Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Gordon Parks, Hank Willis Thomas to Show Alongside '30 Americans' this Fall at Corcoran

This fall, the Corcoran Gallery of Art and College of Art + Design opens 30 Americans (October 1, 2011 – February 12, 2012), a groundbreaking exhibition of work by many of the most important African American contemporary artists of the last three decades, among them Glenn Ligon, Kehinde Wiley, Kalup Linzy, Nina Chanel Abney, Kara Walker, and Purvis Young. By bringing seminal artistic figures together with younger and emerging artists, the exhibition explores artistic influence across generations and sheds light on issues of racial, sexual and historical identity.

On view in conjunction with 30 Americans, the Corcoran will open Hank Willis Thomas: Strange Fruit, a body of new, never-before-shown work by the artist, and Gordon Parks: Photographs from the Collection.

In Strange Fruit, Thomas explores how the concepts of spectacle and display relate to notions of African American identity. Through photograph and video works, Thomas examines two forms of spectacle – the historic culture of lynchings and the commodification that surrounds professional sports – and analyzes their impact on the presentation of the black body. 

“Strange Fruit presents provocative new work by Hank Willis Thomas, a tough and thoughtful young artist working at the edge of contemporary practice,” said Chief Curator and Head of Research Philip Brookman, who organized the exhibition. “His images confront our sense of memory and history—both past and present—and they deal strongly with issues of racial identity and terror. One of the hallmarks of Hank's art is that he illuminates some of the things we do not want to see or remember and puts these in the context of what we already know, such as spectacle, sports, and corporate ideology. In this way he pushes us to confront our own preconceptions about the world and reconsider them in new and enlightening ways.”

Two works from Thomas’s series B®ANDED will be on view in 30 Americans. Basketball and Chain, 2003, and Branded Head, 2003 draw upon the language of advertising to compare commodification of the African American male body during slavery and the presentation of African American sports stars today.

Image: Hank Willis Thomas, From Cain’t See in the Mornin’ til Cain’t See at Night, 2011. Digital C-print, 30 x 96 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, NY. © Hank Willis Thomas.

Gordon Parks: Photographs from the Collection presents 25 works from many of the pioneering documentarian’s most important photographic essays, and includes American Gothic, Washington, D.C., 1942, Park’s iconic image of Washington, DC FSA maid Ella Watson. Parks (1912–2006) used photography, film, writing, and music to express an enduring message of hope in the face of adversity, but today he is best known for his work as a photojournalist and filmmaker. In 1969, Parks became the first African American to create a major motion picture for a Hollywood studio, directing The Learning Tree from a script based on his novel of the same name. He went on to make Shaft, Leadbelly, and other films that challenged presumptions about African American life.

Both Hank Willis Thomas: Strange Fruit and Gordon Parks: Photographs from the Collection open October 1 and remain on view through Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Monday January 16, when the Gallery will be FREE and open to the public. For more information on the 30 Americans exhibit and its related programs and events, visit

Top photo: Gordon Parks, American Gothic, Washington, D.C., 1942. Gelatin silver print, 43 9/16 x 31 7/8 inches. Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., The Gordon Parks Collection, 1998.25.003. © The Gordon Parks Foundation.

Source: Press release/Corcoran

Monday, August 29, 2011

Women Who Dare to Dream Luncheon Pays Tribute to Heroines of the Civil Rights Movement

Bernice King, daughter of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., makes remarks at the Women Who Dare to Dream Luncheon in celebration of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial dedication on August 26, 2011 in Washington, DC.

WASHINGTON, DC - On August 26, 2011 at the Washington Convention Center, members of Dr. King's family, corporate leaders, and influential artists and women paid tribute to our nation's unsung heroes of the Civil Rights Movement. The 'Women Who Dare to Dream Luncheon' celebrated the legacy of strength and dignity of our civil rights heroines that continue to inspire hope.

Alexis Herman, former Secretary of Labor served as the mistress of ceremonies, and the event featured special remarks by 'sheroes' Xernona Clayton, Founder, President and CEO of the Trumpet Awards Foundation; Delores Huerta, co-founder and first vice-president of the United Farm Workers of America; and the Honorable Connie Morella and Myrlie Evers-Williams.

Also providing special remarks were Sheila C. Johnson, Founder and CEO, Salamander Farms, LLC; Guy Vickers, President of the Tommy Hilfiger Foundation; Vivian Pickard, President of the General Motors Foundation; Rosalind Hudreil, Chief Diversity Officer of the Intel Corporation; Gina F. Adams, Senior VP, Government Affairs of the FedEx Corporation; the Honorable Emanuel Cleaver, Congressman representing Missouri's fifth district; Daphne Maxwell Reid, actress; Dr. Christine King Farris, sister of Martin Luther King, Jr.; Lisa P. Jackson, Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency; and Debra Lee, Chairman and CEO, BET.

Among the event highlights were a poetry reading by Dr. Maya Angelou and musical selections by India Arie, Ledisi, and Lalah Hathaway.

R&B singer Ledisi and India Arie perform special musical selections.

