ONYX Magazine November/December 2021

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Publisher's Column ONYX Salutes Gen. Colin Powell Black History - Elizabeth Jennings Graham Christmas Celebrations - How Florida celebrates Travel - Ideas that won't break your bank Business - Year-end tips for small businesses ONYX on the Move Family - Destress during the holidays Music & Entertainment Health & Wellness - Safer ways to celebrate Dynamic Duo of Health Education - Scholarship workshops Money Matters - Credit matters in college Recipe - Chocolate pumpkin pecan pie Men of Honor - Power and Excellence Bethune-Cookman University - On the Rise Florida A&M University - Top Rank Student Leadership - Campus royalty and SGA The Quad - HBCU grads you need to know Sports - Classic Comeback - Return of The Florida Classic Survive the holiday food frenzy SAGE - Spotting the signs of loneliness in seniors International - Caribbean celebration ONYX Reads - Books to curl up with Gift Ideas - Making a list for Christmas Real Estate - 'Tis the season for listing Lift Orlando - Exploring what's new in West Lakes ONYX Profile - Abraha Morris Food & Wine - Jamaican Sorrel Punch




ASSOCIATE EDITORS Gayle Andrews Laura Dorsey Sharon Fletcher Jones Trina Ryan

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 Family, Are you ready for some football? We certainly are! The whole state is buzzing about the return of the Florida Blue Florida Classic! Last year, the pandemic put much of college sports on hold, but now we are back and hyped for the showdown on the gridiron. BethuneCookman University has a nine-year winning streak over Florida A&M University. What will be the outcome in 2021? We talk about it in this issue, along with the campus student leadership. Don’t miss this years-long mashup between two of Florida’s greatest Historically Black Colleges and Universities. It is going to be epic! In more exciting news, we are pleased to present Congresswoman Val Demings in this issue. In our cover story, you will learn about her trek to Capitol Hill, how she plans to move forward, and how she is thinking about Florida communities on the journey. As she makes a historic run for senate, we will be watching and sharing her accomplishments with you. This issue includes a tribute to the life of Gen. Colin Powell, an outstanding American who lost his battle with the coronavirus. As the nation’s first Black secretary of state, he was a trusted advisor to presidential administrations and he inspired our nation to be greater. We salute you, Colin Powell. Also, we share holiday travel tips and ONYX Magazine’s magical experience at the pre-events of Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary. As always, we remain committed to bringing you news that entertains, inspires and informs. Here’s to you and your family for a safe and happy holiday season and a Happy New Year! Sincerely,

DESIGN DIRECTOR Jason Jones GRAPHIC DESIGNER Jon Burton BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR Matt deJager CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Carolyn Adams Sam Gardner Tomas Kassahun Karin Davis-Thompson Bernadette Giacomazzo Eric Paul Laura Dorsey Jeff Gomez Andrew Skerritt Gabrielle Johnson CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Lori Sax Photography ONYX ADVISORY COMMITTEE Nancy Port Schwalb, Chair Deidre Parker, Immediate Past Chair Dick Batchelor Bob Berryhill Dr. Lavon Bracy Bryon Brooks Marva Brown Johnson Hon. Mable Butler Yolanda Cash Jackson Dr. Cynthia Chestnut James Clark

John Crossman Gary Hartfield Barbara Hartley Tony Hill Alma Horne Rodney Hurst Ann Jenkins Connie Kinnard Larry Lee, Jr.

Brenda March Marisol Romany Margaret J. Thompson Gail Thomas-DeWitt Hon. Alan Williams Carla Williams Dr. Samuel Wright Lady Dhyana Ziegler


Rich Black

Lester and Lillian Seays ONYX Magazine is published by ONYX Communications and Media Group, Inc., Address: P.O. Box 555672, Orlando, Florida 32855-5872. Phone 321-418-7216. Subscription rate is $19.95 for six issues. For subscriptions and notification of address change, contact ONYX Magazine at the above address or e-mail us at info@ onyxmagazine.com. Letters to the editor are encouraged. Copyright 2021 by ONYX Magazine. All rights reserved. No part of the publication may be reproduced without written consent of the publisher. Opinions expressed in this magazine are those of the writer or interviewee and not necessarily those of the publisher. Manuscripts, photos and art should be submitted with a self-addressed stamped envelope. The publisher does not assume responsibility for any materials not submitted in manner advised. Unsolicited materials are not subject to payment from ONYX Magazine.




Colin Powell (left), chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pictured with Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf and his wife, Brenda, on a “Welcome Home” float in 1991 honoring those who served in Desert Storm. (Department of Defense)

Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell died at age 84 on Oct. 18. (Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)



olin Powell, the first Black US secretary of state whose leadership in several Republican administrations helped shape American foreign policy in the last years of the 20th century and the early years of the 21st, has died from complications from Covid-19, his family said on Facebook. He was 84. Below is U.S. President Joe Biden’s official Proclamation on the Death of General Colin Powell General Colin Powell was a patriot of unmatched honor and dignity. The son of immigrants, born in New York City, raised in Harlem and the South Bronx, a graduate of the City College of New York, he rose to the highest ranks of the United States military and to advise four Presidents. He believed in the promise of America because he lived it. And he devoted much of his life to making that promise a reality for so many others. He embodied the highest ideals of both warrior and diplomat. He led with his personal commitment to the democratic values that make our country strong. He repeatedly broke racial barriers, blazing a trail for others to follow, and was committed throughout his life to investing in the next generation of leadership. Colin Powell was a good man who I was proud to call my friend, and he will be remembered in history as one of our great Americans. As a mark of respect for General Powell and his life of service to our Nation, I hereby order, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the

President George W. Bush delivers remarks at the State Department as Secretary of State Colin Powell listens, on Feb. 15, 2001. (Pool Photo/ Newsmakers/Getty)

District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset on October 22, 2021. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations. IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eighteenth day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-sixth. –Joseph R. Biden Jr. ONYX MAGAZINE 7



Thomas L. Jennings (January 8, 1791 – February 13, 1876) was an African-American inventor, tradesman, entrepreneur, and abolitionist in New York City, New York. He has the distinction of being the first African-American patent-holder in history; he was granted the patent in 1821 for his novel method of dry cleaning. His invention, combined with his business expertise, yielded a significant personal fortune which he then re-invested into the Abolitionist movement in the United States.


Meanwhile, her father hired an attorney and future 21st President Chester A. Arthur to sue the Third Avenue Railway Company on his daughter’s behalf. At the time, New York City and New York State had no laws regarding segregation on streetcars. Consequently, the court ruled that it had been illegal to forcibly evict Graham solely because she was African American, and awarded her $225 in damages. Her case itself did not lead to total desegregation of all streetcar lines, but it did set a precedent for future trials. After the trial, Graham continued her career as a church organist and her career as a teacher. Later in life, Graham opened a kindergarten for African American children in her home. The kindergarten operated from 1895 until her death on June 5, 1901. Elizabeth Jennings Graham was buried in Brooklyn’s Cypress Hills Cemetery, along with her son and her husband. Elizabeth Jennings Graham was a pioneer in desegregation and education for African Americans in 19th century America. Her legacy lives on and continues to inspire. To some, she is known as the “Rosa Parks of the 19th Century.”



