Friday, September 30, 2011

Corcoran Gallery of Art Premieres Highly Anticipated '30 Americans' Exhibit

By Stacey Trammel
Guest Contributor,

John Bankston. Barkley L. Hendricks. Shinique Smith. Hank Willis Thomas. These names may not be recognizable yet to those outside of the African American art world like Jacob Lawrence, Gordon Parks, and Romare Bearden, but 30 Americans, the traveling exhibit premiering at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC on October 1, 2011, seeks to give these contemporary artists an even wider audience.

A total of thirty-one Black artists whose works are owned by the Rubell Family Collection in Miami are showcased, including “emerging” and “rockstar” names such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Nina Chanel Abney, David Hammons, Lorna Simpson, Carrie Mae Weems, and Kehinde Wiley. The show, a visual array of paintings, photography, sculptures, and mixed media, seeks to explore “how each artist reckons with the notion of black identity in America, navigating such concerns as the struggle for civil rights, popular culture, and media imagery” says Corcoran curator Sarah Newman.

Don and Mera Rubell, world renown art collectors, envisioned the concept of 30 Americans in 2008 after being influenced by input from curators and generations of Black artists, as well as exhibitions including Freestyle at the Studio Museum in Harlem and Black Is, Black Ain’t at The Renaissance Society, The University of Chicago.

During the exhibit's press preview on September 28th, Fred Bollerer, director and president of the Corcoran, highlighted the importance of this showing to the gallery, and that bringing 30 Americans took 18 months of planning. It will also set a precedence at the museum in its amount of special programming and events.

Kerry James Marshall, Souvenir: Composition in Three Parts, 1998-2000.  Plastic, glass, paper, wood, steel and framed video still.

Mickalene Thomas, Baby I Am Ready Now, 2007. Acrylic, rhinestone and enamel on wooden panel.

Robert Colescott, Pygmalion, 1987.  Acrylic on canvas.

Nina Chanel Abney, Khaaliqua & Jeff, 2007. Acrylic on canvas.

Speaking on some of the exhibit’s themes, Henry Thaggert, chairman of the 30 Americans Advisory Committee and recently appointed Corcoran board member, shared with Black GivesBack (BGB) that the works are not just “about our own struggles, African American struggles, but incorporate everyday (concepts) about romantic love and pride.”

Thaggert, a well known art aficionado who gained an appreciation of the arts at a very early age, went on to say it is “unusual to see high quality work by African Americans in a major museum that is not just photographs or paintings…materials that people may never have thought of as art objects that are packed with conceptual and intellectual ideas” such as Leonardo Drew’s towering “Untitled #25” cotton and wax display.

John Bankston, whose oil paintings hang in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Studio Museum in Harlem, was one of the artists attending the press preview. He shared with BGB that he hopes through the exhibit “people can see there are numerous ways to approach making art” and that it “will encourage young African Americans, or African Americans in general, to explore being visual creators.”

Bankston discusses his oil on linen piece “At The Crossroads.”

Shinique Smith, a Brooklyn, NY artist with two pieces in the current reiteration of the collection, discussed with BGB how the Rubells personally connected with those whose works are represented and her process for creating the beautifully sculpted “Crone-Huntress.” In addition to 30 Americans, her art has appeared in selected solo and group exhibitions in the United States and Europe.

Smith shares her inspiration and method for creating “Crone-Huntress,” a combination of wool, fabric, and mixed media.

Another artist at the press preview was Hank Willis Thomas, whose 'Strange Fruit' exhibit of twelve new, thought provoking photographs is premiering alongside 30 Americans. His works were included in Frequency and Black Is, Black Ain’t and are housed in the permanent collection at The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, among others.

Thomas speaks to art students about Strange Fruit.

In addition to the exhibit, the museum is presenting Gordon Parks: Photographs from the Collection through January 16, 2012. Included is his iconic photo “American Gothic” and other well known images.

To learn more about 30 Americans, running through February 12, 2012 at the Corcoran, read artist bios, and find out about special programming and admission costs, visit

Photo credit: Stacey Trammel for BGB

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sports, Business and Education Leaders Gather to Celebrate Education at Urban Tech Gala

By Akira Barclay

On September 20, 2011, over 300 guests attended the National Urban Technology Center (Urban Tech) annual benefit at Capitale in New York City. New York City Education Chancellor Dennis Walcott presented principal Ramon Gonzalez with the Education Leadership Award, and NBA star John Starks received the Humanitarian Award in absentia from Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, president of the New York Board of Rabbis. Jessica Isaacs, of Marsh Inc., received the Corporate Leadership Award presented by Christopher Williams, chairman, CEO and founder of the Williams Capital Group and Carla Harris, of Morgan Stanley. Mrs. Michelle Paige Paterson chaired the evening.

CBS 2 News anchor Maurice DuBois served as the evening’s host and guests included standouts from Broadway and television including: HBO’s “Nurse Jackie” star and stage veteran Dominic Fumusa, his wife, actress Ilana Levine, hit TV series “Spin City” star Richard Kind, Food Network star and executive chef of Café Napoli, Chris Nirschel, actresses Nadia Dajani and Callie Thorne, as well as Broadway producers Steven Byrd and Alia M. Jones.

The evening celebrated Urban Tech’s success in transforming 460,000 young lives through the implementation of 750 computer training centers and 200 youth development programs through technology and training. Proceeds from the night benefited Urban Tech’s Youth Leadership Academy (YLA) ® that supplements core academic subjects by strengthening the students’ social and emotional skills, computer literacy, and higher-order thinking abilities, which are essential for shaping the academic performance and career outcomes of youth.

During the event, Urban Tech formally announced the launch of the Adopt-a-School Support Network, an online community of schools and donors that highlights the specific needs of each institution providing a platform for ongoing interaction between Urban Tech, the schools and supporters to deliver help to schools and students quickly.

