How Black Men Changed the World

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Two black men, one father and one son.

By THE SMITHSONIAN

Too often Black men are seen as threatening. Over the generations, whether they are boys like Emmett Till, Tamir Rice or Trayvon Martin, or adults like Philando Castille, Eric Garner or George Floyd, or the thousands of victims of lynching in the 19th and 20th centuries, their deaths were made to seem justified by a fear based solely on their race. Only on rare occasions is someone held accountable. It’s even evident with the recent murder of Ahmaud Arbery, killed by three men while he was out for a run, that the “lynching” of Black men is still happening today.

The Smithsonian traveling exhibition, “Men of Change: Power, Triumph, Truth,” now on view at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture, delivers a world of ideas about who Black men actually are and works to dismantle myths. The show supports the diversity of Black male identities in their capacity as role models, and amplifies the many positive ways their work and endeavors impact the Black community and the world.

Unfortunate, as it is, that there is a need for such an exhibition, Marquette Folley, who is content director for the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, hopes the show is not only affirming for Black men, but that the messaging is potent enough to shift the cultural experience for all visitors. “Hard dialogues are occurring in the galleries,” she says.

Kendrick Lamar by Derrick Adams
Figure in the Urban Landscape #25 (portrait of Kendrick Lamar) by Derrick Adams, 2018 Courtesy of the Artist
Muhammad Ali by David Alekhuogie
Know Your Right [Muhammad Ali] by David Alekhuogie, 2018 Courtesy of the Artist

Powerful personalities like Kendrick Lamar, Muhammad Ali and James Baldwin are featured because their work in music, sports and literature, appeals to a larger audience and is very much concerned with how their struggles and undertakings impact freedom and rights for all Americans, but especially African Americans.

“We’re reckoning, looking at a broad landscape of what is human, which humans are worth looking at, and noting excellence without stereotyping what that excellence looks like,” Folley says.

While there are countless Black men in our world impacting many sectors and industries, the men were especially chosen, not solely because of their achievements, but because they made conscious decisions to help the world and uplift us all, and there is no one right way to do that.

The larger society from diverse backgrounds can also witness the variety of Black male identities possible. As our country becomes more diverse every day, the stories that we tell ourselves about strangers we live with have an impact on the collective. An exhibition such as this one is a chance for people unfamiliar with the history of the United States to educate themselves and their families about pivotal members of our society—Black men.

“It’s an affirmation of truth for African Americans. There is not one African American who doesn’t recognize a reality that was interesting and remains interesting within the exhibition, it is that those truths remain almost fairy tale to people who are not raised Black in America. And so there was the moment for culture’s storytellers to ask, can we effectively start changing the dialog,” Folley says.

Dick Gregory by Shaunte Gates
Light Side Dark Side [Dick Gregory] by Shaunte Gates, 2018 Courtesy of the Artist

Though this exhibition features just a few of the countless people who have impacted the world, the lightbox displays interspersed throughout the galleries includes the names, images, quotes and writing of Black men and some women.

“It’s not a story necessarily for African Americans. It’s a story for Americans,” Folley says.

Sarah Nelson Jackson and Jonathan Jackson, the founders of WeShouldDoItAll, a contemporary design studio in Brooklyn, New York, were enlisted to aid with the exhibition. In addition to the lightboxes that house photographic images and text, they suggested that the exhibition include artworks by Black visual artists in dialogue with the Black male personalities featured in the exhibition.

Each artist interpreted the assignment of creating an artwork about Black men differently. The artwork about the award-winning journalist and author, Ta-Nahesi Coates, was created by the New York-based artist Robert Pruitt, known for his figurative drawings. The image of a woman with a map depicting redlining on her head is based on the critically acclaimed article, “The Case for Reparations” that Coates wrote for The Atlantic in 2014.

Ta-Nehisi Coats by Robert Pruitt
Monumental [Ta-Nehisi Coates] by Robert Pruitt, 2018 Courtesy of the Artist and Koplin Del Rio, Seattle, Adam Reich Photography

These are not traditional portraits. An artwork about the Pulitzer-prize winning playwright August Wilson by Radcliffe Bailey is an assemblage of disparate items of locusts, dirt and a book.

Ryan Coogler is a global phenomenon. The writer and director of the film Black Panther created another world, one where for the first time, Black people were central to its narrative. His portrait created by the Atlanta-based artist Alfred Conteh is painted with the artist’s signature style of destressed colorful figures against a patterned backdrop. In this instance, Conteh is not painting Black people he identified on Atlanta streets to represent economic disparity, he’s painting one of the most influential filmmakers of today.

