable parents, his athletic and coaching career, his mentors, and his walk with God.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Samuel L Jackson: Charity Work

Samuel L. Jackson was an usher at the funeral of Martin Luther King in 1968, which led him to become active in the civil rights movement.

Charities & foundations supported (15)

Samuel L. Jackson has supported the following charities:

21st Century Leaders
AmberWatch Foundation
Artists for a New South Africa
Champions for Children
Listen Campaign
Los Angeles Police Memorial Foundation
Luke Neuhedel Foundation
Make-A-Wish Foundation
Project Last Stand
Rock For Darfur
Save the Children
Stand Up To Cancer
The HollyRod Foundation
Whatever It Takes

Read more:

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Cracking the Corporate Code: The Revealing Success Stories of 32 African-American Executive

"Over the last few decades, advances by African-Americans in the business world have been both impressive and well-documented. But even a cursory glance at the statistics -- not to mention a look around most corporations -- reveals that, despite much progress, minority executives are still relatively few and far between. Whether in the form of insensitivity, change-averse corporate cultures, socio-economic factors, or outright racism, African-Americans still face very real obstacles along the path to professional success. To many, these obstacles have seemed insurmountable, and their careers have foundered. But to thousands of others, these challenges have been an invitation to excel, and their accomplishments have been worthy of both praise and emulation. Cracking the Corporate Code delves deeply into the lives and careers of 32 such notable professionals. These are not the men and women usually cited: the high-profile government officials, the legendary civil rights pioneers, or the megastar athletes who have leveraged their on-field success into positions of leadership. The authors have chosen instead to profile individuals who have risen through the ranks of America's most noteworthy businesses, to the highest echelons of corporate power and influence. In exclusive, eye-opening interviews, these men and women recount their impressive and widely differing career trajectories, revealing what motivated and discouraged them, their sources of support and conflict, and the strategies they developed to excel in organizations like PepsiCo, GE, Merrill Lynch, Kraft, Prudential, Chrysler, and dozens more. Rather than offer these inspiring stories as individual biographies, the authors have identified their common threads, analyzing what they reveal to the reader about: * Reconciling the ambiguities inherent for black professionals in corporate culture * Trusting your own abilities and potential while managing the ever-present issue of race * Overcoming isolation to establish not only your place in the organization but also a voice that will be heard and respected * Reading the unwritten rules and developing the "sixth sense" necessary to play the game *Cultivating and managing the relationships that will be crucial to securing more meaningful and influential positions * Understanding what true power is, how to compete for and acquire it, and how to translate it into substantial leadership Opportunities for success abound for African-Americans. For the last 40 years, the best of the best have been stepping up to seize -- and often create -- those opportunities. The next generation of black professionals will travel the paths blazed by the pioneers profiled in this landmark book, and will be poised to achieve even greater results-while continuing the legacy of diversity for the generations yet to come. Price M. Cobbs, M.D., is co-author of Black Rage and The Jesus Bag, considered classics in the literature of African-American experience. Dr. Cobbs is also an internationally recognized expert on executive leadership, management development, and corporate diversity. He lives in San Francisco. Judith L. Turnock is an attorney, coach, and talent development expert. A lifelong advocate of racial, gender, and economic equality, she is committed to closing the communication gap between blacks and whites, both in the workplace and in the community at large. She lives in New York City. HARDCOVER JACKET COPY-BACK COVER General Business Cracking the Corporate Code The Revealing Success Stories of 32 African-American Executives Price M. Cobbs and Judith L. Turnock "The subtext of black executives' experiences from 1965 to today is the enormous progress corporate America has already made. At the same time, it is obvious how much work remains to be done. Cracking the Corporate Code will speed up the forward momentum, because the message is so clear and the logic so compelling. We are on a journey to a very good place, and all America will reap the rewards." -Steve Reinemund, CEO, PepsiCo, from the Foreword Corporate America holds more opportunities for minority executives than ever before. And yet, many companies whose stated missions include workforce diversity have proven less than ideal for people of color. As these institutions struggle to apply what is preached to what is practiced, it is incumbent upon black professionals to assert their skills and place themselves in a position to succeed. Cracking the Corporate Code presents the stories of 32 executives whose stories define African-American business success. Thriving in spite of multiple obstacles, they have enjoyed extraordinary careers at (and helped build the fortunes of) organizations including Sears Roebuck, General Mills, Coors Brewing Company, Coca-Cola, Revlon, Citibank, AON, Corning, Paine Webber, and many more. In remarkably candid interviews, these exemplary professionals reveal not only the secrets of their successes, but the sources of their fears, their most difficult challenges, and their hopes for the future. Their experiences are presented according to what they reveal about the black experience in the white-centric workplace, from uncertainty to confidence, from struggle to strength, and from enjoying success to giving back in the name of those whose fortunes have yet to turn."

