Friday, October 31, 2008

Photos of the Day

Congressman Charles B. Rangel is pictured with students from the Harlem Children's Zone during the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund USA's celebration to recognize Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday on October 29, 2008 in New York City.

Natalie Cole poses with her new CD "Still Unforgettable" at Borders Westwood on October 28, 2008 in Westwood, California.

NY Giants player Antonio Pierce celebrates his 30th birthday in partnership with jeweler David Yurman at STK on October 28, 2008 in New York City:

Director Malcolm Lee attends the after party for the premiere of "Soul Men" at the Hip Hop Center of Harlem on October 28, 2008 in New York City. The film stars the late greats Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes.

Musician B.B. King performs during the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz where he was honored, on October 26, 2008 in Los Angeles, California.

The 28th Annual Center for Communication Awards Luncheon honored Debra L. Lee, Chairman and CEO of BET Networks on October 28, 2008 in NYC. Lee received the Frank Stanton Communications Award, which is given to an outstanding leader in the media industry. Pictured with Lee is Richard Parsons, Chairman of Time Warner, who served as the lead toaster/roaster.

Singer and Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson at the 'Secret Life of Bees' premiere earlier this month in Los Angeles. Our prayers and condolences go out to the Hudson family.
Photos: Wireimage

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

HBCUs in the News

During today’s tough economic times, many historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are struggling – with enrollment, retention, graduation rates and alumni giving. This week, both Maryland and North Carolina are in the news for their efforts at examining these issues.

The state of Maryland commissioned a panel of national higher education experts to advise Maryland legislators on how to improve their four HBCUs (Morgan State, Bowie State, UMD Eastern Shore and Coppin State). And in North Carolina, America’s favorite dad Bill Cosby had a message for HBCU alumni who aren’t giving back.

Here’s what Maryland found (snippets from the Baltimore Sun):

"The panel's 34-page report, released yesterday, identifies many ways in which Maryland's four public historically black colleges have fallen behind other state schools - in science and technology labs, buildings, and retention and graduation rates.

"Substantial additional resources must be invested in [the historically black colleges] to overcome the competitive disadvantages caused by prior discriminatory treatment," the report said, without specifying how much is needed. But the chairman of the panel, which reported to key state legislators, said the colleges can also shift money around and make better use of what they already have.

Since 2001, the state has targeted $400 million to its black campuses in an effort to make up for decades in which a dual system of higher education neglected the black colleges. But the schools have failed to improve on key indicators.

The report found that more than 80 percent of students at black colleges "need further preparation to succeed in college." So more money is needed for academic advisers, summer programs that begin after high school and other efforts to get students up to speed. Already, the black colleges share $6 million a year under the Access and Success program for those purposes.

The schools should propose specific programs to increase graduation rates. They also must redirect money toward financial aid because many students drop out simply because they can no longer afford college, the report said."

Bill Cosby's Message

Bill Cosby was a featured speaker at a North Carolina symposium recently that focused on securing the financial future of their HBCUs. Called the ‘Straight Talk Symposium’, Cosby stated the main reason why HBCUs are in trouble is because their alumni is not giving back – and we [alumni] should be held accountable for it.

His message to the audience of HBCU college presidents and administrators was, “You have no right to be begging, they can afford it…you have to make them feel bad”. Source

Isn't the 'I Love My HBCU' t-shirt cute? You can find it at

Monday, October 27, 2008

NFL's Terrell Suggs Hosts Luncheon for Sickle Cell Patients

On October 25, 2008, the Baltimore Raven's Terrell Suggs held a luncheon for sickle cell patients during his inaugural Team Sizzle Celebrity Weekend in Baltimore. During the celebrity filled weekend, Suggs celebrated his birthday and the launch of his new entertainment company, Team Sizzle Worldwide.

A portion of the weekend's ticket sales benefited 'Imagine A World Without Sickle Cell' of the William E. Proudford Sickle Cell Fund. In the photo above is event host Terrell Suggs with Randi Pupkin, sickle cell guest Maliah and Dr. Karen Proudford in front of an Art with a Heart painting by sickle cell artist Hunter. Suggs was inspired to lend his support to the fund after a recent encounter with a teen sickle cell patient.