Kehinde Wiley, the artist who did Barack Obama’s official presidential portrait, uses visual art to explode representation of the Black image into largely white spaces. Wiley has been painting portraits of everyday Black men and women from cities around the world including, Harlem, South Central LA, Mumbai, Senegal, Dakar and Rio de Janeiro, and positions their bodies in a manner similar to that of the Old Masters. In this way, he makes the claim on the worth and importance of the Black body.

Now Wiley is himself the subject of a portrait painted by Devan Shimoyama whose signature style of bright colors, bejeweled with rhinestones and sequins and other mixed media, speaks to queerness in the Black community and challenges the myths surrounding Black masculinity.

Andrew Young, who worked alongside Martin Luther King, Jr., was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement, U.S. Congressman from Georgia, U.S. Ambassador at the United Nations, and 55th Mayor of Atlanta. His portrait, angular with a cartoonish feel, was created by Nina Chanel Abney as if in juxtaposition of the gravity and seriousness of Young’s accomplishments. But she is employing symbols to represent the many aspects of Young’s efforts.

Click here to read the full article on The Smithsonian.

Resources for Beginning Your Self-Employment Journey

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A Black man in a business suit in a job interview

Unemployed, underemployed or just curious? Changing circumstances in the economy may be making self-employment a more intriguing option to consider, and there are plenty of helpful training and information resources to help you explore the possibilities.

a black man sitting at his laptop

Self-employment options

Independent work is a term that describes self-employed, freelance, temporary and “gig” work done by millions of workers in the U.S. It also includes individuals who sell items on e-commerce, vend private residential rental space on online platforms or drive for ride-hailing services. Independent work is an increasingly important means for either a primary or supplemental income in the U.S.

Another form of self-employment involves running a business with a physical location that employs others to make or sell goods or provide services. You might do this by starting your own business, buying a stand-alone existing business or joining a franchise program.

a black man on the train looking at his phone

Free entrepreneurship learning opportunities

Whatever your ideas for a business model, there is a wealth of valuable entrepreneurship learning and business counseling opportunities available. Check out some of these free resources:

Local American Job Centers provide small business skill training, career awareness and counseling and information to help you understand the types of services and products in demand in your local economy.

 

Entrepreneurial Marketing

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): A course designed to help participants develop a flexible way of thinking about marketing problems and understand key marketing concepts, methods and strategic issues relevant for start-up and early-stage entrepreneurs.
  • Money Smart for Small Businesses: This new instructor-led training curriculum developed jointly by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Small Business Administration (SBA) contains 10 training modules covering key topics for new and aspiring entrepreneurs.
  • Small Business Administration Learning Center: Take free online courses covering how to plan for your successful business startup, launching your business, managing, marketing and growing your business. It also includes an overview for young entrepreneurs.
  • SBA Online Small Business Training: The Small Business Administration offers more than 30 free self-guided online business training courses covering a variety of topics including how to prepare a business plan, franchising basics, government contracting, green business opportunities and more.
  • SCORE entrepreneurship online courses: View all their free courses available, including hiring workers, setting up a physical location, pricing products and services, finding funding and more.

 

Resources for targeted audiences interested in small business

  • Minority Business Development Agency: The U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) is the only federal agency solely dedicated to the growth and global competitiveness of minority business enterprises. MBDA programs, services and initiatives focus on helping MBEs grow today, while preparing them to meet the industry needs of tomorrow.
  • Native American Enterprise Initiative: The Native American Enterprise Initiative seeks to build on the U. S. Chamber of Commerce’s record of success and advocacy by focusing on the crucial economic issues confronting tribal business entities and Native American-owned enterprises.
  • Veterans Business Outreach Centers: The Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) program is designed to provide entrepreneurial development services such as business training, counseling and resource partner referrals to transitioning service members, veterans, National Guard & Reserve members and military spouses interested in starting or growing a small business.

 

Source: CareerOneStop

Black women are finally shattering the glass ceiling in dance

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Dionne Figgins, artistic director of Ballet Tech, is one of several Black women named recently to leadership posts in dance. (Jeenah Moon for The Washington Post)

By Sarah L. Kaufman, Washington Post

Linda-Denise Fisher-Harrell knows how it feels to be the only Black dancer in the dressing room.

