Thursday, January 31, 2008

An Athlete Discovers His True Purpose In Life

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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

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

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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 Noble.com)

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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

From Fortune.com:

"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.



Photo: Fortune.com

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: http://www.rostfoundation.org/donations.html 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.

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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::

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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.


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Common

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


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Guests at silent auction


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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

Monday, January 21, 2008

::BlackGivesBack Honors the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.::

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BlackGivesBack honors the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the most influential leaders in our nation's history. He is the first African American to be honored with his own memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Dr. King lived and died fighting for racial equality and integration. In one autobiography, it states that although Dr. King was 39 at the time of his death, the autopsy revealed that he had the heart of a 60-year old man, evidencing the stress the civil rights movement had on him.

Below are pictures that depicted life for African Americans in the South during the 1950s:

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Today, Dr. King would not be pleased with statistics on the black community, particularly on black males: Fewer than 50% of black males do not graduate from high school, one-third of black males born today will spend time in prison, 48 percent of all black children live without fathers in their home, and a 2005 study found that among black murder victims, a whopping 93% were committed by other blacks.

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Photo credit: Baltimore Sun

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On this day as America remembers our nation's greatest civil rights leader, take some time to reflect on what you can do to continue his dream. Mentor a child. Invite a young black male who does not have a father figure on an activity with your family. Volunteer. Get active in your community. Give of your time to a worthy cause.

For mentoring opportunities in your area: http://www.mentoring.org/
To locate an organization to volunteer your time or donate to: http://www.networkforgood.org/
Donate to the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation: http://www.mlkmemorial.org/


Source: Wikipedia
Photos: GettyImages, Baltimore Sun

Friday, January 18, 2008

::Photos of the Day::

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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.

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will.i.am 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.

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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.

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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 AccessAtlanta.com: 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

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Magic Begins for Steve Harvey's Disney's Dreamers Academy

Starting today through January 20th, 100 teens from around the country, mostly African American, are participating in Steve Harvey's Disney's Dreamers Academy, where they will participate in interactive workshops focusing on entertainment, the business of sports, culinary arts, and more. The students will hear success secrets from prominent individuals such as BET founder Bob Johnson and Disney executives.

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A panel of distinguished judges read 3,000 essays from students across the country. One question on the application asked, "Who is a role model in your life and how have they inspired you?" One student's answer, Zachary G. from Clinton, Maryland, particularly stuck out to me. He answered,

"My father was my role model. He is deceased, but he had a great impact on my life. My father was a foster child, went to jail for rape. He was the first man in DC to get DNA testing and was freed and he pushed and pushed until he moved his family out of poverty. He and my mom became foster parents; my mom is still doing it now. Through all of my dad’s troubles, he stayed positive, never angry up until the day he passed. He taught me to keep trying no matter what."

Essence.com recently interviewed Steve Harvey discussing his partnership with Disney and why its important for our youth to fulfill their dreams. Snippets from the interview:

Essence.com: How did you get involved with Disney’s Dreamers Academy?

Steve Harvey: I’d been doing some business with Disney’s Vacation Club when they heard about my mentoring program. I used to mentor African American boys across the country. Now that I’m at WBLS in New York City, I invite a group of boys from different schools every Wednesday to sit and have lunch with me. We spend about 3 hours just talking about how to be successful in life. Disney heard about this and said, ‘Wow, we’re also trying to come up with a mentoring program.’ So they asked if I would partner with them on the Disney Dreamers Academy.

Essence.com: Why are you mentoring just boys?

S.H.: Because that’s where I believe the problem lies. I have daughters and I haven’t seen too many boys that I want to see them bring home. If we don’t start developing better boys, our women won’t have great choices to choose from. We have more men of college age institutionalized in prisons than we do in colleges, and that’s wrong. So if we don’t straighten these boys out, our family structure will continue to suffer. The women in our race can’t do any more then they have already done.

Essence.com: What difference do you think this experience is going to have on the students who were selected?