Boxer Ronald Lamont "Winky" Wright (left) and singer/actress Christina Milian (right) pose with sickle cell guest Maliah. Sickle cell anemia is an inherited blood disorder that is common among African Americans.

Actresses Kellita Smith (left) and Jill Marie Jones (right).

Dollicia Bryan, Terrell Suggs, Christina Milian and Reagan Gomez-Preston

Photos: Wireimage

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Harlem Shopping Event Raises Funds for Emmett Till Legacy Foundation

On Saturday, October 18, 2008, the TRW Group invited the women and friends of the New York Giants Football Organization for an intimate shopping experience at Harlem's one and only high end designer shoe boutique, Bourgeoisie Shoes.

Rashidah Ali, owner of Bourgeoisie Shoes and Tia Watts of the TRW Group

Guests enjoyed 50% off of selected shoes while sipping wine and champagne, all for a great cause. A portion of the proceeds benefited the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation, an organization that supports youth, women empowerment and social justice.

For more information on the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation, visit See previous post here.

Bourgeoisie Shoes is located at 2366 7th Avenue (between 138th and 139th Street) in Harlem, NY. Visit the website here.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Throne of the Third Heaven

There are many African American artists whose work has been displayed at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Among the artists include Jacob Lawrence, Elizabeth Catlett, Romare Bearden, and, James Hampton.

On a recent visit to the National Portrait Gallery to visit the hip hop exhibit Recognize!, I decided to view the folk art area. As I turned the corner, a glittering of brilliant gold and silver light caught my eye.

In the photo above is a sculpture by James Hampton titled, ‘The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly’. He may not be as well known as other African American artists, but in one biography, it states that very few works in the history of folk art compare to this creation.

Hampton was born in 1909 in a rural community of Elloree, S.C., to a father who was a self-proclaimed Baptist traveling preacher. In his late teens, he moved to Washington, D.C. to live with his brother. By the mid 1940’s, he had served in the armed forces and was honorably discharged. Upon his return to D.C., he took a job as a night janitor with the federal government. During this time, he rented a garage near his home and began to create his elaborate sculptures.

He scourged for discarded materials to use: Old furniture, cardboard, old light bulbs, shards of mirror, wooden planks and supports, cardboard cutouts, scraps of insulation board, Kraft paper, electrical cables and old desk blotters. He then covered the pieces with aluminum and gold foil, and fastened it with tacks, glue, pins and tape.

Not many people knew that Hampton was creating art in his spare time for fourteen years. Not even his family. He was described as “a small, bespectacled, soft-spoken recluse with few friends.”

The Throne sculptures were discovered by the owner of the garage after Hampton’s death in 1964. In all, 180 objects and sculptures were found that had biblical scriptures inscribed on them. The garage owner sold Hampton's work to a couple, who then anonymously donated it to the Smithsonian. It is cited in literature that Hampton’s work was greatly influenced by his deep religious faith. There were no plans or blueprints found for his work, Hampton shared that God told him what to do on nightly basis.

Hampton is considered an artist, although it is not known if he even considered himself one. Now, his sculpture is on exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. If you’re in the D.C. area, or plan to visit, be sure to stop by and visit this magnificent piece of work. The photo I took above doesn’t capture the beauty and brilliance of it. He is quoted as saying, "That's my life. I'll finish it before I die."

Source: Smithsonian

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hip Hop's Finest Announce Winners of TAG's First Ever 'Make History National Grants Program'

Jermaine Dupri, Russell Simmons, Ne-Yo and Other Celebrities Join TAG Records and Hip Hop Summit Action Network to Honor Five Deserving Students Nationwide for Their Community Efforts, October 17, 2008 at Clark Atlanta University

TAG Records, the groundbreaking music label recently formed by Procter & Gamble's TAG brand and Island Def Jam, recently joined forces with the Hip Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN) to name five recipients of the first ever TAG Make History National Grants Program.