“Everyone was friendly, but it was a lonely feeling that nobody looked like me,” says the former star of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, recalling her first dance job 30 years ago, with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.

“So when it came to styling my hair, I couldn’t rely on anyone to help advise me. There were so many little things like that.”

Throughout the concert-dance world, dancers of color have often shared that sense of isolation and difference. But in recent months, some significant appointments offer hope of change. In March, Fisher-Harrell began leading the company where she once felt so alone. As the new artistic director of Hubbard Street, a widely respected contemporary troupe founded by Broadway dancer Lou Conte, she is one of very few Black women heading traditionally White-led dance organizations.

Fisher-Harrell, who most recently had been teaching at Towson University and the Baltimore School for the Arts, made changes quickly at Hubbard Street. She hired four dancers of color, bringing the total at the 14-member company to six dancers.

Three more Black women have recently assumed dance leadership roles, in front-office moves that are rare in the dance world. Each has led a distinguished performance career in premiere companies on international stages followed by years as dance educators.

Endalyn Taylor is the new dean of the dance school at the prestigious University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem. A former leading ballerina of Dance Theatre of Harlem, an original cast member of “The Lion King” and “Aida” on Broadway, and a dance professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Taylor succeeds former American Ballet Theatre principal Susan Jaffe.

Click here to read the full article on the Washington Post.

The Future of College Recruitment Depends on Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion

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happy african american college students walking together on campus

By Casey Welch

Over the past year, colleges have struggled to adapt to the challenges presented by COVID-19, between the pressure to move entire degree programs online and the question of how best to connect with potential students in the absence of traditional events like college fairs and campus tours.

The obstacles faced by institutions of higher education have only increased over the years, and even when students can safely return to campus, it’s clear that colleges will be left with a critical, unsolved problem: how to prioritize diversity and inclusion and reflect those values in their recruitment practices.

According to a recent survey, 25% of Gen Zers decided not to apply for a college because they feared being treated unfairly due to their gender, ethnic or racial identity. Many are speaking from personal experience: Over three-quarters of respondents said they had witnessed discrimination in school and over half have experienced it themselves.

Colleges already experiencing a decline in enrollment can course correct through simple adjustments to how they prioritize and reflect the fundamental values of diversity and inclusion in their recruitment practices. This change will have a significant impact, not just on application and enrollment numbers, but on their long-term relevance as institutions of higher education.

Recruiting the next generation of college students, therefore, will require a shift in focus and a strategy that prioritizes a diverse campus culture, where all will feel welcome and appreciated for their differences, instead of ostracized. Recruitment practices are the ideal place for colleges to begin making the importance of diversity and inclusion clear, especially since prospective students are actively looking for the motivation behind initiatives that promote these values, and not just proof of their implementation.
Prioritizing diversity begins by ensuring that college recruiters reflect the background and identity of the students they’re hoping to attract. Almost two-thirds of students indicated that they would be more likely to apply to a college where the recruiter shares their racial or ethnic identity.

The next step toward inclusion is for colleges to be aware of what, exactly, Gen Zers include within that concept. For these future students, diversity and inclusion don’t stop with respect for racial or ethnic differences, they must also include an understanding of the importance of gender pronouns.

The majority of students emphatically agree that recruiters should ask for their preferred gender pronouns, but only a fraction have ever had a recruiter pose that question. Including this question would be a simple change to the existing process, but it’s one notable place where recruiters are missing the mark and missing out on potential candidates.

Colleges that have already undertaken initiatives to increase diversity and inclusion need to communicate the results of those efforts more effectively, such as through statistics and student testimonials that speak to the authentic impact of these changes over time. Respondents also highlighted a few other ways colleges can increase awareness of their dedication to these ideals, including drawing attention to programs or classes that promote diversity and a demonstrated commitment to social justice. Considering how important these criteria are to prospective students, putting in the work to implement these changes will be ineffective in attracting new students if there’s no visibility of their impact.
Simply advertising these changes isn’t enough, however. Colleges should clearly communicate how they plan to continue working toward a more diverse and inclusive environment, as well as why those changes are important. Prospective students are taking a harder look not only at the success of these initiatives, but also the motivation behind their implementation, in their consideration of where to apply.

Changing the look and language of recruitment is an easy switch, but it’s also a powerful one that will have a lasting impact on the future of college enrollment. Gen Z is placing a heavier emphasis on these distinctions than any prior generation, and colleges need to start doing so as well in response.

