Thursday, January 31, 2008

An Athlete Discovers His True Purpose In Life


A Seattle Times article tells the story of Anthony Kelley, an African American University of Washington football player that entered the university solely focused on a sports career, but quickly realized there was more to life.

This article was one of the most inspiring stories I have read in a long time.

In summary, Kelley grew up in a neighborhood with gangs and poverty in Pasadena, California. His family was homeless for a time and he often had the task of caring for his siblings while his mother worked and attended school. As a youth, he was diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, which caused difficulty in school. Football, he thought was a way out of his neighborhood.

He graduated high school with a low SAT score and grade point average, but the University of Washington took a chance, recruiting him as a 'special admit'. There, the focus was not on academics, but the game.

While in his assistant coach's office one day, he saw a picture of him in Spain. The coach told him it was an amazing experience, and that he should try studying abroad himself. "But that's unofficial, the assistant coach added. Don't tell anyone around here I told you that."

Kelley then went to his advisor and told her he wanted to study abroad in South Africa. Along with the assistant coach, they both discovered a way to make this possible. He applied for a Mary Gates scholarship that would help to cover travel expenses - he was the first football player to win this honor.

Kelley made it to South Africa. But it's what he accomplished while in South Africa and upon his return home that is truly inspiring. Read the article here.

Photo: Alan Berner/Seattle Times

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Photos of the Day

Fred Hammond, Tyrese, Marjorie Bridges and husband Steve Harvey attend the taping of BET's Celebration of Gospel earlier this month.

Qubilah Shabazz, Susan L. Taylor, Butch Lewis and Terrie Williams attend a panel discussion of Williams' new book "Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We're Not Hurting" January 29, 2008 at Planet Hollywood in New York City.

In this book, Williams offers a compelling look at depression in the African American community. By chronicling her own battles with the debilitating disease, as well as the stories of other sufferers, from entertainers to athletes, she sheds light on the healing process. (Barnes and


Grant Little, CEO of Participant Productions, James Berk, actor Hill Harper and actress Gabrielle Union attend the I Have A Dream Foundation's 10th Annual Dream Keeper Awards on January 27, 2008 at The House of Blues in Los Angeles. Hill Harper received a Dream Keeper award in honor of his commitment to education.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Laysha Ward: Target's Vice President of Community Relations


"More than 60 years ago, George Dayton, Target's founder, began donating 5% of the pretax profits from his legendary department stores. While Dayton's original chain is a retailer of the past, Target carries on the philanthropic torch.

Today that 5% donation has mushroomed into more than $3 million in giving each week. Laysha Ward, Target's VP of community relations (pictured in photo), and her team are charged with the task of doling out the funds. In 2007 that included donations of 8.48 million pounds of food (which equates to 6.5 million meals), 1,700 free days at 30 museums and theaters, and some thousands of dollars a week to school programs across America."

Read my previous post about Target here.


Monday, January 28, 2008

GO Katie Rost!

Last month, BlackGivesBack featured Katie Rost, a philanthropist originally from the Washington, D.C. area, who through her family's Ronald F. Rost Foundation, raises funds for families who want to enroll their children in recreational and cultural programs.

Katie ran the ING Miami Half Marathon on January 27th to raise funds in support of Washington, D.C. youth programs. Read below to see how Katie did!

From Katie:

"It is with deep pleasure for me to share with you that I have completed my run at the ING Miami Half Marathon in support of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington and WolfTrap Children’s Theatre-In-The-Woods. To date, The Ronald F. Rost Foundation has raised $4100 for these two awesome youth enrichment organizations. The ING Miami Marathon started at 6:15 am, in the dark, but under perfect weather conditions. With thousands of enthusiastic athletes all around me, and my father’s spirit pulsing through my veins, I finished the marathon in 02:08:00. My pace was 9:57 a mile.

The marathon was part of a personal wellness goal for me, but it was also done to set the tone for the kind of intensity the Rost Foundation is committed to bringing to community work in 2008, and beyond. We will continue to support community organizations that give young people opportunities to thrive and be creative. We are also moving forward with exciting plans and projects to help individual children to participate in fun and uplifting activities.

