LeBron James, Bad Bunny, Jonas Brothers to throw class of 2020 a virtual graduation

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LebRon James speaking in front of large audience

The LeBron James Family Foundation recently announced that it will celebrate seniors in a special event called “Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020″ at 5 p.m. Pacific on May 16 with help from superstar guests.

The Los Angeles Lakers star has drafted Bad Bunny, Pharrell Williams, the Jonas Brothers, Chika, YBN Cordae, H.E.R., Ben Platt, Megan Rapinoe, Yara Shahidi, Lena Waithe and Malala Yousafzai for the hourlong special. It will air simultaneously on ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and the streaming platforms Complex Networks, Facebook app, Instagram, People TV, Snapchat, TikTok and YouTube.

We learned early on in our work with students and families in Akron that education is so much more than academics. It’s about a shared experience, a journey we’re all on together — students, parents, educators, community members and everyone around them. With that not being possible right now, we’ve been working to find ways to help families get through this really difficult time,” James said in a release.

“These students have worked incredibly hard for this and there’s no way we can let that go unrecognized. While this won’t be the graduation experience they were supposed to get, we hope we can still give them something special because they deserve it,” the basketball great added.

The commercial-free, multimedia event — which will be curated by high school students and educators across the country with support from the American Federation of Teachers — will feature a collection of vignettes, commencement speeches and celebrity performances.

Students, families and teachers will be encouraged to submit photos and videos using #GraduateTogether for a chance to have them included in the telecast. Don’t know what to do with your senior portrait? Artist JR is inviting seniors to share them for the virtual yearbook celebrating the nation’s 2020 high school graduates. Local TV stations also will feature shout-outs to high school students in their communities.

Continue on to the LA Times to read the complete article.

Couple Shares Passion for Careers in Medical Field Through Educating, Entertaining Young People

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LMS Keena's standing alonside four kindergarden students and another female teacher. Bith teachers wearing lab coats. Children holding completion certificates in hands.

It’s no wonder that Keena Duncan of Southhaven, Mississippi fell in love with the Little Medical School franchise concept. LMS is the leading developer of specialized curriculum and interactive resources for children ages 4-16. The program allows kids to explore the benefits of careers in healthcare while simultaneously get educated and entertained.

Duncan knows firsthand what a rewarding experience it can be. Duncan’s husband, Dr. Ulric Duncan, is a gastroenterologist in Southaven. Keena Duncan, who runs the Little Medical School franchise there was a teacher in the public-school system and the Practice Administrator in a specialty Gastroenterology Medical Clinic owned by the couple.

Both Duncan’s have a passion for medicine and a desire to help young people aspire to medical careers. After they attended a Little Medical School program, they realized it was the perfect vehicle to provide such an opportunity. Since September 2017, Little Medical School of the Mid-South has been providing its STEM-based curriculum (science, technology, engineering, math) through games, crafts and interactive demonstrations at schools, hospitals, daycare centers, birthday parties, summer camps and more throughout northern Mississippi and Memphis.

“Owning a medical clinic sparked an interest in teaching children the importance of knowing how their bodies work and how to access careers in healthcare,” said 58-year-old Keena, a Memphis resident. “I taught kindergarten in the public schools and homeschooled our three children. Now, Little Medical School allows me to continue to inspire and teach.”

LMS's Keena standing behind resource table  smiling
Keena Duncan of Southhaven, Mississippi at her resource table for Little Medical School

Little Medical School also offers a wide-ranging curriculum of virtual camps and classes. Franchise owners do not need a medical or teaching background. Little Medical School is a mobile business with low overhead that can be operated as a home-based business. The child-services and educational franchise industries combined represent an $11 billion segment that employs more than 285,000 people in more than 130,000 businesses.

About Little Medical School

Little Medical School (LMS) was created and founded by Dr. Mary Mason in 2010 and began franchising in 2015. LMS has evolved to meet the demand for high quality STEM based health awareness focused curriculum There are currently 41 franchises in the U.S. states and 16 International franchisees, along with five company owned locations.  Each Little Medical School franchise is independently owned and community focused. For information visit https://www.littlemedicalschool.com. For franchise information visit https://www.littlemedicalschool.com/franchise-opportunities.