Debra Lee, Chairman and CEO of BET, shared a video produced by BET employees featuring the many women of the civil rights movement, and announced that despite the postponement of the MLK Memorial dedication, the network would continue with their plans to air special programming dedicated to Martin Luther King on August 28th.

Dr. Maya Angelou reads "Abundant Hope" a poem she wrote in honor of the Martin Luther King Memorial dedication.

Myrlie Evers-Williams provides remarks, and shared that she's 78 years young!

R&B and jazz singer Lalah Hathaway sang a stirring rendention of 'Someday, We'll All Be Free,' a song originally sung by her father, the late Donnie Hathaway.

For information about the rescheduled date for the Martin Luther King Memorial dedication, please visit

Photos by Stacey Trammel

Celebrity Philanthropy: Dwyane Wade Hosts 4th Annual Wade's World Charity Weekend

Dwyane Wade Sr. (left) and Dwyane Wade (right) at the Dwyane Wade Father & Son Mentor Camp hosted by the Wade's World Charity Weekend on August 25, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.

CHICAGO - NBA Miami Heat star and Chicago-native Dwyane Wade brought together friends from sports and entertainment for his Wade's World Charity Weekend, a 4-day fundraising event that featured a benefit dinner, bowling event, and youth programs.  Proceeds from the charity weekend benefited the Wade's World Foundation and local Chicago community organizations.

Wade shared, "Chicago is my home and it will always have a special place in my heart. The Wade's World Weekend is all about giving back to the city that helped raise me. I want to make sure the Wade's World Foundation makes a positive footprint within the Chicago-land community. Our mission is to educate kids and help them understand that an education can open the door to opportunity and to a better life."

Dwyane Wade attends the Dwyane Wade Father & Son Mentor Camp, part of the Wade's World Weekend.

Wade visits Chicago public schools as part of the Wade's World Weekend on August 26, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.

Dwyane Wade (top) poses with the winners of his talent showcase, Chi-Town's Finest Breakers, during the D Wade Chicago Has Talent Showcase on August 27, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.

The mission of Wade's World Foundation is to help inspire and provide support to community-based organizations that promote education, health and social skills for kids in at-risk situations so they have the necessary tools they need to leave a positive footprint within their community and succeed in their life experiences. Since the foundation launched in 2003, Wade and his family have been committed to giving back in Chicago, South Florida and throughout the country. Additional programs supported by Wade's World include The Summer Groove with Alonzo Mourning, Wade's Annual Christmas Party for South Florida youth, spending time at Miami's Children Hospital, fulfilling Make-A-Wish Foundation wishes, providing back-to-school supplies for students and spending time with children and families in need. More information on Wade's World Foundation can be found at

Source: PRNewswire Wade's World Foundation/Photos: Wireimage

Bedford Stuyvesant Brooklyn Businesses Come Together for Back to School Giveaway

Brooklyn, NY - Any family who has sent a child off to school knows how expensive it can be. Paper, pens, books, notebooks, backpacks, new clothes ... the list seems to be never-ending. This year, Loveys Accessories Boutique owner Tionna Smalls (pictured on left), who starred in Vh1’s What Chilli Wants, and fellow Brooklyn business owners are coming together to lend a helping hand by giving away school supplies on September 6, 2011 in front of the boutique, which is located at 377 Marcus Garvey Blvd.

The event will begin at 4pm. School supplies will be given out first come, first served to parents with one supply per child. Families will also be able to enjoy free refreshments that will be served.

“Our goal is to give away school supplies to at least 100 children in the Brooklyn area. Next year we hope to triple that,” says Smalls.

Smalls opened her boutique in December 2010 and hopes that she and her business affiliates can make a difference for low-income children in the area. Other businesses that are participating in the school supply giveaway are Loveys’ neighbors, Son’s Barbershop and 430 Inkz Tattoo Parlor. Other businesses are Boss Chick Sorority, Black Champagne Entertainment, Vantage Executive Group, INC., and Nevafull Entertainment. Many people in the Bedford Stuyvesant community contributed as well.  Businesses and individuals who would like to donate for the drive, please bring items by September 4. For more information regarding the Back to School supply giveaway, please contact Kai Rogers at

Thursday, August 25, 2011

MLK National Memorial Project Foundation Announces Changes to Dedication Day Plans

Washington, DC (August 25, 2011) – This evening, Harry E. Johnson, Sr., president and CEO of the Washington DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, Inc. announced the postponement of the Martin Luther King Memorial dedication originally scheduled for Sunday, August 28th and dedication day activities, due to the possible weather threat from Hurricane Irene.

“In consultation with the National Park Service, the Mayor’s office and FEMA, it is with a heavy heart and enormous disappointment that we announce that, in the interest of public safety, we are forced to change our many worked tirelessly to dedicate the dream and make this Memorial a reality. We owe a special debt of gratitude to the Foundation staff, our generous sponsors, and to you, the public. In the words of Dr. King, “we must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope. With that in mind, let’s remember the spirit of the Memorial – justice, democracy, hope and love.”