lizabeth Jennings Graham was born free in New York City to Thomas and Elizabeth Jennings in either 1826 or 1830 (both years are specific to her Death Certificate and 1850 Census, respectively). The specific day and month of her birth are unknown. Her parents were both prominent members of New York City’s small African-American middle class and her father was the first African American to hold a patent in the United States. Additionally, he was involved in many social and religious organizations and was one of the founders of New York’s Abyssinian Baptist Church. Like her father, Graham was involved in many social and religious organizations, most prominently as a church organist. She, and her friend Sarah Adams, were on their way to the First Colored American Congregational Church on July 16, 1854, when she tried to board a streetcar of the Third Avenue Railway Company which at the time only allowed Euro-Americans as passengers. She was given permission to ride the streetcar, but the conductor told them, if any Euro-American passengers objected, “You shall go out or I’ll put you out.” Jennings, who wrote about the incident shortly after, said she told the conductor, “I was a respectable person, born and raised in New York, did not know where he was born and that he was a good for nothing impudent fellow for insulting decent persons while on their way to church.” Replying that he was from Ireland, the conductor tried to haul Jennings from the car. She resisted ferociously, clinging first to a window frame, then to the conductor’s own coat. Continuing to drive, with Jennings’s companion left at the curb, he soon saw backup in the figure of a police officer, who boarded the car and pushed Jennings, her bonnet smashed and her dress soiled, to the sidewalk. Graham’s forcible removal from the streetcar caused a massive protest against the streetcar company by members of New York’s African American community and others who felt she was unfairly treated. Her letter detailing the incident was read in church the next day; supporters forwarded the letter to “The New York Daily Tribune,” whose editor was the abolitionist Horace Greeley, and to Frederick Douglass’s Paper, which both reprinted it in full.



After more than a year of the pandemic forcing communities and residents to cancel events and trips, cities throughout the state are bringing back treasured celebrations for the holiday season. Here’s a list of a few ways several cities will celebrate this year.


This city will host two months of the holiday spirit day and night. Organizers call it Winter on the Water and it includes everything from fireworks to a lighted boat parade. The festivities begin with a dining and theatre experience and The Alhambra Theatre’s presentation of a Christmas Carol with performances from November 17 through Christmas Eve. Dazzling Nights runs through January 9 and includes millions of lights and displays at the Jacksonville Arboretum & Botanical Gardens. Other events include the Music on Main Street Tree Lighting Ceremony and the Jacksonville Light Boat Parade on the banks of the St. John’s River. There won’t be a shortage of lights to transform the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens with themed light displays. For a full list of holiday events, go to: https://www.visitjacksonville.com/events/holidays/christmas-holidays/


Friday Night Lights takes on a new meaning in Gainesville. This time it isn’t about football but the town’s annual Christmas tree lighting which will include food and a chance for a photo op with the tree. The event is free to the public and will take place on Dec. 10 in Butler Town Center. The Alachua Conservation Trust will host Trees and Treats on Dec. 11. Attendees can plant longleaf pine seedlings and decorate holiday cookies at the Prairie Creek Preserve. You can also celebrate the season with a trip to the Dance Alive National Ballet’s presentation of the Nutcracker on Dec. 18 and 19. Find out more about the way Gainesville celebrates the season at https://www.visitgainesville.com/events


Jacksonville Boat Parade


In the state’s capitol, the holiday festivities begin with the Winter Festival, a night of celebration including holiday lights, music and the arts. A nighttime parade full of lights and Santa Claus is also a part of the holiday celebration. You can take a walk down an illuminated Candy Lane with holiday music each night in December through Dec. 19. Also in Tallahassee, Santa’s elves get a chance to be front and center on Elf Night. His helpers take you on a trip through a winter wonderland with lights, holiday treats, music and a visit with Santa and his helpers. Crews work hard each year for the event, setting up more than 250,000 lights and decorations. Soul Santa is also a town favorite. The event celebrates diversity and allows children of color a chance to take photos with a Santa that looks like them. The event often includes a food giveaway for families in need. For more information on holiday events go to: https:// talgov.com/parks/WinterEvents.aspx


In Sarasota, Christmas lights and the annual, and very popular, Christmas parade will rule the season. Downtown Sarasota’s tree lighting event takes place on Dec. 2 from 6 – 8 p.m. in Selby Five Points Park. As attendees wait for the countdown, they can enjoy food, music and photos with Santa. Visitors can make a weekend of it and attend the annual Holiday Night of Lights the next day (Dec. 3) in Sarasota’s St. Armands Circle which includes caroling and another tree lighting ceremony. St. Armands Circle will also boast shopping for unique Christmas gifts. The city’s annual Christmas parade is Dec. 4, which culminates with another visit from Santa. The parade is followed by Suncoast Charities for Children’s 35th annual Holiday Boat Parade of Lights. For more information on holiday events in Sarasota go to: https:// www.visitsarasota.com/events-festivals


This city gives its own version of the holidays and winter time, even though the temperatures are still like spring and summer. Along with city sponsored events, several attractions also get into the holiday spirit. The city’s Curtis Hixon Park will host its annual Winter Village from November 19 – January 2, 2022. Along with the lights and sounds that represent the holiday, the park transforms into a winter wonderland complete with an ice rink. Local shop owners share their merchandise at the winter village shops and people can also visit the Icicle Café Kitchen. Busch Gardens hosts what it calls Tampa’s biggest and brightest holiday event with millions of lights, holiday characters to greet your family and holiday treats at the Christmas Town Village. The city’s holiday lighted boat parade is set for Dec. 18 and judges will choose the boats with the best lights and decorations. Other events include the Friends of the Riverwalk holiday spectacular, the Henry Plant Museum’s Victorian Christmas Stroll and the annual tree lighting. For more these events and many others visit: https://www.visittampabay.com/tampa-events/holidays

Sarasota's Selby Gardens


West Palm Beach, surrounding communities and several local organizations will turn the city into a holiday haven this season. First, the annual lighted boat parade will feature food, fun and loads of lights. Attendees are encouraged to wear their Santa hat and holiday attire to celebrate the season. The city’s Winter Wonderland takes place every Saturday and will include a tree lighting the first weekend and live entertainment. A ballet performance of the Nutcracker will take center stage on Dec 11 and each Saturday will focus on a different cultural or religious custom around the holiday. Families can also visit Zoo Lights, a display of more than one million eco-friendly lights each night from 6 – 9 p.m. at the Palm Beach Zoo. There will be unique themed displays and photos with Santa. Zoo Lights is sponsored by the Florida Power and Light Company. For more information on holiday events in West Palm Beach visit: https://www.thepalmbeaches.com/blogs/ultimate-guide-holiday-celebrations-palm-beaches Karin Davis-Thompson is a freelance writer, storyteller and founder of In My Shoes – a platform and podcast for women of color to tell their story and feel confident that what they have to say matters. You can learn more about Karin on her website: www.inmyshoestoday.com.





other accommodations) in advance, you can save the same amount of money as you would getting an elusive “last-minute deal.”

DON’T EAT AWAY YOUR BUDGET Going out to eat at the most expensive restaurants every night will eat away at your budget — literally and figuratively. Instead, try to eat like a local and go to all the favorite spots that others go to on a regular basis.

WATCH HOW YOU PACK Many airlines are now charging to put a suitcase under the plane. Learn how to pack economically — remember, you’ll be traipsing around the city with your luggage in tow, so ask yourself if you really want to be moving lock, stock, and barrel for your vacation. (The answer: probably not.)

BOOK IN ADVANCE Last-minute deals can be amazing to find. But if you don’t get your preferred booking, it will be a real pain point. But if you book your flight (and 12 ONYX MAGAZINE

No one’s suggesting you sleep in a hostel or on a campsite (perish the thought). But rather than book the most expensive hotel in the city, consider booking a boutique hotel through a site like Kayak or another price-comparison site to make sure you get the best price possible.

WALK WHEN YOU CAN Walking is not only good for you, but it will help you burn calories and learn the roads. Best of all, it will save you a lot of money.