Regina King ties record for most acting Emmys won by a Black performer

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Regina King accepting Emmy while holding the emmy in hand

“Watchmen’s” Regina King made history at the 72nd Emmy Awards Sunday.

King’s win for lead actress in a limited series or movie for her portrayal of Angela Abar (a.k.a. Sister Night) in the HBO superhero drama is her fourth career Emmy. This ties the record held by Alfre Woodard for most acting Emmys won by a Black performer.

Created by David Lindelof, “Watchmen” is based on the acclaimed comic book series by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons but is not a direct adaptation. It is more like a sequel that follows new characters such as King’s Sister Night.

This “allowed me to tap into all those things I think are just wonderful about being a Black woman,” King previously told The Times. “[T]he blueprint that was the inspiration for Angela was probably every Black woman that ever was.”

In addition to being recognized for her performance in “Watchmen,” King has previously won the lead actress in a limited series or movie Emmy in 2018 for “Seven Seconds.” In 2015 and 2016 she won in the supporting actress in a limited series or movie category for her performances in “American Crime” (playing different characters each time). King has five career Emmy nominations so far.

Woodard, who has earned 17 Primetime Emmy nods, won in 1984, 1987, 1997 and 2003. These recognitions were in the supporting actress in a drama series category for “Hill Street Blues,” guest performer in a drama series (before there were gender-specific categories) for “L.A. Law,” lead actress in a miniseries or special for “Miss Evers’ Boys” and guest actress in a drama series for “The Practice.”

The other Black actors with four Emmy wins each are Chris Rock and Bill Cosby, but their awards include non-performance categories. Rock has won three Emmys in writing categories (1997, 1999 and 2009) in addition to his variety, music or comedy special win in 1997 for “Chris Rock: Bring The Pain.” Cosby, who is currently serving time after being convicted of sexual assault in 2018, won three consecutive lead drama series actor Emmys for “I Spy” (1966-1968) and in the variety or musical program category in 1969 for “The Bill Cosby Special.”

Continue on to the LA Times to read the complete article.

Zendaya Makes History with Her Emmy Win

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“She’s younger than Baby Yoda and she already has an Emmy,” Jimmy Kimmel said after a visibly shaken Zendaya, 24, became the youngest Emmy winner for best lead actress in a drama for her role as Rue on HBO’s “Euphoria.”

The breathless actress, who was surrounded by a semicircle of teary-eyed supporters and wearing a crystal bandeau top with a billowing black-and-white polka-dot skirt, clearly had not prepared an acceptance speech.

“This is pretty crazy,” Zendaya said as she clasped her hands over her statuette, as though hardly daring to believe it was real.

The Disney-actress-turned-drama-star beat out the decades-older counterparts Jennifer Aniston, Olivia Colman, Sandra Oh and Laura Linney to claim the crown — not to mention the incumbent winner, Jodie Comer, who set the record last year when she won for “Killing Eve” at age 26.

“Thank you to all of the other incredible women in this category,” Zendaya said. “I admire you so much.”

“Euphoria,” a drama series created by Sam Levinson about high-school students who navigate love, sex, drugs and identity conundrums, premiered on HBO in June 2019. It received six nominations this year, though Zendaya’s was the only one for acting. HBO announced last year that the series had been renewed for a second season.

The actress said she was inspired by others her age who were working to make a difference in the world. “I just want to say that there is hope in the young people out there,” she said. “And I just want to say to all our peers out there doing the work in the streets: I see you, I admire you, I thank you.”

Continue on to the New York Times to read the complete article.

As High School Seniors Face an Uncertain Pandemic Year, ‘HBCU Week’ Brings Black Students On-the-Spot College Acceptances

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Portrait of african teenage boy at college campus with students walking by in motion blur. Happy young guy standing with his backpack looking at camera and smiling.

Many high school seniors, particularly students of color, have several reasons to feel uncertain about the future: a raging pandemic, a sputtering economy, and cries for racial equity and social justice this past summer.