The Dedication Event schedule for the remainder of this weekend is:

Friday, August 26th
2011 Partners In the Dream (Exhibit Hall) and MLK Store at the Washington Convention Center Hall D from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Women Who Dare To Dream Luncheon at the Washington Convention Center from 12:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Saturday, August 27th
The 2011 National Prayer Service at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception from 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.  Activities scheduled for later in the day, including the Dream Gala celebration are canceled.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial will be open to the public on Friday, August 26 from noon until 10 p.m. and Saturday, August 27 from 8 a.m. to noon.

For more information about the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, please visit

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Diversity Affluence Awards Brunch Honors Media, Entertainment Pioneers

Noel Hankin, Honorees Madeline Nelson-Small and Emil Wilbekin, and Andrea Hoffman attend the 2nd annual Diversity Affluence brunch at Dockers Waterside Restaurant & Marina on August 21, 2011 in East Quogue, New York.

By Akira Barclay, Contributor

More than 120 guests attended the 2nd annual Diversity Affluence Brunch in the Hamptons on Sunday, August 21st, which honored a trio of media and entertainment pioneers. The invitation only event was created by Diversity Affluence, the New York-based consultancy specializing in diversity marketing communication, research and business development. This year’s brunch was presented by JPMorgan Chase, Belvedere (the world’s first luxury vodka), agency network Draftfcb, and jeweler Baume & Mercier, to celebrate individuals who have achieved success as a minority or who have advanced the diversity agenda in America.

This year’s honorees were Madeline Nelson-Small, Chair of the Board of the Foundation for the Advancement of Women Now ( and Senior VP of Artist and Label Relations at Sony Music Entertainment; Emil Wilbekin, Managing Editor of; and Keith Clinkscales, Senior Vice President of Content Development & Enterprises of ESPN Inc. and its Head of Publishing and Magazine Divisions. The event was hosted by broadcaster and journalist Lola Ogunnaike, newly appointed entertainment contributor to NBC’s “Today.”

Guests at the brunch learned how affluent African American consumers currently posses almost $90 billion in purchasing power, which is growing. Speakers included The Hon. Rodney Hood, representing JPMorgan Chase, and Noel Hankin of Moet Hennessey USA. Among notable guests were Laurence Boschetto, CEO of Draftfcb; Reggie Van Lee of Booz Allen Hamilton; New York Hospital's renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Muri Raifu; and Ivan Kagame, son of the President of Rwanda.

Ron Myers, Reggie Van Lee, Marco Candini, Nicole Townsend, Corey McCathern

Event host Lola Ogunnaike and Tai Beauchamp; Latoya Henry and Madeline Nelson-Small

Princess Keisha Omilana and Prince Kunle Omilana; Kenny Frimpong, Ingrid Bentil, Shawn Pride, Kojo Bentil

Honorees Keith Clinkscales, Madeline Nelson-Small and Emil Wilbekin; Rodney Hood

Ron Myers, Dr. Erika Faust, Paul Wilmot

Honorable Rodney Hood, Steven Kinder, Andrea Hoffman, Keisha Vaughn, Laurence Boschetto, and Jennifer Comiteau

Inspired by the highly-touted book, Black Is The New Green: Marketing to Affluent African Americans, co-written by Diversity Affluence Founder Andrea Hoffman with Len Burnett, the brunch provided the corporate sector with access to some of the most influential leaders and key tastemakers of the affluent African and African American communities. “Diversity Affluence is committed to raising awareness of the vibrant affluent ethnic economic sector that people of color and other minorities occupy in contemporary society,” says Hoffman. The event committee included: Princess Keisha Omilana, Diana Hilson, Latoya Henry, Nkrumah Pierre, Fabrice Armand, Keenan Davis, Dr. Erika Faust and Chuck Bone.

Fabrice Armand, Noel Hankin, Chuck Bone, Andrea Hoffman, Erika Faust, Rodney Hood, Latoya Henry, Diana Hilson, Princess Keisha Omilana and Nkrumah Pierre

About Diversity Affluence: As the only company of its kind, Diversity Affluence is a diversity research, marketing communications and business development consultancy that helps brands and businesses understand and market to affluent ethnic consumers—a group coined as “Royaltons™.” For over twenty five years, founder Andrea Hoffman has been a marketing strategist and trend forecaster. Visit the website at

Source:  Press Release/Photo credits: Margot Jordan and Wireimage

Allstate, Tom Joyner Foundation Unite to Fight A Trend

Runaway College Costs Forcing Students to Drop Out; Third annual Allstate Quotes for Education program seeks to double fundraising to $200,000

NORTHBROOK, Ill., August 15, 2011 – As education costs continue to rise and Congress considers deeper cuts to federal aid and loans, many college students face perhaps the toughest choice of their young lives: fight on or drop out.

To increase the financial options available for students, Allstate has teamed up with The Tom Joyner Foundation to assist deserving students with scholarships through the third annual “Quotes for Education” (QFE) program. QFE continues Allstate’s history of investing in initiatives that strengthen Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). This year, the goal is to provide $200,000 for support of the HBCUs and the QFE program.

Allstate will donate $10 to The Tom Joyner Foundation for every insurance quote (auto, renters, homeowners and more), up to $200,000, received through December 31, 2011.