AND TAKE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION WHEN YOU CAN’T If you’re going to a big city where public transportation is the norm—such as New York City, San Francisco, and Chicago—learn to use the system. You’ll not only save big money, but you’ll be able to experience the city like a local. You should only summon a ride-sharing service (like Uber or Lyft) or a taxi if you’ve exhausted all your other options and you have no other choice. Ride-sharing and taxis can add up, and quickly.

ABOVE ALL ELSE, FIND YOUR BUDGET AND STICK TO IT It’s always a good idea to have a budget, plus a 10% contingency in case of an emergency. For example, if you’ve allocated $3,000 for your holiday travel budget, take an additional $300 to $500 with you in the event of an emergency. “Sticking to a budget” cannot be overstated enough. The last thing you want to be is stranded, in the middle of nowhere, because you blew your vacation budget.

This story has been reprinted with permission from Travl Noire


t’s that time of year again: holiday travel tips time! It’s pretty hard to believe that yet another year has gone by — the years all seem to be blending into one another, aren’t they? Yet, the outside is slowly starting to open up again, and holiday travel bookings have already begun. And according to TravelPulse, 2021 is already shaping up to see a spike in holiday travel — and that number is only expected to spike up in the coming years. “We started to see an increase in families booking their 2021 and 2022 holiday vacations at the end of 2020, which showed us that families are more than ready to reclaim their holidays and time taken away from each other – and that they’re ready to seize their new-found freedom,” said Amélie Brouhard, the vice president of marketing omnichannel North America and USA sales for Club Med. “The pandemic has also undoubtedly affected the mental health and wellbeing of us all, and the act of planning vacations has been proven to boost mental health. We believe families were booking ahead to not only give themselves something to look forward to but to also provide them with a sense of optimism and that there are brighter days ahead.” With this in mind, then, we’ve come up with this list of holiday travel tips to keep in mind as you book your travel in 2021 and beyond. Bear these in mind as you get ready to ring in 2022!




usiness owners, while you may be taking a much-needed break during the festive season, start thinking about a dreaded task now: taxes. The fourth quarter is the perfect time to figure out how you’re going to lower your 2021 tax bill. Tax planning is something business owners should consider year-round. While you may be able to extend your filing until late 2022, there are some moves that can help you save money— and you need to know what they are before the end of December. Experts offer these six tips to help.

REVIEW HOW YOUR BUSINESS IS SET UP What is the corporate structure of your business? Are you a sole proprietor, S-Corp, LLC, Partnership or C-Corp? As your business and income grows, the best structure for your business may change. This is something you should review with your CPA and certified financial planner every few years (more often if your business is growing rapidly or if there have been changes to the ownership). David Rae, Certified Financial Planner ™

REVIEW YOUR BUSINESS RETIREMENT PLAN One of the best ways for small business owners to slash their taxes is to establish a retirement plan. This could be anything from a SEP IRA to a Solo 401(k), up to the combination of a 401(k) with a defined-benefit pension plan. Would you rather write a big check to the IRS or to your own retirement account? In case you were wondering, high-income small businesses can potentially defer income taxes on hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. Forbes

ARE YOU ELIGIBLE FOR THE HOME OFFICE DEDUCTION? You can only qualify for the home office deduction now if you’re self-employed. Self-employed people can deduct their home office expenses from their business income if their office qualifies. This includes people who work from home full time, as well as people who have a freelance side gig— 14 ONYX MAGAZINE

even though they may also work for an employer—and people who were self-employed for just a few months. U.S. News & World Report

DON’T IGNORE YOUR BOOKKEEPING Filing taxes is a stressful process for even the most organized business owner. Please don’t try and file your taxes from a shoebox full of receipts. Break up your accounting and bookkeeping throughout the year. For a more complicated business with many invoices and expenses, consider hiring a bookkeeper. At a bare minimum, avoid procrastinating until tax time to get your books in order. Missed tax deductions increase your taxable income and are essentially like throwing money away. David Rae

CLAIM FIRST-YEAR BONUS DEPRECIATION One of the positive changes from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) is that you can now get a 100% first-year bonus depreciation for qualified used and new property that was acquired and placed in service during your 2021 business year. Translation, you may be able to get a tax break for the entire cost of assets purchased in 2021. If you are having a big income year, you may want to consider moving up some planned purchases into 2021. IRS

BE PROACTIVE WITH YOUR TAX PLANNING Tax planning typically involves strategies to minimize your income tax liability. For instance, deferring income, maximizing deductions and selecting tax advantaged investments. If you anticipate higher income tax rates or income in the future, then increasing certain types of taxable income in a current year may save significant taxes in future years. This could be accomplished by generating long term capital gains income, or possibly converting a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. Total Wealth Planning These are a few abbreviated tax tips. Sit down with your financial planner or tax expert for a deep dive into how each of these can help you save money.


ONYX MAGAZINE HOSTS FIRST POLITICAL FORUM ONYX Magazine held its first political forum ahead of the Orlando District 5 commissioner’s race. Incumbent Orlando Commissioner Regina I. Hill, District 5, and Candidate Shan Rose answered questions submitted by community members who attended the event held at the Boys and Girls Club of Central Florida on Lakeland Ave. Moderators Rod Love and Attorney Greg Jackson of radio show “Let’s Talk Nation” asked questions about affordable housing, gun violence, street clean-ups, and other pertinent issues. Presidents from neighborhood associations throughout District 5 received recognition from ONYX Magazine Publisher Rich Black, who also is the president of the Lake Sunset/Luola Terrace Neighborhood Association in the district. To see the forum in its entirety, visit ONYX Magazine’s Facebook page where the forum appeared on Facebook Live.

CDC OF TAMPA RECEIVES FINANCIAL COMMITMENT FROM 5/3 BANK Fifth Third Bank and Enterprise Community Partners today announced the establishment of a neighborhood program to support the East Tampa community’s revitalization efforts. The Fifth Third Neighborhood Investment Program will span over three years and focus on the Corporation to Develop Communities of Tampa (CDC of Tampa) and cross-sector collaborations. Fifth Third intends to commit up to $20 million in lending, investments and philanthropic support, including grants from the Fifth Third Foundation to East Tampa. A combination of capital, products and services will be invested into small businesses, mortgages, philanthropic efforts, and neighborhood revitalization loans and investments. The Neighborhood Investment Program is part of Fifth Third’s $2.8 billion commitment that will provide $2.2 billion in lending, $500 million in investments, $60 million in financial accessibility and $40 million in philanthropy from the Fifth Third Foundation as part of Fifth Third’s Accelerating Racial Equality, Equity and Inclusion initiative.


County Commissioner Gwen Myers, Fifth Third’s North Florida Regional President Cary Putrino, Jada Grandy-Mock, CDC of Tampa Founder Chloe Coney, Congresswoman Kathy Castor and CDC of Tampa CEO Ernest Coney , Jr.

The Onyx Ski & Sports Club of Tampa Bay held its 23rd Charitable Golf Tournament in October at the Historic Rogers Park Gold Course in Tampa. Fifty golfers enjoyed the event, which included 18 holes of golf, a scrumptious lunch and awards ceremony. Proceeds from the tournament will be used to take community youth on a trip to the mountains of Pennsylvania where they participate in skiing and snowboarding lessons. It is the trip of a lifetime for Florida youth. Byron Johnson was tournament chairperson; Darele Campbell is Club president; and Verneka Rhodes and Elita McMillon are Club youth directors.

