Friday, November 30, 2007

Celebrities Celebrate World Children's Day

Multi-platinum artist and songwriter Ne-Yo lent his time and voice to Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) to celebrate World Children’s Day.

Ne-Yo and NBC “Heroes” star Hayden Panettiere visited Dallas/Ft. Worth, Detroit and Philadelphia on a 48-hour multi-city U.S. tour to help promote RMHC and its mission to improve the health and well-being of children everywhere.

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The tour included a special celebration at the New York City Ronald McDonald House, where Ne-Yo (pictured above) performed with the McDonald’s New York Metro Gospel Choir in celebration of World Children’s Day.

World Children’s Day at McDonald’s is a worldwide annual fundraising effort that has raised $100 million to help children and families through RMHC programs, including Ronald McDonald Houses, Ronald McDonald Family Rooms, Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles, grants and scholarships, plus other children’s charities.

The two-time Grammy nominee will continue to support the charity as part of the “Friends of RMHC,” a network of more than 30,000 volunteers who support the Charities’ programs in countries across the globe.

Source and photo: BPRW

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cookie Johnson Partners With Husband Magic Johnson to Combat HIV

Cookie Johnson, the wife of L.A. Lakers basketball legend Magic Johnson, is no longer remaining silent about the impact of HIV/AIDS on her family and the black community. In an exclusive interview with USA Today, she says:

"I don't like getting out in front of people, period, but when I heard that HIV rates among African-American women were 20 times those of Caucasian women, I felt I really needed to get out and speak. Maybe they could use me as an example of someone who lives with someone who has the disease. Maybe they'll listen to what I say, and maybe that will save some lives."

She is taking an active role in her husband's I Stand With Magic campaign, which aims to end black HIV/AIDS. They hope to cut the AIDS rate by 50% in the black community.

On learning about her husband's diagnosis:

"Of course, I was devastated and scared, all of the above. It was like a death sentence back then. I have a deep faith in God, and reached down to those roots, and that's what carried me on...

My mission is to go out and speak to over 1,000 women across the country and empower them to get tested. Early detection saves lives."

Read on..

Photo: USAT

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

::Community Events::

What's going on in your community this weekend?

New Jersey: Preserve Our Legacy, Inc., will host a “Holiday Toy Give-Away” for over two hundred foster children at Essex County College in Newark, NJ on Saturday, December 1, 2007, from 4pm – 7pm.

The afternoon will include a step team performance by United Youth of NJ Elite Drill Team and Superior Drummers. Former welterweight boxing champion Zab Judah will be the celebrity Santa Claus taking photos with the children. Mr. Judah will also provide support from his foundation, 'Fight for Life'.

Other celebs that will participate are Jae Millz, DJ Self, Prodigy of Mobb Deep, and a Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopes Foundation board member. Free information will be provided about health resources.

Preserve Our Legacy along with New York Power 105.1 FM will also host a celebrity basketball benefit on Saturday, January 28th at the same location in memory of Jaden Hilton to educate the minority community about health disparities. (More info coming soon.)

Chicago: The Black Star Project will host a workshop titled, Trauma In the Lives of Children and Adolescents-What Parents Should Know to Help. This informative workshop will explore the nature of trauma in children and adolescents, the neurological effects associated with trauma, and the ways in which untreated trauma affects children's relationships and academic performance.

Date: Saturday, December 1, 2007
Where: 3509 S. King Drive, Suite 2B
Time: 12 noon to 1:30 p.m.

For more information about this session or The Black Star Project, please call 773-285-9600 or visit This session is free and open to the public.

Photo: WBAO

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Chaka Khan Foundation Teaches Kids Healthy Life-Style Living

On November 25, in partnership with Crustacean restaurant in Beverly Hills, the Chaka Khan Foundation hosted an event to teach kids about a healthy life-style in diet, the concept of fine dining, food pairings, food presentation and basic culinary techniques.

