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.

Actor Hill Harper launches The Black Wall Street platform aimed at empowering investors of color

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Hill Harper wearing a blue coat jacket and smiling at the camera while he attends the Netflix Golden Globe Weekend Cocktail Party at Cecconi’s Restaurant

By Frank Holland, CNBC

Nearly a century after Black Wall Street — a center of Black business in the Greenwood district of Tulsa, Oklahoma, that was destroyed in a racial attack — “The Good Doctor” actor Hill Harper is launching a fintech app of the same name to empower investors of color.

The Black Wall Street app goes live on June 1 and will offer a digital wallet for peer-to-peer payment and the ability to trade cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ether.

“What the Black Wall Street was in Tulsa and the Greenwood district is just very empowering,” Harper told CNBC about the once thriving Black business district.

“There were three pillars that created the wealth that was created in the Black Wall Street [in Tulsa],” he said, with the first two being institutional ownership and institutional trust by the community. “Pillar number three was the movement of money or capital within the ecosystem where dollars changed hands 60 to 100 times within a year before it left that Black community.”

Harper, who plays Dr. Marcus Andrews on the ABC medical show, said that dollars now leave the Black community within about seven hours. “I truly believe that unless we start owning our own fintech platforms, our own digital wallets, the dollar will leave within six to seven seconds.” said Harper, who also played Dr. Sheldon Hawkes on CBS’ “CSI: NY.”

The goal of The Black Wall Street app is to give Black and Latinx investors a gateway into the digital transformation of investing and provide financial education to customers on cryptocurrency.

Harper, a Harvard Law School graduate, said he began working with Black web developers last year before the Covid pandemic to build the app, which aims to capitalize on mobile device trends in communities of color.

According to a 2019 report from Pew Research Center, 23% of Black Americans and 25% of Latinx Americans are “smart phone only” internet users compared with 12% of white Americans. The Pew study also showed Black Americans use a smartphone for mobile banking more than any other group.

Harper said he’s hoping to attract “unbanked” consumers and more sophisticated investors looking for a Black-owned site for cryptocurrency purchasing. “It’s not just about transferring money to folks, it’s about transferring information, ideas, and building community, and we see that that is the real value and the real differentiator.”

Najah Roberts, a cryptocurrency expert and owner of Crypto Blockchain Plug — a brick-and-mortar location in Inglewood, California, for cryptocurrency education and purchasing — will serve as the chief visionary officer for the app. As part of the launch, The Black Wall Street is planning a 30-city financial literacy tour that begins on April 30 in Los Angeles, with stops in Tulsa on May 31, a century since the original Black Wall Street was destroyed in a riot by white residents. Roberts will lead the tour and give fractional bitcoin shares to people who sign up.

The Black Wall Street offering enters a growing industry of fintech apps that allow peer-to-peer transfers including Square’s Cash App from PayPal’s Venmo. Visa estimates there is $4 trillion market for apps that replace the use of cash and checks in the United States. Rapper Killer Mike also launched this year the Greenwood app, another digital platform for investors of color.

Click here to read the full article on CNBC.

In ‘Them,’ a Black Family Is Haunted by Real-Life Monsters

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From left, Deborah Ayorinde, Melody Hurd, Shahadi Wright Joseph and Ashley Thomas in “Them,” a new horror series from Amazon. The malevolent force at work here is racism.Credit...

Want to hear a scary story? Here’s one: A family reckoning with a senseless, pervasive horror flees home to what they hope will be a place of safety and prosperity, only to find themselves pursued by that same demented presence.

Evil forces gather — their new home is haunted, too. Bloody visions terrorize them day and night. The dog is poisoned. It’s only a matter of time before the bodies start mounting.

PHOTO: NYTIMES

But in the 10-part Amazon series “Them,” as in any good horror story, there is a twist: The victims are simply a middle-class Black family in the 1950s, seeking a better life in a Los Angeles suburb; the senseless horror is the racism of their white neighbors, who want them out. As the situation devolves, certain terrifying events may be supernatural, or they may be psychological.

