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.

TRAINING DAY

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Training Day movie promo with Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke

Denzel Washington delivers an Academy Award-winning performance as a veteran narco police officer opposite Ethan Hawke, the idealistic rookie, in this gritty film noir that blurs the line between legal and corrupt justice.

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Viola Davis Earns EGOT with Grammy Award for Memoir Audiobook Narration

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Viola Davis cover on the Black EOE Journal

“It has just been such a journey,” Viola Davis said of her memoir Finding Me as she accepted the Grammy Award for best audiobook, narration & storytelling recording, bringing her to EGOT status.

Viola Davis is officially an EGOT winner!

The actress, 57, claimed the coveted title — which also requires an Academy Award, Emmy Award and Tony Award — as she won best audiobook, narration & storytelling recording for her memoir Finding Me on Sunday at the 65th Grammy Awards Premiere Ceremony.

“Oh my God! I wrote this book to honor the 6-year-old Viola, to honor her life, her joy, her trauma, everything,” Davis began in her acceptance speech. “And it has just been such a journey. I just EGOT!”

She continued to thank “everybody who was a part of my story, and the best chapter yet, my loves [husband Julius Tennon and 12-year-old daughter Genesis]. You are my life and my joy, the best chapter in my book. Thank you!”

Fellow EGOT winner Jennifer Hudson celebrated the accomplishment on Twitter, sharing a video of Davis’ speech. “Hold the line!!!!!!! Viola Davis just became EGOT #18!!! Omg @violadavis U are absolutely everything! Congratulations to a living LEGEND. Time to celebrate!!!” she wrote.

Davis’ first Grammy win was also her first nomination, beating out Jamie Foxx (Act Like You Got Some Sense), Mel Brooks (All About Me!: My Remarkable Life in Show Business), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World by Benjamin Alire Sáenz) and Questlove (Music Is History) for the award.

The Woman King star’s journey to EGOT status began in 2001 when she won best featured actress in a play at the 55th Tony Awards for her performance as Tonya in Broadway’s King Hedley II. She was previously nominated in the same category for Seven Guitars in 1996.

In 2010, she won best leading actress in a play for her role of Rose Maxson in Fences, which also earned her first Academy Award in 2017 for Best Supporting Actress in the play’s feature adaptation.

Read the complete article originally posted on People.

Beyoncé Breaks Record For Most GRAMMY Wins In History

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Beyonce onstage at the 2023 grammys acceptance speech

It’s official: Beyoncé has made GRAMMY history. Her win for Best Dance/Electronic Album for ‘RENAISSANCE’ put her GRAMMY total at 33, the most of all time.

By Lior Phillips, GRAMMYS

After winning the award for Best Dance/Electronic Music Album, Beyoncé now holds the all-time record for most GRAMMY wins. While George Solti had previously held that incredible honor, Queen Bey has now overtaken the classical conductor thanks in part to her powerful 2022 record, RENAISSANCE. With 32 GRAMMY awards now in her trophy case — and the potential to add even more still to come this evening — the mega-star produced yet
Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

another unequaled GRAMMYs moment. The record-tying award came early in the ceremony — so early in fact that Beyoncé had yet to arrive. The GRAMMY for Best R&B Song was instead accepted on her behalf, the legendary Nile Rodgers sharing his story of “CUFF IT” and offering words of thanks. In fact, prior to this year’s ceremony even beginning, Beyoncé had already marked another record: tying her own husband, Jay-Z, as the most nominated artists in GRAMMY history.

When time came for the record-setting GRAMMY win, Beyoncé herself was present, arriving to the stage to a standing ovation and an immeasurable wash of applause. After thanking God and her family, she was sure to highlight a group that made a special impact on this record.

“I’d like to thank the queer community,” she smiled, crediting the early voices in the dance and electronic realm as well as her uncle Jonny, who inspired RENAISSANCE. In host Trevor Noah’s eyes, the conversation about who is considered the GOAT to be over, Beyoncé’s legacy is far from finished.

Read the complete article and more about the GRAMMY’s here.

This Afro-Latina Never Saw Herself Represented Growing Up — Here’s How She’s Working To Change That

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Afro Latina - Bianca Kea sitting behind a table of jack and green apples

By Refinery 29

Growing up in the suburbs of Detroit, Bianca Kea was acutely aware that outside of her family, there were no other Afro-Latinxs that looked like her. No one she could relate to or look up to. But that all changed when she moved to New York City.