For students from families of limited means, earning a college education is an uphill battle. Consider these facts:

  • After exhausting all types of grant aid, the typical low-income student must come up with more than 11,000 a year to attend a public or private nonprofit college. (Education Trust analysis of NPSA, 2008)
  • The disparity between upper and lower-income students is profound: more than 90 percent of high school students from families making more than $100,000 enroll in college; compared to 78 percent of students from families making $50,001 to $100,000; and 52 percent of students from families making $20,000 and less. (NAFSFAA, "Measuring Up, 2008,"  National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, 2008)
“Today's struggling economy and distressed job market make it more important than ever to secure a college education,” said Tom Joyner, Founder of The Tom Joyner Foundation. “Our mission is to help young people get a college education and ultimately compete in this highly-demanding global workforce.”

“In addition to supporting a trusted community partner like The Tom Joyner Foundation, we’re also pleased that this program engages families and communities as part of the solution,” said Kimberly Turner, marketing manager for Allstate. “By completing a quick, no-obligation auto, home, renters or life insurance quote, people can join with us in the effort to help keep the dream of a college education alive for hard-working students.”

Supporting Quotes for Education is as simple as Click, Call or Quote:
  • Click - Go to to find a participating Allstate agent near you or get a quote online
  • Call - Allstate at 866-998-2188 to speak to an Allstate representative any time, day or night
  • Quote - Receive any insurance quote from Allstate through December 31, 2011
About The Tom Joyner Foundation
The Tom Joyner Foundation's primary mission is helping to keep students enrolled in Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs).  Since 1998, the foundation, chaired by nationally syndicated radio personality Tom Joyner, has raised more than $60 million to help keep students enrolled in black colleges, has assisted more than 14,000 students, and worked with more than 100 HBCUs. Throughout the week, the Foundation announces scholarship winners on the nationally syndicated radio show hosted by its founder, Tom Joyner. Each week, separate financial awards are focused on students who are single parents and distinguished male students at each ‘School of the Month.’ The organization’s largest annual fundraiser is its “Fantastic Voyage”™, which is a seven-day, six-night cruise that raises more than $1 million a year.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Chicago Young Professionals Unite to Support Historic Community of Bronzeville

Co-Founders and Executive Board Members of The Concerned Citizens of Bronzeville: Dhyia Thompson, Damaris Walker, Phaedra M. Leslie and Akari Muhisani

By Sandra Davis, Guest Contributor

CHICAGO - The Concerned Citizens of Bronzeville (CCoB), a group of young professionals committed to economic development and safety in the Bronzeville community of Chicago, hosted their first fundraiser on August 13, 2011, flanking the 82nd Annual Bud Billiken Parade.

The group of successful professionals and entrepreneurs founded the group in response to a growing negative element by seven frustrated Bronzeville residents along with Alderwoman Pat Dowell and local police leadership. “[This event provides] an opportunity to enjoy one the most historic parades in the country as well as get to know our neighbors and raise money for the work the CCoB members contribute [to] the community,” says Dhyia Thompson, Co-Founder and Executive Board Member of CCoB. As one of America’s most culturally rich African American communities, Bronzeville is often referred to as the “Black Metropolis” or “Chicago’s Harlem.”

Bronzeville is the home of many black icons: Nate King Cole, Gwendolyn Brooks, Ida B. Wells, Margaret Burroughs, John H. Johnson, Lorraine Hansberry, Muddy Waters, Bessie Coleman, Richard Wright and many other important past and current black luminaries. The DuSable Museum of African-American History, South Side Community Art Center, Wabash Avenue YMCA, Ida B. Wells House and the Sunset Café are just a few of the hundreds of black philanthropic organizations and landmarks within the community.

The group members of CCoB want to use their knowledge and skill sets to create a “thriving community” where residents feel safe and the streets are clean and walkable, there are diverse shopping options, the environment is conducive to socializing; children are happy, healthy and receive a quality education from public schools; seniors are supported and engaged, and visitors feel welcomed and view it as a destination.

Each member has their own unique ties to the historic Bronzeville community: “I bought my house in the 90’s; this house is for my children. I have seen this area change so much. Bronzeville is not a [homogeneous] area, every block is different,” states Phil Beckham, business man and host of the Concerned Citizens of Bronzeville Bud Billiken Fundraiser.

Throughout the fundraiser, CCoB members, neighbors and fellow community members were involved in conversations about mentorship, supporting strong marriages, the economic downturn, education, and enjoyed the festivities of the Bud Billiken Parade. For the past 82 years, the annual parade is a signature event for Chicago’s black community, and is the longest-running and biggest African American parade in the country. Produced by the Chicago Defender Charities, it has become a perennial summer event that ushers students back to school, promotes student achievement and promotes community togetherness.

In photo: Starting from the back row left are Dhyia Thompson, Co-Founder and Executive Board Member; Keesha Smith; Phaedra M. Leslie, Co-Founder and Executive Board Member of CCoB; Kevin Johnson; Damaris Walker, Co-Founder and Executive Board Member of CCoB; Airron Walker, (front row left to right) Akari Muhisani, Co-Founder and Executive Board Member of CCoB; Sheila Lewis, and Kim Crawford at the home of Phil Beckham in Chicago, IL.

