Friday, February 29, 2008

Event: 7th Annual 'Behind The Bench' Luncheon

On February 16th during the 2008 NBA All Star Weekend in New Orleans, prominent African American philanthropists Jaci and Morris L. Reid hosted the 7th Annual Luncheon honoring Behind the Bench of the National Basketball Wives Association.


Jaci Reid

This stylish annual event is a staple on the calendar of events leading up to the NBA All-Star game every year, which honors charitable foundations spearheaded by leaders of the athletic and entertainment communities.

This year the luncheon presented an award to Ellen Haddigan, Executive Director of the Diamond Empowerment Fund (DEF), a non-profit founded by Russell Simmons, who is co-owner of the Simmons Jewelry Company. DEF raises funds to educate and uplift poverty-stricken African communities through sales of the Green Initiative jewelry collection.

This year’s festivities also celebrated the efforts of community leaders who have dedicated themselves to improving the conditions of a post-Katrina New Orleans. The 2008 honorees included Debra Lee, Chairman and CEO of BET, Chris Duhon of the Chicago Bulls and Peja Stojakovic of the New Orleans Hornets. Actress Gabrielle Union, who can be found most recently on the ABC hit show Ugly Betty and the upcoming movie Meet Dave in which she co-stars with Eddie Murphy, presented the award to Debra Lee during the luncheon presentation.


Actress Gabrielle Union with BET CEO Debra Lee

Chris Duhon of the Chicago Bulls

The annual gathering celebrates the philanthropic work of Behind the Bench of the National Basketball Wives Association, which supports charitable organizations in the 30 cities where the league has franchises.

The Behind the Bench Luncheon began in 2002 as an intimate gathering for 50 women. It has since grown into a highly anticipated event for 200 influential women, including members of the National Basketball Wives Association and prominent women in business, philanthropy and entertainment.

“Behind the Bench, the National Basketball Wives Association established in 1993 to address the challenges confronting American families, with an emphasis on women and children,” says Charrisse Jordan, president of Behind the Bench and wife of Washington Wizards coach Eddie Jordan. “We recognize the dangers facing youths today and believe each of us holds a responsibility in ensuring them safe and productive futures.”


Kathy Chenault, wife of American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault; and Tonya Lewis Lee, wife of filmmaker Spike Lee

This marked the seventh year that the luncheon has been hosted by Jaci and Morris L. Reid, both former Clinton Administration officials, who are now co-managing Directors of Westin Rinehart, a Washington, D.C.-based government and public affairs firm. Additionally, Jaci Wilson Reid is now a full-time volunteer fundraiser for organizations that support women, children and the arts.

Tracy Mourning
with Jaci Reid
Past honorees include philanthropist Kathy Chenault, Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, national spokesperson for the Sickle Cell Foundation, Roberta Shields of the Ludacris Foundation, television personality Star Jones Reynolds, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin and Robin Bronk, Executive Director of The Creative Coalition. Previous NBA players honored include Alonzo and Tracy Mourning of Alonzo Mourning Charities.

Event sponsors included Elite Traveler and Guerlain beauty.

About Westin Rinehart
Westin Rinehart is a Washington, D.C. based full-service government and public affairs firm that provides strategic communications and marketing strategy to a range of multi national corporations, government agencies, non-profit organizations, public figures, luxury brands and celebrities. The firm is actively involved in the shaping of public policy issues and opinions that stimulate business and dominate political, corporate and cultural agendas.
Photos courtesy of Westin Rinehart

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Photos of the Day


Tiger Woods holds the Walter Hagen Cup after winning the championship match of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship on February 24th in Arizona. Black history tidbit: This past Saturday, HBO premiered Joe Louis: America’s Hero Betrayed, that tells the story of the African American boxing great with a little known fact - his impact on golf.

"During the 1950s, Louis and several of his Black friends were asked to participate in a PGA event in San Diego and were rebuffed by the PGA president because of their skin color.

The new HBO documentary cites this little known event that led to Louis fighting for the rights of Black golfers to participate and eventually breaking down the color barrier in golf. A special exemption was created so that Louis and other Black golfers could participate."

In an interview, Joe Louis' son shared about his conversation with the late Earl Woods (father of Tiger Woods): “I spoke to Earl and he made references that his son was aware of my father’s contributions to golf.” Source

A Raisin In The Sun actors Sanaa Lathan and Sean 'Diddy' Combs at Prince's After Oscar Fete hosted by Citizens of Humanity on February 24, 2008 in Beverly Hills.