“Moving to New York City was such an eye-opening experience,” she recalls. “And it was the first time somebody actually identified me as Afro-Latina — I had never heard the term before, and I was able to learn about my heritage, my history as an Afro-Mexicana.” Her experience — the realization and recognition of being Afro-Latina, of being both Black and Mexican, and not feeling like she had to choose one or the other — led to her launching Yo Soy AfroLatina, an online platform and lifestyle brand that celebrates “Afro-Latinidad in the Americas and validates our hermanas’ experience.” It was born out of not seeing herself represented and wanting to create something that would not only make an impact on the culture, but also cultivate a community. “We all have different experiences — we’re not a monolith — and it’s important for people to understand what it means to be at the intersection of two beautiful cultures,” Kea says. “I hope we’re able to break down stereotypes, empower people, and allow them to be Afro-Latina. Just be yourself.”

That’s why Refinery29 is partnering with Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple to produce Valiente Y Fuerte — a video campaign designed to amplify the voices of Latinx creatives like Kea who inspire us every day. Watch the video above for more information about Yo Soy AfroLatina — and how Kea is turning her passion into a legacy.

Click here to read the full article on Refinery 29.

Chance the Rapper says the idea to ‘man up’ is harmful to Black men’s mental health

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Chance the Rapper is not holding back when it comes speaking about the benefits of prioritizing mental health.

By David Artavia, Yahoo! Life

Chance the Rapper is not holding back when it comes speaking about the benefits of prioritizing mental health.

In a new interview with Taraji P. Henson and her best friend Tracie Jade on Facebook Watch’s Peace of Mind with Taraji, the rapper opened up about dealing with the “dark days” of his mental health and how it inspired him to fight for better mental health services in Black communities.

“I think Black men are naturally guarded,” he said when asked about the pressure many Black men face to “man up” and not show their emotions. “You kind of have to be [because] your weakness is preyed upon. So, I think it’s a defense mechanism. You go to a funeral, like, you kind of don’t want to cry. You know what I mean? You don’t want to subject yourself to the feeling of like, that weakness, of like, you know, it just takes a lot to be cathartic, to cry, to empty yourself.”

“I saw my friend killed in front of me when I was 19,” he continued. “I’ve seen people I didn’t know get killed too, and you become kind of like numb to it. Somebody else died last week. But it stays with you, you know what I mean? And you don’t realize until later [that] it could have lasting effects.”

It was these types of discoveries that led him to donate $1 million in 2019 to mental health services in his hometown of Chicago through SocialWorks, his nonprofit organization.

“A couple of years ago, I, for the first time experienced a friend, somebody that I knew from growing up, that was having a mental health crisis,” he said. “His family and his friends had exhausted their efforts over years and years of trying to help. I didn’t really know that much about this stuff. There’s probably a ton of situations where people, you know, we just wrote them off as like, ‘crazy,’ or like, ‘they was tweaking.’ But they were actually going through a chronic mental health disorder.”

After realizing “the kind of care” his friend needed “wasn’t available in the city” for those who can’t afford it, he decided to team up with local advocates to help build the change.

“We basically found every possible mental health initiative within the city of Chicago, and then within Cook County, and then eventually through the entire state of Illinois,” he explained. “[We] created this app that allows people to get in contact, whether it’s an in-person meeting or tele-health, with a mental health service provider, and get the help that they need, instantly from their phone. And it’s free.”

While Chance acknowledges it’s great that celebrities are starting to drive the message that “health is beyond just our physical state,” he argues that equal access to mental health services isn’t going to happen until those in power, particularly “our lawmakers and the billion-dollar companies,” rise to meet the community’s need.

“We’re talented people, but we’re not the people that make the big decisions,” he said. “We’re not the people that write the biggest checks. Those kind of things have to happen.”

Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! Life.

Angela Bassett Wins Golden Globe for ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ as First Actor to Earn Major Award for Marvel Movie

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Angela Bassett in sparkling silver dress talking on stage

Angela Bassett won the Golden Globe award Tuesday for her performance as Queen Ramonda in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” making the 64-year-old the first actor ever to win a major individual acting award for a movie based on Marvel Comics.

The evening marked Bassett’s second win (and second nomination) at the Globes; she took home the trophy for best actress in a musical or comedy for 1993’s Tina Turner biopic “What’s Love Got to Do With It.”

“I got to find my words. I’m so nervous. My heart is just beating,” Bassett began, taking the stage to accept the award. “The late Tony Morrison said that your life is already a miracle of chance just waiting for you to order its destiny. But in order for that destiny to manifest, I think that it requires courage to have faith. It requires patience, as we just heard. And it requires a true sense of yourself. It’s not easy because the past is circuitous and it has many unexpected detours, but, by the grace of God, I stand here. I stand here grateful.”