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Basilica An, CEO, Elizabeth An and managing partner Catherine An of Crustacean restaurant with Chaka Khan

Monday, November 26, 2007

African American Women: Where They Stand

Beginning tonight, a five-part series titled 'African American Women: Where They Stand' will air on NBC News with Brian Williams.

The series will take a look at the issues facing African-American women across our nation, covering a wide-range of issues from their role in the '08 presidential race, to the increased health-risks that they need to be concerned about:

Monday: Discussion of African-American women's progress in the education field. At black colleges, the ratio of women to men is 7 to 1. And that is leading to a disparity in the number of African-American women who go on to own their own businesses. Rehema Ellis will talk to educators, students and businesswomen about why this disparity exists.

Tuesday: Ellis will look at relationships within the African-American female community. Many agree the gender disparity in education and business among African-Americans is having an effect on relationships that African American women have. She sits down with the members of a Chicago book club to talk about this difference and how it impacts them.

Wednesday: Dr. Nancy Snyderman will discuss the increased risks for breast cancer among African-American women.

Thursday: Ron Allen will take viewers to South Carolina -- the first southern primary state -- and asks the question: Will race trump gender or gender trump race? He talks with the state directors for the Clinton and Obama campaigns, who happen to be African-American women.

Friday: Dr. Snyderman will raise the frightening statistic that African-American women are 85% more likely to get diabetes, a major complication for heart disease.

In addition, Mara Schiavocampo, Digital Correspondent for "Nightly News," will address two hot topics in the African - American community: interracial dating and the impact of hip hop music on black women. Schiavocampo will talk to experts about the trend and discuss how this defines the "Black family" of the future.

Source: MSNBC News

Come on, People! On The Path from Victims to Victors

I love that picture of Bill Cosby. Although he's smiling, he is anything but happy at the current state of black America.

For the past three and a half years, Cosby has held community call-outs across the country for people to share their stories of how they overcame obstacles in becoming victors, which are highlighted in his new book, Come on People! On The Path from Victims to Victors.

Bill Cosby, along with Dr. Alvin Poussaint, have eloquently shared their views in this honest and well crafted book, in which I was given the opportunity to review from Mr. Cosby's team. Cosby has been around long enough to witness the decline in the black family and community. In reading this book, it's obvious that he's frustrated. And rightfully so.

As a former social services worker, I've seen a lot, so the book informed me of things I already knew, with chapter titles such as 'What's Going On With Black Men?', 'It Takes A Community', 'The Media You Deserve', and 'The High Price of Violence'. However, there were three issues which the book discusses that stuck out to me:

Sibling abuse: The authors site that due to more children with different mothers and fathers living under the same roof, this problem is growing and widespread.

Lack of quality dental care: Dental care in poor communities is difficult to obtain. The authors state, "often dentists may refuse [services] to publicly insured clients (i.e. Medicaid) because the reimbursement rates are too low."

Remember the imprisoned: The authors believe that former prisoners can serve as powerful speakers. Just as important as preventing our black youth from entering the prison system, we must also not forget to provide supportive services to offenders once they're released. They state, "He likely can't read well and they don't write well and they can't find a job? They end up back in prison."

What makes this book different from other books on this subject? It reads like a conversation with my grandpa talking to me about the black community - it is real and candid. The book contains actual stories to illustrate the impact and uses snippets of black history to help the reader understand. I'm sure that the authors want to inspire us with this book - inspire us to take action on the path to becoming victors. I received an email from a teacher in North Carolina who was inspired by the book to take action:

"My name is Sharon and I am a media coordinator at Pasquotank County High School in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. One of our English teachers and I are in the planning stages of conducting a book study for our staff. This book has spoken out to us and captivated us to do something proactive about our situation at our wonderful school and in our community.

We are slowly losing our Black males and females-they are falling behind academically in the majority of our course offerings. There are more and more of our former graduates showing up on our streets with no real plan or focus toward the future; there are more and more of our students' names appearing in the local newspaper's "crime watch.
We need to do something and we are hoping to motivate our students and staff to step up to the challenge. We would love to hear from you with suggestions/advice that would assist us in our quest to make a difference in the lives of our youth."