The next generation of college students is looking for more than an idyllic campus and an exhaustive list of course options; they’re looking for a safe environment that reflects who they are and the future they hope to create. By prioritizing diversity and inclusion and reflecting those values in their recruitment practices, colleges can demonstrate their commitment to actively welcome a diverse community of students and ensure their continued relevance.

How to Apply for Higher Education Careers – Revised Edition

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How to Apply for Higher Education Careers promo

“How to Apply for Higher Education Careers – Revised Edition” is a free ebook for anyone interested in getting a job in higher education.

If you’re starting your career or considering a career change, this ebook dives into what’s needed to apply for higher ed jobs: understanding the difference between a curriculum vitae and a resume, drafting a career-change resume, and checking if your resume can pass the 10-second test. The revised edition includes cover letter writing tips and candid advice from higher ed professionals, including representatives in HR and recruiting.

Download the ebook for strategies to tackle that crucial early step of putting yourself out there to secure your ideal job in higher ed.

Prime Universal Network, a husband and wife-owned, positive content television network signs with Hisense, the third largest TV manufacturer in the world

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PRIME Universal logo

Prime Universal Network, a division of Prime Local TV Network, Inc., has signed a distribution agreement with international manufacturer, Hisense, and their content platform VIDAA. They will place Prime Universal Network’s positive content TV App onto 140 million currently purchased televisions and an additional 30+ million new televisions annually.

Prime Universal Network’s content platform called – The Positive People Platform, came into existence in 2018 after Rodney and Holly Harris began their search for positive and uplifting human interest stories being showcased on a consistent basis.

The Positive People Platform offers only positive content produced by the couple and other content producers, with a variety of short stories, sports, documentaries, and events. Their platform showcases the positive and unique experiences of ordinary people.

Mission – To change the negative narrative and misunderstanding that positive content means boring. Positive can be and is exciting, interesting, and informative. Our world already has enough negative content.

History – How did they get started in media? Born in the Akron/Canton region of Ohio, they began covering their hometown hero, LeBron James, when he played with both Cleveland/Miami NBA teams. They also covered most of his NBA Finals games.

13 things you didn’t know about Shonda Rhimes

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Shonda Rhimes

For as long as Twitter’s been around, every Thursday night, the timeline is flooded with tweets cursing Shonda Rhimes’ name, usually, for something devastating that’s happened on “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Even though she hasn’t been the showrunner of “Grey’s” for a few years, she will forever be linked to the hugely successful, 17-season-long (and counting!) medical drama. But Rhimes has done plenty of other things in her career, including writing two films and a memoir.

Rhimes, who now lives in Los Angeles, is so dedicated to her home city that she gets Chicago deep-dish pizza flown in every Christmas Eve, she told Food & Wine in 2017. Her favorite comes from Illinois restaurant chain Aurelio’s, she told the publication.

She’s the youngest of six kids — two older brothers and three older sisters. While growing up in University Park, she shared a room with one of her sisters, Sandie, she wrote in her book, “Year of Yes.” Both of her parents were educators.

Rhimes earned her BA from Dartmouth College.

Much like her own creation Meredith Grey, Rhimes graduated from Dartmouth College. She even cameoed as herself in fellow Dartmouth grad Mindy Kaling’s show “The Mindy Project,” when she attended a Dartmouth alumni beer pong game. After Dartmouth, she earned her MFA from the USC School of Cinema-Television in 1994.

Read ten more interesting facts about Shonda Rhimes at Insider.

This Afro-Latina Wants To Empower Women With Crypto Education

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man with hand and money in his pocket. Crypto

By BeLatina

As the world becomes more digital, and with the metaverse just around the corner, educating and empowering our communities about access to new resources is vital.

But what happens when the language is convoluted and leaves out minorities?

Enter Marimer Cruz.

This Afro-Latina has written a book to break crypto down and make it accessible to everyone. “Crypto Simplified” is a step-by-step how-to manual that includes videos to start investing in the cryptocurrency world in an easy, quick, and safe way.

According to the author’s press release, the book s a layman’s explanation of the world of cryptocurrencies, how to buy your first crypto, and make money after implementation. Cruz explains what novices need to know about this complicated and rapidly evolving market.

For Marimer Cruz, the feeling of being overwhelmed by the financial jargon is common for all Latinos, especially those from poor backgrounds.

A graduate of TAMUCT and BAYLOR University’s Master’s degree, Cruz grew up amid poverty, abuse, and struggling with systemic lupus.