Bassett took the space to thank her husband, fellow actor Courtney B. Vance, her family and her Marvel collaborators, “Wakanda Forever” director Ryan Coogler, Victoria Alonso, Nate Moore, Kevin Feige and Louis D’Esposito. Bassett also acknowledged the death of “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman, who died of colon cancer in 2020. Boseman’s death casts a shadow over the plot of “Wakanda Forever.”

“We embarked on this journey together with love. We mourned, we loved, we healed. We were surrounded each and every day by the light and the spirit of Chadwick Boseman,” Bassett said. “We have joy in knowing that with this historic ‘Black Panther’ series, it is a part of his legacy that he helped to lead us. We showed the world what Black unity, leadership and love looks like, behind and in front of the camera. To the Marvel fans, thank you for embracing these characters and showing us so much love.”

Backstage, Bassett was characteristically composed as she was asked if she had any hesitation about attending the show given the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.’s recent controversary over the lack of Black members in the press organization.

“The HFPA has made strides,” Bassett said. “They know what needs to be done.”

Prior to Bassett’s win for “Wakanda Forever,” only four actors, and no women, had even been nominated for a Golden Globe for acting in a superhero movie: Nominees Ryan Reynolds for 2016’s “Deadpool” (actor in musical/comedy) and Jack Nicholson for 1989’s “Batman” (actor in musical/comedy), as well as winners Joaquin Phoenix for 2019’s “Joker” (actor in drama) and Heath Ledger for 2008’s “The Dark Knight” (supporting actor). Phoenix and Ledger, who both played variations on the DC Comics villain the Joker, were the major winners in their respective years across awards season, taking home the SAG Awards and the Oscars as well (Ledger’s wins were posthumous).

This isn’t the first time Bassett has earned a top award for playing Queen Ramonda, however: She was also part of the group of actors from 2018’s “Black Panther” who won best ensemble at the SAG Awards.

Photo Credit: NBC via Getty Images

Read the complete article on Variety.

MLK Day 2023: What to know about the civil rights icon’s celebration

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Martin Luther King JR day sign illustration for the civil rights leader

The annual King Holiday Observance is a time that we celebrate, commemorate and honor the life, legacy and impact of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Global citizens will have unique opportunities to learn and unite in celebration of Dr. King’s groundbreaking work and Mrs. Coretta Scott King’s powerful continuation and formal institutionalization of that work through a variety of engaging events hosted by The King Center leading up to The King Holiday on January 16th, 2023.

As we witness nations around the world continue to struggle under the weight of violence, hate and poverty, today’s social, political and economic landscape reveals the urgent necessity of Dr. King’s philosophy and methodology of Nonviolence (Nonviolence365™). The King Center leads the charge to provide education and training in Nonviolence365; while serving as the vital living memorial of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Our strategic theme for 2023 is ‘Cultivating a Beloved Community Mindset to Transform Unjust Systems’. This theme defines the 2023 King Holiday Observance events and programming while serving as a compass for all the work we will do this upcoming calendar year and beyond. The pioneering work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. demonstrated that Kingian Nonviolence (Nonviolence365™) is the sustainable solution to injustice and violence in our world, ultimately leading to the creation of the Beloved Community, where injustice ceases and love prevails.

The King Center welcomes and invites you to join this movement for a new future as we strive to cultivate a Beloved Community Mindset, and ultimately transform unjust systems.

Read more from The King Center here.

View the complete list of 2023 King Holiday Observance Events here.

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.

Dr. Sandy Womack Jr. – ‘The Prince of Public Education’

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Dr. Sandy Womack headshot

By Santura Pegram

Many people seemingly think the topic of public education in America is less important when compared to other pressing issues of today. However, there is one convincing figure who would respectfully disagree and debate why public education should not be dismissed or devalued. Dr. Sandy Womack Jr., currently an Area (Assistant) Superintendent with the Columbus City School District (which happens to be the largest school system in the State of Ohio), has always been a strategic thinker and advocate for underdogs.

Like most natives of disadvantaged urban neighborhoods, Womack gained an uncanny and often underestimated perspective of the learning process despite being exposed to a frequently challenging, yet character-building environment that private and parochial school systems do not offer. It was in the urban community that he learned a form of mental chemistry (a type of “toughness”) that is often cultivated in helping to define what it means for someone to possess a resilient spirit upon reaching adulthood. Those traits – essentially “chemistry” & “character” – are often heightened when adults, as Womack says, remember that “Exposure changes expectations, but it is the experiences we provide our children with that change their lives.”

No one in life has ever given Sandy Womack Jr. anything.