With help from the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO) and a panel of celebrity judges including hip-hop stars Jermaine Dupri, Russell Simmons, Ne-Yo, and Grammy-award winners MC Lyte and Chilli, TAG Records honored individuals who have made their mark bettering society.

"The TAG Records mission is dedicated to mentoring and propelling urban youth through hip hop," stated Adam Weber, brand manager for P&G. "The goal of TAG's Make History National Grants Program is to recognize the extraordinary strides being taken by select urban students, and we're very proud to partner with HSAN and NAFEO to provide them with tools to broaden their remarkable contributions."

After a nationwide search scouring more than 100 college campuses, the chosen student winners each received a $10,000 grant for their exceptional progress in a cross-section of fields ranging from science to the arts. A high-profile judging event took place October 17, 2008 at Clark Atlanta University, where top students from historically black colleges and universities were present.

In the photo above is winner Kiera Thomas (right) of Kentucky State University with Russell Simmons and hip hop artist Yoyo. Thomas is an award-winning singer and songwriter. She has received this grant for her development and funding of the Kentucky State Show Choir, a program committed to team spirit through the finest forms of contemporary vocal music and choreography.

Grammy award winner Rozanda ‘Chilli’ Thomas congratulates Blair Alexander Jr., of Morehouse College in Atlanta. Alexander was recognized for his groundbreaking research in microbiology pertaining to why humans have become resistant to antibiotics, and how to reverse this trend. Alexander will continue to make history as a premier researcher for antibiotics addressing diseases of African Americans and all races.

R&B star Ne-yo with Paul Dickens of Howard University in Washington, D.C. Paul is a first year medical student who has created health and environmental youth-oriented programming, using original hip-hop DVD's to encourage young people to maintain healthy lives and promoting professions related to this lifestyle.

Other winners included Chevonne James of Bowie State University in Bowie, MD for her creation and operation of the "Pick A Meal" pilot program, a program that enables the less fortunate to receive gift cards or "meal vouchers" and allows them to "pick-a-meal" at participating restaurants. This program also provides nutritional supplement bars, mini sanitary kits and bottled water to promote health and hygiene to the public; and Jamel Vanderburg of Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, OH. Jamel is the 21-year-old founder and CEO of start-up marketing and accounting firm, A & M Financial Services, Inc. This firm assists college students who want to start their own businesses to achieve their dreams, and also focuses on event planning and consulting.

These outstanding students were handpicked from applicants across the country and will use the grant funds to continue to develop their projects.

Russell Simmons declared, "Procter and Gamble and the TAG brand have created an innovative approach through this grants program to make meaningful contributions to the community. I am proud to be a part of this opportunity that inspires and lifts people up."

"TAG is a company that is ready to take a stand and make a commitment not just to music, but to improving the community through academic opportunities," said hip-hop Icon MC Lyte.

To learn more about the TAG's Make History Grants Program go to HSAN and TAG Records' Web sites: and

Source: Press release
Photos: Nunez/Wireimage

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Hip Hop You Don't Stop....

For those of you in the D.C. area, you have one week left to visit the exhibition, Recognize! Hip Hop and Contemporary Portraiture at the National Portrait Gallery. The exhibition features hip hop culture through photography, painting, graffiti, film, and poetry and installation. This exhibit opened in February of this year -and I just got around to view it this past weekend!

For those working with our youth, it's important that you understand and embrace hip hop culture. Now a part of today's culture, many educators are using it in the classroom to engage our youth. There's even a Hip Hop High School.

As you walk in the exhibition, there are huge 20 foot vibrant graffiti murals created by artists Tim Conlon and Dave Hupp. There are enormous, colorful paintings with patterned backgrounds of hip hop legends by artist Kehinde Wiley. Hip hop in action is captured by photographer David Scheinbaum. Also in the exhibition is an art installation by Baltimore native Shinique Smith with the poetry of Nikki Giovanni, and the work of video and film artist Jefferson Pinder.

The exhibition closes October 26th.

::Hip Hop in the News::
The Birthplace of Hip Hop: The NY Times has dubbed 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx as the birthplace of hip hop. In the photo above is DJ Kool Herc, who along with his sister hosted basement parties at the Sedgwick Avenue high rise in the 1970's that elevated hip hop to what it is today. This month, the building was sold to a developer for 7 million after a bitter fight between the owner and the residents. Visit the website here.