The Texas-based Puerto Rican experienced firsthand the linguistic and information democratization obstacles when she took her first steps in the world of cryptocurrency.

“I remember how scared I was of sending money from one exchange to another, thinking I will lose it all,” she says.

Now, with “Crypto Simplified,” Cruz wants to change the landscape.

“I remember how alone it feels being one of the few women minority full-time educators and bot traders in the USA,” she admits.

Cruz learned directly from grid bot trading experts and has leveraged her seven years as a super affiliate to help others safely embark on crypto. “Crypto is my passion, and there is nothing like it,” Cruz says, “and I will be spreading the crypto gospel in the Anglo and Spanish markets for years to come!”

Click here to read the full article on BeLatina.

Former WNBA star Niesha Butler opens first Afro-Latina-owned STEM camp in New York City

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Former WNBA star Niesha Butler opens first Afro-Latina-owned STEM camp in New York City

By ABC News Radio

Former WNBA player Niesha Butler has opened the first Afro-Latina-owned STEM camp, S.T.E.A.M. Champs, in New York City to reduce accessibility barriers to tech educational resources for Brooklyn youth.

“If a kid could actually say that they can be LeBron James, and roll it off their tongue as easy as that, then they can literally say ‘yeah, I can also put a man on the moon,’ or ‘I can also create the next app,'” Butler told ABC News.

Butler, a New York City native, says “there’s talent in Brooklyn.” She established S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) Champs in the middle of Brooklyn to encourage inner-city youth to channel their ambition into educational opportunities. Butler also hires interns, may of whom have tried coding for the first time with the program, she says.

“People sell basketball dreams every other second in our community. I thought it was really important to, let’s sell these tech dreams,” Butler said.

Prior to opening her doors in Brooklyn, Butler partnered with organizations like Girl Scouts, BronxWorks and a local AAU basketball team to host STEM-focused workshops reaching over 300 New York City students. Monday was the first day of camp in the newly opened facility.

“There’s not a lot of people of color in tech,” Butler said. “These jobs are open for everybody and they’re empty…so obviously we need to do a better job at educating our kids and in recruiting them.”

Other tech education camps and workshops across the nation have worked to close the gap and make tech careers interesting and accessible to students of underserved communities.

Black Girls CODE is one of those resources providing workshops and public speaking opportunities for Black girls. Program alumni Kimora Oliver and Azure Butler say that the program’s first chapter in California’s Bay Area created an environment that allowed local Black female students to envision themselves in the tech industry.

“Unfortunately, STEM is a white and male dominated field,” Oliver told ABC News. “I feel like [Black Girls CODE] is giving a diverse group of Black girls the exposure that they need to decide for themselves whether they want to continue with STEM in the future.”

For almost 40 years, another program called Academically Interest Minds (AIM) at Kettering University has tailored its pre-college curriculum to expose youth of color to STEM coursework and campus life.

“49% of African American students who attend Kettering University now, are AIM graduates,” Ricky D. Brown, the university’s director of multicultural student initiatives and the AIM program, told ABC News.

For many, STEM educational resources introduce an element of choice in considering STEM and exploring pathways of academic interests.

A study released in July by the National Bureau of Economic Research says that early intervention programs like S.T.E.A.M Champs, AIM and Black Girls CODE are effective in helping students achieve academic success in higher education and STEM majors.

“Some of these kids don’t have a computer at home to study,” Butler said. “When I go to some of these centers, they don’t have good Wi-Fi…they have outdated computers.”

According to the study, underrepresentation in STEM is due to a lack of preparation and access to educational resources.

“Given that STEM preparation and college access are shaped prior to college entrance, STEM focused enrichment programs for high school students are promising vehicles to reduce disparities in STEM degree attainment,” the study’s authors wrote.

Click here to read the full article on ABC News Radio.

Zendaya Makes Emmy History Once Again as Youngest Producing Nominee for ‘Euphoria’

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Zendaya in a nude dress on the red carpet

By , Rolling Stone

Zendaya made history in 2020 when she became the youngest woman — and only the second Black woman (after Viola Davis) — to win in the lead drama actress category at the age of 24. Now, with the 2022 Emmy nods out, Zendaya, has made history yet again as the youngest producer to be nominated for an award after Euphoria’s Outstanding Drama Series nod. Zendaya serves as both a star and executive producer on the series.