The Concerned Citizens of Bronzeville has many initiatives on the horizon, for additional information and to learn how to participate, please visit:

Friday, August 19, 2011

Take Wings Foundation Hosts 8th Annual Angel Awards Benefit

Actress and Event Co-host Nicole Ari Parker, Actress and Take Wings Founder Terri J. Vaughn, songstress Kelly Price, and Event Co-host Malinda Williams attend the 8th Annual Angel Awards Benefit on August 13, 2011 in San Francisco, California.

Via Press Release:  On Saturday, August 13, 2011, Take Wings hosted its eighth annual black-tie affair to benefit the Foundation. Actresses Nicole Ari Parker and Malinda Williams were very able and entertaining co-hosts for the highly-attended affair. (Due to an unexpected obligation, Boris Kodjoe was unable to join his wife Nicole for celebrity host duties. Talented NAACP Image Award nominee Williams graciously stepped in to join Parker to co-host the evening event.) Grammy award-nominated R&B vocalist Kelly Price performed three soulful songs. At Parker's urging, Price also performed an unplanned acapella gospel selection of encouragement to the youth.

The Foundation presented its 2011 Angel Awards to two Bay Area community leaders in recognition of their respective professional contributions and community involvement. Vaughn's sister and Take Wings Foundation executive director Tracy L. Ward presented one of the two well-deserved awards to Edward Fitzpatrick, President of Fitzpatrick Dealership Group. Fitzpatrick is a philanthropic contributor to the arts, education and community enhancement. During his award acceptance speech, he encouraged the youth to strive for higher learning, to follow their dreams, to be successful in their chosen fields, and be productive members of the community.

Helen K. Vaughn, Take Wings board member and mother of Terri J. Vaughn, was delighted to make the award presentation to Dr. Warren J. Strudwick Jr., while underscoring his many professional accomplishments and charitable works with Bay Area youth. Dr. Strudwick serves on the Board of Trustees for Oakland's St. Vincent's Day School, and also works with young people on the Physicians Medical Forum's "Doctors On Board Program," a mentor program for youth interested in becoming physicians. At the conclusion of his award acceptance, Dr. Strudwick announced that the Oakland Raiders organization along with other contributors have made donations to support a book scholarship fund for Take Wings youth.

Terri Vaughn, Kelly Price, and Foundation board members with Take Wings graduating seniors and alumni

Visit the website at

Photo credit: Horace Gipson

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Soledad O’Brien & Brad Raymond Foundation Host “New Orleans in the Hamptons”

Soledad O'Brien (center) with scholarship recipients Erika Ramos, Tyreiron Segue, Alexia Wilson, 
Tierra Moore, Nya Buckley, and Sheba Turk attend the inaugural "New Orleans in the Hamptons" fundraiser
 hosted by the Soledad O'Brien and Brad Raymond Foundation on August 12, 2011 in Bridgehampton, New York.

By Akira Barclay, Contributor

On Friday, August 12th the Soledad O’Brien & Brad Raymond Foundation hosted their inaugural fundraising event “New Orleans in the Hamptons” at a private residence in Bridgehampton, NY. Under a large white tent on the grounds of the property, the festive event kicked off the fundraising effort for the new foundation dedicated to providing promising young women a bridge between obstacles and opportunities. O’Brien, who has built a broadcast career giving voice to under-served communities and her banker husband Brad Raymond knew that a lack of resources often limits the success of disadvantaged young women. Informed by their life experiences and fueled by a shared passion to help, they quietly awarded scholarships from their own pockets sponsoring fifteen scholars and spending tens of thousands of dollars for the past several years following Hurricane Katrina.

“We take young, talented young women who really just lack money, and pay for their tuition, their books and their daycare. Whatever they need,” said O’Brien. “It's incredibly rewarding.” Buoyed by success, the couple formally launched the non-profit organization this year to fill the gaps in available financial assistance and support. They hope to award six more scholarships in 2012. “Soledad has always mentored young women. We’ve always supported education. This (foundation) was a natural progression, an extension of what we’ve been doing, and allows us to do so in a formal way,” Brad Raymond says.

Gospel superstar and host committee member Kirk Franklin with Grammy award winning music producer and entrepreneur Pharrell Williams, who served as event chair.

Scholar Nya Buckley, Kim Bondy, Board of Directors, and Scholar Alexia Wilson

Fashion designer bMichael and Mark Anthony

Sandra Richards, Vice President, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney next to a photo of a scholar.

The event paid homage to the can do spirit of New Orleans while sharing the inspiring stories from the young women whose lives have been transformed by O’Brien and Raymond’s support. Dick Parsons, Cicely Tyson and Pharrell Williams, served as event chairs. When asked why he decided to get involved, Williams simply said it was “magical” referring not just to the money the young scholars received for their education but to the experience they received that they have to cherish forever. The Host Committee included Alina Cho, Cory Condrey, Dr. Scott Cowen, Dr. Eva Simmons O’Brien, Jason Binn, Rose-Lee Reinhard and Steve Stoute. BET’s Sunday Best host Kirk Franklin also served on the host committee. The gospel superstar noted that being a father and having been adopted and not having the opportunity to go to college himself, he felt it was very important for him to get involved. Knowing he could have just mailed a check, Franklin made a point to also be present for the special night. He acknowledged the power of his celebrity and impact of having a visual presence to communicate the value and urgency of the young scholars needs.

