LA Pride Festival Cancels In-Person Celebration, Will Go Digital

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LA-pride-2019

On its 50th anniversary, the iconic Los Angeles Pride Festival and Parade, which normally draw hundreds of thousands of people to West Hollywood in June, will be going digital because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Organizers recently announced that the festival will instead be held virtually on several digital platforms over a period of months and spanning into 2021.

Back in mid-March, Christopher Street West – the nonprofit group in charge of putting on the festival, announced that it would be postponed. However, it was confirmed that the festival has been canceled the in-person celebrations, and will instead return in 2021.

“Due to the evolving effects surrounding COVID-19, CSW has made the responsible decision to forgo in-person LA Pride celebrations for the remainder of the year,” the group said in a statement. “The organization will instead re-imagine how it will celebrate its 50th anniversary through new and exciting initiatives hosted on its digital platforms, with the hope of returning to a physical celebration in 2021. More details will be announced soon on how Los Angeles will celebrate its 50th Anniversary through exciting digital initiatives.”

The three-day festival is one of the largest LGBTQ celebrations in the nation.

CSW said it would roll out its digital initiatives in the coming months.

Continue on to CBS Los Angeles to read the complete article.

Target says it will spend more than $2 billion with Black-owned businesses by 2025

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People stand in line at Target in Kips Bay during the coronavirus pandemic on April 14, 2020 in New York City.

By Melissa Repko, CNBC

Target said it will hire more Black-owned companies, launch a program to identify and support promising minority entrepreneurs and add products from more than 500 Black-owned brands to its shelves or website.

Altogether, the discounter said Wednesday, it will spend more than $2 billion with Black-owned businesses by 2025.

“We have a rich history of working with diverse businesses, but there’s more we can do to spark change across the retail industry, support the Black community and ensure Black guests feel welcomed and represented when they shop at Target,” chief growth officer Christina Hennington said in a news release.

The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and protests across the country have ratcheted up pressure on corporate leaders to advance racial equity and do more than simply cut a check — or risk losing business. The uneven death toll of the coronavirus pandemic and financial toll of the recession also spotlighted the country’s sharp racial disparities with health care and economic opportunity.

Floyd was killed in Target’s hometown of Minneapolis, now the site of the murder trial for the police officer who kneeled on Floyd’s neck. One Target store, located near the site of Floyd’s death, had to be completely rebuilt and some of its other stores were damaged during rioting.

Companies have spoken out about diversity and inclusion as consumers pay attention and some direct their dollars toward businesses that align with their values. Generation Z — the group of teens and early 20-somethings who are aging into shopping and establishing relationships with brands — care more about social justice compared with former generations, according to an annual survey of teens by Piper Sandler released Wednesday. Teens surveyed by the firm ranked racial equity as their most important political and social issue, followed by the environment and Black Lives Matter.

Over the past year, major retailers like Nike, Walmart and Ulta Beauty have rolled out their own pledges, such as devoting more shelf space to Black-owned products, evaluating how they hire and promote employees, featuring more Black people in their ads and reducing the number of police or security in stores to prevent racial profiling. A growing number of retailers, including Macy’s, Sephora and Gap, have signed on to the 15 Percent Pledge, which aims to make Black-owned products on store shelves proportional to the country’s Black population.

Among Target’s changes, the retailer said it will more actively seek out advertising firms, suppliers, construction companies and other kinds of businesses that are Black-owned. It said it will create a program called Forward Founders for early-stage start-ups led by Black entrepreneurs to help them develop, test and scale products to sell at mass retailers like Target. It will be modeled off of Target Accelerators, a program for start-ups that the retailer uses to foster up-and-coming brands and ultimately, to sell fresh and exclusive products that attract customers and help it differentiate from competitors.

In some categories, such as beauty, Target said it already has 50 Black-owned and Black-founded brands — but would like to add more for other kinds of merchandise.

Click here to read the full article on CNBC.