But this week thousands of seniors will likely see a clear path to college as HBCU Week goes virtual for the first time, bringing the Historically Black College and University experience and instant college acceptance to laptops everywhere.

HBCU Week will present high schoolers with a one-stop chance to get accepted at a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) and secure a scholarship before completing the first month of high school. Many will then be able to finish high school worry-free without the struggle of navigating a complex admissions process.

“This year’s virtual HBCU Week will be a template for change for Black and Brown students,” said Ashley Christopher, founder and CEO of the HBCU Week Foundation. “Our week of virtual events will expose students to an authentic HBCU experience. Students will attend panels on topics such as financial health, female empowerment and becoming changemakers.  We round it off with our virtual college fair, where they can meet one-on-one with admissions officers and corporate partners, apply for internships, and potentially get on-the-spot acceptance and scholarships, all without leaving home.”

HBCU Week’s virtual events include a game night, a number of panels, and a live broadcast of ESPN “First Take.”  The HBCU College Fair takes place Sept. 25-26.

A graduate of two HBCUs—Howard University and the District of Columbia’s David A. Clarke School of Law—Ashley Christopher started HBCU Week with the simple idea of connecting 200 Wilmington-area high school students with five HBCU admissions officers. In just three years, HBCU Week grew 3,000%, reaching 6,000 students with over 2,000 on-the-spot acceptances and $5 million in scholarships while collaborating with HBCUs and corporate partners.

“HBCUs not only open minds, they open opportunities,” Christopher said. “With HBCU Week, we’re exposing students to a proud history and legacy, and we want every student that comes through our virtual doors to walk away understanding that they can do and be anything coming from an HBCU.”

This year’s HBCU Week comes on the heels of an extraordinary summer of activism, when millions took to the streets in protest, and demands for racial equity and social justice grew insistent, and not just in America.

Many Black students, mindful of societal inequities, realize they live in a world that was not built for them. What they may not know, however, is that some of the best and the brightest in the Black community launched their careers after attending HBCUs, including Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Oprah Winfrey, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Marian Wright Edelman, Kamala Harris, and Chadwick Boseman.

“HBCUs offer Black and Brown students the chance to thrive and appreciate their value all while gaining an excellent education as we can see from the people that have graduated from these institutions,” ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said. National ambassador for HBCU Week 2020, he is an alumnus of Winston-Salem State University. “When you go to an HBCU and you see people who have similar cultural backgrounds, you no longer feel alone,” he added. “And when you see your peers excel, you become convinced that you can too. The HBCU experience offers students real advantages both during college and into their careers.”

There are 104 HBCUs nationwide. They represent 3% of U.S. colleges and universities but are responsible for 25% of all African American science, technology, engineering, and mathematics degrees, and 14% of African American engineering degrees. Most HBCU students are Black or Brown, but students of all races are admitted. White, Hispanic, Asian or Pacific Islander, and Native American students make up 22% of total enrollments.

HBCU Week’s corporate partners include JP Morgan Chase & Co., Chemours, the National Football League, Capital One, DuPont, Gucci Changemakers and many more. There are a variety of scholarships and internships available.  Attendance at the 2020 HBCU Week Virtual College Fair is required for eligibility.

To learn more about HBCU Week and to register for the events, visit hbcuweek.org.

About the HBCU Week Foundation
The mission of the HBCU Week Foundation is to encourage high-school aged youth to enroll into HBCU’s, provide scholarship dollars for matriculation and sustain a pipeline for employment from undergraduate school to corporate America. The most impactful event during HBCU Week is the HBCU College Fair. HBCU Week Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.

SOURCE HBCU Week Foundation

Why an MBA?

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With a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree, you get more than an opportunity to change or advance your career.

You get the leadership skills to last a lifetime. By getting an MBA, you can:

  • Increase your earning potential
  • Advance within your current industry
  • Change your career
  • Increase your marketability
  • Gain a network of peers, faculty and alumni
  • Make an impact in your community

Types of MBA Programs

Today’s business schools offer more opportunities than ever to help you find a program that meets your specific needs. Programs generally fall into the following categories:

Full-time MBA programs are primarily for students who are able to take time off from working full time to concentrate on their studies. These programs are ideal for both “career switchers” and “career enhancers.” Global companies sometimes send employees for a total immersion experience in countries that represent an important business market.