Kirk and Tammy Franklin

Scholar Tyreiron Segue spoke to the crowd about the impact that the foundation’s support has had on her life enabling her to enroll in Southern University at Baton Rouge where she is now a sophomore. With tears in her eyes, she gave heartfelt thanks to O’Brien, Raymond and the event guests for taking a chance on her.

Following the program, Grammy-Award® winning trumpeter Irvin Mayfield, also Chairman of the Foundation’s board of directors started the entertainment portion of the evening in true New Orleans style, leading members of the New Orleans Jazz Playhouse Revue in a string of popular tunes that drew the crowd to the dance floor. Recording artist and New Orleans native Ledesi, took the stage for an impromptu jam session with Kirk Franklin on piano.

Ledisi jams with Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Playhouse Revue

Bevy Smith (center), of Dinner with Bevy dances to the sounds of the New Orleans Jazz Playhouse Revue

Notable guests seen enjoying the evening: Event Chair Cicely Tyson, Host Committee Members Alina Cho, Dr. Eva Simmons O'Brien, Rose-Lee Reinhard, ADCOLOR’s Tiffany Warren, Noel Hankin, Senior VP, Multicultural Relations, Moet Hennessy USA; Russell Simmons and Melissa George, Tammy Franklin, Lalani Perry, Steve Perry, Foundation Executive Director Rica Trigs, Ron Carter, Craig Williams, Shante Timberlake, Raw Chew, Vivie Chew, Navarrow Wright, Rita Wright, Carl Foster, Star Jones and Herb Williams.

Generous sponsors of the Soledad O'Brien and Brad Raymond Foundation's New Orleans in the Hamptons included Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Prudential, Exact Target, Target, Sara Less, CNN, The Morrison Foerster Foundation, Delta, L’oreal, Belvedere Vodka and Duggal Visual Solutions.

For more information about the Soledad O’Brien & Brad Raymond Foundation visit

Photos by Michael Barclay

Dream Kids Hair Care Presents 3rd Annual Runway Red Charity Fashion Gala

Cynthia Bailey, Real Housewives of Atlanta; Dondria and Shawty Lo, recording artists; and Tashawanya Menefee, President and Founder, Show Me The Way Foundation attend the 3rd Annual Runway Red Charity Fashion Gala in Atlanta, Georgia.

Event held in conjunction with Macy’s benefiting Show Me The Way Foundation

By Lisa Brathwaite, Contributor

ATLANTA, GA - Dream Kids Hair Care in conjunction with Macy's presented the third annual Runway Red charity fashion gala benefiting Show Me The Way Foundation on Sunday, August 14, 2011. Marc Hayes, Fox 5 Good Day Atlanta, hosted the evening’s affair set at the acclaimed Fernbank Museum. The fashion show garnered over 600 supporters of the Show Me the Way Foundation's mission in raising imperative funding for children infected by or affected with HIV/AIDS. Pint-size socialites, mini-me movers and shakers and their well-known celebrity parental escorts also viewed exclusive fall and winter back to school collections from Macy's and high-end fashion designers from all over the world.

African Pride Dream Kids Hair Care, a proud sponsor of Runway Red, also announced the launch of the highly anticipated Olive Miracle formula Hair Care collection. The newly developed formula will help parents start their children's manes on the right path to healthy tresses, and can be found in Walmart and other fine beauty retailers. "Dream Kids is truly excited to partner with the 2011 Runway Red celebrity kids fashion show. As a brand we believe strongly in the mission of the Show Me The Way Foundation and that every child, no matter the adversity they face in life, has the right to dream," states Charlene Bastien, National Marketing Director, Strength of Nature Global, LLC.

Notable attendees included: Nadji Jeter & Zoe Soul (BET's Reed Between The Lines), Tameka Raymond Foster, Shawty Lo, Cynthia Bailey (Bravo's Real Housewives of Atlanta), Q Parker (R&B group 112), Deena Beasley (One Tree Hill), Jessica Black (Miss United States 2010), Dondria (SoSoDef Recording Artist), Nivea, Tameka (Tiny & Toya) Harris, Deion Grant, The Sh’Boss Boys (America’s Got Talent), The OMG Girlz, Gabbie Rae (Purple Ribbon Kidz), QT Jazz and many more.