Just 3% of L.A. landmarks are linked to Black history. One project aims to change that

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St. Elmo Village, an artists’ enclave occupying a compound of 10 Craftsman bungalows, was founded in 1969 by artists Roderick and Rozzell Sykes as a place where children and adults could explore their creativity. The site is one of L.A.'s few designated landmarks linked to Black heritage.

MAKEDA EASTER, Los Angeles Times

Getty and the city of Los Angeles are expected to announce Tuesday the launch of the African American Historic Places Project, a three-year initiative to identify and preserve landmarks that represent Black heritage across L.A.

Led by the Getty Conservation Institute and the Office of Historic Resources within L.A.’s Department of City Planning, the project will address a disparity in local landmark designations: Only about 3% are connected to African American heritage. The goal of the project is to more accurately reflect the history of the city.

The Office of Historic Resources knows that its landmark designation programs do not yet reflect “the diversity and richness of the African American experience in Los Angeles,” said Ken Bernstein, principal city planner and manager of the office. “There’s much work to be done to rectify that disparity and ensure that the heritage of African Americans in Los Angeles is fully woven into our historic designation, and recognition of historic places in Los Angeles.”

The project is a continuation of a nearly 20-year partnership between the Getty Conservation Institute and the city on local heritage projects.

In 2005, a city-matched grant of $2.5 million from the GCI launched a program to identify and map places of social importance, including historic districts, bridges, parks and streetscapes.

Data from surveys conducted between 2010 and 2017 led to the creation of HistoricPlacesLA, a digital portal designed to inventory, map and contextualize the city’s cultural heritage sites. In 2018, the Office of Historic Resources developed a model to guide preservation work in Black communities, using themes including civil rights, religion and spirituality and visual arts.

Click here to read the full article on Los Angeles Times.

Venus Williams Pens Powerful Essay on Gender Equality, Announces Campaign to Advocate for Equal Pay

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Venus williams wearing a gray suit jacket smiling at the camera

By Katie Campione, People

Venus Williams is once again lending her voice to the movement for gender equality.

The five-time Wimbledon champion penned a moving essay for British Vogue on Monday about using her platform to advocate for equal pay.

In 2007, Williams became the first woman to receive equal prize money to her male counterparts. While men and women now get equal prize money at the majors and combined events, Williams said there is still a long way to go in the sport and across all industries to make sure women are valued in their fields.

“There is still a mindset that women’s tennis isn’t as valuable as men’s,” she wrote. As four-time Olympic gold medalist, Williams said “we must not allow [that mindset] to dictate society’s progress.”

“I firmly believe that sport mirrors life and life mirrors sport,” Williams wrote. “The lack of equality and equal opportunities in tennis is a symptom of the obstacles women face around the world.”

The tennis player added that, in the United States, women made 82.3 cents for every dollar men made in 2019. Inspired by that “shocking” statistic, Williams said she is initiating a campaign called #PrivilegeTax.

Ahead of Equal Pay Day on March 24, customers at participating brands can donate 19 cents at checkout to benefit the Girls Inc. of Greater Los Angeles organization. Brands partnering with Williams for the campaign include Nordstrom, Tracy Anderson, Tom Brady’s TB12, Carbon38, Credo Beauty and Happy Viking.

Click here to read the full article on People.

Power: LaKeisha star LaLa Anthony reunites with 50 Cent for huge new Starz project

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LaLa Anthony as LaKeisha on the set of Power seated next to co star.

By LISA WEHRSTEDT, Express UK

After her amazing performance as LaKeisha on the Starz show Power, LaLa Anthony has now landed a major new role alongside Power producer Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, on an upcoming drama. Inspired by true events, Black Mafia Family will tell the story of two brothers from 1980’s Detroit who started one of the most influential crime family in the country.

LaLa Anthony will plat Markaisha Taylor, the wife to flamboyant drug dealer and head of the family Demetrius “Big Meech” Flenory.

She is also best friend to her husband’s brother and fellow boss Terry “Southwest T” Flenory, which will make for some interesting dynamics as family loyalty is called into question.

The brothers’ vision is to take their business beyond the drug trade and into the world of hip-hop to become global icons.

Meanwhile, Markaisha has her own plan to harness Terry’s seriousness and sense of purpose to make herself rich.