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Ruby Dee & Ossie Davis Documentary

Life's Essentials with Ruby Dee carries the legacy of Ossie Davis & Ruby dee forward for the first time in feature documentary form 

Ossie Davis & Ruby Dee are legends of the stage and screen. Throughout their careers, which span over six decades, Ossie & Ruby have helped pave the way for generations of young black actors, filmmakers and activists.
I know Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee simply as Grandpa and Gram Ruby. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to examine more deeply the lives and careers of my grandparents and, with my grandmother Ruby, explore the pivotal, personal and professional choices she and Ossie made that lead them to achieve success in their marriage, their careers, their contribution to the civil rights movement and more.

The hope is to, through documenting their story, discover the secrets of divine love; romantic, professional, spiritual, communal, and self love. By telling the story of their marvelous lives and juxtaposing past with present, I’ll learn for myself and everyone who looks on what is essential to life and to love.

We will screen a portion of this documentary at a reception/screening in New York this October 2012 to honor my grandmother on her 90th birthday (October 27th, 2012).

Be a part of creating this once in a lifetime opportunity by pressing the green “Back This Project” button in the top right section of this page.


Monday, June 4, 2012

A Look At Influential African Americans In The U.S. Auto Industry

Growing up around his father's auto body shop in suburban Philadelphia, Ed Welburn knew at an early age that he wanted to pursue an automotive career. His father made sure it would be something beyond car repairs.

"He wanted me to know that was a dirty business," said Welburn, now vice president of global design at General Motors. "So the only thing I was allowed to do in the shop was dust the floors. It was a good reason to stay away from there."

Sparked by a visit to the Philadelphia Auto Show as a 10-year-old in 1960, he pursued a career in automotive design. When he was first hired at GM in the early 1970s, he was the first African American car designer. Fifty years later, Welburn is the highest-ranking African American executive in the U.S. auto industry.

He's responsible for a team of more than 1,800 employees throughout the world and sits on the Board of Directors for the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. Among the honors he's received in his career, he was named one of the Most Influential Blacks In America by Ebony magazine.

Here's a look at other African Americans, both past and present, who have influenced the U.S. auto industry:

Jimmy Settles
Occupation: Vice President of the United Auto Workers

When the UAW negotiated contracts with Detroit's Big Three automakers last year, Settles played an integral role in the sometimes-contentious negotiations that ultimately resulted in more automotive jobs. Of course, that's nothing new for Settles, now more than 40 years into his career. He was elected to his first union position in 1970, not long after his 20th birthday. He started as a member of the UAW Local 600 while working at the Dearborn Iron Foundry. Now he's the vice president of a union that has roughly 400,000 active members.

Fletcher V. Davidson
Occupation: Group Vice President and General Manager, Toyota

In his capacity as Toyota's group vice president and general manager for customer services and sales, Davidson oversees 2,400 associates who produce an average of $3.5 billion in sales. He joined Toyota in 1973 as a parts planning administrator and worked in a variety of parts-related roles as he climbed through the company.

Last month at the North American International Auto Show, Davidson was named 2012 Executive of the Year during the Urban Wheel Awards ceremony. He played a key role last year in helping Toyota function during the series of Japanese catastrophes--eathquake and tsunami-- that brought work to a standstill.
"This award could not come at a better time, as supply is improving for our dealers and customers and we are preparing to introduce 20 new products over the next few years," Davidson said, as he accepted the award.