I'm sure Mr. Cosby would be proud to know that his book has prompted individuals such as Sharon into action to save our black youth. Here are my suggestions for Sharon:

Hi Sharon! It is commendable that you and the school staff are seeking to learn ways of how to better engage and help youth.

Get Youth Input

I can't stress enough how important this is. When beginning to decide how to best help youth, look to the youth for answers, not adults. Yes, adults mean well, but the youth will provide more valuable input that will help you to create your vision. Here's how to do it: Identify those youth that are in need of the help you described above. Of those youth, gather at least 8-10 to participate in a focus group that will ask them questions such as, 'How can we help you to do well in school? What do you like about school? Dislike about school? Most importantly, provide food and maybe an incentive for participating . Make sure that the person facilitating the focus group is a school staff person that the students like and trust, or find a well-liked community member.

For the former graduates you describe above, you can obtain their input from a focus group as well. Identify a safe location in the community, such as a church or a community center, to hold the group and provide food. Suggestions of questions to ask are: What are the barriers you encountered once graduating from school? How can the community help you?

Afterschool/Out of School Time Programs

Offering a variety of programs to youth after the school bell rings are instrumental in fostering academic success and creating an attachment to school. What types of programs and activities are offered in your school? In your community? Ask the youth what type of activities they would like in your focus groups.

Create Partnerships

Although the schools are an important component, they cannot save our youth alone. It takes the efforts of an entire community. Consider forming partnerships with colleges, universities, fraternities, sororities and civic groups to help. Maybe a fraternity at Elizabeth City State University would volunteer to serve as mentors. Maybe a local business owner would be willing to hire a former graduate. Maybe a church can host a job fair.

Parental Involvement

Okay, I'm going to keep it real. This one is not going to be easy. Research has shown that parental involvement is critical to academic success, yet many parents are not as involved as they should be. How are the parents involved in your school? Is your PTA active and well attended? Do the parents show up for parent-teacher night and then disappear? Do you only see parents in the school for disciplinary problems? If yes, then creative thinking is needed to get parents back in the school. I've known some schools to provide incentives for the parents to attend PTA, but why would a parent need an incentive to be involved in their child's education?

One barrier I have constantly heard from parents is that they are busy working two and three jobs to put food on the table and they just don't have the time. So get creative and think of ways to get and keep them involved. Scheduling parent-child activities, such as family dinners and field trips will at least get the parent's foot in the door. (Be sure to let the parent know well in advance so they can plan accordingly). Also, educate the employers of the parents in your community, informing them of the importance of parental school involvement - remember, it takes a community.

I hope these suggestions have been helpful to get you started. If anyone has any additional suggestions, please feel free to share them by leaving a comment. Come On, People! Let's save our black youth!

For more information on Bill Cosby and the book, visit his website.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Photos of the Day

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November 13: Hennessy & Louis Vuitton host Josh Smith of the Atlanta Hawks (center)St. Jude Children's Hospital charity event at the Louis Vuitton store in Lenox Square, Atlanta
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November 15: Philadelphia Dream Dinner to support the Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation
Photo: Black PRWire

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November 15: Actress and Board Member of Artists For A New South Africa, Jurnee Smollett, at the Shaking The Blues gala in LA

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November 15: Upliftment Jamaica fundraiser hosted by Russell Simmons in NY (L to R: Russell, Bevy Smith, Gary Foster)
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November 19: Elmo creator and puppeteer Kevin Clash at the 35th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton

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October 20: Charity begins at home - Kimora Lee Simmons and her daughters Ming Lee and Aoki visit St. Vincent's Pediatric Unit in NY

BlackGivesBack will resume on Monday - Have A Nice Thanksgiving!

Black America Loses One Million Pounds

In its historic thrust to make the African American community more healthy, the 50 Million Pound Challenge has hit a pertinent milestone with over one million pounds lost.