Hip hop mogul and philanthropist Russell Simmons receives the 'I Am Hip Hop' Icon Award at the BET Hip Hop Awards in Atlanta, October 18, 2008. The award is presented to an individual who has made notable contributions of outstanding significance to the hip hop community.

As one of the most influential hip hop moguls in the world, Simmons has inspired countless other artists to give back to their communities and make charity a top priority. Through his efforts with the Hip Hop Summit Action Network and other philanthropic initiatives, Simmons has proven that hip hop can make a huge difference in the world. The award show premieres on October 23rd, 8pm EST on BET. {Source: BET}

Photos: Wireimage, Smithsonian

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Sojourn Project

Every February the nation observes Black History Month, which highlights the accomplishments of African Americans and their contributions to society. For 11th and 12th grade students participating in The Sojourn Project, instead of learning about black history in a school lesson plan, black history comes to life.

The Sojourn Project is a program whose vision is to inspire high school students, across America, to become engaged citizens and community leaders through a hands-on interactive tour of black history. Traveling through the South, students visit historical and significant sites where civil rights history was made. They even meet civil rights veterans who share their stories of struggle and triumph.

The program was created by Jeff Steinberg, a history teacher from the San Francisco Bay Area in 1999. He shared about the program with USA Today, "My goal is for the students to use the lessons they learn on this journey and apply them in their homes, schools and communities."

The trip proved to be a life changing experience for one student. Jasmine Le Blanc who has participated in two journeys with the program shared, "I have learned so much from Sojourn, it has been such a big part of my life. It changed my personality. I've stopped using the N-word and the B-word and other words that degrade people. I also became a peer mediator at school." That’s priceless.

The cost for the Sojourn Journey is not cheap; it’s $2,500 per student. Hearing the cost of this program may deter some students, but not for Juliana, a high school student from San Bruno, California. I learned about this program when Juliana sent me an email asking for a donation so that she could partake on this educational experience.

Here’s a portion of her email:

"Hi my name is Juliana and I have been invited to go on a once in a lifetime journey. My school is traveling to the Deep South retracing the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. This is not a tour, it is an academic experience. Over 10 days we not only travel to major civil rights sites in Atlanta, Selma, Birmingham, Hattiesburg, Jackson, Little Rock and Memphis, we also get to meet the veterans of the Civil Rights Movement.

Many of our speakers are true American heroes. I am told the lessons we learn on this journey are all about tolerance, acceptance of other people, non-violence, courage, compassion, forgiveness, and civic responsibility. We meet Movement veterans such as Congressman John Lewis, from Georgia, who was arrested over 40 times and beaten fighting for justice and equality.

We meet Elizabeth Eckford, one of the Little Rock 9, who was one of the first African American students to desegregate schools in our country in 1957. We meet 86 year old Reverand Fred Shuttesworth, who almost single handedly desegregated Birmingham, Alabama. We meet Reverand Billy Kyles, who was on the balcony with Dr.King when he was shot in Memphis, Tennessee and spent the last hour of Dr.King's life with him.

The main reason I want to go on this trip is because the Civil Rights Movement is something that affects people on a daily basis. The bravery of the people we are going to meet opened up opportunities for generations to come. I feel like this learning experience is something that everyone should be able to have, even if they can't afford it financially. Educating people about the people that don't appear in our books is really important. This trip is known to be "life-changing" and "inspirational." I would be honored to have learned about the Movement from the people that created it.

The cost of this once in a lifetime journey is $2,500 and although it is an excellent value, I cannot afford to pay the whole cost myself. I am hoping that you see the benefits of supporting students like me to go on this trip and may be willing to donate. The money you donate helps students like myself go on this trip and your donation to Sojourn to the Past is tax deductable. If you would like to help keep my dream alive by donating…"

So far, Juliana has raised $100. If you would like to help Juliana reach her goal of raising $2,500, email me at and I'll provide more information.