Mary J. Blige performs with Elton John at the 16th Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Oscar Party at the Pacific Design Center on February 24, 2008 in West Hollywood.


Mellody Hobson, President of Ariel Capital Management, one of the largest African-American owned investment firms in the world, is honored at the 5th Annual Hip-Hop Summit Action Network's Action Awards February 25, 2008 in New York City. This exclusive fundraising event recognizes the outstanding work of corporate and artistic icons in hip-hop for their work in empowering lives and giving back to the community.

Mellody devotes her time and focus to the Ariel Education Initiative and Ariel Community Academy in the south side of Chicago where they teach financial literacy to students from pre-K to 8th grade.


Chairman of Barnes & Noble Leonard Riggio and his wife, Louise Riggio, announce the creation of Project Home Again, a major new initiative designed to build and provide houses specifically for former Gentilly residents in New Orleans, Louisiana on Tuesday, February 26, 2008. The Riggio's commitment to the project will be $20 million.

Project Home Again will promote a new model for expediting the repopulation and redevelopment of this important and dynamic community that was devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Black History Spotlight: Karyn Parsons

You may best remember actress Karyn Parsons as the character Hilary Banks, on the 90's hit television series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
Today, she is a mother and the founder of Sweet Blackberry, a distribution company that produces African American stories for children. The company's mission is to bring little known, miraculous stories of African American achievement to the widest audience possible.

In honor of Black History Month, the HBO Family Channel is airing specials about two African American heroes: Henry Box Brown and Garrett Morgan. Henry 'Box' Brown, a slave who mailed himself to freedom, is chronicled in the first series. The stories are narrated by award winning actresses Alfre Woodard and Queen Latifah.

Parsons recently spoke with the about her project:

What inspired you to tell the stories of black history?
Karyn: "I've never heard of the story of Henry Box Brown before. When I did, the story was magical in a way, and had a happy ending. It was a story of determination, courage and overcoming obstacles."

What was the motivation behind specializing the stories for children?
Karyn: "As a parent, I wanted to make sure that I did everything to educate my daughter about her history...I wanted to make sure other kids heard the story too. At the earliest age possible, kids need to hear about the African American heroes that aren't well known or talked about in school. "

On the web:

Photo: Expoupdate
Source: Chicago Defender

Friday, February 22, 2008

Photos of the Day

Three of the nation's leading black publications - Black Enterprise, Ebony and Essence - all held events celebrating Oscar week by honoring prominent African Americans for their achievements in film and the entertainment industry:

Will Smith congratulates wife Jada Pinkett Smith as she is honored at Essence magazine's 1st annual Black Women In Hollywood luncheon on February 21st in Beverly Hills. Read previous post here.

Denzel Washington is honored at Ebony magazine's Pre-Oscar celebration in Hollywood on February 21st. Pictured with Denzel is the CEO of Johnson Publishing Company, Linda Johnson-Rice.

Earl "Butch" Graves Jr., CEO and President of Black Enterprise Magazine, and TV personality Star Jones-Reynolds at the Black Enterprise Celebration of Oscar Week, with actress/honoree Ruby Dee (center) on February 20th in Beverly Hills.

Actors Ja'net DuBois, Della Reese, Ruby Dee and Beverly Todd attend the Black Enterprise Oscar Week All-Star Gathering.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholars

The Jackie Robinson Foundation was founded in 1973 by Rachel Robinson, the wife of baseball and civil rights luminary Jackie Robinson, to provide college scholarships to minority students and to preserve the legacy of the Baseball Hall of Fame member.

Rachel Robinson accepts an award from California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on behalf of the late Jackie Robinson at the 2007 California Hall of Fame Inductees ceremony in December, 2007. She stated, "It is my hope that Jack’s legacy will inspire others to make much needed positive contributions to our society”.
The Foundation provides four-year college scholarships to minority students with records of academic achievement, leadership capacity, civic engagement and financial need. More than financial assistance, the Education and Leadership Development Program offers all Jackie Robinson Foundation scholarship recipients a comprehensive set of support services including mentoring, networking opportunities, career exploration programming and practical life skills training.

On March 3rd, the foundation will celebrate its 35th anniversary with their annual awards dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. Hosted by Bill Cosby, the event will honor individuals who embody the humanitarian ideals of Jackie Robinson: Recording industry pioneer Clive Davis, Chairman of BMG Label Group (Lifetime Achievement Award); world-renowned film producer, director and screenwriter George Lucas, Chairman of Lucasfilm Ltd. (ROBIE Achievement in Industry) and higher education trailblazer Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, President Emerita of both Bennett College for Women and Spelman College (ROBIE Humanitarianism Award).