"It is extremely gratifying to know that in just seven months, that more than 250,000 have joined the cause, and lost one million pounds," said Dr. Ian Smith, author, host of VH1's Celebrity Fit Club and creator of the project.

Since its launch in Washington, D.C. on April 7, more than a quarter of a million people have signed up at, a national call to action to grasp the final goal of losing 50 Million pounds by the year 2009.

The campaign hit 14 major cities in 2007 to increase awareness, and will look to target Black churches and HBCUs in 2008.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Thurgood Marshall College Fund Celebrates 20 Years of Service and Raises 3.8 Million for America's HBCUs

The Thurgood Marshall College Fund announced yesterday the results of its 7th Annual Leadership Institute Recruitment Conference weekend, which brought more than 500 students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU's) to New York City for an annual four-day student leadership training and recruitment conference.

Events of the weekend included the 2nd annual Front Row Fashion Show and the prestigious Anniversary Award Dinner Gala, which drew more than 1800 corporate leaders, university presidents, celebrities, students and more. The events were held on November 2-5 in New York City, that raised$3.8 million toward the organization's scholarships and programs.

The Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Inc., named for the late U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice, was established in 1987 and represents 47 public HBCU's located in 22 states with a population of well over 232,000 students. Over the last 20 years, the fund has awarded more than $68 million in scholarships. The Thurgood Marshall College Fund also provides internship programs and joins corporate and foundation partners in providing leadership training and support to students preparing for undergraduate and professional schools.

"TMCF's success and contributions to leadership development and educating young men and women has surpassed my vision for its future when I founded it some 20 years ago," said Dr. N. Joyce Payne, founder of the fund.

Below are pictures from the Award Dinner Gala, hosted by actor Terrence Howard:

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Terrence with author Terry McMillan

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Actors Delroy Lindo and Lynn Whitfield

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BET founder Bob Johnson

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Lieutenant General Russel L. Honore of the United States Army, recipient of the Alumni Leadership Award

Visit the Thurgood Marshall College Fund at

Source: PRNewswire
Photos: Wireimage

Lincoln Partners with The Common Ground Foundation

Lincoln, the resurgent American luxury brand, announced this month a multifaceted marketing partnership with arising star and Grammy Award-winning performer Common, to promote the 2008 Lincoln Navigator and other brand initiatives.

Lincoln plans to align itself with Common's non-profit organization, the Common Ground Foundation, and will sponsor the first annual Start the Show n' Bowl fundraising event to be held February 2008 during Grammy weekend. The Common Ground Foundation is an organization dedicated to utilizing the cultural relevance of hip-hop to serve as an advocate for justice, education, to fight poverty and to increase health awareness among youth in under served communities throughout the United States.

"I am very enthused and honored to connect with Lincoln,"said Common. "I believe that this union will be creative, fresh, and classic. Most importantly, it's a way for Lincoln and me to give back to the community and people in need."

Source: PRNewswire

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Transition: NFL Player Finds New Passion

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Making the transition from NFL player to community advocate was easy for former Atlanta Falcons player Keion Carpenter.

He now knows that his purpose in life is to use the platform that football provided to reach out and help others, stating: "God put me in the NFL for a reason. He knew where my heart was and what my desires were to help people - and he surrounded me with some strong brothers that stand with me in this transition."

That transition led the Baltimore native to establish The Carpenter House (TCH), a non-profit organization dedicated to addressing the current lack of affordable housing for low-income and single parent families in Baltimore. Having been raised in a single-parent household, Keion saw the struggles his mother went through. It was this experience that sparked his passion and desire to give back. The organization is designed to empower under privileged families by helping them to reach the American dream, home ownership.

On Thursday, I made the hour long drive from D.C. to Baltimore to attend Part I of the Transition, a private VIP reception held at Pier 5, an art-deco hotel overlooking the inner harbor. Original paintings by artist Kevin Charles decorated the lobby and the upstairs event room, which filled quickly.