As the two grow closer and ultimately intimate, their relationship will mean the demise of Markaisha’s marriage as well as Terry’s reputation on the streets.

Snoop Dogg has also joined the cast as Pastor Swift, the Flenory family’s spiritual advisor.

His character description reads: “He’s a man of The Word, with the aura of an ex-con.”

“The Pastor believes in the power of the Lord, and does his best to keep Meech and Terry in good graces.”

He will eventually make his way into the family and become a close confidant, although “Meech and Terry’s father resents all the attention the Pastor showers over the Flenory’s family, but no one can deny all the good the Pastor does for them.”

Joining the show is also Serayah, who will play Demetrius’s girlfriend, Lori Walker.

She is a smart, driven, yet naive college athlete who fell for Meech’s bad boy charm when the couple was younger.

After having a daughter with him, Lori is now more mature and clear-eyed.

Her world centres more around her daughter, and she expects less out of Meech, which makes him want her more.

Click here to read the full article on Express UK.

Viola Davis on the Prospect of Becoming the Most Nominated Black Actress in Oscars History

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Viola Davis holding her award from the Oscars while wearing a red off the shoulder dress smiling

By Angelique Jackson, Variety

With her critically acclaimed performance in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Viola Davis is primed to become the most nominated Black actress in Oscars history.

Though Davis’ name (and her rousing acceptance speeches) has become synonymous with the very notion of awards season, the celebrated actor is quick to point out the reality that this record is one that should’ve been set long ago.

“For me, it’s a reflection of the lack of opportunities and access to opportunities people of color have had in this business,” she says. “If me, going back to the Oscars four times in 2021, makes me the most nominated Black actress in history, that’s a testament to the sheer lack of material there has been out there for artists of color.”

Davis currently shares the record for the most nominated Black actress in the history of the Academy Awards, tied with close friend Octavia Spencer with three nods apiece. Both women have a supporting actress trophy at home (Davis won in 2017 for “Fences,” while Spencer won in 2012 for “The Help”).

The only other Black actress with multiple Oscar nods is Whoopi Goldberg, who has been recognized twice, nominated for best actress in 1986 for “The Color Purple” and winning the best supporting actress prize in 1991 for “Ghost.” The late Cicely Tyson earned an Oscar nod in 1972 for “Sounder” and an honorary Oscar in 2018.

Of the awards season maelstrom, Davis says, “I have to make it mean something. I do. If I just saw it as a moment for me to sort of puff up my own ego, I think that that would last for 10 seconds or less. It’s a platform. It’s another microphone. It’s another opportunity to open my mouth and speak a really fundamental truth about Hollywood and this business, and, really, America.”

Of course, this year’s ceremonies will inevitably be different, as they unfold amid the ongoing pandemic. There are logistical questions about what sort of hybrid virtual and in person broadcasts might take shape, but Davis is hopeful that the award season landscape will change in a more significant way.

“It’s always great to have the escapism of friendly competition, but at the end of the day, there are a lot deeper issues going on than whether we’re going to have the Oscars, or the Golden Globes, or the SAG Awards in person or virtually,” she says. “My fantasy is that people, that artists, understand that there is no separation with what we do, and what’s going on in the world. I’m actually really excited to see how that takes shape — how people speak their truths, even in their acceptance speeches, how they deal with getting golden statues and what they do with their power now.”

Click here to read the full article on Variety.

Grammys: Read Trevor Noah’s Opening Monologue

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Trevor Noah poses with his head resting on his hand with a Grammy award in a tuxedo

By Jackie Strause, The Hollywood Reporter

The host kept his jokes to a minimum while introducing a very different version of music’s biggest night amid the pandemic era of awards shows.

Trevor Noah kicked off a very intimate Grammy Awards show on Sunday, using his opening monologue to tour viewers around the CBS telecast’s COVID-safe, indoor-outdoor set.

Opening the night outside the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, Noah explained that the nominees were seated in a tented limited audience outside the venue, while the artists would be taking the stage for the night’s performances inside the nearly empty convention center. While he quipped about hot-button topics like COVID-19, the U.S. Capitol insurrection and the royals, his opener was intended to set-up the different-seeming and yet hopeful night.