  • Programs typically last from 12 to 21 months
  • Longer programs often include a three- to four-month internship option
  • Core course requirements are completed in the early stage of the program
  • Specific concentrations and elective courses finish the latter stage of the program
  • The mix of electives and requirements varies among programs
  • Students often relocate to attend full-time programs

Part-time MBA programs are designed for working professionals and allow students to work full time during the day and attend classes in the evening or on weekends. Part-time programs are popular among career enhancers—those who have experience and want to further their career in a chosen field. They are also a smart choice if you already have a network in your field to help you find a new position post-graduation.

  • Courses are scheduled year-round
  • Programs typically lasts 2 to 5 years
  • Commuting is more common than relocation

Executive MBA (EMBA) programs enhance the careers of professionals who are already specialists in a field or industry. EMBA programs focus on honing general management skills in core classes, with little or no opportunity for specialization. Many students are company sponsored.

  • Students work full time and attend classes on Fridays and Saturdays, usually on alternate weekends, over two academic years
  • Offers a full immersion experience, with learning outside the classroom and extensive faculty and student/team interaction
  • The shared professional experience and expertise of students becomes part of the curriculum
  • EMBAs typically have at least 8–10 years professional experience and hold a leadership role in their organization

Online MBA programs are a good option for those who need or want to work full time and who cannot or do not want to attend classes in person. Most online programs allow students to complete assignments and review lessons when and where it works best for them.

Which Type of Program Is Best for You?

Before you make your decision, you’ll want to consider a variety of factors to determine which type of program will best overall experience to meet your professional and personal goals:

  • How do you learn best?
  • How much flexibility are you looking for in a program?
  • What is your industry or job function goal and how that could affect your choice in program type?
  • Do you already have a functional or industry specialty, or do you need an MBA to develop one?
  • Will an internship help you make a career transition?

Lifestyle

  • Can you handle going to school full-time and working part-time, or vice versa?
  • Do you want classmates who share your interests and experience level?
  • Are you ready for the responsibilities of an MBA-level position upon graduation?

Family Considerations

  • Will your partner need to relocate and/or enter a new job market?
  • Does the school offer support for partners and families?

Location/Other

Do you want to study locally, in your home country, or abroad?

Do you prefer to be in a college town or a city?

How will the school’s connections with the local business community help?

Will your current employer support you in a full or part-time program?

Carefully consider your answers to these questions and you’ll have a much better idea of which type of program will be your perfect fit.

Source: fortefoundation.org

‘Black Panther’ star Chadwick Boseman dies of cancer at 43

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Actor Chadwick Boseman, well-known for his role of The Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Jackie Robinson in biopic-, 42, has passed away after a four-year-long battle with colon cancer.

Boseman was 43 years old and passed away surrounded by his wife and family.

Though Boseman acted in several smaller roles since the early 2000’s, his acting career really took off in 2013 with the release of 42, playing the lead role of Jackie Robinson. From there, Boseman went on to star in several other historical pictures such as Thurgood Marshall in the movie Marshall and James Brown in the film Get on Up. In 2016, Boseman appeared as King T’Challa aka The Black Panther in the film, Captain America: Civil War and would continue to play the character for four Marvel films.

Being a huge influence to black people, especially children, through his role as The Black Panther, Boseman was also known for going to visit children in the hospital and keeping in touch with children from the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

Though Boseman had been fighting colon cancer since 2016, very few people knew of his diagnosis. In fact, many of his friends, co-stars, and executives were unaware of his condition. Through his battle with cancer, Boseman filmed at least four movies, including the four Marvel Cinematic Universe films.

Fans, friends, political figures and organizations alike took to social media on the weekend of Boseman’s death to pay their respects and talk of the influence he had on their lives and the lives of others.

“He made everyone feel loved, heard and seen,” Black Panther co-star, Danai Gurira wrote in an Instagram post to Chadwick, “He played great, iconic roles because he possessed inside of himself that connection to greatness to be able to so richly bring them to life.”