Charlene Bastien, Director of Marketing Strength of Nature Global, LLC, Dream Kids Hair Care and Tashawanya Menefee with Dream Kids Hair Care spokesmodels; Marc Hayes, event host, Fox 5 Good Day Atlanta

Nadji Jeter & Zoe Soul (BET's Reed Between The Lines)

For more information on the Show Me the Way Foundation, visit and African Pride's Dream Kids Hair Care, visit

Source: The Garner Circle PR/Photo credit: G. Paras Photography

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Steve Harvey & Ford Honors the Best and Brightest at 2011 Ford Hoodie Awards

On August 13, 2011, comedian, radio personality, best-selling author, Family Feud television host and philanthropist Steve Harvey hosted another sold-out year of the 9th Annual Ford Hoodie Awards at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, NV. Celebrities including Anthony Hamilton, Antonia “Toya” Carter Wright, Carla Ferrell (Steve Harvey Morning Show), Christopher Massey, Ed Gordon, George Wallace, Hill Harper, Jill Scott, Kem, Kevin Hart, Kirk Franklin, Kyle Massey, Lavell Crawford, Marvin Sapp, Nephew Tommy (Steve Harvey Morning Show), Sheryl Underwood, Shirley Strawberry (Steve Harvey Morning Show), Sommore, Tamara Tunie, Terrence J, Tichina Arnold, Tisha Campbell-Martin, Toccara, Tye Tribbett and others turned out in fine fashion as they joined Harvey and presenting sponsor, Ford, to entertain and honor the everyday men and women who impact and uplift their communities with service and excellence.

Nominees at the 2011 Ford Hoodie Awards were recognized for their achievements in the categories of Best High School, Best High School Teacher, Best Church, Best Church Choir, Best Soul Food, Best Barbecue, Best Car Wash/Detail Shop, Best Beauty Salon, Best Nail Salon, Best Barber Shop and Best Community Leader, at this one-of-a-kind awards show conceived by Harvey and producing partner Rushion McDonald in 2001.

Highlights of this year’s Ford Hoodie Awards included unforgettable performances from Grammy® Award winner Jill Scott, R&B crooner Kem and Gospel music superstar Kirk Franklin, as well as the surprise presentation from Ford of a 2011 Ford Explorer to Best Community Leader award winner Tony Lewis, Jr of Washington, DC.

In addition to the invaluable support of Ford, presenting sponsor of the 9th Annual Ford Hoodie Awards, the awards and weekend activities were made possible by gracious assistance from State Farm Insurance, Hillshire Farm, The Home Depot, Outback Steakhouse, Wells Fargo, Prudential, SoftSheen-Carson, Magic Shave, Optimum Care, AT&T, Gyre Entertainment, NBC Playboy Club, The Nielsen Company, K&G Fashion Superstores, General Mills’ Feeding Dreams, 5-hour Energy, The Word Network, and the National Education Association.

Guests from This Is It BBQ & Seafood accept the Best BBQ award onstage during the ninth annual Ford Hoodie Awards at the Mandalay Bay Events Center August 13, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“From the tears to the laughs and all the emotions seen on stage this year, I continue to be inspired by the tireless support and love all the nominees and the audience have for each other and their cities, every day. All the men and women who come to enjoy Vegas and celebrate each other at the Hoodies are the best audience in the world cheering each other on, and I am grateful for the supporters, celebrities and performers who helped make this year another very special weekend in recognition of everyone’s neighborhood accomplishments,” said Steve Harvey of the Ford Hoodie Awards.

Photo credit: Getty Images

Fathers Incorporated Releases Public Service Announcements to Address Fatherless Black Boys

Executive Director of Fathers Incorporated, Kenneth Braswell Sr. with son KJ preparing for 'Ties Never Broken' campaign to address fatherlessness of black boys

PSAs part of the “Ties Never Broken” Blue Bow Tie Campaign

Via Press Release: Inspired by President Obama and White House efforts to raise awareness of the effects of fatherlessness and in support of the recent multi-million dollar donations by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and philanthropist George Soros for programs designed to help young black and Latino men, Fathers Incorporated has released the first of several public service announcements to address the issue of fatherlessness and black boys.

“Our community must see tougher and more focused messages about our children growing up without fathers and positive male role models,” says Kenneth Braswell, Executive Director of Fathers Incorporated. “The impact of fatherlessness on African American communities is devastating; our children are losing this battle, moms are beyond stressed and willing fathers/men are being pulled in multiple directions of need.”

The numbers speak for themselves:

  • About 80% of African American children can expect to spend "a significant" portion of their childhood living without their biological father;
  • The 4.5 million African American men ages 15 to 29 represent 14% of the U.S. male population of that age and 12% of all African Americans in the country.  Their high rates of death, incarceration, unemployment, and relatively low levels of college graduation rates raise concerns for African American families and the nation's economy. (Kaiser Family Foundation) 
The above statistics speak only to a minute portion of problems confronting today’s fathers, particularly African and Latino American men. In addition with the unemployment rate skyrocketing, it is our younger population of men who struggle the most. “Too many children are growing up without the positive guidance and support of fathers,” said Shawn Dove, Manager of the Open Society Institute's Campaign for Black Male Achievement. “Fathers Incorporated’s public service announcements can go a long way toward piercing the hearts and minds of dads to take the steps to re-engage in the lives of their children.”

Produced by GradyGirl Productions Inc., the first two videos entitled, “Tough Guy” and “Faces of Despair” speaks from the voices of young African American males, speaking directly from their hearts about how they feel about not having an active and involved father in their lives.