And yet, as the series, the first season of which drops on Friday, asks: Does that distinction matter when the danger is ever-present?

“As the sinister elements outside the home ratchet up, that obviously allows for the cracks and fissures within each of them to be infiltrated by something malevolent,” the series’s creator, Little Marvin, said of the Black family at the center of “Them.” “But that malevolent thing, as sure as there is a supernatural component to our story, is deeply rooted in the emotional and psychological lives of these characters.”

It must get hard to believe your own eyes when your senses are being shocked over and over by cruelty, I said.

“Welcome to being Black,” Little Marvin replied.

Welcome, also, to the legacy of codified racism in America, which provided Little Marvin with a conceptual starting point for “Them.” Like the Jordan Peele film “Get Out” or last summer’s HBO hit “Lovecraft Country,” “Them,” which counts Lena Waithe as an executive producer, uses horror-genre conventions as allegorical octane for racist machinery that is all too real. And as “Watchmen” did for the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, the show is likely to educate many viewers on an ugly relic of American history that is not widely acknowledged: racially restrictive housing covenants.

If real estate legalese doesn’t sound like fodder for an edge-of-your-seat horror story, consider the implications. Just as government redlining helped create and reinforce segregation by determining who was eligible for mortgages, racial covenants did the same by restricting who was allowed to buy a property at all, finances be damned. A deed might explicitly forbid all owners, present and future, from selling the home to anyone of African or Asian descent. Many older deeds still bear such language

“Any house that was built between 1938 and 1948, in a subdivision, I would be surprised for it not to have racial restrictions in them,” said Carol M. Rose, a professor emeritus at Yale Law School who has studied racial covenants extensively. Those restrictions, Rose explained, which first appeared in the late 19th century, exploded in the early 20th century as farmlands were subdivided for large swaths of new housing

Racial covenants were notoriously common around northern cities like Detroit and Chicago — the Midwest didn’t mandate separate drinking fountains, but segregation and violence were just as real. And California was no different. A Supreme Court decision in 1948, Shelley v. Kraemer, made racial covenants no longer enforceable, creating opportunities for nonwhite families in places like Compton, Calif., where “Them” is set.

Deprived of a legal means of keeping their neighborhoods white, some racists resorted to extralegal methods, which is where the horror really begins. Sometimes the method was vandalism. Others, a Molotov cocktail.

“California is part of the story because people think that California is this sort of easy, breezy racial space, and no, it’s terrible,” said Jeannine Bell, a law professor at Indiana University who wrote “Hate Thy Neighbor,” a book about the violence faced by people in integrating neighborhoods. “It’s terrible for precisely the reasons that this series explores. The methods used in the Midwest were also used in California.”

The Emory family of “Them” flees the South as part of the Great Migration, in which, from 1916 to 1970, an estimated 6 million Black people left the region for cities of the North and West. Like them, the Emorys seek economic opportunity; the father, Henry (Ashley Thomas), is a college-educated engineer and World War II veteran, and he has relatives in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts. When he lands a job out West, the family hits the road.

Read the full article at NYtimes.com

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.

THE WEEKND DONATES $1 MIL FOR 2 MILLION MEALS … To Help Ethiopians

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A headshot of the weeknd from a concert of his with the WFP logo next to him

By TMZ

The Weeknd is getting involved with the military conflict in Ethiopia — donating a million dollars, which will provide food for people who need it there.

The singer, who is of Ethiopian descent himself, partnered with World Food Program USA — a UN World Food Programme affiliate — to send over a million bucks toward relief efforts in the North African country … which has been mired with bloodshed and chaos for months. Specifically, Abel’s money will provide the equivalent of 2 million meals for citizens there who have been caught in the middle of the feuding factions … many of whom are running out of resources, like food.