“Tonight’s about bringing us all together as only music can. I mean — music and vaccines,” said the Daily Show host in an introduction fit for the pandemic-era of awards shows.

Good evening, everyone. And welcome to the 63rd annual Grammy Awards. My name is Trevor Noah and I’ll be your host tonight as we celebrate the last 10 years of music that got us through the last 10 years of coronavirus. I know it’s been one year, but it feels like 10.

As you can see, this year, people, we have made the decision to socially distance from the Staples Center, but we’re still broadcasting to you from the heart of downtown Los Angeles. This is not a Zoom background, alright? This is real. My uncle isn’t going to walk behind me naked even though I told him I was having an important meeting. That’s not going to happen tonight.

Tonight, we’re going to celebrate some of the fantastic music that has touched our lives and saved our souls over this unprecedented year. And as you can see, we are outside. Meaning, we get to enjoy the great Los Angeles air — which I know maybe as dangerous as COVID, but we’re willing to take the risk.

Tonight is going to be the biggest outdoor event this year besides the storming of the Capitol. Because, you see, right here in this elegant, open-air tent, we will be presenting the most prestigious, sought-after, peer-voted trophies in music, giving out shiny new Grammy awards live throughout the evening. But we have to do it quickly because tomorrow this tent is reserved for an outdoor wedding in Malibu and I do not want to lose my security deposit.

Click here to read Trevor Noah’s full monologue transcript on The Hollywood Reporter

Beyoncé Says She’s “Inspired” by Meghan Markle Following Her Oprah Interview

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Beyonce and Jay Z meet Meghan Markle at the Lion King movie premiere

BY , Harper Bazaar.

You can count Beyoncé as one of the 17 million people who tuned in to Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s highly anticipated sit-down with Oprah Winfrey last Sunday, as now, the superstar is showing her support for the Duchess of Sussex.

But rather than post a comment on social media following the bombshell interview, Beyoncé took to her personal website to share her sweet message.

“Thank you Meghan for your courage and leadership,” wrote Beyoncé alongside an image of the two meeting for the first time at the U.K. premiere of The Lion King. “We are all strengthened and inspired by you.”

During the two-hour interview, Meghan revealed how adjusting to royal life took a toll on her mental health. In one of the televised special’s most heartbreaking moments, the Duchess of Sussex revealed that there was a point where she had considered suicide and turned to her husband, Harry, for support.

“I was ashamed to say it at the time and ashamed to have to admit it to Harry. But I knew that if I didn’t say it—then I would do it,” said Meghan to Winfrey during the interview. “I just didn’t want to be alive anymore.”

Beyoncé isn’t the only high-profile figure to speak out in support of Meghan in recent days. Tennis icon Serena Williams, the duchess’s dear friend, also shared a moving message praising her friend’s bravery in speaking her truth.

Click here to read the full article on Harper Bazaar

How to Watch ‘Oprah With Meghan and Harry: A CBS Primetime Special’

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Meghan and Harry standing on veranda smiling with Prince William and Princess Kate in the foreground laughing

By 

It’s almost time to watch Oprah Winfrey‘s interview with Prince Harry and Meghan MarkleOprah With Meghan and Harry: A CBS Primetime Special promises to be an intimate, wide-ranging conversation with the couple in their first televised sit-down since their engagement, airing on Sunday, March 7.

“There is no subject that’s off limits,” Oprah said in the trailer for the upcoming special, released on Sunday, which previewed some of the topics, from their decision to step down as senior members of the royal family, to their marriage, to how they’ve handled life under intense public pressure.

When and what time is Oprah With Meghan and HarryThe 90-minute interview airs on CBS on Sunday, March 7 at 8 p.m. ET/PT and 7 p.m. CT.

How to watch without cable: The interview will air on CBS, but if you need a way to stream, there are a number of services where you can do so. You can watch CBS on Paramount+ — currently called CBS All Access, but will have relaunched by the time of the special — which costs as little as $5 per month. You can sign up for CBS All Access now, and be all set for Sunday.