Tournament organizers

SISTERS KIN-NECT PRESENTS ANNUAL CONFERENCE “Invest, Ignite, Inspire” was the theme of this year’s Sisters Kin-nect Conference, an annual event billed as a “dynamic evening of personal investment to ignite and inspire women of all ages to connect and consider new and innovative opportunities to enhance their lives.” More than 200 people—mostly women—gathered on the waterfront lawn of the Mahaffey Theater in downtown St. Petersburg. Deputy St. Petersburg Mayor Dr. Kanika Tomalin received the Invest Award, Dr. Jeffery A. J. Johnson and his wife, Teasia Johnson, received the Inspire Award and Anjali Queen B of IHeartMedia went home with the Ignite Award. The conference endcap was a brief graduation ceremony for the inaugural class of My Sister’s My Sisters Keeper Fellows: Denise Solomon, owner of Grow, Empower, Transform Therapy; Kay-Kay Smith, creator of the Momstuffcoffeeshop Podcast; Keeper Fellows. The Tamira Cheedy, Baycare Medical Group; Kristal Vazquez, City of St. Petersburg six-month Fellowship is and owner, Gadgets For Gz Technology Services; Shalia Moore-Hayes, School Psychologist and Community Engagement Consultant with the Patterson a leadership program Foundation; and Ester Matthews, CEO of All Administrative Solutions. “designed to meet the unique cultural needs of Black women looking to grow and achieve their business and personal goals,” according to Nikki Gaskin-Capehart, the director of Urban Affairs for the City of St. Petersburg which oversees the City’s My Brothers & Sisters Keeper (MBSK) initiative. She and a handful of other women founded the “Sister’s Kin-nect” annual conference in 2019 under the My Sister’s Keeper umbrella. Panelists Gypsy Gallardo, Dr. Cynthia Johnson and Bemetra Liggins





etween changes in routine and visiting family (or having them visit you), the holidays can be emotionally overwhelming for children and adults alike, even in “normal times.” Add in inclement weather, the desire for a perfect holiday and parents still working, and you have a perfect cocktail for emotional meltdowns. “The key to enjoying whatever this holiday season brings is to acknowledge the range of emotions the entire family may be feeling and hold space for those feelings,” said Ariel Acosta from KinderCare’s Inclusion Services team. “By working on a few key things now before the heightened expectations and busyness set in, families can build a toolbox of skills that will help make the season less stressful for everyone.” Consider these tips to help families prepare for a less stressful holiday season.

Find Ways to Destress as a Family – Throw on some music and have a dance party. Incorporate some simple yoga moves or stretches into your day to create mindful moments. Help your children create a list of calm-down techniques to choose from when they start to become overwhelmed or as a way to reset after an outburst, such as taking a deep breath.

Set Expectations for Greetings – Talk with your children about your family’s expectations around greetings and help them think of and practice different ways to say hello, such as a hug, handshake, high-five, wave or verbal greeting. Giving your children options ahead of time allows them to

choose the greeting that feels most comfortable in the moment. To lessen the pressure, make sure family members and friends understand what you and your children are comfortable with. For example, “It looks like Aaron doesn’t want a hug right now, Aunt Pat. Perhaps a high-five would be better.”

Give Your Children (and Yourself) Grace – Talk with your children about the range of emotions you feel throughout the day. This can help them learn emotional literacy and flexible thinking. It also normalizes feelings. When a big feeling does happen, remember to connect before you correct by labeling and validating your child’s emotions: “I can see that you’re really sad we have to leave the party. Leaving makes me feel sad, too. What would help you feel better?” If your child is engaged in unsafe behaviors, like hitting, wait until after everyone is calm before talking about what could be done differently next time. “How you handle your mistakes can be a powerful example for your children,” Acosta said. “Once you’re calm, explain what happened to your children. Start by naming your emotion, apologize if you didn’t handle your feelings well and let your children know what you plan to do differently next time. ‘I was really angry you two were arguing and I yelled. I shouldn’t have done that. Next time, I’m going to try to remember to take some deep breaths to help me speak more kindly.’” For more tips to help your children with social and emotional development, visit kindercare.com. ONYX MAGAZINE 17

M U S I C & E N T E R TA I N M E N T

Disney CEO Bob Chapek (left) and Executive Chairman Bob Iger (right) re-dedicate Walt Disney World Resort in front of Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom Park in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Sept. 30, 2021, on the eve of the vacation destination’s 50th anniversary.



Ayesha Curry



n Oct. 1, 1971, Walt Disney World Resort officially opened to guests for the first time, the culmination of years spent imagining, planning and developing Walt Disney’s magical dream. Five decades later to the day, guests who experienced that dream anew when they visited The Most Magical Place on Earth to be part of its 50th anniversary. “It is a thrill to be celebrating the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World and the extraordinary cast members and Imagineers who bring the resort to life every day and create magical moments for our guests,” said Bob Chapek, chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company. “As we look to the next 50 years and beyond, we are inspired to continually reinvent the way we tell stories, and to use technology to immerse guests deeper into the story worlds they love so much.” October 1 marked the beginning of “The World’s Most Magical Celebration,” an 18-month event bringing new attractions, nighttime spectaculars and other magical experiences. Shining at the center of it all is Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom Park, welcoming guests with

gleaming gold bunting, sparkling golden embellishments, a 50th anniversary crest and other enhancements inspired by the art of Disney Legend Mary Blair. Before the big day, ONYX Magazine had the opportunity to sit down with two celebrities who were helping kick off the festivities. At this magical celebration, we met singer, songwriter 8-time Grammy Awards-winning Philip Lawrence (associated with Bruno Mars, Adele, CeeLo Green and so many more.) His song #YouAreTheMagic is the theme song for the 18-month celebration! He had some very inspiring words for ONYX readers. “I discovered a passion for song writing when I was working at the Lion King Show (at Walt Disney World)…and I started to teach myself to sing and write songs. I had an idea that maybe I could do something with that. But everything I’ve experienced in my life and coming back here is well

beyond anything I’ve ever dreamed of, which is proof to me that God is always in control…and to not put limits on yourself. Just keep showing up every day and walking in purpose and let it all unfold as it’s supposed to unfold.” ONYX also caught up with Ayesha Curry, an entrepreneur, cookbook author, actress and wife of NBA’s Golden State Warrior Point Guard Stephen Curry. She was there with the couple’s three kids and they were looking to have a blast. “We are thrill seekers now as a family. We’re here to just have fun and enjoy ourselves,” she said. “This place feels like you can just pause time just for a second and enjoy the moment, so that’s what we’re really here to do.” Walt Disney World will be celebrating the 50th for 18 months and ONYX Magazine will continue to take you along with us when we go!

Philip Lawrence




spiring business founders who are current students or alumni from HBCU have a chance to win up to $1 million from Michael B. Jordan’s Invesco QQQ Legacy Classic competition. The contest, which requires participants to submit innovative business proposals, is launching in partnership with venture capital firm MaC Venture Capital, as well as Serena Williams’s investment company, Serena Ventures. Jordan and Williams will award the winners during halftime of the Invesco QQQ Legacy Classic Basketball Showcase Finals in New Jersey on December 18, the organization said in a statement. Hampton University, North Carolina Central University, Howard University, and North Carolina A&T University will be the schools featured at the HBCU college basketball showcase, which will air on TNT. Executives from MaC Ventures, Serena Ventures, Invesco, Thirty Five Ventures, Harlem Capital Partners and Cake Ventures will continue to work with the winners in the coming months. “HBCUs are an integral part of our educational ecosystem and have long been centers of entrepreneurial excellence. We are thrilled to be partnering with Michael B. Jordan and MaC Ventures on highlighting the brilliant student and alumni founders,” Serena Ventures General Partner Alison Stillman said in a press release. MaC Venture Capital General Partner Michael Palank also commented in the release: “Talent is ubiquitous but access to opportunity is not.”