This academic year, the Foundation is providing $3.1 million dollars in scholarship support and programmatic assistance to 259 Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholars at 93 colleges and universities.

Since the Foundation’s inception, more than $16 million in scholarship assistance has been provided and the Scholars have maintained a remarkable 97% graduation rate, more than twice the national average for minority students.

The scholarship alumni go on to become part of a dynamic Alumni Association whose ranks include the first African American golfer in the Ivy League, an internationally touring classical pianist who was a former Miss America runner-up, a partner at a leading Wall Street investment bank and scores of doctors, teachers and lawyers.

Applications for the Jackie Robinson Foundation Education and Leadership Development Program are now available exclusively online at the Foundation’s website, Completed applications must be submitted by 11:59pm ET on March 31, 2008.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Events, Charities & NBA All Star Photos


February 13: Russell Simmons (far right) with Anthony Shriver (2nd from left), Porschla Coleman (3rd from left) and guest at the (RED) Auction to Benefit AIDS in Africa cocktail party in New York.


February 13: Actor/singer Tyrese (center) with guests at the 39th NAACP Celebrity Golf Challenge at Braemar Country Club in Tarzana, CA.


February 13: Members of the legendary Harlem Globetrotters visit fuse's "The Sauce" in New York. Did you know that the Harlem Globetrotters organization has been around for almost 90 years? On February 15th, Curly Neal (center) was honored with the retiring of his jersey during the Globetrotter's 'Magic As Ever' world tour at Madison Square Garden in NY.


February 13: The Christie family (Jackie, daughter Chantel, Doug Christie, Jr. and Doug) with Tommy the Clown at Music Smash 2008 in Hollywood.


February 14: Apollo Art and Soul Series presented an evening with songstress Diane Reeves on Valentine's Day at the Apollo Theatre in New York.


February 14: The cast and writers of the film The Great Debaters at the 39th NAACP Image Awards. The film won four awards: Best Actor, Denzel Washington; Best Actress, Journee Smollett (3rd from left), Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture, Denzel Whitaker (2nd from left) and Best Motion Picture.

2008 NBA All Star Events

The 2008 NBA All Star weekend held in New Orleans, February 15-17, not only showcased the NBA's finest, but also featured community service projects, donations and charity events with individuals such as Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and Alonzo Mourning. The NBA's Day of Service was held on February 15th, with over 2,500 from the NBA community helping to build homes, playgrounds and revitalize schools.


Cleveland Cavaliers player LeBron James attends the opening of a new playground at the St. Bernard Recreation Center in New Orleans. This is the first playground from the LeBron James Family Foundation, which recently announced their initiative to build innovative and safe playgrounds for various communities across the country. State Farm Insurance company sponsored the installation. Jakki Nance, Executive Director of the foundation stated, "This new foundation initiative will also help to strengthen the family unit and develop stronger ties between family members." Source: StateFarm


Michael Jordan is introduced by a youth from the Slidell Boys and Girls Club in New Orleans at a ceremony announcing Jordan Brand's donation of $500,000 to the youth center to help construct a new gymnasium:


Former NBA player Tim Hardaway poses with students during the NBA Cares event.


Actress Gabrielle Union (center) helps to build a home in New Orleans East as a community project of NBA Cares.

Magic Johnson and Alonzo Mourning at the BoostMobile's 4th Annual Zo and Magic's 8 Ball Challenge Celebrity Pool Tournament on February 14th. The 8-Ball Challenge is a competitive celebrity pool tournament that has raised over $750,000 to support youth and community causes.


Proceeds from the event will benefit the Alonzo Mourning Charities and the Magic Johnson Foundation. Toyota, the official vehicle sponsor for the event, partnered with Alonzo Mourning and Magic Johnson to provide support and encouragement to a local New Orleans school that was impacted by Hurricane Katrina, West Jefferson High School. Proceeds from 8-Ball Challenge will help to fund several of the rebuilding initiatives taking place at the school. Toyota donated $10,000 to help West Jefferson High's music department to move forward with essential instruments and supplies for budding musicians. Source: Toyota via PRN


Magic Johnson, Cookie Johnson, Tracy Mourning and Alonzo Mourning

Hip hop mogul Jay-Z with American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault and wife Kathryn, at the Two Kings Dinner hosted by Jay-Z and Cleveland Cavaliers player Lebron James:

Jay-Z, Kevin Liles and Lebron James

The invite-only event sponsored by Wrigley's Doublemint Gum, Sprite and MSN, brought out Fortune 500 executives and representatives, celebrities and athletes:


Philanthropists Morris Reid, Managing Director of Westin Rinehart, with wife Jaci Reid.