Alternatively, several live TV streaming services offer CBS, including Hulu with Live TVfuboTVAT&T TV Now and YouTube TV. Usually, most of these services have specials offering free trials for first-time subscribers.

Where can I see the trailer for Oprah’s interview with Harry and Meghan? Right here! Watch below for a first look.

Read the full article at ET Online.

Teaching Students A New Black History

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Graphic of black scientists

When you think of the history of Black education in the United States, you might think of Brown vs. Board of Education and the fight to integrate public schools. But there’s a parallel history too, of Black people pooling their resources to educate and empower themselves independently.

Enslaved people learned to read and write whenever and wherever they could, often in secret and against the law. “In accomplishing
this, I was compelled
 to resort to
various
 stratagems,” like convincing white children to help him, wrote Frederick Douglass. “I had
no regular 
teacher.”

After the Civil War, says educator Kaya Henderson, Black people started “freedmen’s schools” to teach former slaves literacy and the other skills they would need to participate as citizens. “In the 12-year period that is Reconstruction,” she adds, “we started 5,000 community schools. We started 37 historically black colleges and universities.”

A century later, during the civil rights movement, educators founded “freedom schools” combining basic literacy with civic skills, like how to register to vote.

And in 1969, the Black Panther Party started a free breakfast program for schoolchildren. Eventually it fed tens of thousands of hungry kids oranges, eggs and chocolate milk at 45 sites around the country. J. Edgar Hoover, the head of the FBI, reportedly got the Chicago police to try to sabotage the program, because he considered it to be such powerful positive messaging for the radical movement he was determined to destroy. Instead, the federal government joined the effort; President Richard M. Nixon increased funding to guarantee all qualifying children a right to free lunch at school.

“We have a tradition of educating ourselves and we’ve forgotten that,” Henderson says.

Now, she’s started her own effort, dubbed Reconstruction.us, as a way of continuing that tradition.

Henderson led the Washington, D.C., public school system from 2010 to 2016. There, she worked to diversify the curriculum to ensure that students had both “windows” on the broader world, but also “mirrors” that reflected themselves. The result? “When those kids saw themselves in the curriculum, they came alive. They felt validated. They saw their communities as worthy and they just operated differently.”

Read the full article at NPR.

Black Dancer Calls Out Racism in ‘Elitist’ European Ballet World

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dancer chloe lopes gomes performing wearing a black dress ballet

“Our skin color should not be a criteria, only talent should matter,” ballerina Chloé Lopes Gomes told NBC News”

By Adela Suliman for NBC News

Other dancers, including in the United States, have voiced their support for Lopes Gomes, saying that it is high time for the ballet world to address racism and bigotry.

She said that in rehearsals at Berlin’s prestigious Staatsballett, which she joined in 2018, she was told her mistakes stood out because she is Black. In another incident, she said she was mocked when offered a white-colored veil for a show.

For some performances of “Swan Lake” she also said she was made to wear white makeup, despite the school formally dropping this requirement for people of color in the 2018-19 season. Though she acknowledged this was a “tradition” of the show, it was one she deemed outdated.

“Asking not only a Black person but a ballerina to color their skin to look whiter, I don’t think it’s right — I felt very humiliated and very alone,” she told NBC News.

“The harassment kept going, I was very depressed,” she added. During time-off for an injury in 2019, she said the combination of the injury and harassment led to her being prescribed antidepressant drugs. Almost a year after she returned to work, she learned her contract, which is scheduled to end in July, would not be renewed.

Lopes Gomes, whose father is from Cape Verde and mother is French and Algerian, said she made complaints to the company before learning that her contract would not be extended. She added that she felt compelled to go public with her experiences in order to improve the situation for future generations of Black dancers.

Read the full article at NBC News.

Dream Flight

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NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps trains in a spacesuit within a mock International Space Station model at NASA's Johnson Space Center

Astronaut Jeanette Epps will make history as the first black woman to live and work with a crew in space.

By Monica Luhar

It was always her dream to one day go up in space.