“Two of our partners are HBCU alumni and we could not be more excited to uncover and support the amazing entrepreneurial talent we know is thriving at these universities,” Palank continued. Leading up to the basketball showcase, Invesco QQQ Legacy Classic will partner with the Esport nonprofit, Cxmmunity, to host an NBA 2K tournament. The event, scheduled for Dec. 13, will also feature a band showcase and a live musical performance, as well as college and career opportunities. Tickets for the basketball portion of the Invesco QQQ Legacy Classic start at $25. Proceeds from the event support organizations which aim to advance HBCUs, as well as the local Newark community in New Jersey. “I am thrilled to finally announce the four HBCUs that will be competing in the inaugural Legacy Classic,” Jordan said, according to Variety. “Invesco QQQ and Turner Sports have been amazing partners in helping bring this experience to life. I grew up watching basketball games on TNT, so I am confident they will deliver this set of games to a true audience of basketball fans and their families in an exciting way.” ONYX MAGAZINE 19

H E A LT H & W E L L N E S S



oliday traditions are important for families and children. Because many generations tend to gather to celebrate holidays, the best way to minimize COVID-19 risk and keep your family and friends safer is to get vaccinated if you’re eligible. Here are safer ways to celebrate the holidays:

GENERALLY: • Protect those not yet eligible for vaccination, such as children younger than 12, by getting yourself and other eligible people around them vaccinated. • Wear well-fitting masks over your nose and mouth in public indoor settings if you are not fully vaccinated. o Even those who are fully vaccinated should wear a mask in public indoor settings in communities with substantial to high transmission. » Outdoors is safer than indoors. o Avoid crowded, poorly ventilated spaces. o If you are sick or have symptoms, don’t host or attend a gathering. o Get teste if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have a close contact with someone who does. o Delay travel until you are fully vaccinated. • Everyone, even people who are fully vaccinated, is required to wear a mask on public transportation and follow international travel recommendations.

SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS: • People who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken their immune system may not be fully protected even if they are fully vaccinated and have received an additional dose. They should continue to take all precautions recommended for unvaccinated people. 20 ONYX MAGAZINE

• You might choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission if a member of your household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease, or is unvaccinated. • If you are gathering with a group of people from multiple households, you could consider additional precautions (e.g., avoiding crowded indoor spaces before travel, taking a test) in advance of gathering to further reduce risk. • Do NOT put a mask on children younger than 2 years old. For more information, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/ daily-life-coping/holidays/celebrations.html.


The Food & Drug Administration has approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for individuals 5 years of age or older. To obtain the vaccine in Florida, individuals 5 to 12 years old must be accompanied by a guardian.

H E A LT H & W E L L N E S S



eing physically fit is not the sole basis of our health—it takes having a strong mind and spirit, too. While you may know what to do to maintain a healthy lifestyle, you often are challenged knowing where or how to start. That’s where James and Vincent come in. This dynamic duo of health has the right formula to get you on your way to well-being. “Mind, body and soul are all supposed to be on one accord,” said James Randall, the fitness director at Jrogun Motivation and Fitness in Orlando. In 2015, Randall, a former truck driver, came off the road to chart a new path for his community and fuel his passion of caring for seniors. “Depending on where people are in their health journey, I try to implement a positive message (of inspiration) for moving forward. ‘Do you have grandkids or kids you want to see? Are there things in life you want to be around for?’ I build a personal relationship with them.” That part is important, because the more comfortable his fitness class members are, the more they talk. Their stories of success inspire others in the class to achieve their fitness goals. Soon, members may start walking together outside of class, which is something Randall encourages. “We were raised as a family and we know it takes a village—we want to get back to that mindset of doing things as a group and get out and walk together,” he says. “Before you know it, you have walked three or four miles easily because you’re concentrating on the conversation (or music). The walk is decompressing your mental state of mind which starts at the top and works its way all the way down to your body—inside and out.” While Randall gets the people moving with tailored plans, his partner, Vincent Thomas, is focused on what they put inside their bodies. A Cornell University-trained plant-based nutrition expert, Thomas researched ways to help people reverse illness. The advice: restrict diets to fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, most people he meets do not want to take that plunge until they are seriously ill. “The light comes on, on the dashboard, but until the car stops, generally they are not going to pay attention to that indicator if the car is still running. Everything seems to be operable,” he said using an automobile reference to illustrate people’s reluctance to eat healthily. However, when their doctors have warned that long-term illness or even death is imminent, most seek ways to turn it around. “In those cases, I have very little resistance to what needs to be done. When somebody knows they have an issue that needs to be addressed, they are going to be more proactive about doing it.” Understanding that cutting meat altogether may be a long process for some, Thomas often advises his clients to take small steps and reduce meat-eating to three or four meals per week—to start. Both experts, Randall and Thomas, take a personal approach to construct a plan that is right for you. The recent pandemic has persuaded them

Vincent Thomas and James Randall offer wellness plans at Jrogun Motivation and Fitness Training

to develop online programs, so now you can start getting healthy with a mere click. A healthy lifestyle can help prevent chronic disease and longterm illness. Knowing you are taking the right steps for your well-being is important for your self-esteem and self-image. With plans for seniors, athletes and groups, healthy living is within your reach at Jrogun. Call Jrogun Motivation and Fitness Training today at 407-723-9660 or visit the website at www.jrogun.com. ONYX MAGAZINE 21




he Infinite Scholars Program (ISP) is a nonprofit organization founded in 2003 by Thomas “T” Ousley, who taught high school English and History for 29 years with the Jennings (MO) School District. Ousley began the Infinite Scholars Program to ensure that financially disadvantaged students deserving to go to college could receive the funding they needed. Today, nearly 80% of participants in the Infinite Scholars Program enroll in college. For nearly two decades, the Infinite Scholars Program has served more than 200,000 students and has facilitated more than $2 Billion in scholarships and financial aid. The overall mission of the Infinite Scholars Program is to provide all students, especially low-income and first-generation high school students of diversity, with the access to the resources, guidance, and funding necessary to successfully further their education at accredited institutions of higher education. ISP facilitates 33 fairs across the country. There are six fairs in Florida, more than in any other state.





January 18, 2022 Tuesday

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

January 18, 2022 Tuesday

Rockledge, Florida

January 19, 2022 Wednesday

Tampa, Florida


University of South Florida

January 19, 2022 Wednesday

Orlando, Florida


Evans High School 4949 Silver Star Road, Orlando, FL 32808

January 20, 2022 Thursday

Daytona Beach, Florida


Michael & Libby Johnson Center for Civic Engagement Bethune-Cookman University 740 W. International Speedway Blvd, Daytona Beach, FL 32114

January 22, 2022 Saturday

Jacksonville, Florida


Jesse Ball duPont Center 40 East Adams Street, Jacksonville, FL 32202

9:00-12:00 4:30-7:30

L.A. Lee YMCA Mizell Comm. Center 1409 NW 6th Street, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33311 Rockledge High School 220 Raider Road, Rockledge, FL 32955

FOR THE 2022 SEASON, THERE ARE SOME MAJOR CHANGES TAKING PLACE REGARDING THE FAIRS IN FLORIDA HORUS Construction is the community organizer for the fair held in Tampa on the University of South Florida campus. HORUS Construction and its vice president Lena Graham Morris have supported ISP for four years in South Florida, Rockledge and Orlando. However, this is their first venture to host a fair in Tampa. HBCUs are an integral part of the education landscape in Florida. The HBCUs have been a part of the ISP program for years. However, for the first time in 2022, Bethune Cookman University will host the ISP fair in Daytona Beach on the campus of the University. This will be the first time in the almost 20-year history of the organization that an HBCU in the state of Florida has ever been the host of a scholarship fair. The City of Daytona Beach and the entire university, along with Billy Dajuste, director of

Admissions and Recruitment in the Office of Enrollment Management, have promised ISP colleges and students an HBCU experience like no other. The ISP scholarship fair in Ft Lauderdale will coincide with the grand opening of the new L.A. Lee YMCA Mizell Community Center. This new state-of-the-art facility will host the annual ISP scholarship fair and the various workshops leading up to the fair. These workshops, led by Sharon Hughes, Family Services program director, are new initiatives to shore up the infrastructure of ISP throughout the nation. The virtual workshops are open to the public. For more information regarding the Infinite Scholars Program or register for a fair, please visit the website at www.infinitescholar.org or contact Laura Dorsey, the vice president of Mission and Engagement, at (407) 719.0225. ONYX MAGAZINE 23




his issue of Money Matters is dedicated to our college students. The goal is to educate students on borrowing responsibly and provide them with resources to be financially literate. But, more importantly, we want students to understand their finances, and the long-term impact over-borrowing can have once they graduate. Whether you seek a bachelor’s, master’s or professional degree, completing college can be crucial to greater earning power. The average bachelor’s degree holder earns more than 64% more than the average high school graduate. And the number rises for graduate and professional degree holders, with the average professional degree holder earning more than three times the income of the average high school graduate.