Thelma Dye, Gala Chair Michelle Paige Paterson and Katie Harris (Photo credit: Andrew Toth/Patrick McMullan)

Honorees, Jessica Isaacs, Head of International Small and Medium Enterprises at Marsh, Inc. and MS 223 Principal Ramon Gonzalez, founder and president of Urban Tech, Pat Bransford and Michelle Paige Paterson

To learn more about Urban Tech, visit:

Top photo: NYC Education Chancellor Dennis Walcott, founder and president of Urban Tech, Pat Bransford and CBS 2 anchor and master of ceremonies, Maurice DuBois

Photo credit: Monika Graff

Young Nonprofit Professionals Network Appoints Its First National Director

By Sandra C. Davis

After close to 15 years of addressing the needs and concerns of over 30,000 young nonprofit professionals spanning over 30 local chapters, the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) has announced the appointment of its first National Director: Trish Tchume.

Ms. Tchume has served YNPN as a member, then eventually as a national board member. The position of the YNPN national director was created in order to position the organization for the future. Most recently, she held the position of Director of Civic Engagement for the Building Movement Project, where she facilitated social change by working with social service providers.

To learn more about Ms. Tchume, visit HERE, and follow her on Twitter at @ttchume.

About YNPN: The mission of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network is to promote an efficient, viable, and inclusive nonprofit sector that supports the growth, learning, and development of young professionals. They engage and support future nonprofit and community leaders through professional development, networking and social opportunities designed for young people involved in the nonprofit community.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

ADCOLOR Celebrates 5th Anniversary of Fostering Diversity in the Advertising Industry

Tiffany R. Warren, Founder, ADCOLOR Industry Coalition and SVP, Chief Diversity Officer, Omnicom; George Lopez, comedian, actor and philanthropist; and Soledad O'Brien, CNN, attend the ADCOLOR Industry Awards and Conference in Los Angeles.

By Akira Barclay

On September 16, 2011 the ADCOLOR Industry Coalition held its signature event – the ADCOLOR Industry Awards and Conference at the legendary Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles. Among the 2011 honorees were comedian, actor and philanthropist, George Lopez, who received ADCOLOR’s All-Star Award presented by Omnicom Group, and director and advertising agency founder Spike Lee received the Catalyst Award.  For the first time, GLAAD (the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) presented an ADCOLOR Advocate Award in recognition of industry influencers from the LGBT community. The 2011 Advocate Award was presented to two industry pioneers – Laurence Boschetto, president and CEO of Draftfcb and Aaron Walton, Co-Founder, Walton Isaacson.

Other event highlights included a special presentation by CNN’s Soledad O’Brien and a performance by NBC’s “Sing Off” season two winners, Committed. Grammy®-nominated singer/producer/DJ/lifestyle event curator Vikter Duplaix also provided his musical talents to the event.

The ADCOLOR Industry Coalition is a 501(c)(6) organization that was founded in 2005. The coalition seeks to support and inspire professionals of color and diversity champions within the advertising, marketing and media industries by celebrating the accomplishments of diverse role models and industry leaders. The ADCOLOR Awards and Industry Conference is the signature event presented annually by the Advertising Industry Coalition. As its first initiative, The ADCOLOR Industry Coalition launched the ADCOLOR Awards in 2007 to promote increased diversity in the advertising, marketing and media industries.

Photo credit: Dana Underwood, Danaseye

Photos of the Day

Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter at the Barclays Center press conference at Atlantic Terminal on September 26, 2011 in Brooklyn, New York.

As a minority owner of the New Jersey Nets, Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter made an announcement that the NJ Nets will be known as the Brooklyn Nets when the new Barclays Center opens in September 2012. Before Jay-Z made his remarks, he invited students from his Brooklyn alma mater, George Westinghouse High School to the stage. In related news, the Shawn "Jay-Z" Scholarship Fund will host the 2011 Carnival at Hudson River Park Pier 54 in New York on September 29, 2011 to raise funds to help students attend college. Visit HERE for more information.

President Barack Obama speaks at the 2011 Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Phoenix Awards Dinner at the Washington Convention Center on September 24, 2011 in Washington, DC.

On Wednesday, September 28, 2011, President Obama will deliver his third annual Back-to-School Speech at 1:30 p.m. EDT at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Washington, DC. The speech will be live streamed on so that classrooms across the country can watch. For more information, please visit

First Lady Michelle Obama and Big Time Rush turn on the channel for Nickelodeon's 8th Annual Worldwide Day of Play on September 24, 2011 in Washington, DC.

Marvin Sapp, Cece Winans and Donald Lawrence perform at Verizon's "How Sweet The Sound" at Verizon Center on September 21, 2011 in Washington, DC.

Photos: Wireimage

b michael America Salutes 200 Years of Service of the New York City Mission Society

Tamara Tunie, fashion designer b Michael, Phylicia Rashad, and Myrna Colley-Lee attend the 2012 spring runway presentation for b Michael America in New York.

By Akira Barclay

On Wednesday, September 14th, 2011 at the American Museum of Natural History, famed fashion designer b michael presented the b michael America Spring 2012 Collection during Mercedes Benz Fashion Week.

The designer used his show to salute and raise awareness for the great work of the New York City Mission Society. The organization has supported children and families for 200 years – encouraging resiliency in the face of many changes, self-confidence and the ability to make positive life choices. Its core values include respect for every person served, encouraging youth to explore their individuality in a safe and nurturing environment, and seeing possibilities where others see limitations.

In support of the b michael Spring 2012 collection, legendary actresses Cicely Tyson and Dina Merrill were spotted sitting on the front row as were Phylicia Rashad, Myrna Colley-Lee, Desiree Rogers, Tamara Tunie, Gregory Generet, Richard Mayhew, Will & Anthony Nunziata, Melba Moore, Alva Chinn, Kathryn Chenault and Jean Chatzky. The b michael America Spring 2012 collection was sponsored by Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.

For more information about the New York City Mission Society visit:

Photo credit: Christopher Greco

Monday, September 26, 2011

Nonprofit, Philanthropy and Business Leaders to Gather for Bay Area Blacks in Philanthropy’s “State of the Race” Conference

Baseball legend and honoree Vida Blue and the Northern Lights Children's Choir attend the 2010 Bay Area Blacks in Philanthropy's Gala Reception at the African American Museum & Library, September 29, 2010 in Oakland, CA.