TW says, “My heart breaks for my people of Ethiopia as innocent civilians ranging from small children to the elderly are being senselessly murdered and entire villages are being displaced out of fear and destruction.” He goes on to encourage others who can to donate as well.

If you haven’t heard, Ethiopia has been embroiled in a bitter battle with its own people since November — when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered an attack on the Tigray People’s Liberation Front — the ruling party in the northern part of the region.

Click here to read the full article on TMZ!

Hennessy Announces $1MM Acceleration Fund to Champion Next Generation of Black Entrepreneurs

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Narrated by legendary recording artist, philanthropist and venture capitalist Nas, new “Dear Destiny” focuses on Black excellence, referencing the vision, ambition, creation and evolution of Black Wall Street from Tulsa 1921 into the year 2021.

SOURCE Hennessy

NEW YORKMarch 29, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Hennessy, the world’s best-selling cognac, today unveils the “Never Stop Never Settle Society,” a comprehensive growth accelerator co-created with the Marcus Graham Project (MGP) to ensure a more equitable landscape for Black entrepreneurship. To introduce the initiative, new “Dear Destiny” creative produced by UNINTERRUPTED and featuring hip-hop legend Nas debuted on March 27th during the 52nd NAACP Image Awards on BET, placing the spotlight on the legacy of Black Wall Street.

“The ‘Never Stop Never Settle Society’ builds on Hennessy’s long-standing commitment to Black communities and ongoing mission to champion cultural diversity by pushing the limits of potential for Black entrepreneurs,” says Jasmin Allen, Senior Vice President, Hennessy US. “We aim to expand on that legacy in the most impactful and meaningful ways by providing access to capital and resources to those demonstrating the ability to reshape Black communities through social impact.”

PHOTO : PRNewswire

With respect to past models of community-built success including Tulsa’s Greenwood District, the “Never Stop Never Settle Society” was instituted to provide Black entrepreneurs with high-impact funding, resources, and infrastructure to further their journeys and ultimately transform communities.

Hennessy will accept applications starting Tuesday, April 6th, awarding a number of member benefits to qualified applicants:

  • Lump sum funds in the amount of $50K will be administered to selected ventures with potential to reshape the world through social impact
  • Access to The Gathering Spot Connect, a Black-owned digital hub offering networking, education, and business development resources
  • Growth opportunities at the program’s physical footprint and state-of-the-art office at Moët Hennessy’s headquarters in New York City. Debuting late 2021, the space will offer scheduled access to a content studio, along with a compelling slate of educational programming and leadership engagement for business mentorship

Moët Hennessy USA executives and partners including the Marcus Graham Project will co-create program elements, evaluate proposals, and select the curated group of Black entrepreneurs whose visions will be accelerated. Leadership will also further aid member journeys, helping to evolve early business ventures over time.

“Some of the most powerful leaders and creators in the Black community are entrepreneurs creating jobs, rich legacies, and taking ownership of new paths. Access to capital resources to allow for authentic growth has traditionally been a barrier,” says Lincoln Stephens, Co-Founder and CEO of the Marcus Graham Project (MGP). “For over a century now, Hennessy’s participation in the Black community has transcended typical corporate action, and I’m excited to be part of this next chapter that substantively uplifts entrepreneurship as a means towards closing the wealth disparity.”

As one of the first corporate sponsors of the NAACP, Hennessy unveiled the program during the 52nd NAACP Image Awards, bringing its history with the organization full circle. Legendary recording artist, philanthropist, and venture capitalist Nas presented the first-ever “Never Stop, Never Settle” Award, a celebration of Black entrepreneurship, to former WNBA player-turned-owner and executive, Renee Montgomery. The evening also kicked off a cross-platform rollout for “Dear Destiny,” Hennessy’s new creative featuring the Grammy Award Winning artist and created and produced by UNINTERRUPTED, referencing the vision, ambition, creation, and evolution of Black Wall Street from Tulsa 1921 into the year 2021.