A COLLEGE EDUCATION IS A SMART INVESTMENT High School Graduate $25,000 Some College $30,000 Associate's Degree $32,000 Bachelor's Degree $41,000 Master's Degree $51,000 Doctorate Degree $67,000 Professional Degree $77,000

Yet, the promise of greater earning power can be marred by poor financial decisions while in college. Chief among these is the accumulation of burdensome amounts of credit card debt. Here are some statistics on credit card debt. Among college students, 76% have credit cards, and 43% have four cards or more. In addition, 7% of college students carry a credit card balance of $7,000 or more; 16% owe between $3,000 and $7,000. The average credit card balance among college students is $2,169. These statistics are average and can change based on demographics. You can be in good financial shape when you graduate from college as long as you play it smart by following these six recommendations: ❖


Determine your short-term goals. Think about what you'd like to achieve in the next three years. Determine your long-term goals. Think about what you’d like to achieve in the next five to seven years.

SEPARATE NEEDS FROM WANTS Don't spend more money than you have. Divide spending into needs (like books and materials for class) and wants ($1,800 for a spring break trip to Miami). Don't spend on wants unless you can cover your needs. ❖


Creating a spending plan will help you live within your means and develop skills you will use long after you get that degree. Write everything down to see where you are spending and where you may be able to cut back.


Start a savings account/ If you have a job, sign up for the employer’s retirement plan/ Borrow only what you need/ Sign up for automatic savings; what you don’t see does make a difference.

STAY ON TOP OF YOUR STUDENT LOAN OBLIGATIONS IF YOU HAVE THEM Use credit wisely – This we will discuss in detail *


There are advantages and disadvantages to having credit cards: Advantages: they build credit. You need a credit card to rent a car. They are available for emergencies and an immediate cash advance. You can make online purchases (many of us purchase online because we usually can get what we are looking for cheaper). Disadvantages: They can negatively affect your credit (by not having good credit, you are more apt to be charged higher interest rates when buying a car, buying a home, etc.) Debt adds up fast and can take years to repay, which can be three to five times the original purchase price.

Here are a few tips regarding what to look for when applying for a credit card and managing your credit card. • Choose a credit card with no annual fee • Use your credit card conservatively /Only charge what you can pay off at the end of the month • Be sure to make your monthly payments on time; being even a day late, you will be charged a late fee, and that could be as much as $35.00. Make your payments ten days before the due date.* • Always pay more than the minimum requested. This could save you hundreds in interest • Be wary of credit cards that offer free merchandise. Most credit cards that offer free merchandise tend to have higher interest rates. College students are primary targets for these types of credit cards. When you get a credit card, here are a few more tips regarding managing your credit cards because managing your credit is so crucial. • Do not purchase on impulse • Do not charge more than you can afford • Do not live a lifestyle you cannot afford • Do not use credit cards for cash advances unless it is an emergency (cash advances usually come with a fee and are at a higher interest rate.* Managing your credit is one thing and protecting your credit is another. Unfortunately, the crime of identity theft is on the rise. Depending on where you do your research, recent surveys show 7-10 million victims per year. Protecting your credit and personal information is essential to protecting your identity. Here, a few important key points to protect yourself. First, minimize the amount of information a thief can steal. Second, do not carry extra credit cards, your Social Security card, birth certificate, or passport in your wallet or purse, except when needed. Third, remove your name from the marketing lists of the three credit reporting bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union. Call 888-5OPTOUT or go online to www.optoutprescreen.com. This will limit the number of preapproved offers of credit that you receive. These, when tossed into the garbage, are a potential target for identity thieves, who use them to order credit cards in your name.* As your Money Matters, so does your Credit Matter. Potential employers now look at credit scores and your college credentials when looking to offer you that dream position you desire. So, protect your credit because your Credit Life Matters! * ncc.edu

Laura Dorsey, is the CEO of LLD Consulting, an associate editor of ONYX Magazine and author of the ONYX Magazine Money Matters series.





his scrumptious, creamy dessert will make you wanna slap your---well don’t do that. She tends to hit back! But Chocolate Pumpkin Pecan Pie has been the start of many a kitchen squabble— everybody gunning for that last piece. If it gets too serious in your home this Thanksgiving, then just bake two so all can have their fill. If you have never tried a slice of heaven, then this will do the trick. Make it your family tradition for years to come. CHOCOLATE AND PUMPKIN LAYERS: 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree 3 large eggs, at room temperature ½ cup white sugar 2 tablespoons cornstarch 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice ½ teaspoon ground ginger ½ teaspoon salt 3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped


PECAN PIE LAYER: 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted ¼ cup brown sugar ¼ cup dark corn syrup 1 large egg 1 teaspoon vanilla extract ¼ teaspoon salt 1 cup chopped pecans 1 (9 inch) deep-dish pie crust 24 pecan halves (optional)

DIRECTIONS STEP 1 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. STEP 2 Mix pumpkin puree, eggs, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice, ginger, and salt in a large bowl until well combined. Set aside. STEP 3 Place baking chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, then stir. Continue to microwave chocolate at 30-second intervals until melted. Measure out 1 cup of pumpkin mixture and stir into chocolate mixture. Set aside.

STEP 4 Mix melted butter, brown sugar, dark corn syrup, egg, vanilla extract, and salt in a bowl until well combined. Stir in chopped pecans. STEP 5 Place frozen pie crust on the baking sheet and pour in chocolate-pumpkin mixture. Carefully pour pumpkin mixture on top. Pour the pecan layer over the top. Arrange pecan halves around the outside perimeter of the pie. STEP 6 Bake in the preheated oven until pie is set, 55 to 65 minutes.