2011 Community Impact Awards to Recognize Local Black Philanthropists

SAN FRANCISCO – Nonprofit, business and philanthropy leaders will gather on October 12, 2011, for the Bay Area Blacks in Philanthropy’s “State of the Race” conference and awards reception, celebrating local black philanthropists and spotlighting solutions that can fuel employment, entrepreneurship and innovation for African Americans in the region.

“We benefit from living in one of the world's hotspots for innovation, and we aim to bring some of that energy to bear to collectively tackle issues facing Black communities,” said Cedric Brown, Chair of Bay Area Blacks in Philanthropy (BABIP). “We are also eager to honor the generous contributions of individuals and organizations who strengthen this region by investing their time and resources in important causes.”

The theme of this year’s conference is “Beyond the Neighborhood: African Americans Competing in the Regional Economy.” It will take place 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation Conference Center in San Mateo. The one-day conference will highlight major trends in the Bay Area’s Black populations from the 2010 Census; how regional markets and governance structures impact economic opportunities for Black communities; promising models for employment and entrepreneurship; and tools for using technology, policy advocacy and leadership development to advance social change.

Invited presenters at the conference include: Angela Benton, CEO of and Co-Founder of NewMe Accelerator; Allen Fernandez-Smith, President and CEO of Urban Habitat; Ted Howard, Steven A. Minter Fellow at the Cleveland Foundation; Mary Lee, Associate Director at PolicyLink; Dr. Steven Pitts, Labor Policy Specialist at UC Berkeley Labor Center; Jason Trimiew, Director of Business Development at REDF; and Junious Williams Jr., CEO of Urban Strategies Council. The conference is co-sponsored by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Northern California Grantmakers, and Urban Strategies Council.

Following the conference, the “Celebrating Black Philanthropy” Gala Reception will recognize leading Black philanthropists in the Bay Area with the 2011 Community Impact Awards.

This year’s honorees are: Gloria Rhodes Brown, retired former Director of the University of California Cooperative Extension Service for San Mateo and San Francisco counties; Michael C. Bush, Founder of The MattMar Group Inc.; James Lowell Gibbs, Stanford University’s Martin Luther King Jr. Centennial Professor of Anthropology Emeritus, and Dr. Jewelle Taylor Gibbs, author and retired Zellerbach Family Fund Professor of Social Policy, Community Change and Practice at UC Berkeley; Valerie Coleman Morris, leading financial literacy journalist and author; Keena Turner, Vice President of Football Affairs for the San Francisco 49ers; and Verizon Wireless.

KTVU’s Morning News Anchor Dave Clark will serve as Master of Ceremonies for the gala reception, taking place 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Stanford University’s Black Community Services Center.

Both the conference and gala reception are open to the public. Tickets are $50 for the conference, $50 for the reception. Tickets for both the conference and reception are $75 for BABIP members, $90 for non-BABIP members. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit  See highlights from the 2010 gala reception HERE.

About Bay Area Blacks in Philanthropy (BABIP)

BABIP is a regional, nonprofit membership organization that works to advance the interests of African Americans in philanthropy, and to address the impact of racial disparity within philanthropic institutions and African American communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. www.BABIP.orgSource:  Press release

American Kidney Fund Launches New Campaign with Celebrity Champion Laila Ali

Campaign Empowers Women in the Fight to Prevent Kidney Disease

NEW YORK - On September 22, 2011, Laila Ali lit up the ABC Billboard in Times Square to announce the launch of a new campaign with the American Kidney Fund called Pair Up. The campaign empowers women to protect themselves and their loved ones from kidney disease. Pictured with Laila is American Kidney Fund President and CEO LaVarne A. Burton who shares, “Women are critically important in the fight against kidney disease because they tend to be the primary healthcare decision-makers for their families. Through the Pair Up campaign, we hope to empower women to become more effective drivers of kidney disease awareness and prevention for themselves and their loved ones who may be at risk.”

African Americans are four times more likely to develop kidney failure than Caucasians.* This can be attributed to being diagnosed with kidney disease too late, when treatment is not as effective.

Laila’s family, like millions of others, has dealt with the leading causes of kidney disease – high blood pressure and diabetes. That’s why Laila joined the campaign – because kidney disease has impacted her family and she wants to help spread the word. Awareness and education are key in the fight against this disease.

Among the organizational partners with Pair Up is the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. To learn more about the campaign, view Laila’s PSA HERE, and visit the website at to take the Pair Up Challenge.

*National Institutes of Health
Source: Press release/Photo: Wireimage

Friday, September 23, 2011

Congresswoman Karen Bass & Liberty Hill Foundation to Host 'Uplifting Change' Fundraiser

Pictured: Kafi D. Blumenfield, President & CEO of the Liberty Hill Foundation; Nii-Quartelai Quartey, Principal Consultant/CEO of The Sankofa Group for Civic Engagement; The Honorable Karen Bass, Congresswoman and Liberty Hill Board member; and Darryn A. Harris, Managing Partner of The Sankofa Group for Civic Engagement

Event to Benefit Liberty Hill Foundation’s Uplifting Change Initiative; Co-chaired by Fran Jemmott, Principle & CEO of Jemmott Rollins Group and Amelia Williamson, Interim President of Magic Johnson Foundation

LOS ANGELES - On Sunday, October 9, 2011, Congresswoman and Liberty Hill Foundation Board Member Karen Bass will host 'Uplifting Change,' a fundraiser for the foundation’s Uplifting Change Initiative that was created in 2009 to grow African-Americans’ tradition of giving, and to inspire current and new philanthropic leaders in Los Angeles to support social justice. The initiative launched with a series of salons and conversations followed by a transformative summit in February 2010, that convened 150 African-American leaders including a rich cross-section of African-American L.A.