“A narrative about family, legacy, entrepreneurship and empowerment, Dear Destiny is a message to my daughter Destiny, and in many ways, the entire Black community. Inspired by Tulsa’s hub of cultural activity and community-built success, it pays homage to the Black creativity and wealth that thrived during this time in history,” says voiceover artist and Hennessy Ambassador, Nas. “Nearing the 100-year anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre, I believe the powerful spirit of Black Wall Street is still strong and can be revived with programs like Hennessy’s “Never Stop Never Settle Society.”

Applications for Hennessy’s “Never Stop Never Settle Society” will open on Tuesday, April 6th. For additional information on eligibility and membership benefits, please visit NeverStopNeverSettle.org.

ABOUT HENNESSY
The leader in Cognac, the Maison Hennessy has shined around the world with its exceptional blends for more than 250 years. Built on founder Richard Hennessy’s spirit of conquest, the brand is present in more than 160 countries. Based in the heart of the Charente region, Hennessy is also a steadfast pillar of the regional economy, the standard-bearer for a sector rich in expertise. The House’s success and longevity are rooted in the excellence of its cognacs, each of which is born of a unique process of transmission from generation to generation. The first wine and spirits house to be certified ISO 14001, Hennessy unites its capacity for innovation and the support of all of its partners to protect this exceptional area. As the crown jewel of the LVMH Group, Hennessy is a major contributor to French international trade, with 99% of production sold in export, and a worldwide ambassador for the French art de vivre.

Hennessy is imported and distributed in the U.S. by Moët Hennessy USA. Hennessy distills, ages and blends spanning a full range: Hennessy V.S, V.S.O.P Privilège, Hennessy Black, X.O, Privé, Paradis, Paradis Imperial and Richard Hennessy. Imported Cognac Hennessy® 40% Alc./Vol. (80º), ©2021 Imported by Moët Hennessy USA, Inc., New York, NY.

ABOUT MARCUS GRAHAM PROJECT (MGP)
Founded nearly 15 years ago, the Marcus Graham Project (MGP) is a national organization focused on developing the next generation of diverse leaders in the advertising, media, and marketing industries through training, mentorship, and professional development opportunities to ensure the industry is more inclusive to better reflect the diverse world we live in.

ABOUT UNINTERRUPTED, PART OF THE SPRINGHILL COMPANY
The SpringHill Company is a global consumer and entertainment brand created to empower greatness in every individual. The SpringHill Company unites three companies built by LeBron James and Maverick Carter: UNINTERRUPTED, the athlete empowerment media, experiences  and consumer product company, SpringHill Entertainment, the premium scripted and unscripted film and television production company and The Robot Company, the brand and culture consultancy. With a dynamic and diverse team committed to creating the most culturally inspired content, entertainment and products, The SpringHill Company is built to be the defining brand for a new generation.

Supporting an inclusive economy: small businesses, Black and Latinx entrepreneurs, and their intersection

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Business man analyzing investment graph and discussing plan in m

For many of us, connections to small businesses are deeply personal—your local barber shop or family dentist, the spot for the best pizza in town, the small contractor you call to fix your leak.

Businesses like these make up the fabric of our communities—but many don’t realize what a big role they play, collectively, in the U.S. economy.

However, they face unique challenges even in the strongest of times and now, amidst the covid-19 pandemic, many small businesses are struggling to survive.

The situation at hand

JPMorgan Chase Institute research found that prior to the covid-19 pandemic, typical small businesses had only enough cash on hand to keep the lights on for two to three weeks. This was even more pronounced for small businesses in majority-Black and Latinx communities, where the typical business had only one to two weeks of reserves.