To learn more about The Sojourn Project, visit the website here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The 3rd Annual Virginia Icon Celebrates Virginia’s Youth and Honors R&B Star Trey Songz

On Sunday, October 12th at the Landmark Theater in Richmond, Virginia, R&B star and Virginia native Trey Songz received the Virginia Icon Trailblazer Award at the 2008 Virginia Icon, an annual music competition for Virginia middle and high school students benefiting the Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center. The Trailblazer Award recognized his musical talent and commitment to make a social difference with his Songz for Peace initiative, created in response to the rise in youth violence.

Songz for Peace was launched this past August in Chicago at Lindblom High School on Chicago’s southside where over 500 children received information, gift bags with school supplies and a special performance from Trey and other musical artists. Trey shared with BlackGivesBack about his award, “It feels good. I was always taught to be humble and give back, and to be recognized for that, it feels good. Especially here in Virginia”.

He has partnered with Noonie Ward on this initiative, a former gang member, now among Chicago’s entrepreneurial and philanthropic elite. Together, they plan to bring the Songz for Peace initiative to cities across the country. He shared about the initiative, "I want to definitely spread it out to a lot of communities in need. I think the violence among our youth is rising like crazy”.

The timing of the initiative’s launch couldn’t have come at a better time. Chicago experienced a significant rise in violence this year, particularly among public school students. Trey expressed his concern that murder victims are getting younger and by using his celebrity status, youth may take heed to his words. “If we build on it [Songz for Peace] step by step it will be very successful - we've got some good people working with us”.

Trey’s family was on hand to support him as he received his honor, which included Trey’s younger brother and his mother, April Tucker, who shared that she’s a fan of BlackGivesBack!

After Trey received his award, the audience was treated to an electrifying performance that included his popular songs, “The Last Time”, “Wonder Woman” and “Can’t Help But Wait”. He congratulated all of the contestants and presented the winners with their awards.

The third place winner was 13-year old Ricky Ayala who sang Michael Jackson’s “I Want You Back”, the second place winner was 18- year old Jessica Michelle Fox who performed Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” and in first place was Julia Braxton, a 14-year old high school freshman who sang “Your Daddy’s Son, originally performed by Broadway actress Audra McDonald. Prior to achieving Billboard success, Trey also prepared for his music career by competing in talent competitions.

On Monday, October 13th, Trey continued his goodwill at Richmond’s Thomas Jefferson High School, where almost 300 youth listened to a panel that featured words of wisdom from Trey, as he spoke from the heart, showing his passion and commitment to making a difference for urban youth. He also treated the youth to a performance, signed CDs and autographs.

The events were a huge success, all for a great cause. Proceeds from the Virginia Icon benefited the Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center (PEATC), a parent education, support and training information center committed to helping families, schools and children with and without disabilities. The Virginia Icon was created to generate public awareness and helps to raise funds for delivering top-notch resources, information and training throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. They are committed to reaching all families, including traditionally underserved, rural and low-income populations and those families that do not know how their effective involvement in their child’s education can make a difference. The services are FREE! For more information, contact 703-923-0010.

Event sponsors included the US Postal Service Heritage Series, IC Linkages, LLC, and the NSWC Federal Credit Union. If your organization is thinking of planning a similar event, a DVD copy of the event is available for purchase for $15 plus $5 shipping. Contact Gloria Brogdon at

A special thanks to Virginia Icon's Executive Producer Patricia Green of IC Linkages, LLC for the invite and an amazing event!

BGB Contributor: Cecilia J.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

McDonald's Launches All American Achievers Program

Via press release: McDonald's recently unveiled a new, in-school achievement program, McDonald's All American Achievers, an opportunity for teachers nationwide to celebrate their top-performing students. With the support of "CSI: NY" star Hill Harper, McDonald's will launch All American Achievers as an interactive program that not only motivates 7th and 8th graders to excel academically, but also encourages character development and community service.

"The All American Achievers program gives McDonald's a unique opportunity to celebrate the academic accomplishments of youth in the African American community, as well as acknowledge teachers for the important role they have," said Carol Sagers, Director of Marketing, McDonald's USA.