“From his groundbreaking work in Black Panther to his portrayal of Thurgood Marshall,” Vice Presidential nominee, Kamala Harris tweeted, Chadwick Boseman helped paint a new picture of what’s possible.”

But from his influence to his talent and beyond, the legacy he left was best described by Director Ryan Coogler who said, “Whether it was through his art or through his kindness to others, Boseman’s impact on the world was great. He was a caretaker, a leader, and a man of faith, dignity and pride, he shielded his collaborators from his suffering. He lived a beautiful life. And he made great art. Day after day, year after year. That was who he was. He was an epic firework display.”

Entrepreneur Makes History as Founder of One of the First Black Woman-Owned Online K-12 Virtual Schools

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Dana Delane Williams headshot
Meet Dana Delane-Williams, the owner and founder of American High School, an online virtual school for grades K-12 that has been leading the way in online education in the U.S. for over 18 years.

She has made history as one of the only African American women in the country to accomplish this and has committed herself to revolutionizing education to ensure that she gives kids the minimum credentials they need to succeed in life – their high school diploma.

As the effects of the onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic continues to rage on, almost all areas of everyday life have been changed. This truth has led to a paradigm shift in the way we work, interact, and educate students in the U.S. and worldwide. The traditional is now untraditional, with the old path, replaced by a new direction, our new norm.

How it all began

Dana began her foray into teaching classes online while she was an instructor at the University of Kentucky in 1996. It was in 2002 that she created her very first online high school for grades 9-12 with the 24 credits required to graduate, and catering to the homeschool market.

Dana has continued her efforts in creating new and innovative educational pathways since 2002. She has since expanded the school offerings to over 350 online courses to include an accredited online middle school for grades 6-8 and an online elementary school for grades K-5. She went on to create an online adult high school diploma program for those adults who needed to earn their high school diploma for work or college.

She even received NCAA approval, which allows student-athletes who plan to play sports in college on scholarship to attend her NCAA approved school. She continued to innovate and created a Dual Diploma program, in 2016, for her international partner schools/organization’s that allows students to earn a U.S. High School Diploma along with their home country diploma.

A great option for students and other institutions

American High School (AHS) is a comprehensive online/virtual learning school that delivers accredited, affordable, college preparatory, Honors/AP, Gifted, virtual reality, adult education, and career-based online education for Grades K-12 to students throughout the U.S. and Internationally.

Additionally, the school’s online/virtual platform allows public or private schools or organizations, the ability to create their own virtual schools or programs without a significant initial investment. It’s literally a virtual school in a box that can be deployed within 7-14 days.

AHS’s proprietary curriculum, learning management systems, and educational services are designed to facilitate individualized and personalized learning for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. AHS works with over 150 plus public or private schools throughout the United States and in over twenty-seven countries worldwide.

American High School offers the following in online education:

* Provides an excellent, well-rounded, proven online/virtual curriculum for Grades K-12.

* Fully accredited by leading agencies such as Cognia (formerly AdvancED and SACS). AdvancED is the unified organization of the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI). As well as accredited by AI (Accreditation International).

* Students earn a high school diploma online from an accredited school. The diploma is fully-recognized upon graduation.

* Individual Course Program allows students to make up credits within 6 – 8 weeks and graduate on time. Includes online credit recovery and online summer school for grades 6-8.

* A diverse student population participates in the AHS programs including athletes, gifted, homeschoolers, actors/actresses, Olympians, traditional, at-risk, remedial, and/or those experiencing problems in the traditional classroom.

Students can enroll online at AmericanHighSchool.org or by contacting an Enrollment Specialist at 866-936-9654.

About Dana Delane-Williams: Dana is a military brat who has traveled all throughout the United States until graduation from high school in Atlanta, Georgia. She graduated from Georgia State University with her Bachelor’s in Computer Information Systems, and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, with her Masters in Aviation Administration.

Dana serves as the Chief Academic Officer (CAO) at American High School. She is responsible for curriculum development, organizational growth strategy, maintaining organizational culture, managing operations, R&D, sales, product development and launch, marketing, and overseas expansion.