Interestingly, researchers found that in the Fall of 2020, many small businesses actually had cash reserves at higher levels than normal. This seems like great news—but when you look under the hood, the situation is more precarious. [3]

There are two factors to explain the elevated reserves: 1) an injection of cash from federal and local policy shored up many of the businesses likely to face a shortfall, and 2) a decision many businesses made to delay or dial back payments on things like upkeep of key assets, limiting wages or employee benefits, or other choices that may not be financially healthy in the months or years ahead.[4]

So, while cash balances are larger than usual, they may not be enough for small businesses to continue to survive in these tumultuous times. Expenses have already begun to outpace revenue. This trend could have a disproportionate impact on Black- and Latinx-owned companies, that tend to experience lower revenues and profit margins compared to white-owned counterparts.[5]

Help in many forms

Many small businesses face similar challenges: lack of access to capital and resources to grow. However, businesses owned by people of color and other underserved groups face these challenges more acutely. For example, according to the JPMorgan Chase Institute, Black, Latinx and women-owned small businesses are underrepresented among firms with substantial external financing. While there are no simple solutions, business, government and nonprofit leaders should work together to support, sustain and grow these critical enterprises.

For example, December’s $900 billion stimulus package included a second infusion of PPP funds, with $12 billion set aside for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs).

While the terms might be unfamiliar, you likely already know your local CDFI or MDI. Some local banks or credit unions might fall into this category.

An MDI is a bank whose ownership or leadership is made up of a majority of people of color. CDFIs are community lenders, which primarily finance in low- and moderate-income communities and focus on small businesses, as well as affordable housing and nonprofits. Both MDIs and CDFIs earn these designations from the federal government, due to the vital financial services they provide in communities that are often underserved. CDFIs in particular are designed to meet these needs by offering capital and guidance to help ensure the success of vulnerable businesses. We think that’s a winning combination.

But MDIs and CDFIs need banks to provide additional capital to fund this critical work in communities. Here’s where JPMorgan Chase comes in.

Part of the solution

We believe that business has a role to play in addressing societal issues, along with business and community leaders. JPMorgan Chase is committed to building a more inclusive economy and our support for small business, especially in Black and Latinx communities, is a critical element of this work.

That’s why, in February, the firm announced new initiatives focused on providing MDIs and diverse-led CDFIs with additional access to capital, connections to institutional investors, specialty support for Black-led commercial projects, and mentorship and training opportunities. Initial investments and commitments to minority-owned and Black-led MDIs included Liberty Bank and Trust, M&F Bank, Carver Federal Savings Bank and Broadway Federal Bank. The firm also committed $42.5 million to expand the Entrepreneurs of Color Fund to reach new U.S. cities in 2021, providing loans and technical assistance to minority-owned small businesses in collaboration with LISC and a network of CDFIs. Since its inception in Detroit in 2015, the Entrepreneurs of Color Fund has deployed more than $32 million to Black, Latinx and other underserved entrepreneurs, including Jimmie Williams from Chicago, who received a small business loan to scale his landscaping company. In addition, we continue our direct support for small business, including through PPP.

This work is part of the $30 billion commitment over five years we announced in October 2020 to provide economic opportunity to underserved communities to help close the racial wealth divide. The firm is continuing to put this commitment into practice by combining our business, policy, data and philanthropic expertise.

We are committing $350 million over five years to help grow Black, Latinx, woman-owned and other underserved small businesses. This includes:

Philanthropy, low-cost loans and direct equity investments: Supporting the signature Ascend Program, helping build the capacity of diverse-led nonprofits across the globe to more effectively support entrepreneurs, and investing in early-stage businesses to help companies drive economic opportunity, including in Black and Latinx communities. Last month we made our initial direct equity investment in Bitwise Industries.
Policy: Releasing new data-driven policy solutions such as increasing resources for the Small Business Administration (SBA) Microloan program, which provides loans of up to $50,000 to help small businesses. The firm will support advancing these policy reforms to help address the immediate and long-term challenges small business owners face.
Supplier diversity: Spending an additional $750 million with Black and Latinx suppliers, and co-investing up to $200 million in middle market businesses that are or will be minority owned via a new initiative with Ariel Alternatives.
Wrap-around support: Launching a nationwide Minority Entrepreneurs program to help entrepreneurs in historically underserved areas access 1:1 coaching, technical assistance and capital.