S.H.: I think it will make a big difference. I often say something that I’m always shot down for but I’m not going to stop saying it: There is nothing in a child’s life that is greater than their dream, not even their education. But when you say that, educators frown on you. Think about it…it’s the dreams that make a child even want to go to school. The reason we have such a high dropout rate is because kids are not taught to dream. I have talked to educators from Los Angeles to New York. If they would erase what they call study hall, which is a free period, and make it a requirement where kids just come to class to talk about their dreams and then we show them how to accomplish them, we could alleviate the dropout rate....

Read the entire interview here.

Related Post: The Disney Dreamers Academy

Sources: Disney Dreamer's Academy website, Essence.com
Photos: BPRW, WWD

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.

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Xernona Clayton, Founder and President of the Trumpet Awards

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Don Thompson, Corporate Executive Award recipient with guest

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Medicine Award recipients Drs. Vance and Vincent Moss

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Entrepreneur Award recipient Sheila C. Johnson

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Arts Award recipient Najee

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Humanitarian Award recipient Danny Glover

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Lalah Hathaway performs with Michael Phillips

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India Arie

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Host of the evening Samuel Jackson with Chris Tucker

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

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tracy McGrady: Darfur's Newest Advocate

Don Cheadle has another supporter in his efforts to bring awareness to the crisis in Darfur: NBA player Tracy McGrady of the Houston Rockets.

On January 4th, McGrady visited his alma-mater, Auburndale High School in Florida, to announce his "Stand Up for Darfur" humanitarian project. In front of 400 students, he asked them for their help in his new endeavor.


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This all began last summer when McGrady spent four days in war-torn Darfur at the encouragement of his fellow Rockets teammate, Dikembe Mutombo, who was born in Zaire. McGrady shared with the students his desire for giving back in Africa:

"When you get some success, you want to give back and do charitable things because you feel that's the right thing to do. My first year in the league, I thought about giving back and I did give back. But it took me a while to really understand how much of an impact that I have on people. Now that I realize that, being 28 years old, and I want to really expand my charitable effort outside the country."

He also shared with the students that he knew the trip would have a huge impact on him:

"I knew it was going to have a huge impact on me," McGrady said. "One night when I was tired from everything that was going on that week, I went to bed about 9 o'clock, but I woke up early because we were leaving the next day. I was just staring at the ceiling, reflecting on everything that I went through, and I actually started crying."

McGrady's visit to Darfur is chronicled in the documentary, 'Not A Game' that was filmed during his trip.

He will donate $75,000 of his own funds to renovate and build schools, train teachers and provide school supplies and clothing.

For more information, visit the Tracy McGrady foundation website: http://www.t-mac.com/tmac/foundation/

Source: TheLedger.com
Photo: Gary Bassing/NBA/Getty

Nominate A School For Free Winter Coats!

Have you heard? Keeping Kids Warm has given away nearly 90,000 winter coats across the nation since its inception in 1995 by Charming Shoppes, Inc. Charming Shoppes' family of stores includes Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug, Catherines Plus Sizes, and Petite Sophisticate. The program donates brand new fashionable winter coats along with hats, scarves, gloves and school supplies to underprivileged elementary school children around the country.

"We just finished a very successful year, giving away 20,000 free coats, and we look forward to giving warmth to more and more children this fall," said Dorrit J. Bern, CEO and President of Charming Shoppes. "We've learned that school attendance is largely affected by the availability of winter coats, and we are pleased to contribute to the cause for a better learning environment."

So if YOU know a school that can benefit from a visit fromKeeping Kids Warm, take action and send an e-mail to KeepingKidsWarm@charming.com and tell them why those students need winter coats!

Source: Charming Shoppes via PRN

Monday, January 14, 2008

::Photos of the Day::

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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.


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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.


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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:


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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.

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Jesse Jackson with Marcia Ambrosius, formerly of the group Floetry

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Angie Stone

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Angie Stone
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Emily King

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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}