To celebrate his transition, many of his friends and supporters were in attendance, including his 9th grade social studies teacher, Jesse Bennett, Jr., who has kept in contact with Keion throughout the years. In speaking with him, it was evident that he is very proud of his accomplishments.

During the course of the evening, a video presentation was shown that highlighted two single parent families and their struggles with parenting, education, obtaining day care and caring for children with disabilities. When asked how TCH could help her, one parent shared that having adequate housing would allow her children to grow up in a stable environment, a place to call home.

The organization has plans to collaborate with local government agencies, and community and civic organizations to identify and provide support to the families. The organization currently partners with the Baltimore based For My Kids, an organization providing social services for youth preparing for college.

Keion states that he is 1000% committed to this project. So much so that he has donated $50,000 of his own funds. Within two weeks, $50,000 more was raised.

With these funds, TCH plans to purchase properties as well as accept donated sites within Baltimore, rehabilitate them, and make them available to low-income and single parent families. In addition to providing housing, the organization will offer services such as educational workshops, financial mentoring and other programs to combat homelessness, poverty, hunger, joblessness, substance abuse and domestic violence.

Part II of the Transition included a star studded 30th birthday fundraiser for Keion at the Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore on Friday, November 16th.

Sponsors for the Transition included Afro-American newspapers, The Baltimore Times, WERQ 92.3FM, WSMJ 104.3, Downtown Locker Room and Visionary Marketing Group, Inc.

To learn more about The Carpenter House, Inc., visit

{Special thanks to Monica Wood of MWPR, Inc.}

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Magical Journey Begins for 100 High School Students Headed to Disney’s Dreamers Academy

This past August during the 32nd National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Convention and Career Fair in Las Vegas, radio personality Steve Harvey announced the Disney Dreamers Academy, a career enrichment program for 100 African American students who show promise and have the desire to dream.

The students have been selected, hailing from New York to New Orleans, from Compton, CA., to Wichita, KS - to participate in the Academy on January 17-20, 2008, during Disney's Year of a Million Dreams. Designed to immerse students in creative and non-conventional career opportunities, the program will take place in the world’s most creative classroom – at Walt Disney World Resort.

The Steve Harvey Morning Show conducted the Dreamer’s Contest to identify the participants. Parents, teachers, school administrators, church groups and even the students themselves nominated more than 3,000 aspiring dreamers from across the nation.

During Disney’s Dreamers Academy, young dreamers will have unprecedented access to the magic behind Walt Disney World Resort. Students will participate in interactive workshops focusing on a variety of subjects including Walt Disney World Imagineering techniques, entertainment, the business of sports, culinary arts, and more. Disney cast members, executives and celebrities, such as actress Monique Coleman, will share their blueprints for success. The lucky participants will also explore Disney’s theme parks before a graduation ceremony where a special guest will deliver a motivational address.

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August 2007 Announcement Ceremony: (L to R) Actress Monique Coleman; renowned chef and author Jeff Henderson; Reggie Williams, vice president of Disney Sports Attractions; actress and author Victoria Rowell; entertainer Steve Harvey; Xiomara Wiley, vice president of multicultural marketing, Disney Parks and Resorts; and Patrick Riley, chairman of the National Association of Black Journalists' Arts and Entertainment Task Force.

Since this blog is based in Washington, D.C., I'd like to mention the youth who were selected from this area:

Washington, D.C.
Sharnice Walker, Duke Ellington Performing Arts School, Washington

Montgomery County, Maryland
Kayla Williams, Blake High School, Silver Spring

Prince George's County, Maryland
Christopher Burt, Dr. Henry A. Wise Senior High, Suitland
Jared Smith, Dr. Henry A. Wise Senior High, Upper Marlboro
Nevasha Noble, Central High, Bowie
Reginald Cromer, Eleanor Roosevelt High, Greenbelt
Zachary Green , Surrattsville High, Clinton

Source and photos: Walt Disney World News

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

America's Best Leaders 2007

On November 12th, U.S. News and World Report in collaboration with the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, honored 'America's Best Leaders' in New York. The 2007 honorees were selected by a committee of government, community, and private-sector leaders convened by the center.