The general drama series nod comes as she received three other nominations for her role as Rue Bennett in the HBO drama. She was, once again, nominated for Lead Actress in a Drama Series and also received two nods for Outstanding Original Music for both “Elliot’s Song” with Dominic Fike, and”I’m Tired” with Labrinth.

In the Lead Actress category, she faces off against Killing Eve‘s Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh, Ozark‘s Laura Linney, Yellowjackets’ Melanie Lynskey, and Morning Show‘s Reese Witherspoon.

Meanwhile, Euphoria is nominated for the Outstanding Drama Series category against Better Call Saul, Ozark, Severance, Squid Game, Stranger Things, Succession, and Yellowjackets. (Squid Game is the first non-English-language series to be nominated for the prize.)

The list of “firsts” doesn’t end there for the Oakland-born star. With her nominations, she’s also the first Black woman (and only second Black person) to receive both songwriting and acting nods in the same year.

More history could be made next year by Zendaya as she revealed in a recent interview with Vogue Italia that not only does she want to direct, but she “probably” will direct a future episode of Euphoria. “I was supposed to direct Episode 6 [of Season 2], but then I had to act in it,” she said in the interview. “I didn’t have enough time, so, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to this time around. I wanted to have enough time to do it the right way, so next season probably.”

Click here to read the full article on the Rolling Stone.

Cedric the Entertainer: Long Live the King

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By Tawanah Reeves-Ligon

You’d have to go pretty far and wide to meet someone who doesn’t know the name Cedric the Entertainer.

Born Cedric Antonio Kyles, the multihyphenate comedian, producer, entrepreneur, host and actor has been a recognizable face in entertainment for almost 30 years. Many recall Cedric from his time as a former host of BET’s ComicView and Def Comedy Jam in the 90s. Others will remember him for his co-starring role in the hit sitcom on WB The Steve Harvey Show, next to fellow comedian and friend Steve Harvey.

However, most fans hear his name and immediately think of the sensation that was The Original Kings of Comedy tour and video in 2000 where he performed beside fellow legends Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley and the late Bernie Mac.

No matter how you know his name, face or signature laugh, Cedric the Entertainer is always guaranteed to bring a smile to the faces of his audience. He has hosted talk shows, led game shows and even recorded comedic interludes on rap albums: one triple platinum (Jay Z’s The Blueprint), one quadruple platinum (Ye’s Late Registration) and one certified diamond album (Nelly’s Country Grammar). For over 20 years, he has appeared in numerous movies (such as the Barbershop, Madagascar and Ice Age franchises) and television shows, including his current hit The Neighborhood, recently renewed for its fifth season and produced by Cedric’s production company, A Bird and a Bear Ent., which he manages with his longtime partner Eric Roan.

What’s kept him going all these years?

The constant inspiration from fellow artists. “Now, I’m just motivated continually to do great work,” Cedric shared with Black EOE Journal. “We had so many new creators that came on the scene and are doing great things to where I feel like, now, there’s heavy competition all around and great, and you just want to be a part of the conversation.” He’s talking about writers adding culture and depth to the conversation like Ava Duvernay, Lena Waithe and Kenya Barris. He also referenced fellow comedian creators like Kevin Hart. “You just want to keep leveling up,” he said. “That’s why I stay busy and stay at it and stay motivated. I’m actually just excited that the energy is…moving forward and not slowing down…”
And Cedric hasn’t slowed down either.

Building an Empire
From lead comedian at a White House Correspondents’ Dinner to Broadway to host of this past year’s 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards, he is always finding ways to bring joy through his work.

Cedric the Entertainer and son Croix accept the award for Favorite Video Game for “Madagascar: Operation Penguin” (Photo by Jesse Grant/WireImage)

Along with The Neighborhood, his company also produces two shows on the Bounce TV network that are about relevant issues and stories, particularly in the Black community: Johnson, a show that follows the lives of four Black men in their 30s navigating the trials of everyday life. They are childhood friends and happen to have the same last name… Johnson. The other program is a dramedy called Finding Happy about a Black woman working in the Atlanta radio industry, played by comedian and actor B. Simone, who, with the help of some friends, decides on her 36th birthday to make a decision to change her stagnant life and find her own happiness.
According to Cedric, “I guess as far as what has changed [over the years], I feel like so many creators are gaining more and more control of their brands and their ideas that they want to see and do and that becomes even more motivating… the fact that your creativity doesn’t have to be limited to a group of producers, creators or networks that have no idea what you’re about and what your people want to see. Now there’s just a wide array of opportunities.” He also commented on the emergence of new streaming networks and platforms, both large-scale like Netflix, and smaller ones such as those started by social media influencers and content creators from underrepresented backgrounds.