Little did astronaut Jeanette Jo Epps know she’d be making history while doing it.

In August, NASA named Epps, who turned 50 on November 3, to NASA’s Boeing Starliner-1 mission, which marks the first operational crewed flight of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS).

The mission, expected to launch in 2021, will mark Epps’ first space expedition while also making her the first African-American female astronaut to live and work onboard the ISS in a crewed flight for a six-month duration.

“I think many people dream of becoming an astronaut, most, however, never pursue it. My life has been geared toward it indirectly with the hope of becoming a viable candidate. However, it wasn’t until Spring ’08 that, because of the encouragement of a close friend, I realized that I would be a viable candidate and that I should apply,” Epps said in a NASA interview.

Epps will be joining NASA astronauts Sunita Williams and Josh Cassada on a six-month long mission to the ISS. The flight will follow strict protocol and NASA certification after a successful uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 and Crew Flight Test with astronauts.

Shortly after the flight announcement, Epps tweeted out her excitement for joining the expedition with her NASA colleagues:

Epps, right, spoke about her time in space at a STEM day session with students at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington. Photo credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

“I’m super excited to join Sunita Williams and Josh Cassada on the first operational Boeing crew mission to the International Space Station. I’ve flown in helicopters with Sunita flying and I’ve flown in the backseat of a T-38 with Josh flying, and they are both wonderful people to work with. So, I’m looking forward to the mission,” she tweeted.

Former NASA astronaut Mae Carol Jemison became the first black woman to travel in space after being selected to NASA’s astronaut program in June 1987. She was followed by astronaut Stephanie Wilson, while Joan Higginbotham was the third black woman to venture into space.

While this will be Epps’ first space expedition, it is not her first mission. In 2017, NASA assigned Epps to be a flight engineer to the International Space Station in mid-2018 for Expeditions 56 and 57.

She would have become the first African-American space station crew member, the first African American to launch aboard the Russian Soyuz vehicle, and the 15th African American to fly in space. But in January 2018, NASA ended up backtracking on its decision for reasons unknown.

But now Epps is back in action and is slated to make history through her first spaceflight to the International Space Station.

The Path to Space

The inspiration for a career in space exploration was embedded in Epps as a child. She was born in Syracuse, New York, as one of seven children to Henry and Luberta (née Jackson) Epps, Mississippians who moved to Syracuse as part of the Great Migration.

She and her twin sister, Janet, both excelled in math and science, and when Epps was 9-years-old, it was her brother who inspired her to pursue a career in space.

“My older brother came home from school at Rochester Institute of Technology when I was 9 and he took a look at my sister’s and my grades. He said, ‘Wow, you guys are doing great. You can be anything you want to be, an astronaut, whatever,’” she told a group of students, as reported by The Star Telegram.

But the journey to getting there wasn’t always a linear path; Epps dabbled in several different careers before becoming an astronaut for NASA.

Official Astronaut portrait of Jeanette Epps
Photographer: Robert Markowitz

She previously worked for Ford Motor Company, where she was responsible for research surrounding automobile collision detection and other systems that led to the success of a provisional patent and a U.S. Patent for her research. She also worked at the Central Intelligence Agency for seven years as a Technical Intelligence Officer before becoming an astronaut with NASA and working in the ISS Operations Branch to troubleshoot issues to support space station crews.

She received her Bachelor of Science in Physics at LeMoyne College, and her Master of Science and Doctorate of Philosophy in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Maryland.

In 2008, Epps had a conversation with a friend who encouraged her to apply to the Astronaut Corps. In an interview with Parentology, Epps said, “I never thought that they’d actually select me, but they did.”

In 2009, Epps was selected as one of 9 members of the 20th NASA astronaut class.

“I was truly shocked because of the caliber of people I met during the interview process,” she said upon hearing that she was chosen. “I met some of the most amazing inspirational people. It is a huge honor to have been selected!

During her graduate school career, Epps served as a NASA fellow and wrote many journal and conference articles discussing her research.