The goal of the summit was simple: to inspire local African-American leaders to harness their power. The result was strong - individuals who had never considered themselves philanthropists developed their first strategic giving plans. Other participants organized "giving circles." Pastors led conversations about how to be more strategic with their resources to address the problems in our communities. The 2nd annual summit took place in February of 2011 and deepened their focus on implementing practical philanthropic strategies. Planning is currently underway for the 3rd summit, that will take place in February 2012.

Tickets for 'Uplifting Change' are $75 for individuals and $100 for couples. The event is also supported by a host committee of Liberty Hill’s Uplifting Change supporters: Tanya Acker, Kibi Anderson, Judy Belk, Charisse Bermond, Shawna Charles, Brickson Diamond, Willis Edwards, Ange-Marie Hancock, Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Yvette & Reggie Ingram, Vincent Jones, Monique Kelly, Assemblymember Holly Mitchell, Connie Parker, Nii-Quartelia Quartey, Dawn Randall, Brenda & Virgil Roberts, Effie & Ed Sanders, and Susan Sandler & Steve Phillips.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit  

About the Liberty Hill Foundation: Over the last 35 years, Liberty Hill Foundation has invested more than $41 million in community organizing at the frontlines of change in Los Angeles, including early investments in some of South L.A.’s most important community organizing and advocacy groups including FAME Renaissance, the Community Coalition and SCOPE. Currently, Black Women for Wellness, The Black Worker Center, Peace4Kids and other organizations serving L.A.’s African-American community are being strengthened by Liberty Hill grants and training. Visit the website at

Photo courtesy of Liberty Hill Foundation

Friday, September 16, 2011

Award-Winning Radio Personality, Entertainer & Family Feud TV Host Steve Harvey Expands His Mentoring Weekend to NYC

Steve Harvey talks Dream Building and Manhood with boys at a Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend for Young Men in Los Angeles.

Harvey & Friends to Host 100 Young Men on October 7-9, 2011

NEW YORK CITY (September 15, 2011) – On October 7-9, 2011, comedian, radio personality, Family Feud television host, and New York Times best-selling author Steve Harvey will bring his highly successful mentoring weekend to the Jacob Javits Center in New York City. Mentoring 100 young men from the tri-state area who are without fathers, applications for the New York Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend for Young Men are being accepted until September 19, 2011.

The two day program will provide diverse visions of success to empower and uplift the next generation of men. Harvey will host numerous special guests whose social consciousness and steadfast dedication to achieving their dreams have impacted countless others in the worlds of business, entertainment, education, and more. Creating a tailor-made experience to address challenges that often go unspoken as young men navigate their teenage years to adulthood, Harvey’s New York mentoring weekend will welcome guests and support from sponsors WBLS 107.5 FM, The U.S. Army, K&G Fashion Superstore, Kmart, The National Guard and American Airlines, the official airline of the Steve Harvey Foundation.

Selected through an application process, those who wish to be considered for the New York Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend for Young Men must come from a single female-headed household in New York, New Jersey or Connecticut, be 13-18 years old and enrolled in grades 9-12, and can either nominate themselves or be nominated. Each potential applicant must include an essay with a minimum of 300 words explaining why they wish to partake in the mentoring program, and submit their applications by 5:00 pm EST on September 19, 2011 via

The New York City weekend will feature several workshops and activities in which the teenage boys will learn invaluable life lessons. During the You Can Be Me panel, business professionals and other successful citizens will offer their tools of success. The young men will take part in a Suit Fitting session in which they learn how to purchase a well- tailored professional suit, to prepare them for common expectations in the workplace. Through the Chess Challenge, the young men will learn strategies and life skills via the game of chess. Steve Harvey will present a town hall meeting in which the boys will learn from him the principles and responsibilities of manhood. Finally, they will become educated about staying fit and maintaining a healthy regimen. Steve Harvey and his Foundation aim to spread this worthwhile message of manhood and the importance of education to deserving young men across the country.

His name has become synonymous with mentoring and since 2009, Harvey has given his Father’s Day weekends a greater purpose by opening up his Dallas ranch to mentor hundreds of young men from around the country and hosting a dynamic weekend filled with peer and mentor bonding that address areas of dream building, male etiquette, health and fitness, entrepreneurship, finance and more. In addition to his Father’s Day weekends, in 2010 Harvey hosted a successful program in New Orleans and Los Angeles during the 2011 NBA All-Star Weekend. New York City is his next stop in his continuing expansion, where another 100 young men will be able to join the famed comedian for an enlightening weekend that he hopes “will impact their lives forever.”

Steve Harvey created this weekend intent on eradicating the epidemic of young males negatively impacted by absent male role models. He hopes to continue to expand the program in order to reach more young men in underserved areas of the country: “All the young men who are attending this camp come from homes without fathers. If we can reach them and provide them with options to achieve, then this weekend will be a success not just for them, but for future generations.” During the June Father’s Day weekend in Dallas, the young men interacted with members of the aviation industry, an unusual opportunity. The young men gained exposure to other guests and professional fields they were otherwise previously unaware of. Several parents have testified to the positive impact the Dallas and LA weekends have had on their teens’ lives, citing affirmative changes in attitude, work ethic, activity and personal choices.

Steve Harvey is the host of the highly-successful, nationally-syndicated radio program The Steve Harvey Morning Show, which can be heard in New York on WBLS-FM, TV host of Family Feud, and author of two best-selling books, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man and Straight Talk, No Chaser: How to Find, Keep, and Understand a Man.

For information about The Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend for Young Men, please visit

Susan L. Taylor & Khephra Burns Host “Thanks-for-Giving” Party

Alicia Bythewood, Khephra Burns and Susan L. Taylor

Sag Harbor award winning author and Editor Emerita of Essence Magazine, Susan L. Taylor along with her husband, author, playwright and producer Khephra Burns, hosted a poolside “Thanks-for-Giving” party last week at their Azurerest, NY home to thank supporters and committee members of the recent On Our Toes in the Hamptons Gala to benefit Evidence, A Dance Company.