Together, these commitments will help reduce barriers to capital access and support the growth of thousands of additional underserved businesses.

Read the full article on the Washington Post.

Macy’s Celebrates Black Creatives With Icons of Style

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The group of black honorees stand posing fiercely for the camera

-Macy’s celebrates Black creatives with today’s launch of Icons of Style, a collaboration with five Black visionaries to help move the fashion world forward. Featuring exclusive designs across ready-to-wear, men’s, and shoes by Zerina Akers, Misa Hylton, Aminah Abdul Jillil, Allen Onyia and Ouigi Theodore for brands found only at Macy’s, each creative artfully designed a fashion-forward capsule of must-have spring items, inspired by their unique perspective and dynamic style. Icons of Style is available now on macys.com and select store locations nationwide.

Zerina Akers for Bar III is designed with functionality, versatility, and a touch of statement making moments in mind. The capsule consists of mixed media suiting, chain link embellished body suits, strong shoulder knit dresses and a new play on proportion with the classic sweatshirt. True to the Bar lll aesthetic, the capsule is the perfect mix of both feminine and modern components.

Photo: Business Wire

“This collection is probably the most special because it is my first design collaboration. Through my styling work I have designed many things but never something under my own name. This is very special,” said Zerina Akers.

Misa Hylton for I.N.C. International Concepts

Misa Hylton for I.N.C. International Concepts is inspired by her personal style and love for fashion. The collection features bold, vibrant prints that take form in feminine suiting, printed blouses, and her love of the kimono; a symbol of her Black and Japanese heritage. Known for creating iconic looks for some of the music industry’s biggest stars, Misa’s extraordinary vision pairs well with I.N.C.’s focus on representing the most current trends.

“My designs vibrate on a high frequency. They bring happiness and excitement to the people who see them and want to wear them,” said Misa Hylton.

Aminah Abdul Jillil for I.N.C. International Concepts

Extending her love for creative self-expression and bold fashion moments, Aminah Abdul Jillil for I.N.C. International Concepts brings forth the power of the statement heel. Using her performing arts background as inspiration, Aminah mixes unexpected shapes and dramatic details to spark confidence in every step. Using gold hearts and chunky chains as signature details, the collection features a breadth of styles that are timeless, versatile, and collectible.

“This collaboration is exciting to me because it means for me, personally that dreams come true. That hard work pays off. That being different and not like everyone else is ok,” said Aminah Abdul Jillil.

Allen Onyia for I.N.C. International Concepts

Allen Onyia for I.N.C. International Concepts pays homage to Macy’s traditions as a leading department store incorporating iconic details with a modern, trend-forward look. The men’s collection is a nod to his own personal style while focused on accessible design. Allen effortlessly uses his exceptional eye to combine dynamic use of colors, patterns, and silhouettes into instantly covetable items all geared towards statement making style.

“This is a collection that celebrates this amazing opportunity Macy’s has provided me, and I wanted to put that celebration and feeling back into the collection and pay homage,” said Allen Onyia.

Read the full article at businesswire.

 

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.

Miko Marks is blazing trail again as Black women find place in country music

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Singer Miko Marks poses for a portrait outside a studio

By Andrew Gilbert, Datebook

Nashville can be a lonely place for a Black woman breaking into the country music scene. And Miko Marks knows this firsthand.

The Oakland singer, who recorded two well-regarded albums during a Tennessee sojourn in the mid-aughts, said she found a warm welcome just about everywhere she performed except for the home of country music itself.

“I was always open to wherever my path would lead, but things did not work out in Nashville,” Marks said, noting that she felt fitting in required tamping down her identity.