Continue on to PR.com to read the complete article.

The I PROMISE Village: How Lebron James is Helping His Hometown

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LeBron James wearing #23 jersey standing on basketball court smiling

Despite the current circumstances of the world and the approaching NBA season, professional basketball star Lebron James has found another way to give back to his hometown of Akron.

Citing his hometown as an essential part of his success, James founded “The Lebron James Family Foundation” to give back some of his success to his Ohio hometown. For years, the organization has utilized tools in education to help the citizens of Akron, but as of late, has taken on one of its most ambitious projects yet: to help the disadvantaged families of the city.

On July 22, The Lebron James Foundation opened up the I PROMISE village, a transitional building set to provide families of an immediate home in the case of abuse, homelessness or other emergencies. The building will finally be opening after six months of refurbishing in partnership with 23 other companies.

Besides providing a space where families can feel safety of having a roof over their heads, the village will also be providing meals, community engagement, and life skill classes to help their tenants get back on their feet.

“This is about more than just getting kids to school,” the foundation executive director, Michele Campbell announced. “This is about keeping them alive. We’re seeing families struggling every day with very real and oftentimes unexpected issues that turn their worlds upside down. This will allow the family time and opportunities to grow while not worrying if they’ll have a roof over their heads.”

Emmys 2020: Record Number of Black Actors Score Nominations

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The Television Academy nominated a record number of Black actors for Emmys recently, with 34.3% of the acting nominees being Black.

There were 102 acting nominees this year across lead, supporting and guest categories for drama, comedy and limited series/TV movie. Thirty-five of those slots went to Black actors (notably, Maya Rudolph actually accounts for two of those slots, being nominated against herself in the guest comedy actress category for her work on both “The Good Place” and “Saturday Night Live”).

Other nominees in top acting categories include Billy Porter, Sterling K. Brown, Zendaya, Anthony Anderson, Don Cheadle, Issa Rae, Tracee Ellis Ross, Regina King, Jeremy Pope, Octavia Spencer and Kerry Washington.

This is a notable increase from last year, when Black actors made up 19.8% of the nominee pool, as well as an increase from 2018, when there were 27.7% Black actors nominated — the previous highest percentage in the Academy’s history.

“2020 isn’t just about the global health crisis. This year we are also bearing witness to one of the greatest fights for social justice in history, and it is our duty to use this medium for change. That is the power and responsibility of television — not only delivering a multitude of services or a little escapism, but also amplifying the voices that must be heard and telling the stories that must be told. Because television, by its very nature, connects us all,” said Frank Scherma, chairman and CEO, Television Academy, at the start of the nominations announcement.

But the fight for inclusion is far from over, as these numbers have ticked up but are still far from parity. And although the acting categories are still split by gender, which forces parity, the writing and directing categories are not.

The writing categories fared better than directing, but only marginally, when it came to parity. Not including the variety series writing category which lists entire staffs on the ballots, the select writers scoring noms in the drama, comedy, limited series/TV movie/dramatic special, variety special and documentary or nonfiction program consisted of 40 people, 13 of which were women. This is 32.5% women nominees (67.5% men). The limited series/TV movie/dramatic special category is what really made the difference, with six of nine nominees here being women, including “Unorthodox’s” Anna Winger and “Normal People’s” Sally Rooney and Alice Birch.

Continue on to Variety to read the complete article.

Why Diversity Matters: The Benefits of Recognizing Overlooked and Untapped Talent

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By Santura Pegram

Growing up, most of us were taught that brilliant innovators of everything from electricity to the lightbulb, automobiles, pharmaceuticals-medical devices, materials, alloys like steel-iron-aluminum-copper, and everything else under the sun were created by European (white) inventors.

However, while such figures certainly deserve recognition for their creations, and ongoing generations should be grateful to those individuals for their contributions, what was omitted from such history lessons was the fact that equally skillful black people and incredible thinkers of other diverse backgrounds also played equally pivotal roles. These latter groups of people helped to create some of the greatest inventions, took others to the next level or devised a new product or service altogether that are still relied upon today.