The annual benefit gala is the brainchild of Taylor to showcase African-American culture on the East End in the Hamptons. Nine years ago she and Evidence Board Chairman Emeritus Reginald Van Lee organized the first gala at a private home. Since then, thanks to the long term support of corporate supporters such as Noel Hankin, Moet Hennessey, Felicia Daniels, Continental Airlines, Booz Allen Hamilton, Prudential, Verizon, Baume & Mercier, Barbados Tourism Board and scores of individuals, the event has become the premier African-American cultural and social event on the Hamptons calendar.

Each year, the fete draws patrons from all across the country. Midway through the late afternoon affair, Susan and Khephra invited the 100+ guests to join them in a circle around the pool for a prayer of thanks and inspirational words from the couple and Evidence, A Dance Company founder and artistic director Ronald K. Brown.

Giving thanks around the pool.

Ronald K. Brown with friends and dancers.

Photos by John Wegorzewski

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

An Evening of Respect Celebrates 70 Years of Otis Redding with Star-Studded Musical Tribute and Awards Ceremony

Dexter & Otis Redding III, Karla Redding Andrews, V. Bozeman and Timothy Bloom attend 'An Evening of Respect' Celebrating 70 Years of Otis Redding  in Macon, GA.

Proceeds from Event Benefited Foundation in Honor of Legendary Singer

Via Press Release: On September 10, 2011, the Estate of Otis Redding, the City of Macon, GA and scores of celebrities, dignitaries and fans from all over the world gathered to celebrate the 70th birthday of the late, great Otis Redding at An Evening of Respect. Known for classic hits such as “Dock of the Bay,” “These Arms of Mine,” “Try a Little Tenderness,” “Satisfaction,” and “Respect,” which was also recorded by Aretha Franklin, Redding was killed in a plane crash at the young age of 26 in 1967.

Since his death, Otis Redding’s widow Zelma and the Redding family have worked tirelessly to keep his legacy alive. Several years ago they created the Otis Redding Memorial Scholarship Fund and in 2007, the family created the Big “O” Youth Educational Dream Foundation, which fosters young people through education and the arts.

Highlights of An Evening of Respect included performances from R&B songbird Ledisi, sizzling hot newcomers Timothy Bloom & V. Bozeman, legendary musician, songwriter and Otis Redding collaborator Steve Cropper, Jimmy Hall (Wet Willie front man), violinist Ken Ford and Redding’s sons Dexter & Otis Redding, III. Guests also saw Roderick Cox, a young man who has benefited from the support of the foundation conduct Mercer University’s Robert McDuffie Center for Strings Ensemble for two special pieces written in tribute to 9/11.

Timothy Bloom and V. Bozeman perform.

Zelma A. Redding, Timothy Bloom and V. Bozeman 

Additionally, the Big “O” Youth Educational Dream Foundation honored Atlantic Records, Stax Records, Rondor Music International, The Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Georgia, Steve Cropper and Georgia Teacher of the Year Jadun McCarthy for their contributions in entertainment and education. Proceeds from the event benefited the Big “O” Youth Educational Dream Foundation.

For more information on The Big “O” Youth Educational Dream Foundation, please visit

Photo credit: Moses Robinson/Getty Images

Photos of the Day

In preparation for the new school year, Newark Now hosted its Eighth Annual Back to School Book Bag Giveaway on September 3, 2011 at Bears Stadium. Newark Now collaborated with companies and organizations from the Greater Newark, NJ area to provide more than 600 families with book bags, school supplies, and necessary information for a productive and enriching school year.

“Providing your family with the necessary supplies for the school year can be extremely expensive, especially in these economic times,” says LaVar Young, Newark Now CEO and President. “This is why each year we work hard to ensure that we can help alleviate some of these costs for families and increase the quality of the educational experience in Newark by providing them with book bags and other essential supplies for a successful school year.”Photo Credit: Anthony Alvarez

Recording Artist/Actor Ludacris, recording artist Justin Bieber and Morehouse College President, Dr. Robert Michael Franklin attend the 2011 LudaDay Weekend on September 4, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Aretha Franklin and Billy Dee Williams pose for a picture at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz 25th Anniversary Gala on September 12, 2011 in Washington, DC.

Author Dr. Steve Perry, Jacque Reid, Soledad O'Brien and Sean "P. Diddy" Combs promote "Raggedy Schools the Untold Truth" at a private residence on September 13, 2011 in New York City.

Photos: Wireimage

Monday, September 12, 2011

Protege® Footwear Makes A Pledge to Youth

Pro athletes Deion Branch and Roger Mason, Jr. help launch special “giveback” campaign

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. – Protege®, the affordable footwear and apparel collection available exclusively at Kmart® and, takes its “giveback” philosophy one step further with the Protege Movement, a social campaign featuring a public service pledge championed by Roger Mason, Jr. (pictured, New York Knicks) and Deion Branch (New England Patriots).

Declaring September “Protege Month,” the campaign’s Protege Pledge aims to rally young men to give back to their communities and can be digitally signed on the Protege Facebook Page. The campaign will live online through a website displaying the Pledge, along with videos and links to the brand’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

“Growing up, I’m thankful to have been surrounded by great male role models,” said Roger Mason, Jr. “I’m proud to be a part of the Protege Movement, to help guide the next generation.”

In addition to the Pledge, Kmart will donate $1 for each eligible pair of Protege shoes purchased through December 31, 2011 split equally between the Amateur Athletic Union of America (AAU) and Boys & Girls Club of America, with a minimum donation of $100,000 to each charity. Protege is also a sponsor of the Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend, engaging over 100 African-American males each weekend.

“Since the launch of the Protege brand, our team has been committed to giving back to the communities we serve,” said Nick Grayston, president of Kmart’s footwear division. “And now through the Protege Movement, we have a great opportunity to help encourage young people to make a difference, and continue to support the message of giving back.”