He has earned everything through those same forms of exposure and experiences he references. First, as a talented high school wrestler who was awarded a college scholarship in wrestling and went on to become a two-time NCAA All-American standout, and then in college classrooms as a knowledge-thirsty student and aspiring educator. Once he stepped away from the sport he excelled at, he fell in love with the infinite possibility of what he could accomplish through advanced education.

To broaden the scope of understanding the level of engagement (and privilege) involved in maintaining the economic stability of members of one ethnic group over others, one does not need to look far beyond the research. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) in Washington, D.C., the overall total number of college graduates awarded doctoral level degrees in 2018-2019 (the latest year’s statistics) reveals there were 187,568 doctoral degrees conferred throughout the U.S. in that year alone. Of that number, 100,880 were awarded to Whites; 19,507 were awarded to Asians; 14,087 were awarded to Blacks; and 13,277 were awarded to Hispanics and/or Latinos. And, out of that 187,568 total who received doctoral degrees in the U.S., only 13,020 total were conferred (awarded) such degrees for the category of education that year. Of that 13,020, Whites made up 6,963; Blacks made up 2,524; Hispanics and/or Latinos made up 1,110; and Asians represented 395 of those overall (education) doctoral degree graduates in 2018-2019.

Such statistics reinforce beliefs like those of noted scholar Richard Rothstein who said it best when he expressed that, “social class differences likely affect the academic performance of children.” In addition, Mr. Rothstein makes a valid argument when he quipped that “good teachers, high expectations, standards, accountability, and inspiration are not enough.” (Class and Schools, 2004). For children in today’s urban school settings to succeed, they need a Dr. Sandy Womack Jr. In a career that has spanned thirty-years in education, Sandy Womack Jr. got his start teaching in the Ohio education system with the Alliance City Schools in Stark County. Then, briefly with the University of Akron-Federal TRIO Programs in Summit County. Next came a teaching position in the Cleveland Metropolitan Schools, and a series of promotions led to becoming the Dean of Students and then an Assistant Principal with the Akron Public Schools. At the age of 29, he became the Head Principal with the Canton City Schools before being offered a series of promotions to become the Director of Curriculum and Development, and then the Director of Principal Leadership and Development with the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District in Cuyahoga County before finally becoming a member of what he considers the best professional team yet – his current administrative position helping to lead the Columbus City School District. The man has literally served in practically every capacity (except a Human Resources and/or Superintendent positions) as an education professional…from teacher to counselor to Assistant Principal to Building Principal to Administrator.

To discover why he is so passionate about public education in America and not only a frequently requested speaker at conferences, organizations, and universities across the country, but a trusted figure of children, parents, and/or guardians alike, you would have to know his path and allow him to pique your curiosity. Equipped with an arsenal of amazing traits and an invaluable skill set, Womack is a classic example of what can evolve (potential-wise) from many, if not most, of the disadvantaged children he has interacted with for many years. In addition to being a best friend-life partner to his equally dynamic wife – Dr. Monica Womack (who earned her Ph.D. and is a behind-the-scenes problem-solver in public education herself), Dr. Sandy Womack Jr. earned his Ed.D. and together they share three razor-sharp daughters. Interestingly, Sandy hails from a background where one of his parents (his late father) was a convicted felon who spent time in prison at one point. A constant reminder that no matter how you start out or where you come from, it’s how you use that experience to transform a person’s own life and that of other people that matters. It has been that factor, along with growing up watching his mother sacrifice and juggle to make things happen, which has enabled Sandy Womack Jr. to resonate with and relate to countless children, parents, and/or guardians of diverse backgrounds like few educators or administrators have or do.

When asked what he believes are the three most critical concerns affecting education in urban school settings throughout America, Womack is quick to reveal, “the proverbial lack of proper funding issue, the expectation issue (of the people who work directly with urban school children), and the lack of collective community-wrap-around-support issue.” To many students, parents, and fellow educators across the nation, Dr. Sandy Womack Jr. is not only the epitome of a dynamic teacher-education administrator, but he’s also another “inner-city success story.” Understandably, this overachiever still has his heart set on attaining his biggest goal yet as an educator-administrator, which (according to him) is to “become the #1 influencer of African American children in public schools in the world!”

*Santura Pegram (santura.pegram@yahoo.com) is a freelance writer and socially conscious business professional who has helped to advise small businesses; nonprofit organizations; city, county, and state governmental committees; elected officials; professional athletes; and school systems. He was a one-time protégé-aide to the “Political Matriarch of the State of Florida” – the late Honorable M. Athalie Range.

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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.

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.

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