2021 Men of Honor with inaugural members on front row

Commissioner Regina Hill, ONYX Publisher Rich Black, Congresswoman Val Demings, Man of the Year Mayor Jerry Demings, ONYX Events Chair Dee Parker, Congressman Charlie Crist

n a night of esteem and honor, ONYX Magazine recognized 19 of Florida’s leading Black men for their outstanding achievements at its annual ONYX Magazine’s Men of Honor Awards. Along with Founding Partner Orlando Health, ONYX, the 24-year-old publication that celebrates Black achievement throughout Florida, named elected officials, C-suite leaders and market presidents among Florida’s top leaders, including Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings as Man of the Year. The black-tie, soldout dinner was held Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021, in the posh Grand Bohemian Orlando Downtown Hotel. “I stand on the shoulders of those African slaves who got us to this point….We are going to work every day to make the world a better place,” said Mayor Jerry Demings when he stepped onto the stage at the end of the night thronged by a standing audience. He thanked the ONYX Magazine team for the effort, especially Chair Dee Parker and Publisher Rich Black for the vision of Men of Honor. He gave credit to his wife, Congresswoman Val Demings, and sons for their continued support. But perhaps his most poignant words were to the aspiring male leaders in the room. “Young men…you know there is an opportunity for all of you to rise to the occasion and be of service and good will to others like all of these honorees here tonight,” he said. The evening opened with Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer congratulating the “change agents” who were being recognized. “They have all had impact on our community, our state and on the national level,” he said. Following

Dyer was a chorus of uplifting words by some of America’s most committed leaders. In an explosive keynote address, speaker Vincent Evans, influenced by the theme “Commitment to Mentorship,” challenged honorees to continue positive role modeling for young men. “Who is willing to carry the weight,” Evans asked the honorees. “As you exceed lofty heights, don’t lose your Keynote Speaker Vincent Evans fight! You are the best this community has to offer. Do not grow weary in your well doing. Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, for as long as ever you can.” Evans is the deputy director of the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs in the Office of the U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris. He also admonished that [as a community responsible for helping the next generation do well, we are not doing enough if we have only one of each honoree]. Then he named them one-by-one. The sentiment brought the audience to its feet with heavy applause. ONYX Magazine Publisher Rich Black received a gesture from his godson, Treyvon Fair, which highlighted what the entire evening was about: mentorship. The award, selected by Fair, carried the words “To Rich Black, the best father and mentor a young man can have.”


EXCELLENCE MAYOR JERRY DEMINGS Orange County Government Man of the Year

Desmond Meade, Esq. Executive Director Florida Rights Restoration Coalition The Rich Black Vanguard Award

ONYX Publisher Rich Black and his godson Treyvon Fair

“Black people across our state continue to play a pivotal role in the future growth of our communities and ONYX Magazine strives to stay at the helm in telling those stories,” said Black. “Our distinguished honorees stand at the very peak of excellence in their communities and professions and we think it is critical that Florida and the nation know about their accomplishments.” Also attending the event were two members of the U.S. House of Representatives from Florida. Rep. Charlie Crist congratulated the honorees by saying, "This is a great night. Mayor Demings surely deserves the honor he is receiving this evening." Rep. Val Demings, from Florida's 10th District, followed. "There is nothing that we cannot accomplish in this nation...as long as we live up to America's promise," she said. "I want to thank the men who are being honored tonight for all that you have done and all that you will continue to do to make sure we will continue to form that more perfect union." She made a special point to congratulate the Man of the Year. The theme, “Commitment to Mentorship,” punctuates the need for influencers to create a path of success for ambitious young men, and the importance of mentorship to help guide them toward the goals—and it resonated throughout the event. “As men in our community, we’re blessed to be positioned to influence others, especially the

Belvin Perry, Esq. Retired Chief Judge Excellence in Education Award Alzo Reddick, Sr., Ed.D. Chairman of the Board, Guardian Care Florida Legislature, Retired UCF Director, Retired Publisher's Award Innocent Akujuobi, M.D. Emergency Medicine Physician Orlando Health Norton Bonaparte, Jr., ICMA-CM City Manager City of Sanford, Florida Alvin "A.C." Cowans President/CEO McCoy Federal Credit Union Jaret Davis Co-Managing Shareholder Greenberg Traurig, P.A. - Miami John Davis Secretary of the Florida Lottery State of Florida Samuel Eubanks Senior Vice President, Private Bank Bank of America

Gregorio "Greg" Francis, Esq. Osborne & Francis Law Firm, PLLC B. Lee Green, Ph.D. Vice President, Diversity, Public Relations & Strategic Communications Moffitt Cancer Center Eugene Jones, Ph.D. Executive Dean Valencia College Downtown Campus Roderick "Rod" Love President & CEO Community Synergy Group, Inc. Esu Ma'at Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Orlando Magic Bishop Derrick McRae Senior Pastor The Experience Christian Center Derrick Wallace Chairman Construct Two Construction Managers, Inc. Clarence Wilkerson, Jr. Vice President, National Accounts Weyerhaeuser Distribution Antwan Williams Administrator, Allied Health & Support Services Orlando Health


Founding Partner Orlando Health Representatives Antwan Williams, Donna Gilmer, Quib Graham, Dr. Innocent Akujuobi

ONYX Publisher Rich Black, Keynote Speaker Vincent Evans, 2021 Co-Chair Nancy Port Schwalb, Man of the Year Mayor Jerry Demings, ONYX Events Chair Dee Parker, ONYX Co-founder Lesster Seays

next generation,” said honoree John F. Davis, the secretary of Presenting Sponsor the Florida Lottery. “I believe it is our duty to challenge and inspire them to greatness—greatness that will transform them from today’s youth to tomorrow’s leaders. I am a firm believer that providing students with opportunities for education and mentorship can change their lives from acceptable to exceptional.” The sentiment carried on throughout the evening. “An investment in the next generation is priceless,” 2021 Chair Dee Parker, the president of Parker Realty Group said in a statement. “So many young men simply need someone they can trust to guide them.” Parker and co-chair Nancy Port-Schwalb, the president of Schwalb Public Relations, along with the committee, planned a memorable event for the honorees and their families. Each year, ONYX Magazine selects Black men who achieve noteworthy successes that measurably change lives—gentlemen like retired Judge Belvin Perry, Jr., who is an advocate for higher learning. Perry received the Excellence in Education Award. Desmond Meade, the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition president, who is widely recognized for his work on voting and criminal reform issues received the 2021 Rich Black Vanguard Award. Alzo Reddick, Ed.D., a former Florida representative and founder of UCF’s Soldiers to Scholars Program, received the Publisher’s Award. They and Demings led an impressive troupe of 2021 award recipients. Speakers did not miss the significance of what the men have achieved.

"These are the accomplishments of influential men who understand why it's important to be influential," said Orlando Commissioner Regina I. Hill, District 5. "If you are not positively influencing someone else, you are not influential." She was followed by Orlando Commissioner Bakari Burns, District 6, who encouraged honorees to continue greatness. "These men are what men of honor are supposed to be: men of vision, strength, esteem and valor," he said. "Each person being honored tonight has worked to push our region forward and has worked to leave an indelible mark to those who follow them. You will eventually leave big shoes to fill. But the good news is you are leaving a blueprint that can be followed and improved upon." For the second year, Orlando Health supported ONYX Magazine's Men of Honor. Leaders there say they believe in the vision ONYX has for the community. “It is always a privilege to uplift our men of color in the community,” said Quibulah Graham, the corporate director of Diversity and Minority Business Development at event Founding Partner Orlando Health. Other sponsors were Presenting Sponsor the Florida Lottery; Honoree Reception Sponsor Gilchrist Enterprises; Event Sponsors Orlando Magic, McCoy Federal Credit Union, Orlando Downtown, and Commissioner Regina I. Hill, District 5, Clear Channel Outdoor, Concorde Career Institute, Downtown Arts District, and GGR; Program Sponsor University of Central Florida; and Entertainment Sponsor Mercedes-Benz of Orlando. Elcy Hernandez, the president of The Closer International, Inc., served as the event’s host; and Eryka Washington, the director of Communications and Reedy Creek Improvement District, introduced the honorees.

