Before Beverly Johnson, Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks and Iman, there was Naomi Sims. No, she didn't just make cosmetics, wigs and hairpieces, Ms. Sims has been credited as the first black supermodel. That is why her transition from this world without the appropriate acknowledgement by the news and fashion industry, is appalling. Ms. Sims succumbed to breast cancer at 61.
As a teenager during the black pride era, I recall seeing her beautiful brown face on the cover of many magazines and in advertisements. She was elegant and seemed to glide down the runway.
The pioneering Ms. Sims, who would become an entrepreneur and author, paved the way for ethnic models. Initially, she suffered much rejection because of her dark skin but she persevered and became the toast of the fashion industry.
Thank you, Ms. Sims. You blazed a trail that many take for granted today but I thank you for giving little black girls and black women a reason to walk tall and proud. Ashe'.
Unless you’re living under a rock, you know that the United States is undergoing a transformation, right now, as I write this. The spirit of unity, respect, inclusiveness and sacrifice will be needed to carry us through the difficult times still to come. The spirit that Barack Obama embodies and spread throughout the world is reminiscent of that of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
This is such an exciting time for this country and let me just say, black people, in particular. Barack Obama’s election brings about a sense of pride that is difficult to explain to others. For the first time in my life, black Americans appear to really be included in this country. I have never seen so many black people carrying an American flag who were not in the military or an athlete celebrating an Olympic victory. Now, I’m not trying to get into an argument with anyone because I think the Obama presidency will affect each of differently in some respects, depending upon our personal story, but it is what it is.
When Barack Hussein Obama raises his right hand to take the oath of office as president of the United States tomorrow, it will be because of the tremendous sacrifice and courage of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Of course, it goes without saying that Dr. King’s legendary status was earned because of the support, courage and sacrifice of many like-minded people of all races also.
On this spectacularly awesome celebration of the birth of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 2009, this historic celebration could only be the result of destiny…divine intervention…call it whatever you like.
I’d like to think Dr. King would also like for us to move beyond the issue of black pride in our first black president and work for the betterment of this nation world. I’d like to think Dr. King would like for us to get more involved in our community consistently, not just on this Day of Service. He’d like for us to become more involved politically and in building our community and raising our next generations.
I’d like to believe that if he could speak to us today, Dr. King would say that he would like for us to be judged by the content of our character and not by our gender, sexual preference, socio-economic status or color of our skin. We are not quite there yet but we have made another step in that direction. Let’s keep on keeping on. Power to the People.
Singer and civil rights activist, Odetta, transitioned on December 2, 2008. A classically-trained singer born in Birmingham, AL on December 31, 1930, it was folk music that would establish her as an icon.
Called one of the great treasures of American music, musical activist Odetta has influenced such artists as Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin and Joan Baez. Since her '54 debut album, she's toured the world telling stories of America's southern experience in her songs. The Birmingham (AL) native sang at the March on Washington in '63, marched with Dr. King in Selma and protested against U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. In '03, the Library of Congress honored the Grammy-nominated artist with its rare "Living Legend Award."
Click here to listen to her interview and read the transcript from the Tavis Smiley Show of January 25, 2008.
The body of the young boy found in the white SUV was Julian King; he was shot multiple times. This brings the number of dead to three as a result of the multiple slayings that started on Friday.
There are no words to describe the pain that Jennifer Hudson and the rest of the Hudson family are experiencing. Ms. Hudson's brother-in-law is in custody and held for parole violations. He and his girlfriend gave conflicting information regarding his whereabouts.
To lose loved ones in such a tragic manner is more than devastating. The person or persons involved must be brought to justice. I pray for the Hudson family's strength during this situation. I also pray for the mercy and uplift for the souls of Darnell Donerson, Jason Hudson and Julian King. Ashe'.
Actor Julius Carry, III passed away; he was 56. Although Carry appeared in several roles in movies and on television, he will always be remembered as Sho'Nuff from the movie, The Last Dragon. Professional football player and labor union leader Gene Upshaw also passed away; he was 63. Upshaw was a trailblazer moving ably from the football field to capable but also controversial labor union leader.
It's important to note that both of these gentlemen died from pancreatic cancer. A little research shows that often when pancreatic cancer is diagnosed, it's already too late. The usual risk factors of smoking, obesity, family history and older age didn't surprise me but the fact that pancreatic cancer occurs more frequently in blacks than in whites really threw me for a loop. Further issues of pancreatic cancer, weight and black women are also wake-up calls to make sure to keep my health in check.
Both Carry and Upshaw made their mark in their chosen profession. They will be remembered and sorely missed by family, friends and fans. Although we will all die as surely as we are born, let's try to live healthy lives until it is time for our transition.
Today would have been the 83rd birthday of Malcolm X. He is, in my opinion, one of the most significant leaders of our time. Violence that invaded his childhood via the murder of his father by Klansmen and a stint in prison with led to his introduction to the Nation of Islam and sojourn to Africa in which he embraced Islam, molded him into a leader of all people.
It is unfortunate that his brilliance is overshadowed in American history books by the works of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is also unfortunate that their growing friendship was cut short by the assassination of Malcolm X on February 21, 1965; no doubt their bond, could have resulted in true Black Power in the United States. Power, not in the sense of a violent overthrow of the government or anything like that, but in changing the consciousness of African peoples in America.
On this day, let's salute Malcolm Little also known as Detroit Red…Malcolm X…Mairaj Khan El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz.
Today was a great day for Memphis, TN and for remembering the man who has come to symbolize civil rights in this nation. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was radical leader who connected with people of all races and he happened to be a minister.
He preached unity, equality and peace as he led the charge to destroy segregation and poverty in the United States. As a young child I did not understand the personal sacrifice of King and others. The courage required facing injury or death on any given day is unimaginable.
The rights of blacks and other minorities are taken for granted by many in this country today. Some folks don't even want to discuss the segregated America. Many immigrants to the United States have no frame of reference when it comes to the opportunities they enjoy. Those opportunities are owed to Martin Luther King. We cannot change our history but we can change the future of America and her citizens.
Some pontificate on what King would say about the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. I think he would be proud of the opportunity for the two of them to seek office but he would be disappointed in the divisive and mean-spirited language.
More than concerns about the presidential election, I think Dr. King would be particularly dismayed by the overwhelming poverty and health challenges such as AIDS, diabetes and cancer. He'd also wonder what happened to the educational system in this country, why black leaders and elected officials have not done more to help the masses and why our communities have been abandoned.
I'd like to think that King's dream has not died. He'd want us to remember that we must effect change from the bottom up. WE are the change we want to see.
By now, you've heard of the death of Sean Levert. It seems he had been incarcerated for failure to pay child support for his three children. He was in arrears almost $85,000.
Sean Levert became ill while in jail and died after being transported to the hospital. Foul play has been ruled out.
You know the story of the success of the group R&B group, Levert and his dad's success with The O'Jays.
Coping with death is painful for loved ones of the deceased. My heart goes out to the entire Levert family but especially Eddie Levert as this is the second child he's lost in such a short period of time. His son, Gerald, also of Levert, transitioned in November of 2006.
Member of Congress representing Indianapolis, 1997 - 2007
Julia Carson was a member of the Indiana House of Representatives for 20 years, served as Center Township (Indianapolis) Trustee for six years and was elected to Congress in 1996, succeeding her mentor and patron, Andrew Jacobs Jr.
In her ten years in Congress, Carson was a staunch Democrat who never failed to speak up for the poor and powerless and she was one of few in her own party who voted against authorizing war in Iraq.
She died in office on Dec. 15, 2007, less than a month after disclosing that she had terminal lung cancer. [More]