Music City may not have been ready for Marks, but she helped clear a country music trail for other Black women, and now she’s getting back on the horse with her first new album in 14 years. Working closely with the creative team at the recently launched East Palo Alto label Redtone Records, Marks recorded “Our Country,” a rollicking, gospel music-infused session that thrums to the justice-seeking frequency of Black Lives Matter.

“These songs were made out of the experience we’re going through right now,” said Marks, who celebrates the album’s Friday, March 26, release with an acoustic performance that will be live-streamed on her YouTube channel and Facebook page. “The music is there to speak to the times.”

Miko Marks sins autographs in front of a wall of her album covers
Miko Marks is blazing trail again as Black women find place in country music. Photo: Paul Chinn, The Chronicle 2008

The album grew out of a vivid dream Marks had, but not in the sense of fulfilling a long-held ambition. Rather, late in the summer of 2019, she literally dreamed about musicians she hadn’t worked with for more than a decade. A quick phone call put her back in touch with Justin Phipps and Steve Wyreman, the Redtone Records founders who perform together as the Resurrectors.

Phipps and Wyreman were excited to get back in touch with Marks and realized a song they’d recently written, “Goodnight America,” would be ideal for her rich contralto. An elegy for a country headed in the wrong direction, “it didn’t fit anyone we were currently working with,” Phipps said. “When Miko reached out, we sent it to her and she sat with it for a while. Ultimately, she felt it resonated with where she was and where she wanted to be going.”

When Marks released the song as a video last year, a few weeks before the pandemic lockdown, it was definitely a departure from where she’d been. Before “Goodnight America,” she’d always avoided taking a political stance in her music, preferring to focus on personal themes. With “Our Country,” she’s jumped into the fray.

“I definitely feel like there’s a conversation being had that’s long overdue,” Marks said. “I am hopeful. I feel that the times are different than when I started out.”

Marks grew up with gospel music, singing in church in Flint, Mich., “but I was always drawn to country music,” she said. “Loretta and Patsy, Kenny Rogers and ‘Hee Haw’ were huge in my household. It was a normal thing. It wasn’t until I was older that there was this line clearly drawn, but country music has its roots in Black music. Even the banjo is from Africa.”

She met her San Francisco-raised husband David Hawkins when they were students at Grambling State University in Louisiana, and by 1996 the couple settled in the Bay Area. Though she loved singing, Marks said she wouldn’t have pursued a career in music without Hawkins’ encouragement, and after recording a Jeffrey Wood-produced demo at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, she decided to give up her day job in San Francisco as a legal secretary and try her luck in Nashville.

Working with producer Ron Cornelius at Mirrome Records, she released her debut album, “Freeway Bound,” in 2005 and followed it up with 2007’s “It Feels Good.” Both albums featured first-call studio talent that caught the attention of mainstream country music audiences. And yet, while the sessions were well received, the indie label couldn’t break Marks into country radio and it became clear that Nashville didn’t really know what to do with her.

In 2006, the Bay Area welcomed her back. Marks became one of the region’s most visible country music singers, performing everywhere from the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo and San Francisco’s Pier 23 to the Saddle Rack in Fremont and Oakland’s Overland (the latter two permanently shuttered during the pandemic).

Click here to read the full article on Datebook.

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.

Milton Jones of Peachtree Providence Partners Named Chair of UNCF Board

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Headshot of Milton H. Jones

Atlanta business and civic leader Milton H. Jones, Jr. has been elected Chair of the UNCF (United Negro College Fund) Board of Directors, becoming the first African American to hold that position.

Jones succeeds William F. Stasior, Sr., retired Chairman and CEO of Booz Allen Hamilton, who served as UNCF’s Chair for 11 years. Former Chairs of the UNCF board include: John D. Rockefeller, III; former Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo’s International Food and Beverage Division Michael H. Jordan and former Revlon President and CEO Jack Stahl.