Students are eligible to become an All American Achiever through submitting an expository essay, written by the student and submitted by his or her teacher, answering questions about the student's academic accomplishments, extracurricular activities and community citizenship. Teachers score and submit the classroom's essays for consideration. A panel of judges, including educators and actor and longtime education activist Harper, will select the Grand Prize winners from the highest scoring essays submitted.

"It's great to see McDonald's is leading the path and shaping the next generation of leaders. We need to keep our students encouraged and motivated now so they can be prepared for the future," Harper said.

Entries are due December 8. Winners will be announced on or about January 30, 2009, and Grand Prize winners will receive a $500 American Express gift card and a new laptop computer. The remaining 98 finalists will receive a $250 gift card. Teachers who submit the winning essay will receive $500 to purchase supplies for their classroom and the winners' corresponding schools each receive a $2,000 check.

For more information about the McDonald's All American Achievers program, entry forms and official rules, visit

::Event: 4th Annual Paint It Pink Gala::

From On Thursday, October 2nd, the 4th annual Paint It Pink gala was held to raise awareness of breast cancer in women under 40, particularly women of color, at the Metropolitan Pavilion North in NYC. In the photo above is Gallery Director Richard Beavers and a guest in front of a painting by artist Monique Luck (who was previously highlighted on this blog!)

“Paint it Pink”, is a gala reception with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres served amid some of the finest works of art being produced by artists of African, Caribbean and Latin American ancestry. Attendees enjoyed live entertainment and acquired art, while they mingled with art lovers, artists and curators to help raise funds for breast cancer awareness and advocacy.

Artist Nnamdi Okonkwo at the Paint It Pink gala. He was also previously profiled on BlackGivesBack. See previous post on Monique and Nnamdi here.

The event is created and produced by Art off the Main, bringing together the art community and advocates to focus attention on the issue of breast cancer and women of color and to raise vital funds for Young Survival Coalition’s (YSC) Diversity Program.

In 2005, recognizing the needs of under served communities, YSC launched this program to help ensure that young women in all communities affected by breast cancer have access to the information and support they need. Young Survival Coalition is the only international, non-profit network of breast cancer survivors and supporters dedicated to the concerns and issues that are unique to young women and breast cancer.

Guests from the Young Survival Coalition

Breast cancer survivor Khadijah Carter, Dr. Jenny Romero and Oliver Rios

During the event, Jenny Romero, M.D. was honored for her efforts to bring greater understanding of the issue of cancer prognosis among populations of color. Dr. Romero is a medical oncologist at the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention in Harlem. She is also a Clinical Affiliate in the Department of Medicine at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and attending at St. Lukes Hospital.

Photos: Watts/Wireimage

Friday, October 10, 2008

States of Emergency: The Black Boys Report

This past July, the Schott Foundation for Public Education published the report, Given Half the Chance: The Schott 50 State Report on Public Education and Black Males. The report underscores the reality that the public education system in America is failing black boys. They note: In 2005/06, less than half of all Black male students received diplomas with their cohorts, and the rate at which Black males are dropping out and being placed in Special Education far exceeds the rate at which they are graduating and reaching high levels of academic achievement.

Many of you know that I have highlighted this issue many times, so I’m not citing anything new here, but I’d like to share their findings on which states/districts have the highest educational inequities in graduation rates and achievement gaps in educating black boys.

The States of Emergency are: Wyoming, Georgia, Illinois, Nevada, New York, Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina, Wisconsin and Michigan. The report cites that the worst problems are concentrated in a few large metropolitan areas, specifically New York City, Chicago and Detroit.

The report also cites the ten lowest performing large districts for black males: New York City, NY; Milwaukee, WI; Buffalo, NY; Baltimore City, MD; Richmond County, GA; Pinellas County, FL; Rochester, NY; Norfolk, VA; Detroit, MI; and Indianapolis, IN.
Is your state/district on this list? If so, what efforts are being made to address this crisis in your community?