I’d like to thank my friend Robert Reffkin who ran the marathon with me, and who inspired my run. Thank you to Robert Curran for making sure my mom and I had a place to rest our head during this busy Miami season. Thanks to Petra Nemcova, who touched my heart years ago with her passion for helping others, and whose sweet words reminded me what this work is really all about. And of course to my mother who was smiling big at mile 10, holding a sign that said, “GO Katie Rost!” which motivated me to keep going.
For those of you who were waiting until I finished the marathon to make a donation, please go to: and help us reach the $10,000 goal. I’d like to highlight the following donors who sponsored my run. It is truly heartwarming to know people like you exist in the world. Thank You!"
Special thanks to - Mr. Rob Birgfeld- Mrs. Rynthia Rost-Buccine- Mr. Chad Buccine- Mr. Joe Buccine- Miss. Rachel Ceppos- Mr. Stratford Dennis- Ms. Avon Dorsey- Miss. Sarah Flack- Mr. Justin Fishkin- Mr. Joey Grill, CLICK Model Management- Mr. Jimmy Lynn- Mr. Ilan Shalit- Mr. Nick Sherman

With Light, Love, Blessings and Sore Feet,
Katie Rost
{Thanks Katie!}

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Traces of the Trade: A Story From The Deep North

At the age of 28, filmmaker Katrina Browne received a booklet from her grandmother about her family history. Browne knew that her ancestors were involved in the slave trade, but what she ultimately discovered was that her family was the largest slave-trading family in U.S. history.

The documentary Traces of the Trade: A Story From The Deep North, tells the story of the DeWolf family, Browne's Rhode Island ancestors. Nine descendants agreed to participate with Browne on her journey of retracing the steps of the Triangle Trade:

"From 1769 to 1820, DeWolf fathers, sons and grandsons trafficked in human beings. They sailed their ships from Bristol, Rhode Island to West Africa with rum to trade for African men, women and children. Captives were taken to plantations that the DeWolfs owned in Cuba or were sold at auction in such ports as Havana and Charleston. Sugar and molasses were then brought from Cuba to the family-owned rum distilleries in Bristol. Over the generations, the family owned 47 ships that transported thousands of Africans across the Middle Passage into slavery. They amassed an enormous fortune. By the end of his life, James DeWolf had been a U.S. Senator and was reportedly the second richest man in the United States."

Traces of the Trade had its world premiere in competition at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and is being released to coincide with the Bicentennial of the U.S. Abolition of the Slave Trade.


Katrina Browne and Nick Cannon attends Black In America at the Filmmaker Lodge during the 2008 Sundance Film Festival
On the film's website, it poses the questions: How can this change our understanding of the legacy of slavery today? What, concretely, is the legacy of slavery—for diverse whites, for diverse blacks, for diverse others? Who owes who what for the sins of the fathers of this country?

Photos: Wireimage

Thursday, January 24, 2008

::Photos of the Day::

Alex Rodriguez and wife Cynthia, along with Tracy and Alonzo Mourning attend the All Star Gala presented by Dewars 12 in Miami, January 19th

Philanthropist Sheila C. Johnson with John Legend at the 2008 Park City Bon Appetit Supper Club Benefit Dinner for the Show Me Campaign, January 21st

Actresses Audra McDonald and Sanaa Lathan attend the premiere of their movie, A Raisin in the Sun, at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. Also starring in the movie are Phylicia Rashad and Sean "Diddy" Combs, airing February 25th on ABC.

Tiger Woods, daughter Sam Alexis, mother Kultida Woods and wife Elin Nordegren at the dedication of the statue honoring his late father Earl Woods, at the Tiger Woods Learning Center on January 21, 2008 in Anaheim, California.

Writer Cinque Muhammad with Common, at Common's Dare to Dream benefit concert on January 12th in Chicago.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

::Event: Common Ground Foundation's Dare to Dream Benefit Concert::

On Saturday, January 12th, hip hop artist and actor Common, along with his Common Ground Foundation, partnered with Lincoln Dealers and Platform One Entertainment to host the Dare to Dream benefit concert at the House of Blues in Chicago.


The concert benefited the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship, which provides entrepreneurship programs to youth from low-income communities around the world.



Guests at silent auction




Read more here.

On the web: The National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship

Photos courtesy of Platform One Entertainment

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Jill Scott: Living Her Life Like It's Golden

Grammy award winner and singer/songwriter Jill Scott has announced a new partnership with Ashley Stewart Stores, a nationwide women's clothing chain, to create a line of intimate apparel for the plus-size woman.

The 'Butterfly Collection By Jill Scott' was created and inspired by Ms. Scott's own needs as a consumer to create what she was unable to find, a design that is both comfortable and attractive for females who have a larger than average cup size.