“Since 1944, UNCF has played an integral role in changing the life trajectory for each student it has served, and l look forward to continuing that legacy,” said Milton Jones. “Our member institutions and students remain the focus of our collective efforts. As we progress each year, we will grow our organization by building upon the strong foundation laid at UNCF’s inception and strengthened throughout its history.”

“All of us at UNCF are excited to have Milton become our new Board Chair,” said UNCF President and CEO Michael L. Lomax, who has known and worked with Jones for more than four decades. “Milton brings a wealth of business knowledge and a thoughtful and collaborative leadership approach that will help us thrive and continue to drive UNCF’s and our HBUCs’ impact and growth.”

Angela Webb, founding member of Peachtree Providence Partners said, “We are incredibly proud of Milton as he assumes this role with UNCF. Milton’s life and career are a testament to his devout commitment to helping others and serving the community. We know he will do excellent things and leave a legacy that inspires others to support and revere our country’s HBCUs.”

Walter Davis, founding member of Peachtree Providence Partners said, “Milton has been an indispensable member of our team at Peachtree Providence Partners, so I am certain his time leading with UNCF will prove to be fruitful and inspiring to the young people the organization serves. I look forward to supporting Milton as he advocates for the students and institutions that change the fabric of our nation.”

In this role, Jones will work to grow the UNCF endowment, benefiting the 37 historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) belonging to the UNCF network of member institutions.

Prior to his election as Board Chair, Jones served as Vice Chair of the Board and Chair of the Finance Committee. He has been a member of the UNCF Board since 2005.

Jones is a founding member of Peachtree Providence Partners Holding Company, LLC. In this role, he advises and collaborates with CEOs in key sectors that include financial services, healthcare, technology, government, and higher education. For more than 32 years while at Bank of America, he held a series of senior executive positions with global responsibilities including roles reporting directly to the Chairman and CEO.

Jones is vice chairman of the Meharry Medical College Board of Trustees; treasurer and a board member of 100 Black Men of America; co-chair of the Atlanta Chapter of the National Association of Corporate Directors and serves on the advisory boards of the Metro Atlanta YMCA, Boy Scouts and the Commerce Club. He is a member of the Downtown Atlanta Rotary Club and is a member and past chairman of The Atlanta Business League and of 100 Black Men of Atlanta.

Source: Peachtree Providence Partners

Photo Credit: PRNewswire

Master P Changes Focus from Owning NBA Team to Owning an HBCU

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Master P posing with his hand over his mouth, wearing a suit and glasses

By Will Moss, HBCU Connect

The recent highlighting of Historically Black Colleges and Universities has led many to learn that most of these schools were founded on land grants provided by the government during the Reconstruction Era. Realizing this has motivated Master P to take matters into his own hands to change the future.

Master P took to Instagram where he revealed his life goal has now changed.

“I used to want to own an NBA team but now I want to own a HBCU,” opens his video’s caption.

“This message is all about educating our people,” Master P said in the video. “Anybody that’s listening to this and has a business, I want y’all to join this movement with me. We need to make sure our kids get educated the way other the cultures are educated.”

The spotlight has been refocused on HBCUs in recent years. Michael B. Jordan created a basketball invitational to showcase talent at the institutions and the NBA has put an emphasis on supporting them. During the NBA All-Star Game, the league generated $3 million that will be used to promote these colleges and universities.

“It was part of the reason why we’re here in Atlanta,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said, per CNN. Atlanta is home to a host of HBCUs including the acclaimed Atlanta University Center (AUC) which consists of legendary schools Morehouse College, Spellman College, and Clark Atlanta University. “This was an opportunity to focus on the HBCUs,” Silver added.

Master P wanted to extend this goal on his own. He explained in his IG caption that HBCUs graduate more women than any other league of higher education. This includes the Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, who graduated from Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Click here to read the full article on HBCU Connect

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