Join the Protege movement and sign the Protege Pledge by visiting or

Friday, September 9, 2011

Vh1’s “The T.O. Show” Creators, Co-Stars and Executive Producers Monique “Mo” Jackson & Kita Williams to Headline UNCF’s HBCU ‘Empower Me Tour’

Mo & Kita to Introduce “Define Your Pretty” Empowerment Campaign and “Define Your Pretty Collection” of Hair and Beauty Products

September 8, 2011 (New York, NY) – The creators, co-stars and Executive Producers of VH1’s “The T.O. Show,” Monique “Mo” Jackson and Kita Williams, have partnered with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) to headline their 2011 “Empower Me Tour” of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). Kicking off on September 9, 2011 in Washington, DC, the duo—along with actor Brian White—will travel across the country speaking, inspiring and motivating young people to help them set high academic standards for themselves and instill self-confidence while offering beneficial information to students to achieve their goals.

Mo and Kita are successful businesswomen on a mission to empower women (and men) to change their outlook on life and to achieve their highest potential. As the first African-American women to create, executive produce, and star in a sports-based reality show, Mo and Kita understand the meaning of hard work and the importance of being positive role models. Their hit VH1 reality series, “The T.O. Show” follows the life of American football star Terrell Owens, highlighting the trials and tribulations of his personal life. As his friends and publicists, Mo and Kita play a huge role both on and off the screen. A refreshing change of pace from stereotypical reality television, Mo and Kita set a positive example for young women everywhere and remind viewers that although they are in the limelight, they haven’t lost touch of their inner strength and beauty.

While on the UNCF “Empower Me Tour,” Mo and Kita will introduce their “Define Your Pretty” empowerment campaign; a new initiative designed to instill in young women a sense of confidence while redefining beauty from the inside out. As part of this campaign, Mo and Kita will also be introducing their brand new line of beauty and hair-care products: the “Define Your Pretty Collection.”

Catch Mo and Kita on the UNCF’s “Empower Me Tour” in the following cities this fall/winter, and on the third season of “The T.O Show” every Monday at 9:30PM EST on VH1 now through November 2011:

September 9 - Washington, DC
September 17 - Detroit, Michigan
October 8 - Minneapolis, Minnesota
October 22 - New York, New York
November 5 - Boston, Massachusetts
November 19 - Kansas City, Missouri
February 3 - Miami, Florida
February 18 - San Francisco, California
February 25 - Los Angeles, California

For more information on Mo and Kita, follow them on Twitter @MoniqueJackson and @KitaPubDiva and please visit: For more information on the Empower Me Tour, visit

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

8th Annual On Our Toes in the Hamptons a Summer Delight

Dr. Ancy Verdier, Joanne Hill, honorees Jon Snow and Lola C. West, Larry Satterfield, Gail Monroe-Perry, and Reginald Van Lee attend the 8th annual 'On Our Toes in the Hamptons' benefiting Evidence, A Dance Company on August 20, 2011 in Bridgehampton, New York.

Ronald K. Brown’s Evidence, A Dance Company Electrifies with Stunning Performance at the Premier African American Cultural Event of the Hamptons Season

BRIDGEHAMPTON, NY - One of the most eagerly anticipated galas of summer is also one that heralds the coming end of the Hamptons social season, the annual visit of Ronald K. Brown’s internationally acclaimed On Our Toes in the Hamptons benefit. This year’s event was held on the sprawling grounds of the Hayground School in Bridgehampton and once again drew supporters from across the country for a festive afternoon to raise funds for Brown’s much loved dance troupe.

Despite predictions of thunderstorms, it was a picture perfect summer day as guests flowed into the renowned schools culinary, education and community center, Jeff’s Kitchen, for late afternoon cocktails. Chef David Martinez and his team at Harlem’s critically acclaimed 5 and Diamond Restaurant offered up platters of delectable hors d’oeuvres including mini dogs in puff pastry, mac & cheese bites and Scottish smoked salmon on black bread with Citrus crème fraiche. To complement the tasty treats there were specialty cocktails from Belvedere and guests immediately got into their party mode.

Event Chair Dr. Ancy Verdier, Board Chairman Emeritus Reginald Van Lee, Vice-Chair Joanne Hill and Board Secretary Gail Monroe-Perry warmly welcomed guests to what has become the premier African-American cultural and social event of the Hamptons season and an annual reunion of dance patrons.

Among the guests were Alicia and Dan Bythewood, Peg Alston and Burton Willis, Board members Dwayne Ashley and Monica F. Azare; Reginald Canal, Andrea Hoffman, Leslie Mays, Larry Satterfield and Jocelyn Taylor, Young Professionals Committee Chair Jenna Bond-Louden, Law & Order SVU star Tamara Tunie with husband jazz vocalist Gregory Generet, Essence Magazine Editor Emerita Susan L. Taylor with husband, filmmaker and producer Khephra Burns; model Marco Candini, designer Berry Brown, Solonje Burnett-Loucas, Christopher Harvell & Dr. Lezli Levene Harvell, Kelly Mitchell, Obi Onyeagoro and Erin L. Patten, Omar Karriem, Nicholas Anderson, Corey McCathern, Jon Snow and wife Kathy Engel, Clint Taylor, Tia Walker and scores more.

Evidence Board Chairman Emeritus Reginald Van Lee and Vice-Chair Joanne Hill

Gregory Generet, Tamara Tunie and Dan Bythewood

Dr Ancy Verdier and Hayground School co-founder Toni Ross

After cocktails, throbbing drums signaled a call to the main tent for dinner and the start of the evening’s program. Guests quickly flooded the tent that was set up as an outdoor living room with bright white canvas sofas and lounges strewn around the spacious tent. Tabletops were adorned with masses of summer flowers by Bridgehampton Florist Michael Grim. Locally grown dahlias, cosmos, zinnias and sunflowers in vibrant hues added the right punch of color to the all white décor. Numerous food stations decorated by Chef Martinez with tropical fish, exotic birds and fairy tale horses and carriages carved from fruit lent a fanciful Midsummer Night’s Dream effect. Martinez and his professional staff offered a carving station featuring New York Strip Steak and grilled seasonal local vegetable platters, tomato vinaigrette, herb roasted red bliss potatoes and brussels sprouts with applewood smoked bacon.