Cedric Antonio Kyles aka Cedric The Entertainer with the picture of his mother at the ceremony honoring him with a Star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)

“The networks have to up their game because the streamers are so hot,” he shared. “It opens up the playing field for diversity all across the board. When you think about it, across the cultural diaspora that we have in this country, it just gives great opportunity to see shows and people from different cultures which really allows all of us to grow…and, of course, it’s forced the major institutional networks to have to change up because they’re now getting left behind. So now that gives an opportunity for so many other people to create.”
Along with his creativity on the screen and stage, Cedric the Entertainer is also an ardent businessman. He released his own line of hats a few years ago in his signature style called Who Ced?. “I loved hats from very early on in my career. I had a couple of images when I started to do comedy, and one of them was of my grandfather wearing his fedora. I thought it was cool to do when I was on stage, so I started rocking them and eventually I wanted to expand my brand.” The line was intended to be an inexpensive, everyday wear accessory. However, they’ve recently undergone a rebrand and will soon be launching a new line called Egg & Butter, which will feature hats that are more upscale and Italian-made. Visit eggandbutter.com to sign up for the mailing list for news of the official launch date. He also debuted another business in January of this year, a 100 point, three-time gold medal-winning, two-time Best in Class red blend wine he named after his mother. According to Cedric, “I partnered with Smith and Devereux winery in Napa [Valley]. It’s called Zetta.

Cedric the Entertainer (C) with his father (L) and sister (R) attend the ceremony honoring Cedric The Entertainer with a Star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)

My mother’s name was Rosetta. It’s a Napa Valley blend red, beautiful wine. You can go to smithdevereux.com and get a case, get a bottle. It launched on her birthday, January 4.” 10 percent of all profits are donated to the RedRoseReads Foundation to support literacy programs throughout the U.S.
But that’s not all he’s working on. “I’m sure I’ve got a hundred other businesses. I stay busy. I’ve got a very cool thing called Fan Room (fanroomlive.com) that I do which is kind of like an online green room situation where celebrities meet their fans in a virtual environment, and they sit and talk, and they chill with them in the Fan Room. It’s pretty cool. That’s been growing. We started that over the pandemic.”

Always Giving Back
What may surprise many isn’t that Cedric the Entertainer gives back. It’s how many ways and through how many organizations. For example, there’s the Cedric “The Entertainer” Charitable Foundation scholarship that he started in 1996 for high school students in partnership with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF).

Arsenio Hall and Cedric the Entertainer attends the Sugar Ray Leonard Foundation 9th Annual “Big Fighters, Big Cause” Charity Boxing Night presented by B. Riley FBR, Inc. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images for Sugar Ray Leonard Foundation)

“My mother was an educator, a reading specialist,” he said. “She passed a few years ago, but she instilled in my sister and myself this idea of philanthropy, to be able to help give back to help those less fortunate. I started that with an educational program mainly for kids who grew up in single parent households who needed a little help to go to college… partnered with UNCF…partnered with my alma mater Southeast Missouri State University as well as any HBCUs. We’ve been doing that since ‘96, helping kids go to college. We deemed that very important.”

But that’s not all.

Cedric the Entertainer (C) poses with his daughter Lucky Rose Kyles and wife Lorna Wells. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)

“From there, when my mom got ill, [my sister and I] really got involved in women’s health issues. We started a women’s health pavilion in St. Louis, Mo. at St. Mary’s Hospital in her name, the Rosetta Boyce Kyles Women’s Pavilion that deals with all kinds of women’s health issues from athletics for young students to cancer to the heart to just getting people rides to the hospital. That initiative has been something we’ve done for about six years. Of course, I’ve worked with the American Diabetes [Association] because my dad deals with diabetes. So, we did the neuropathy campaign, really trying to get especially Black males to go get checked out; something we don’t do in our culture. We always try to man it out and tough it out and don’t realize these are things we can actually fix and prevent if we got a heads up soon enough.”

Long May He Reign
Cedric the Entertainer’s good work is never done, and we’re thankful for that.
His commitment to making a difference in the world through charity and philanthropy is admirable, but one can’t forget his work with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to help mentor a new generation of voices in media and entertainment.