Many celebrities in recent years have partnered with corporations, creating their own goods and clothing lines, but Scott's venture is unique in that her hometown of Philadelphia along with her foundation, The Blues Babe Foundation, will also benefit.

This has already begun with the launch of the Cecil B. Moore recreation center in Ms. Scott's hometown of North Philadelphia. Condemned to be closed by the city due to funding shortages, an initial donation of more than $100,000 by the Foundation was able to renovate the auditorium, bathrooms, floors, and swimming pool, and provide new outdoor basketball courts and kitchen.

Scott grew up just two blocks from the recreation center, which is located in one of North Philadelphia's most troubled neighborhoods. She even shot her first video on the center's grounds. Because of Scott's $100,000 donation, other donations started to roll in, such as the city of Philadelphia which contributed $185,000 in capital funds to repair the roof and make other improvements. On Jill's foundation website it states, "Once barely used the center is now a safe haven for many kids. Attendance had more then doubled for most programs. The center also serves as a curfew center for kids. Once slated for closure, Cecil B. Moore now serves as a model for community renewal.”

Marla K. Minns, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Ashley Stewart Stores says of their collaboration with Jill Scott:

"The partnership with a world renowned artist of Ms. Scott's caliber is a special partnership for Ashley Stewart stores. We have always admired Jill's commitment to her music and the integrity tied to the artistry of her body of work. We look forward to not only working with her on this product line but helping and enriching our communities by using the partnership to inspire others."

Learn more about the Blues Babe Foundation here.

Sources and photo: PRNewswire, Philadelphia Weekly

Friday, January 18, 2008

::Photos of the Day::

The 2nd Annual GM Style event brought out Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (2nd from left), his wife Carlita (far left), Jerome Bettis and his wife Trameka on January 12th in Detroit.

Photobucket of the group the Black Eyed Peas, celebrates the opening of the PeaPod Music and Arts Academy at Peace4Kids, located in the Watts/Willowbrook Boys and Girls Club in Los Angeles. This state-of-the-art music educational center was created with support from The Black Eyed Peas and the Entertainment Industry Foundation, which offers instructional training in four disciplines: music, film, theater arts and digital media. Among the center's features are a sound-proofed recording studio, an electronic movie screen and computer lab. The academy will serve foster care youth and other at-risk teens.

Actresses Regina King and Gabrielle Union attend Michael Jordan's 7th Annual Celebrity Invitational Golf Tournament at the Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas, January 16th-20th. Proceeds raised will benefit the Butch Kerzner Memorial Fund, the James Jordan Foundation, the Ronald McDonald Houses of North Carolina, and 40 additional charities as designated by celebrity participants.

Actress Yaya Dacosta signs the movie poster for the Honeydripper, at a screening in Atlanta. DaCosta stars in the film along with Danny Glover and Charles S. Dutton. From Set in 1950s Alabama, Honeydripper stars Glover as a rural nightclub owner looking for a big weekend blues score to lift him out of debt. The film opens in Atlanta on January 18th.

Photos: Wireimage

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

::Event: 16th Annual Trumpet Awards::

The 16th Annual Trumpet Awards was held Sunday, January 13th at the Atlanta Civic Center, honoring African Americans in the fields of entertainment, medicine, law, the arts, business and politics.


Xernona Clayton, Founder and President of the Trumpet Awards

Don Thompson, Corporate Executive Award recipient with guest

Medicine Award recipients Drs. Vance and Vincent Moss

Entrepreneur Award recipient Sheila C. Johnson

Arts Award recipient Najee


Humanitarian Award recipient Danny Glover

Lalah Hathaway performs with Michael Phillips

India Arie

Host of the evening Samuel Jackson with Chris Tucker

The show will air March 1st, 8 p.m. EST on TV One.

Monday, January 14, 2008

::Photos of the Day::

Tyra Banks, Maxine Waters, Cornel West, Janice Howroyd, Alicia Keys and Richard Parsons celebrate their achievement awards at the inaugural BET Honors awards show, held Saturday, January 12th in Washington, D.C.

Chaka Khan at her debut in the Broadway production of "The Color Purple" on January 9, 2007. Khan was one of three new cast members to debut that evening; the other two were BeBe Winans and American Idol's LaKisha Jones.

Russell Simmons presents a donation to the Diamond Empowerment Fund in New York from his Simmons Jewelry Company. The donation was made possible from the sales of his green initiative jewelry.