Following the bountiful dinner, Gail Monroe-Perry welcomed guests and thanked them for their longtime commitment to Evidence, A Dance Company. She then introduced Dr. Ancy Verdier, this year’s Event Chair, to present awards to two dynamic individuals who have effected great change in their respective professions: artist, educator and activist Jon Snow, co-founder of the Hayground School, and renowned financial advisor Lola C. West, Managing Director, WestFuller Advisors LLC. Both made gracious speeches and cited the enormous gift of Evidence in chronicling the African Diaspora through storytelling and dance.

Honorees Jon Snow and Lola C. West

Honoree Lola C. West and Joyce Mullins-Jackson

Princess Keisha & Prince Kunle Omilana

Wendall Scott and Fabrice Armand

Within moments, the audience witnessed first-hand the amazing talents of Brown and his dance troupe as they performed the electrifying “Ife My Heart,” a signature piece for the company which was built as the journey of three families to one destination: a place where the heart was open. Ife My Heart was originally commissioned and performed by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 2005.

Evidence Dancers perform 'Ife My Heart'

Susan L. Taylor embraces Ronald K. Brown after the performance.

The conclusion of the 15 minute piece was met with thunderous applause and a standing ovation. A smiling but breathless Brown, humbly thanked the assembled guests and introduced the company including Waldean Nelson, Lilli Anne Tai, Clarice Young, Annique Roberts, Tislarm Bouie and Associate Artistic Director Arcell Cabuag.

Fabrice Armand then took to the stage to begin the spirited live auction. Bidding was feverish for two extraordinary lifestyle experiences. Sonya Pankey snared the week at the exclusive Palmas del Mar in Puerto Rico donated by Lawrence S. Campbell, San Juan, P.R. & Ethan Shapiro & Associates LLC. Annette Mitchell scored the extraordinary lifestyle experience which included his and hers Baume Mercier watches and Rebecca Minkoff travel bags as well as four days in Barbados at the exquisite Crane Residential Resort, with airfare and tickets to the international Food Rum and Wine Festival courtesy of Barbados Tourism Authority. An online auction of luxury goods and one-of-a-kind experiences organized by Tybie Etoy Dotson was featured on

As is tradition and in keeping with their sense of giving back to the community, Ronald K. Brown and members of his troupe will conduct a master class for the students of the Hayground School this fall. Brown’s technique master class draws on the Evidence vocabulary, which is a fusion of dance forms from the U.S., the Caribbean, and West Africa. The students will learn exercises that focus on alignment and increasing ones’ physical range. 

In just a few years, On Our Toes in The Hamptons, the dream of Susan L. Taylor and Reginald Van Lee Sr., V.P., Booz Allen Hamilton to bring Black culture to the Hamptons, has evolved to become the only continuous, major African-American cultural event of the Hamptons summer season.

Corporate sponsors included Belvedere Vodka, Booz Allen Hamilton, FedEx and Prudential. Sponsors included Zaid Abdul-Aleem, Monica Azare, Khephra Burns and Susan L. Taylor, Dr. Jeanine Downie and Michael Heningburg, Joanne E. Hill, Loida N. Lewis, Gail Monroe-Perry, Larry Satterfield, Jennifer Streaks, Reginald Van Lee, Dr. Ancy Verdier and Verizon.

Event sponsors included Peg Alston & Burton Willis, Chandra Anderson, Twenty-First Century Foundation, Monica Azare, Darria L. Ball, Tinika M. Brown, Esq., Valerie S. Brown, Alicia Bythewood, Judy Chambers, Doreen Chambers-Monrougie, Glenn E. Davis, Allen Harvey, Luisa Herrera & Manny Garcia, Shaun Massiah & Deirdre Stanley, Leila Schultz & Jack Walsh of BRIC Arts Media Bklyn, and Paula Taylor and Joseph Welsh. The Business Development Committee included Fabrice Armand, Christy Bareijsza, Tina Bernard, Keenan Davis, Dr. Erika Faust, Latoya Henry, Demetria Lucas, Ron Myers, and James Nixon.

Elliot Satterfield, Dr. Ancy Verdier, Gail Monroe-Perry, Larry Satterfield, Joanne Hill, Honoree Jon Snow, Honoree Lola C. West, Ronald K. Brown, Andrea Hoffman and Reginald Van Lee.

For more information about Evidence, A Dance Company visit

Photos by Kurt Leggard

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Announces Fall 2011 Season

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Artistic Director Robert Battle, Associate Artistic Director Masazumy Chaya and Company members. Photo by Andrew Eccles

Tickets Now on Sale for Five-Week Series of Performances that Reach Back into Ailey Tradition and Stretch Out in New Directions with a Diverse Array of Premieres and New Productions

September 6, 2011 — Led by Robert Battle in his inaugural season as Artistic Director, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will return to the New York City Center stage from November 30, 2011 to January 1, 2012 for the 40th consecutive year, following a historic restoration and modernization of the landmarked building. Today, the full schedule was announced for a five-week series of performances that will showcase the brilliant artistry and passionate spirit of Ailey’s extraordinary dancers in a series of premieres and new productions that extend the vital legacy of Alvin Ailey (1931-1989) in exciting new directions.

The November 30th Opening Night Gala Benefit, with proceeds going to support Ailey’s innovative educational and training programs for young people, will kick off the season with the company premiere of Paul Taylor’s classic Arden Court (1981), marking the first time a work by this American modern dance master joins the Ailey repertory.

Bold hip-hop choreographer Rennie Harris will debut Home, a new work set to a soul-lifting score of gospel house music. The work is inspired by stories submitted to the “Fight HIV Your Way” contest of people living with or affected by HIV, an initiative of Bristol-Myers Squibb. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will present the world premiere on a day of major significance, December 1st, both World AIDS Day and the day Alvin Ailey passed away from the disease 22 years ago.