Cedric The Entertainer attends the 8th annual Cedric The Entertainer Golf Classic Lexus VIP pairings party celebration. (Photo by Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)

“My work with the Academy is all about improving the minority participation in this industry, especially coming in at the internship level and giving people the opportunity to be here, to be working and be involved with these shows.”
Cedric has been an outspoken supporter of diversity and inclusion in American society as well as a champion of racial and social equity. “It’s very important. You need a group of people that’s truly and completely about advocacy…We do need people who are all about the advocacy; they’ve got to stay and make people accountable, to show that we’re necessary and worthy of all the stuff we’re asking for.”

But what’s next for The Entertainer?
Anything. Maybe even music?
“I’m a person who likes to write songs. I write little songs and jingles quite a bit.

I haven’t really introduced my music, so I guess people will come to find that out soon,” he told Black EOE Journal. “I haven’t really ever [shown that]. I do them for jokes, but I haven’t really shown some of the sincere stuff that I do.” Well, we’re excited to see what the future holds. Hearing about any new projects Cedric has up his sleeves will surely be sweet music to our ears.

The Rock’s Daughter, Ava Raine, Debuts Nickname In First WWE NXT Promo

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The Rock’s Daughter, Ava Raine, Debuts Nickname In First WWE NXT Promo

By Robert Gunier, Wrestling Inc.

As noted, WWE NXT held another live event last night in Orlando, Florida, headlined by Bron Breakker successfully defending his NXT Championship against Tony D’Angelo. Elsewhere on the card, the leader of Toxic Attraction, Mandy Rose, defeated Ivy Nile to retain her NXT Women’s Title, and The Creed Brothers defeated Joe Gacy and a member of the DYAD to retain their Tag Team Titles.

But one of the biggest stories coming out of the show isn’t about the in-ring action at all. Fresh WWE NXT talent Ava Raine, the real-life daughter of The Rock that signed with WWE in February 2020, cut her first promo at last night’s event. She was presented as a heel to the audience as she talked down to Cora Jade and the rest of the NXT women’s locker room.

Raine also revealed what her nickname will be going forward and it’s possibly a nod to a recent horror film. Raine, a fan of cinema influenced by the supernatural, apparent by the many references to “The Craft” (1996) on her social media, was referring to herself as “The Final Girl” during her in-ring promo. The film, “The Final Girls” was a horror/comedy film released in 2015 that first debuted at the SXSW Film Festival before receiving a wider release in the United States later that Fall. The premise of the movie sees the protagonist, Max, along with her group of friends, getting trapped inside a B-horror film where they must use the tropes they’ve learned from watching horror movies to survive. There’s no certainty this film influenced the new description Raine is giving herself in NXT, but the connection is possible.

“The Final Girl” is also a common trope in horror cinema as a whole. She is recognized as the last girl or woman surviving in the film as the story becomes centrally focused on her.

As seen in the photos below, Raine was trending after she dropped the promo last night, signifying that we might be approaching a televised debut for the 20-year-old. She has been teasing her debut for several weeks until last night when she finally revealed her persona to a live crowd.

Click here to read the full article on Wrestling Inc.

Simone Biles Makes History as the Youngest to Receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom

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Joe Biden putting the Presidential Medal of Freedom award on Simone Biles

By Njera Perkins, Pop Sugar

Simone Biles continues to break records and make history. On July 7, the 25-year-old Olympian, along with 16 other honorees, received the esteemed Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor — making her the youngest person to ever do so, according to President Joe Biden.

Beyond being a world-renowned gymnast, Biles was honored as a “prominent advocate for athletes’ mental health and safety, children in the foster care system, and victims of sexual assault,” the White House previously announced.

“Today, [Biles] adds to her medal count of 32 — I don’t know if you’re going to find room,” President Biden joked during his remarks at the White House. Biden then praised Biles for her ability “to turn personal pain into a greater purpose, to stand up and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.” During the award ceremony, Biles wore a bright smile and black tweed blazer dress as Biden placed her medal around her neck, and her fiancé, Jonathan Owens, was there to cheer her on from the front row.

Biles was honored alongside other recipients like Megan Rapinoe and Denzel Washington, though the latter wasn’t present for the ceremony due to a positive COVID test, CNN reported. The actor will be awarded his medal at a later date.

Over the years, Biles has shattered glass ceilings in the sports world and become the most decorated gymnast in world championship history. Now, her latest accomplishment only solidifies that she’s a true trailblazer. Ahead, check out more photos of her receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House.

Click here to read the full article on Pop Sugar.

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