“Her graduate research involved extensive testing of composite swept‐tip beams, comparative analysis of analytical models and experimental data for shape memory alloys and the application of shape memory alloy actuators for tracking helicopter rotor blades,” according to NASA.

Inspiring Future Astronauts

United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, topped by a Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft lifts off
The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, topped by a Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, lifts off from Space Launch Complex in Cape Canaveral, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Epps knows all too well the importance of encouraging students who are interested in STEM and other career avenues to follow their dreams, no matter the hurdles.

She was recently invited to speak to youth at Weatherford High School about her experience as an astronaut and her excitement about the upcoming NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to send the first woman on the moon by 2024.

Epps told students about the training she received at NASA, as well as her previous career path. She also shared her excitement as one of 13 female astronaut candidates that could be the first woman to land on the moon.

“You never know, as long as you’re in the program. That would be fantastic…It would be otherworldly,” Epps told students, as reported by The Star Telegram.

She explained that a historic trip to the moon could help uncover more answers about the Earth and the solar system. “It can be a way point to getting to Mars. We can stop there and we refuel and go on to Mars,” Epps told Business Insider in an interview.

When she’s not researching or thinking about space, Epps’s earthly hobbies include scuba diving and reading. “Other hobbies that I have, when I am not working, include traveling, reading, and trying as many new things as I can!”

NASA has had many interesting developments and upcoming projects like Asthros and Euclid, and others underway. For astronauts currently in space, many were able to safely cast their vote from the ISS in time for the 2020 presidential election. Astronaut Kate Rubins tweeted, “From the International Space Station: I voted today — Kate Rubins.”

Epps, center, answers a question along side of NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, left, and NASA astronaut Doug Wheelock, right, during an interactive STEM discussion with students at NASA Headquarters in Washington. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

In 2016, the film, Hidden Figures, based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly, shed light on the importance of STEAM as well as workplace discrimination, segregation, and other barriers that faced African-American female mathematicians and engineers. Many African Americans in STEM played an important role in the space program at NASA and helped shape the future of space exploration.

Representation and diverse leadership in STEM are key. The UPS recently posted a report discussing the need for more black women in STEM leadership: “Without a stronger commitment globally to diversity and inclusion in STEM, companies will continue to miss out on—or lose—talent that could bolster their business performance, and ultimately, their bottom lines.”

According to Catalyst, in 2017, 11.5 percent of science and engineering employees in the US were women of color. Currently, only 17 African-American astronauts represent NASA.

While women of color have been historically underrepresented in STEM, Epps is committed to moving the needle.

“The NASA mission has always inspired me because I have a great desire to help further our understanding of the world we live in and the universe,” she said in a NASA interview. “I pursued a career in science and technology in an effort to contribute. I also have a desire to encourage young students to pursue careers in science and help contribute because I believe everyone can help and has a part to play!”

With Epps sets to make history on the International Space Station in 2021, as well as potentially becoming the first woman to set foot on the moon, the sky’s the limit for African-American innovations in STEM from earth and beyond.

UPS Ends Ban on Beards and Natural Black Hairstyles

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UPS Black hair ban
The shipping company is lifting several of its longstanding strict rules on the personal appearance of its employees who interact with the public — mostly its army of delivery drivers.

The changes loosen the previous strict limits on facial hair (no beards for most employees, and mustaches limited to above the crease of the lip), how long men could wear their hair (nothing longer than collar length), and hairstyles (no Afros or braids). While styles still must be business-appropriate and not pose a safety concern, those specific limits have been eliminated.
Photo credit – Benjamin Norman for The New York Times
Wednesday’s announcement also includes the lifting of gender-specific regulations, including rules like the length of the uniform’s shorts. The new rules, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, were posted on an internal company web site for employees.
“These changes reflect our values and desire to have all UPS employees feel comfortable, genuine and authentic while providing service to our customers and interacting with the general public,” UPS said in a statement, adding that the company is “determined to continue to make UPS a great place to work for all of our more than 500,000 employees around the world.”
UPS is also surely motivated by its scrambling to add the staff needed to handle the increased crush of packages associated with the surge in online shopping brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Read the full article at CNN.

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