Over 20 works will be presented during the five-week season, including classics and favorites such as Robert Battle’s The Hunt, Ulysses Dove’s Urban Folk Dance, and Alvin Ailey’s Cry. Mr. Ailey’s beloved masterpiece Revelations, an American classic acclaimed as a must-see for all and recognized by a U.S. Senate resolution, will be performed with live music, including New Year’s Eve, and with an expanded cast of 50 on other select dates. A special 2011 season highlights finale program will bring an exciting finish to the season on January 1st.

“This is the beginning of a new adventure—for the company, for me and for our audiences around the world,” stated Robert Battle, who became Artistic Director on July 1, 2011. In addition to the season, Mr. Battle also previously announced the inauguration of a major new program of the Ailey organization, the New Directions Choreography Lab, designed to serve the entire field of dance. Assisting choreographers in developing their work, the program will grant resident fellowships to four emerging and mid-career artists each year, offering a stipend, the use of gifted dancers from The Ailey School, creative mentorships and rehearsal time at The Joan Weill Center for Dance. Unlike other programs that require the production and presentation of a final performance or commission, Ailey’s new lab will enable choreographers to focus solely on the process of choreography as a creative experience, free from all restricting expectations or deadlines.

Amplifying his plans for the Company, Mr. Battle emphasized, “We are going to reach back and try to touch some of the vital sources of Alvin Ailey’s creativity, but also stretch forward into new possibilities that develop his legacy. For the millions of people who love Alvin Ailey’s work and have been inspired by the great achievements of Judith Jamison and our unsurpassed dancers, I hope this season will be just what the company has always delivered: a revelation.”

Tickets starting at $25 go on sale September 6th and can be purchased at the New York City Center Box Office, through CityTix® at (212) 581-1212 or online at or Prudential Financial and Wells Fargo are co-sponsors of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s New York Season.

Angie Stone & Raheem DeVaughn Concert to Support 100 Black Men of Atlanta and Project Success

The Black is Beautiful Tour featuring Grammy-award winning songstress Angie Stone along with singing sensation Raheem DeVaughn, will serve as the official concert for the 23rd Annual Bank of America Football Classic weekend in Atlanta on September 23, 2011. A portion of the concert proceeds will be donated to the 100 Black Men of Atlanta to support Project Success.

Angie Stone, who has recorded with everyone from Lenny Kravitz, to Musiq Soulchild and Prince, is excited to be a part of this legendary weekend. “I love what the Bank of America Atlanta Football Classic represents,” says Stone. “I welcome the opportunity to use my gifts to benefit the 100 Black Men of Atlanta’s Project Success Program.” Raheem DeVaughn had an epiphany early in his college career at Historically Black College Coppin State University about the power of music. “I am thrilled to be part of a weekend that raises money to inspire young people to pursue their dreams; something that I always want my music to do,” says DeVaughn.

This year’s football classic matches up the FAMU Rattlers against the Southern University Jaguars and will kick off on Saturday, September 24, 2011 at the Georgia Dome at 3:30 pm. Due to the historical popularity of the game as well as the number of FAMU and Southern University alumni in the Cascade area, the game is expected to have significant support from Cascade residents.

The concert, which will be hosted by comedian Lightfoot, starts at the Atlanta Civic Center at 8 PM. Ticket prices are $80 (sold out), $55, $45 and $25. Tickets may be purchased at the following Ticketmaster link: As part of the concert promotion, the Islands of the Bahamas will be presenting one lucky concert winner with a 4 day/3 night trip to the Paradise Island. For group ticket discounts, call 770- 881-8500 or email:

The mission of 100 Black Men of Atlanta, Inc. is to provide support and improve the quality of life for African Americans. It is one of the city’s strongest African American volunteer organizations focused on education, enrichment and empowerment. The organization’s community work is performed through its flagship program, Project Success, a mentoring and academic support initiative with the following components: The 100 Academy, Mentoring, the 100 Resource Learning Center, the Collegiate 100, The Best Academy at Benjamin S. Carson, the Project Success Robotics Alliance, Family & Youth Empowerment Programs and Health & Wellness Initiatives. To learn more about Project Success visit

Source: Press release

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Celebration of Giving: The Black Benefactors Hosts Ebony Magazine Feature Party

The Black Benefactors pose for a group photo at the Celebration of Giving event on August 26, 2011 in Washington, DC (L to R:  Michael Coffey, Melissa Johnson, Jana Baldwin, Desy Osunsade, Tracey Webb, Thelma Jones, Stacey Trammel, Keight Tucker, Faith Bynoe, Jovette Gadson, Edward Jones and Tekisha Everette).

By Tracey Webb
Founder & The Black Benefactors

WASHINGTON, DC - On Friday, August 26th, my giving circle hosted an event to celebrate our feature in the August 2011 issue Ebony magazine. Several supporters came out to celebrate African American giving in the Washington, DC region including social entrepreneurs, nonprofit executives, community members and foundation leaders. Our event was held at the Dance Institute of Washington, a beautiful arts venue founded by Fabian Barnes, a former dancer with the Dance Theatre of Harlem. It's also the site where we held our Ebony magazine photo shoot.

JoAnn Williams, the Executive Director of the African Continuum Theatre Company and one of our 2010 grantees, spoke to the guests about the importance of African Americans supporting African American led nonprofits and the arts community.  Guests also enjoyed a spoken word performance by Nigel Greaves, producer and director of the MLK Streets Project.

We dined on hors d'oeuvres from Whole Foods, mini cupcakes by Bake Sweet Love, and wine from Cork Wine Bar while enjoying sounds by NY's DJ Michael Barclay. Our event was sponsored by the law office of Edward W. Neufville III and photography was generously provided by V. Terraunce Photography.  I'd like to thank everyone who attended our event and it was wonderful to meet so many people committed to social change in the African American community! For more highlights from the event and to view the spoken word performance, please visit HERE (thanks to Keisha J. Reid for tweeting during our event)!

For more information on the Black Benefactors, visit our website at, and learn more about why I started the Black Benefactors on the blog of our partner, the Black Philanthropic Alliance HERE.  I also invite you to join us on Facebook at (where you can sign up for our newsletter and view more photos from the event) and Twitter at @blkbenefactors.