Disappointingly, most schools and institutions of higher learning have failed to teach material that revealed such hidden truths – both then and now. Thankfully, recent developments in several industries are enlightening increasing numbers of people about the historic and almost unknown contributions of black and brown people throughout the world.

Most affluent Americans and countless others have little clue that it was black people alone who kept the automobile brand, Cadillac, afloat in the U.S. In the 1930’s, as America was struggling to recover from The Great Depression and as racism continued to ruin opportunities for everyone who held onto to such nonproductive beliefs, a low-ranking German immigrant – Nicholas Dreystadt – who worked for General Motors at the time boldly entered a boardroom after overhearing perplexed white executives discuss consideration of abandoning the brand due to increasingly poor sales. The problem: GM was relying solely upon white Americans to buy the cars. Yet, from his menial position as a service division employee, Dreystadt quickly recognized that it was large numbers of black customers who owned Cadillacs who often were found waiting for their vehicles to be serviced at GM dealerships.

At the time, Cadillac had a strict practice against selling any of their luxury cars to black customers. Interestingly, through his own experiences of interacting with many such black customers, Dreystadt learned that black people routinely paid a white person (i.e., a front man) a fee to go into a dealership and purchase the Cadillac of choice for them. Thus, determined to make his point and show what could happen if GM abandoned their discriminatory policy, Dreystadt was successful at implementing a new diversity marketing approach, which increased sales of Cadillacs by 68%, and helped to make the brand profitable within 18 months. His same strategy was later adopted by Mercedes Benz to include black people and increased sales of their once-struggling brand too.

Still not convinced that diversity makes a huge difference in the world? Then consider the story of Nathan “Uncle Nearest” Green and how he revolutionized whiskey. Green, a former slave in Lynchburg, Tennessee was the first black master distiller in America who taught Jack Daniel how to make the liquid gold. For more than a century, Nathan “Nearest” Green’s name was purposely left out of history books and absent from most conversations which tied him to the Jack Daniel’s brand. It would have likely remained that way had it not been for the relentless curiosity of Fawn Weaver, a California businesswoman, who in 2017 spearheaded the launching of what is now known as the Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey brand in an industry that generates $3 billion dollars annually.

If those two examples are not enough proof that the creative (yet often unwisely ignored) potential of black and brown people continue to be a legitimate factor to consider throughout every sector of business, then consider other little-known facts that prove minorities are capable of being far more than the brawn behind an endeavor, they can also be the brains too.

Did any of the schools you ever attended teach you that Dr. Domingo Liotta – a South American native – was the person responsible for creating the first artificial heart that was successfully transplanted into a human being? Did they teach you that Dr. Alejandro Zaffaroni – who was born in Uruguay – not only invented a bandage that administers medicinal drugs through a patient’s skin, but he was also responsible for helping to develop several other widely used products for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, including the nicotine patch used to aid smokers in breaking their nasty habit? Were you ever informed that it was an enormously intelligent medical doctor – Julio Palmaz, who was born in Argentina – that invented the balloon-expandable stent frequently used to treat one of the most common health conditions (cardiovascular disease)?

Do your research on Dr. Thomas O. Mensah, the engineer and genius inventor who played a critical role in the development of fiber optics and nanotechnology. While you’re at it, take a few moments to delve into the impressive educational program known as ‘Make Music Count,’ created by Marcus Blackwell which aims to eliminate the fear of math and simultaneously teach children between the 3rd grade and 12th grade how to perform better mathematically while enjoying culturally relevant lessons through music.

Explore the insightful exploration of incredible thinkers like Elijah McCoy, Granville T. Woods, Patricia E. Bath, Frederick McKinley Jones, Jessica O. Matthews, Jasmine Crowe, Diishan Imira and countless others.

Then, imagine what could be accomplished if people of all ethnic and cultural backgrounds throughout America and around the world were to put our heads together and entertain the thought of what has yet to be discovered? Quite possibly, that could include creating a cure for most (if not all) chronic diseases and health ailments. Maybe finding the answer to eradicate poverty, homelessness, and world hunger. Perhaps devise better public policy solutions focused on bringing people together instead of fanning insignificant flames which have only kept us apart.