Kenneth Braswell Jr., JoJo Guthrie and Andrew Brown. Young men pose at photo shoot for Ties Never Broken Campaign

In the recently released report the “Young Men’s Initiative,” it describes five steps to mount a bold attack on the disparities that are crippling New York City’s population of young men of color. One action plan addresses the issue of fatherlessness by challenging society to “improve the health of young men by encouraging more fathers to be involved in the lives of their children, and by breaking the cycle of premature fathering.” Through the TIES NEVER BROKEN campaign, Fathers Incorporated’s website will host tips for fathers looking to reconnect with their children as well as resource links to services and support.

In the coming months, the agency will release other public service announcements, posters, blue bow tie lapel pins, issue focused campaigns and partnerships to engage and assist in furthering messages of responsible fatherhood and mentoring. For additional information and updates on the campaign, please visit  To receive a copy of the PSAs call 518-227-6161 or email

Other Resources:
Campaign for Black Male Achievement,
National Fatherhood Clearing House,
Urban Leadership Institute, | |

Design the Dream: A Fashionable Collaboration for Philanthropic Efforts

Fashion editor/handbag designer Eboyné Jackson and fashion designer Gwen Beloti

The passion of two women, the luxury of one dress and the difference for thousands. Those are the ingredients behind Design the Dream (DTD), philanthropic fashion collaboration between fashion designer, Gwen Beloti, and fashion editor/handbag designer, Eboyné Jackson. Following their own dreams, Gwen and Eboyné have joined forces to create a luxurious dress to raise money for those less fortunate. "I had the opportunity to go to Africa and witness the brilliance and denigration of a rich nation. I saw some of the greatest depths of poverty there. No one should ever have to live like that, especially in a country that is so plentiful in national resources. I have also been a fan of the Gwen Beloti brand since my early days as a fashion editor/writer. So to work alongside Gwen to make the lives of those children and possibly even their families better, was not only the right thing to do, but also a dream come true,” Eboyné states.

Meshing high fashion and social action, DTD began as a small spark of genius between the fashionistas, who have always wanted to work together. On her trip to Africa, Eboyné found inspiration through her interactions with children; children who have so little but live life to the fullest. Gwen, as a Brooklyn native and artist, has always drawn inspiration from those around her, combining fashion with charity.

Both Gwen and Eboyné are passionate beyond measure about this collaboration and project. In keeping with the goal of DTD, these two women want to do their part in helping those in need. Their mission throughout Design the Dream is to bring awareness to their prospective charity affiliations, Little Dresses for Africa and Adonai Partners.

They’re also delighted to have other industry professionals and celebrities in support of the movement. The first face to represent DTD's campaign/movement is none other than lyricist, actress and spoken word artist, Amanda Seales, formerly known as Amanda Diva. As a singer, DJ, painter, poet, media personality and culture critic, Amanda is a true Renaissance woman. She successfully made a career out of creating quality work rooted in class, humor and hip-hop. Amanda has been the face of hip-hop on MTV2, interviewing many relevant R&B artists, was in the musical group Floetry, and has been a poetic lyricist on Def Jam Poetry. "I am honored to be a part of the Design the Dream campaign. I knew right away that it was definitely a cause I would support. I also LOVE Gwen's work! It is the perfect combo of feminine and fly, sexy and subtle,” Amanda says.

The exclusive DTD piece will be available for purchase on SmashingDarling (, and select boutiques in NYC. The dress will also debut in Gwen Beloti’s spring 2012 collection, along with a luxury handbag from Daughter of Zion by Eboyné Jackson.

For more information on these entities please visit:,,, and

Friday, August 12, 2011

MLK National Memorial Honors Tuskegee Airmen with Special Preview

Richard W. Marshall, Chief Financial Officer, MLK National Memorial Project Foundation; Tuskegee Airmen; and Harry E. Johnson, Sr., President & CEO of the MLK National Memorial Project Foundation at the site of the MLK Memorial in Washington, DC.

On August 3, 2011, a group of Tuskegee Airmen received a hero's welcome at a special preview of the Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington, DC, scheduled to open to the public on August 22, 2011. A grand dedication of the memorial will be held on August 28th, the anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington.

Hailing from across the country, the Airmen were greeted by the executive team of the MLK National Memorial Project Foundation: Harry E. Johnson, Sr., President & CEO, Richard W. Marshall, Chief Financial Officer, and Dr. Ed Jackson, Jr., Executive Architect. BlackGivesBack was on the scene to witness history in the making as the Airmen were led by Dr. Ed Jackson to the area where President Obama will lay a time capsule on dedication day, followed by a special preview of the memorial, that is surrounded by a crescent-shaped inscription wall of Martin Luther King's most inspiring and famous quotes.

Dr. Ed Jackson, Jr., Executive Architect with a Tuskegee Airman

Samuel Hunter, a Tuskegee Airman from World War II, traveled from Colorado for the special viewing. He shared with BlackGivesBack as he looked at the memorial, "It's tremendous!"

To date, the foundation has raised $114 of the $120 million dollars needed for the memorial. Harry Johnson, President & CEO shared that he doesn't view the millions left to raise as an impediment. He encourages anyone reading this to contribute. "We want people to donate, because this should be the memorial that the people actually build....$5, $10 would be helpful."

Please visit for more information and a full schedule of Dedication Week activities.

Related post: MLK Memorial Foundation Announces Plans for MLK Dedication

Photo credit: Gediyon Kifle