Ralph V.Gilles
Occupation: President and CEO of SRT Brand and Motorsports, Chrysler

Over the past 20 years, Gilles has risen from a designer sketching interiors at Chrysler to his most recent most of president and CEO of SRT Brand and Motorsports, to which he was appointed in June 2011. Previously, he served as the president and CEO of the Dodge brand in 2008.

He's perhaps most widely known for leading the design team that produced the Chrysler 300 sedan, one of the company's most visible vehicles. He serves as the executive sponsor of the Chrysler African American Network and helps lead the Chrysler Global Diversity Council. Gilles also serves on the board of the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, his alma mater.

Rodney O'Neal
Occupation: CEO of Delphi Automotive.

When General Motors spun Delphi off into an independent company in 1998, O'Neal, a long-time GM employee followed. He was elected as a vice president of interior systems. Nine years later, he was named chief executive officer. He began his automotive career as a student at General Motors Institute and currently serves on the board of directors at Goodyear Tire and Sprint/Nextel. His biggest achievement perhaps was guiding Delphi through a turbulent bankruptcy while the automotive industry experienced a severe contraction.

Don Butler
Occupation: Vice President of Marketing, Cadillac

Butler has enjoyed something of a vagabond career in the auto industry. He first joined General Motors in 1981 as a student and rose through the ranks. He was named a vice president at OnStar in 2001, was named chairman and managing director of General Motors Egypt in 2005, served as a senior vice president for marketing at a Seatte tech company and most recently, returned to GM to help lead its Cadillac renaissance.

He earned a bachelor’s degree at General Motors Institute and his M.B.A. from Harvard, where he attended as a GM fellow. He’s a previous recipient of the National Black Engineer of the Year award in the U.S. and was also named one of the Top 50 Business Leaders of Egypt.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Ed Bradley Scholarship

In 1994, RTDNF presented the first Ed Bradley Scholarship. Since then, 15 young and aspiring journalists have received the award created by the late CBS News and 60 Minutes correspondent.

Ed Bradley received the Paul White Award from RTDNA in 2000. The Paul White Award recognizes an individual's lifetime commitment to excellence in journalism. Bradley received the First Amendment Award from RTDNF in 2005 in recognition of his support of the First Amendment rights guaranteed in the Constitution.

Click Here to Apply. 


Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Wealth Cure: Putting Money in Its Place

The perennial New York Times bestselling author helps readers discover how to put money in its place and use wealth-building as a tool for joy and fulfillment.

Hill Harper is uniquely poised to guide readers through tough times and offers bestselling advice for reaping the rewards of a truly happy life. With The Wealth Cure, he does more than that: He presents a revolutionary new definition of wealth, motivating readers to not only build financial security but to also achieve wealth in every aspect of their lives.

Using his own journey as a parable, Harper inspires the reader to evaluate their values while explaining the importance of laying a sound financial foundation and how to recognize the worth of your relationships and increase the value of your interactions with the people in your life. Drawing on his personal recollections and true stories from family and friends, Harper helps readers begin to see money not as a goal but as a tool that provides freedom for following their passions. The keys include investing in yourself, tapping the resources you need, and taking responsibility for how those resources are used. Far from a get-rich-quick primer, The Wealth Cure brims with inspired wisdom for building a lasting bounty from the experiences, loved ones, and achievements that really matter.

About the Author
Currently starring in CSI: NY, Hill Harper has appeared in numerous prime- time television shows and feature films, including Beloved and He Got Game. He graduated magna cum laude from Brown University with a B.A. and cum laude from Harvard Law School. He also holds a master’s degree in public administration from the Kennedy School of Government. He was recently named one of People magazine’s Sexiest Men Alive.

Friday, June 1, 2012


A teaser for the upcoming release of the first of its kind... The "BLUEPRINT TO SUCCESS" motivational mixtape...