Whatever the case and despite our achievements as segmented human beings, it’s not difficult to debate that we have only scratched the surface of everything that can be accomplished – if we will commit our hearts and minds to doing it together.

Santura Pegram is a freelance writer and socially conscious business professional. A former protégé-aide to the “Political Matriarch of the State of Florida” – the Honorable M. Athalie Range – Santura often writes on topics ranging from socially relevant issues to international business to politics. He can be reached at: santura.pegram@yahoo.com

How TikTok is Helping Students Heal

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Popular social media app TikTok has become a viral success in the past two years of its existence. A platform that encourages original content and creativity, TikTok has become the home to aspiring comedians, dancers and musicians, giving them a space and an audience to gain popularity and to build their careers. But the potential success of young aspiring artists doesn’t stop there, as TikTok has announced its newest project, The Summer Songwriting Academy, which launched on June 24.

Partnering with the After-School All Stars program and Syracuse University’s Bandier Program, TikTok’s newest program serves to provide a space for students of lower incomes and fewer resources to have all the tools they need to express themselves through music.  The Bandier Program’s curriculum of the classes will not only include tools to better shape the aspiring musicians but will also offer classes in the music industry, music theory, and technology.

Many of the students who participate in the After-School All Stars program come from areas that have been especially affected by the impacts of the COVID-19, the death of George Floyd, and the injustices that have been brought to the black community. This being the case, Carlos Santini, the Executive Vice President of the programs, believes that their newest partnership with TikTok will allow for students to have a proper way to heal and express themselves.

“Music has a rich history in speaking out against injustice and speaking up for the rights and freedoms of all people,” Santini stated. “Our collective voice will be heard in a bigger way because of this amazing collaboration.”

In correspondence with the program, TikTok is also inviting some of their most popular musical influencers to share their experiences via livestream over the next four weeks. Artists featured in these segments will include Melanie Martinez, Timbaland, Tiagz, Jack Harlow, Mikey Keenan and many others. Any musician wishing to share their experiences can do so through TikTok’s featured hashtag, #BehindTheSong, where creators can post their songs.

To learn more about the program and to participate in its events, viewers can tap the TikTok Summer Songwriting Academy banner on the app’s homepage or visit After-School All Stars’ TikTok page, @afterschoolallstars.

World Leaders, Stars Raise $7 Billion at Event Aimed at Fighting Virus

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The Rock pictured smiling wearing a suit at a premiere event

The event included a Dwayne Johnson-hosted concert with performances by Jennifer Hudson, Miley Cyrus, Coldplay and Chloe x Halle

A summit that included a star-studded virtual concert hosted by Dwayne Johnson has raised nearly $7 billion in cash and loan guarantees to assist the poor around the globe whose lives have been upended by the coronavirus pandemic.

Global Citizen said its summit with world leaders had raised $1.5 billion to help COVID-19 efforts in poor countries, along with a promise of 250 million doses of a vaccine for those nations if one is successfully developed.

The group said it had secured $5.4 billion in loans and guarantees from the European Commission and the European Investment Bank to support fragile economies worldwide.

The event included a Johnson-hosted concert with performances by Jennifer Hudson, Miley Cyrus, Coldplay and Chloe x Halle. Cyrus performed The Beatles’ “Help!” in an empty stadium and Hudson performed “Where Peaceful Waters Flow” from a boat in Chicago.

“The $6.9 billion that was pledged today to support the world’s poorest and most marginalized communities is an incredible next step on our journey out of the COVID-19 era, but there is more still to be done, as no one is safe until everyone is safe,” Hugh Evans, CEO of Global Citizen, said after the event Saturday.

“As we fight this virus, we also need to take care of the most vulnerable people and address the challenges they’re facing right now,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during the event.

Speakers also included the leaders of New Zealand, El Salvador, Sweden, South Africa and Barbados.

Organizers said the show was not just a fundraiser, but aimed to draw awareness to the disproportionate impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on marginalized communities.

Continue on to NBC News to read the complete article.

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  1. NFBPA: A Construct for Change Forum 2020
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