Organizations to check out:
America's Promise Alliance:
By registering at America's Promise Alliance, you can get information on nationwide 'dropout summits' in your area.
The Black Star Project:
The Schott Foundation’s goals are to promote a 50 percent increase in the graduation rate for Black male students over a five-year period; promote an increase in the number of Black male teachers and policy advocates; and develop and maintain an online data clearinghouse for the performance of public schools and Black males.

**There is an online database I saw a year ago, that lists programs specifically serving black boys. I have been racking my brain for the past two days trying to remember it! If anyone knows the website, please email me or leave it in the comment section!

Visit the website at to view the report and learn what the graduation rates are in your community.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

::Photos of the Day::

Stedman Graham, Oprah Winfrey, actress Tasha Smith, Gayle King and Tyler Perry get emotional as the Sidney Poitier, Cicely Tyson and Ruby Dee/Ossie Davis SoundStages are dedicated as part of the opening gala of Tyler Perry's new Motion Picture & Television Studio on October 4, 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Director Spike Lee, his son Jackson, daughter Satchel and wife Tonya Lewis Lee attend "Miracle At St. Anna" movie premiere on October 2, 2008 in Rome, Italy.

At the New York premiere of "Miracle At St. Anna", Spike Lee chatted with the Original Buffalo Soldiers, September 22, 2008.

Hip hop mogul Sean 'Jay-Z' Carter and music executive Kevin Liles attend the 2008 New Yorkers for Children Gala at Cipriani's 42nd Street on September 16, 2008 in New York City, New York.

Real estate tycoon R. Donahue Peebles, wife Katrina Peebles and family attend the launch of "The Peebles Path to Real Estate Wealth" at BLT Steak on September 19, 2008 in Washington, D.C.

Angela Simmons (center) celebrates her 21st birthday with sister Vanessa and brother JoJo Simmons at Butter on September 18, 2008 in New York City.

Tavis Smiley Show Celebrates 1000th Show: Executive Producer of the Tavis Smiley Show Neal Kendall; Tavis Smiley; Denise Pines, Director of Business Development, The Smiley Group; and KCET President and CEO Al Jerome celebrate the Tavis Smiley 1000th Show at KCET on Thursday September 18, 2008 in Los Angeles, CA.

Actor Denzel Washington speaks at the launch of the "Be Great" campaign by the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, September 17, 2008 in Washington, DC. Serving as the national spokesperson for the Boys & Girls Clubs, he himself was a member for over 10 years.

Hip hop artist and author Common performs at the 4th annual New York Times Great Children's Read at Columbia University on October 5, 2008 in New York City.

Photos: Wireimage

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

::Community Events: Chicago::

Habilitative Systems, Inc. Celebrates 30th Anniversary with “Jazz with Pizzazz 2008” Fundraiser, Featuring Award-Winning Musician Najee

In 1978, a small group of church folks refused to ignore the abject poverty on Chicago’s West side. They realized they had to do something to uplift the most vulnerable members of the community. Their answer was to form Habilitative Systems, Inc. (HSI), a nonprofit organization - that during the past three decades – has worked to uplift at-risk children, adults and families, as well as those suffering from disabilities and substance abuse.

The agency will proudly celebrate this remarkable milestone on October 11, 2008, with its annual fundraiser, “Jazz with Pizzazz 2008,” featuring award-winning artist Najee. “Jazz with Pizzazz 2008” is being held at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, 151 E. Wacker Dr., with the reception starting at 6:00 p.m.

HSI is among the largest African-American managed, health and human services organization in the Chicago area. At 15 sites, the organization operates 50 vital programs that span the entire life cycle of the thousands of clients served. Among those programs are alcohol and drug rehabilitation, vocation and job training, teen parenting, troubled teen outreach programs, ex-offender re-entry programs, child abuse and neglect prevention services, residential homes for the disabled and mentally impaired, shelters, food pantries for the homeless, and senior housing.

For tickets and information, contact Sharon Moreland, 773-854-8313 or

100 Black Men of Chicago’s College Scholarship Fair

Saturday, November 1, 2008
9:00 am to 2:00 pm
University of Illinois Chicago

The Black Star Project encourages high school students from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Minnesota and other mid-western states to attend the 100 Black Men of Chicago's College fair. To register online, visit