Among those receiving the honor this year are Brown University President Ruth Simmons and American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault:

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From U.S.

Ruth Simmons, President of Brown University, personally recruits students to the university:
"It's probably the most important thing I can do on a national basis," she says. "[The best thing] any parent can do for a child is to give your child a sense of love and support and to be open to the idea that they need to learn."

Chenault insists that the success [of his company] was not all about him. "Anyone at any level can be a leader," he says, which is why he is committed to giving everyone at the company a chance to become one.

Mr. Chenault states, "I want people to say that Ken Chenault is a person who, while he's focused on winning, [does so] with the highest level of integrity."

Photo: Wireimage

KINGS & QUEENS: Message Music From The Movement

Grammy Award winning gospel group the Sounds of Blackness has released a new CD, KINGS & QUEENS: Message Music From The Movement, which brings the spirit of “The Movement,” and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to address today’s issues of street violence and domestic violence.

The Sounds of Blackness are partnering with the NAACP and with IDVAAC –The Institute on Domestic Violence in the African-American Community, to help end self-denigration, domestic violence against women and to resurrect self-respect.

Their intent is to launch a national and international music-based campaign designed to fully educate ALL people – especially youth, about who we as African Americans really are. The group states, "The images that we see in too many videos, hear in too many songs, and that we constantly see on the nightly news, have contributed to a negative image crisis which Sounds of Blackness is addressing NOW - because it continually fuels the flames of self-denigration, violence and death."

The Sounds of Blackness and Best Buy will donate a portion of the proceeds to the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation.

The CD is now on sale exclusively at Best Buy.

Website: Sounds of Blackness

Source: The Savvy Agency
{Thanks Monique}

Sunday, November 11, 2007

In Dedication to Dr. Donda West, Chair of the Kanye West Foundation

Dr. Donda West, mother of hip hop superstar and Grammy award winner Kanye West, has suddenly passed away on Saturday at the age of 58. The cause of death was not released immediately.

Dr. West served as the chair of her son's foundation, the Kanye West Foundation, an educational nonprofit that works to decrease school dropout rates and improve literacy. She served as an English professor for 31 years and as Chair of the English Department at Chicago State University.

Earlier this year, Dr. West released the book Raising Kanye: Life Lessons From The Mother of A Hip Hop Superstar. In the foreword of the book, Kanye shares about the making of the song Hey Mama, dedicated to his mother:

When I wrote that song, "Hey Mama!" about my mom, I worked on it for months. I wanted to make it as great as she is. I wanted to tell the whole world about our friendship and how it came to be. I also wanted to talk about her in the most artistic way I could. I wanted her to know how much I appreciate her for the way she raised me.

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I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. West earlier this summer in Chicago. My thoughts and prayers are with Kanye, his family, the foundation family and friends during this difficult time.

Related post: Raising Kanye- Happy Mother's Day

Friday, November 9, 2007

::Event: Jesse Jackson's 66th Birthday::

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The unofficial spokesperson for Black America, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., celebrated his 66th birthday on November 8th in Los Angeles. The soiree was sponsored by Bombay Sapphire.
L to R: Congressman Danny Davis, Michael Jackson, Jesse Jackson and Motown Records founder Berry Gordy

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Jesse with baseball pitcher Don Newcombe; Jesse with his daughter Santita Jackson and Newcombe

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TV personality Niecy Nash, Holly Robinson Peete, Santita Jackson, actress Anna Marie Horsford

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Jackson with attorney Londell McMillan

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Jesse with Los Angeles City Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (right) and Gina Belafonte (center) with the 2007 Living Legend Award for her father Harry Belafonte

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Berry Gordy tasting the birthday cake.

Photos: Wireimage