Filmmaker Spike Lee with wife Tonya Lewis Lee

BET President and CEO Debra Lee with Jay-Z


WNBA player Lisa Leslie with her daughter at a NBA gifting suite:

Washington Wizards player Caron Butler with his wife at the gifting suite:

Read Caron's remarkable story of courage and faith that took him from a juvenile prison to the NBA here.
Photo credits: Wireimage, Getty

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Gee's Bend Quilters

Recently featured on the Oprah show, the women of the Gee's Bend Quilters Collective consists of more than 50 African American women who live in Gee's Bend, Alabama. The women create stunning and colorful quilts, of which the New York Times has called "the most miraculous works of modern art America has produced."

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket
Quilters Mary Lee Bendolph, Leola Pettway and China Pettway

In recognition of Black History Month, AT&T unveiled a specially commissioned quilt that celebrates the spirit of African-Americans and highlights the unique talents of the renowned Gee's Bend Quilters. AT&T's relationship with the Gee's Bend Quilters Collective is just one of their most recent commitments to celebrate and preserve African-American culture.

The history of quilting in Gee's Bend dates back to the 1800s, when the women of Gee's Bend -- which remains a small, isolated, all-black rural community outside Selma, Ala. -- developed a style that featured distinct, bold, sophisticated designs.

The AT&T Gee's Bend Quilt was created by 46 members of the Gee's Bend Quilters Collective, who range in age from 19 to 90. They worked together for more than 250 hours to complete the artwork, which is destined to become a part of black cultural history.

"Working with my mother, Leola Pettway, on our two squares for the commissioned quilt for AT&T was wonderful because it brought back memories of the old days, when we went from house to house quilting with all the women," said China Pettway, member of the Gee's Bend Quilters Collective and member of the board of the Gee's Bend Foundation. "We sewed our history right into this quilt and are proud to celebrate Black History Month. This gave us the chance to sit with a large group of the women, singing and sewing together."

This spring, the quilt will tour the U.S. and make stops at AT&T locations in Atlanta; Birmingham, Ala.; Detroit; Los Angeles; Chicago; and St. Louis and will be donated to the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW).

For more information on the Quiltmakers of Gee's Bend and to view photos of their quilts, visit the website at:

Source: AT&T via PRN
Photos: Gee's Bend Website

Thursday, February 14, 2008

::Photo of the Day::


Happy Valentine's Day from BlackGivesBack!

Students of the Andre Agassi Prep School present 1,400 hand made Valentine cards to veterans at The Andre Agassi Prep School in Las Vegas, Nevada.

A Special Valentine's Day Message for African American Women

Happy Valentine's Day!

Valentine's Day is all about love - not just loving one another, but loving yourself!

Loving yourself includes eating a nutritious diet, exercising regularly and scheduling regular health screenings and check-ups.

In recognition of Valentine's Day, today's post will feature the importance of heart health among African American women.

Did you know that:

African American women face a greater risk of death from heart disease than other races?

African American women don't get the same care of heart disease as whites because they don't get the same tests and treatment?

African American women are more likely to get heart disease because they tend to have more risk factors such as obesity, lack of exercise, high blood pressure, and diabetes?

Because of these statistics, it is important that African American women become educated about their risk of heart disease and ways they can prevent it. Ways to keep your heart healthy include not smoking; keeping a healthy weight; exercising regularly; eating heart healthy foods such as whole grain foods, vegetables and lean meats; and knowing your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose levels.

In an effort to educate women across the country about the importance of heart health, the Sister to Sister Foundation, a national non-profit, was founded in 2000 by Irene Pollin to prevent heart disease among women. Since then, Sister to Sister has impacted the lives of thousands of women by providing life-saving screenings. The foundation sponsors Heart Health Fairs in cities across the country, providing free cardiac screenings, immediate follow-up counseling, and educational resources.


Sister to Sister Founder and President Irene Pollin (middle) officially opens this year’s Women’s Heart Health Fairs in Washington, D.C. with WJLA-7 Anchor Maureen Bunyan (left) and Michelle Cross Fenty, First Lady, Washington, DC (right).


City of Chicago Mayor’s Office on Women, Denise Ferguson (center), who serves on the Community Council of the 2008 National Women’s Healthy Heart Campaign, poses with Neonu Jewell (left) and Nikki Bravo (right), at the Executive Women’s Event held at Chicago’s House of Blues.