The Golden Globes may have been cancelled, but that didn't stop the many events leading up to the awards, such as Jayneoni Moore's Boom Boom Room Follow the Yellow Brick Road Gifting Wonderland:

Photobucket Photobucket
Jayneoni Moore with actress Leah Remini; Angela Bassett

Hollywood’s most famous families - expecting parents, moms, dads, aunts, uncles, and their offspring - visited the gifting suite wonderland built by 55 sponsors. From a Wonka inspired “Candy Bar” and kid spa for younger guests, to luxury baby care items, clothing, Dish Network service, and furniture for parents, this fun filled family event brought celebrity families together to support the Jayneoni Moore Children's Fund's reading programs for low income families. Among those who attended were Grey's Anatomy Chandra Wilson, Shar Jackson, Kim Porter, and actresses Salli Richardson and Terri J. Vaughn.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

::Event: Bombay Sapphire Hosts Cocktail Reception At 11th Annual Wall Street Project::

Bombay Sapphire along with the Rainbow Push Coalition hosted the Bombay Sapphire Lounge at the Wall Street Project Gala on January 9th in New York.

BOMBAY SAPPHIRE co-hosted the event as part of its ongoing program of support for the RainbowPUSH Coalition that began in July 2007, when Bombay Sapphire honored Jesse Jackson for his life's work.

The event featured musical performances by Angie Stone, Marcia Ambrosius, Emily King and Deemi.

Jesse Jackson with Marcia Ambrosius, formerly of the group Floetry

Angie Stone


Angie Stone
Emily King


About Wall Street Project 2008: The Wall Street Project was established to assure equal opportunity for minority employees, consumers, and entrepreneurs. Launched on Dr. King's birthday, the organization has served as a catalyst for aggressive change in the areas of procurement, employment, corporate board diversity and access to capital. (Source: Wall St. Project website)

Related article at BlackVoices.

{Thanks Krista}

Friday, January 11, 2008

Tonya Lee Williams: Providing a Platform for Emerging Filmmakers of Color

Actress, director and producer Tonya Lee Williams is best known for her role as Dr. Olivia Barber Winters on CBS's #1 soap opera the Young and the Restless - a role that spanned from 1990 to 2005. But Tonya has another role that is just as impressive.

In 2001, Tonya founded the ReelWorld Film Festival, to provide a platform for emerging individuals of color in the entertainment industry to build their dreams and hone their skills in her native Canada. Since its inception, ReelWorld has become a major international film festival, with support from fellow thespians such as Robert Townsend, Eriq LaSalle and Sandra Oh.

The five-day event showcases over 100 features, documentaries, animation, shorts and music videos, industry panels, awards, parties, and galas attended by celebrities and film-lovers. It is the only film festival to capture the essence of Canada’s multicultural and multiethnic tapestry.

Tonya soon realized that diverse emerging talent in the entertainment industry needed more than the five days of the activities the annual ReelWorld Film Festival provided. As an outgrowth of the festival, the ReelWorld Foundation was created in 2002.

The Foundation's aim is to provide assistance to the diverse talent in front of and behind the camera. Training, support and mentorship is provided through year-round initiatives and activities, that enable primarily Aboriginal, Asian, Black, Latino, Middle Eastern, South Asian and multi-racial talent in the Canadian entertainment industry to garner success and respect.

The website states that ‘visible minorities’ are the fastest growing demographic in Canada and there must be a place for them in the entertainment industry. To this end, the foundation partners with Canadian youth programs in under resourced communities to introduce young people to the many facets of the Canadian entertainment industry.

::Join Tonya Lee Williams for High Tea at Noon::

On Saturday, February 16, 2008, the ReelWorld Film Festival will hold its first annual Tonya Lee Williams' ReelWorld Film Festival & Foundation High Tea at Noon, presented by Belvedere International Inc. at the Park Hyatt Hotel in Toronto, from 12-3:30p.m. The tea will raise funds for the programs ReelWorld Film Festival and Foundation provides for emerging filmmakers and its community programs.

Celebrity and designer handbags will be auctioned off by special guests including Tonya Lee Williams and a special guest from the Young and the Restless. Many handbags have been generously donated by celebrities including actors Ashley Jones, Laura Lee Bell, Victoria Rowell, Fashion Television's Jeanne Becker, Access Hollywood's Shaun Robinson, Entertainment Tonight's Mary Hart and recording artists Deborah Cox and Fergie. Many high end designers have donated handbags such as Hermes and Hugo Boss.

Tickets - Single price tickets for the event are $125. To purchase tickets please call the ReelWorld offices at 416.598.7933 X 24 or email

For more information about the festival and the foundation, visit the website at