Upcoming Heart Health Fair cities and dates include:

New York: Friday, February 15
Madison Square Garden
7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

St. Louis: Friday, February 15
West County Center
8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Chicago: Wednesday, February 20
Merchandise Mart
8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Charlotte: Saturday, February 23
South Park Mall
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Baltimore: Tuesday, February 26
Baltimore Convention Center
8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Los Angeles: Wednesday, February 27
Century City (2029 Century Park East)
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Detroit: Friday, February 29
GM Wintergarden
8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

These heart health fairs are helping thousands of women learn their risk for heart disease so they can make changes to protect their hearts. Women receive FREE comprehensive heart health screenings and immediate individual counseling with a health professional to discuss the results. Also offered are engaging and fun educational seminars, fitness and cooking demonstrations, and other resources to promote heart health.

Visit the website at to obtain more information about the healthy heart fairs and other events, and to learn more about healthy living.

{Thanks Jenna}

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

24-Year-Old Aviator To Be Honored With Resolution on Capitol Hill

Barrington Irving, the 24- year-old pilot who set two world records in June, 2007 to become the youngest pilot and the first person of African descent to fly solo around the globe, will be presented with a Congressional Resolution today, at the U.S. Capitol building.

The Resolution (H. Res. 661), passed unanimously by The U.S. House of Representatives on December 11, 2007, and was introduced by U.S. Representatives Alcee L. Hastings (D-Miramar) and Kendrick B. Meek(D-Miami), and encourages the pursuit of more initiatives like Irving's nonprofit organization, Experience Aviation, Inc., which introduces youth and underrepresented groups to careers in aviation and aerospace.

Barrington Irving's flight is now part of aviation history. On his four- month, 30,000-mile "World Flight Adventure" beginning on June 23, 2007 that was followed on the Internet by more than 100,000 students, Irving encountered thunderstorms, snowstorms, sandstorms, monsoons and icing along the way. He made 27 stops including the Azores, Spain, Greece, Egypt, Dubai, India, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan before returning to the U.S. via Alaska. As he flew back across the U.S., he was celebrated by the public, sponsors and students in Anchorage, Seattle, Denver, Houston, and Mobile.

Born in Kingston, Jamaica and raised in inner-city Miami, Irving explains that his purpose in making the flight was to inspire inner-city and minority youth, and other youth throughout the world, to consider aviation careers, but more important, to pursue whatever dream they might have. He named his plane "Inspiration," and said, " ... because that's what I want my historic venture to be for young people. They can look at me and realize that if I can achieve my dream, they can too."

Barrington is now introducing innovative, hands-on educational programs for students at his Experience Aviation Learning Center in Miami. For more information, visit

Source: PRN

Monday, February 11, 2008

::Photos of the Day::

February 6: SAG award winner and Oscar nominee Ruby Dee attends "With Ossie and Ruby - In this Life Together" audio book release party in New York City.

January 26: Actor/comedian Jamie Foxx with his biological mother Louise at Crustacean's Ten Year Anniverary with a perfomance by Patti LaBelle. Philanthropy tidbit: Jamie's philanthropic work has benefited children in foster care, as Jamie was adopted as a child.

February 9: Designer and head of Designers for Darfur, Malcolm Harris, poses with graphic designer Nona Thomas and designer Emani Coulthurst at the 1st Anniversary of Designers for Darfur at Dex New York in NY.

February 8: Aretha Franklin is the guest of honor at the 2008 MusiCares Person of the Year Honors held at the LA Convention Center.

February 7: R&B group Boys II Men perform at the 4th annual Peapod Foundation benefit concert, hosted by the Black Eyed Peas in Los Angeles.

February 6: Actor Dondre Whitfield, honoree Cathy Hughes, Radio One founder, and actress Salli Richardson-Whitfield attend The Lexus Listening Lounge honoring Cathy Hughes at AREA in West Hollywood.

February 8: Donna Richardson Joyner and Tom Joyner arrive at the 2008 MusiCares Person of the Year gala honoring Aretha Franklin held at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles.

February 9: Musician Wyclef Jean and singer Alicia Keys perform at the 2008 Clive Davis Pre-GRAMMY party at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, California.

R&B legends Ashford and Simpson with Clive Davis at his Pre-GRAMMY party event.
February 10: Jay-Z, Beyonce, Kanye West and singer/songwriter Ne-Yo at the 50th Annual GRAMMY Awards at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
February 10: Serena Williams and Janet Jackson at Entertainment Weekly's toast to music executive Antonio "LA" Reid at STK-LA in West Hollywood, California.