This Event Overview Has Been Sponsored by OUC

Founding Partner


Presenting Sponsor

Honoree Reception Sponsor

Event Sponsors

Program Sponsor

Entertainment Sponsor



We have made strategic decisions ethune-Cookman University’s (B-CU) on hiring talent that brings experience, mission is to develop global leaders a lifetime of relationships and conneccommitted to service, life-long learntions that will immediately impact the ing, and diversity by providing a faith-based University and its possibilities. environment of academic excellence and For our students, we have a new Vice transformative experiences. Under the leadPresident for Enrollment and Student ership of Interim President Hiram C. Powell, Experiences and a Dean for the School Ph.D., B-CU is strengthening its position at of Business. We will soon announce the many levels. It continues to follow the legaddition of the Executive Director of acy of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune through Alumni Relations. strengthening its academic enterprise, We have begun leveraging integrated faculty research, scholarship and creative Career Services to improve employendeavors along with programming that ment and graduate school opportuniare the hallmarks of a vibrant academic Dr. Hiram Powell, Bethune-Cookman ties for graduates. Bethune-Cookman community. University Interim President continues to turn out graduates who Welcome everyone to the Florida Blue make a difference in our world, and of course, that was Dr. Florida Classic. Bethune’s intent. They “Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve,” and Bethune-Cookman University is on the rise! 2021 has been quite a year of accomplishments at are encouraged to Return to Invest. As new and emerging technologies and deals unfold, Bethune-Cookman University. As you might know, those of us in Daytona Beach have expect B-CU to embrace and implement them in areas such as been blessed to be able to witness the amazing statue of Dr. Cyber security, artificial intelligence, robotics, climate change Mary McLeod Bethune before it travels north to Washington, and the environment. As we look to the future of our great D.C. for placement in Statuary Hall. Florida could not have had University, expect B-CU and its graduates to be significant a more seminal figure representing our state. Dr. Bethune’s contributors to the innovations that help solve the challenges legacy—the breadth and depth of her work from Daytona to of our near and distant future. On the financial front, we have restructured the debt for Washington, DC, across the nation and globally, is virtually our dormitories and reduced that amount by $198 million. unparalleled. I am proud to say our endowment has grown to $35 million, Master Sculptor Nilda Comas, who created this mastera $9 million increase in just two years. Looking forward, our piece, really captured the essence of our founder. Children goal is to increase the endowment to $100 million. and adults from our state, our country and the world will soon In her last will and testament, Dr. Bethune concluded, “I see our cherished Dr. Bethune. Let us hope her message for pray now that my philosophy may be helpful to those who us to “live harmoniously with our fellow men” will resound for share my vision of a world of Peace, Progress, Brotherhood generations as she stands proudly in our nation’s capital. and Love.” We have maintained a robust prevention plan for COVID None of this could have been accomplished without the that includes mask wearing, vaccinations, social distancing, passion and pride of the Bethune Cookman University faculty random testing and more. I can announce that in recent and staff. They do so to fulfill Dr. Bethune’s dream. COVID testing, we have had only TWO positive cases in a campus of nearly 3,000 Students.






“I am especially excited by our rise AMU is the Top Public HBCU for the in the Social Mobility Index ranking third consecutive year. The univerbecause it reflects our 133-year comsity moved from 117 to 104 among mitment to transforming the lives of Top National Public Universities; 20th to students regardless of their socio13th on the Social Mobility Index. economic status or whether they are Florida A&M University (FAMU) solidamong the first in their family to attend ified its standing as the highest-ranked college or are from a long line of Ratpublic Historically Black College or Univertlers,” Robinson said. “At FAMU, our sity (HBCU) for the third consecutive year faculty and staff recognize the promise as the University moved up 13 places to in every student and understand socireach 104th in the 2022 U.S. News & World ety’s need for the contributions of our Report Ranking of Top National Public Unigraduates.” versities. During the last year, breaking into FAMU was ranked 117th in the 2021 rankDr. Larry Robinson, Florida A&M the top 100 National Public Universiing of National Public Universities. University President ties or “Marching to the Top 100” has In another major move forward, FAMU was ranked 13th on the Social Mobility Index, which attests to been a priority for FAMU. It was the theme of a faculty and the University’s ability to transform the economic trajectory staff retreat this summer when President Robinson and other administrators stressed the need to improve since competing of its alumni and their families. “Moving up 13 places is a testament to our focus on stu- schools were not standing still. “The rise in our rankings illustrates what we can do with dent success and the dedication of our faculty, staff and stua focused plan and improved investment, both of which are dents to the tenets of our strategic plan, FAMU Rising,” said critical to our success. It is a statement about a joint effort FAMU President Larry Robinson, Ph.D. “Our intentionality between our Board and the President to establish and stick and teamwork allow us to focus acutely on opportunities and with key priorities,” FAMU Board of Trustees Chairman Kelvin more effectively address challenges.” Lawson said. “We want to continue to push the envelope and Under the University’s five-year strategic plan from 2017focus on ongoing improvement in our operating model as we 2022, the University focused on student success outcomes, continue our march to the top 100 colleges and universities most notably in improved retention and six-year graduation in the nation.” rates, faculty research, top-class infrastructure, customer service excellence and other key areas. FAMU is ranked seventh among HBCUs, behind private institutions Spelman College, Howard University, Xavier University, Hampton University, Morehouse College and Tuskegee University. Among the other highlights of the eagerly awaited and closely watched annual survey, FAMU moved up seven places to be ranked No. 13 in the U.S. News & World Report Social Mobility Index, a reflection of the six-year graduation rate of Pell grant eligible students. President Robinson views the Social Mobility Index as the truest indicator of FAMU’s ability to alter the economic trajectory of individuals and families for generations. FAMU ranks second among State University System institutions for social mobility behind Florida International University, which is ranked sixth.




CARRINGTON MCKENZIE WHIGHAM Student Body President and University Trustee Florida A&M University Carrington McKenzie Whigham is a third-year Broadcast Journalism major and Theater minor from Dallas, Tex. Whigham humbly serves as the student body president for Florida A&M University Student Government Association (SGA). In the fall of 2018, Whigham was elected as a freshman senator for the class of 2022, serving on the Elections and Appointments Committee (E&A). She has served as a First-Year Experience Peer Mentor and holds the title as Miss Kappa Alpha Psi. She is a member of the Original Beta Alpha Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., where she serves as the Connections chair. Whigham was selected as a Texas Senator Royce West intern through the Dr. Emmett J. Conrad Leadership Program.

MARCUS THOMAS Student Body Vice-President Florida A&M University Marcus Thomas is a Business Administration scholar from Pensacola, Fla., he serves as the senate president pro-tempore for Florida A&M University Student Government Association’s (SGA) 50th Student Senate. Thomas served as the Elections and Appointments (E&A) vice-chair and shortly after the E&A chair. Alongside his experience in leadership, he has written and sponsored six pieces of legislation. Thomas is dedicated to service and has made countless contributions in his hometown. He also serves the University as an Orange & Green Tour Guide where he actively recruits prospective students by showcasing his illustrious University. He is also a member of the FAMU Kinship of Big Brother Little Brother Mentoring Program, Inc.

LEONTE’ TUKES Student Body President Bethune-Cookman University Leonte’ Tukes is a leader, an organizer and a servant. He hails from the sunshine city of St. Petersburg, Fla. He is a senior majoring in Religion and Philosophy at the historic Bethune-Cookman University. As he dares to dream and seeks to make a difference, he has served in Student Government since his freshman year. Through his efforts and impact at B-CU, he now serves as the student body president. His motto in life is “When you Learn, Teach, When you Get, Give” Maya Angelou. He also is inspired by the quote, “Give our children some pride. Let them get their priorities straight,” by Principal Joe Clark.

KIYA MCKINNEY Student Body Vice-President Bethune-Cookman University Kiya McKinney is resilient, optimistic, and ambitious. She hails from the Waterfront City of Sanford Fla. She is a junior majoring in Business Administration at the illustrious Bethune-Cookman University. As she has made her mark, she has had the pleasure of serving in many student organizations. She now serves as student body vice-president. She is dedicated to following the legacy of our beloved founder, Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, after she received her B.S Degree, she plans to take over the corporate business world with an emphasis in branch infrastructure and marketing. She is inspired by the quote, “Well behaved women seldom make history,” by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. 34 ONYX MAGAZINE

CHRISTELLE HEAVEN HAYGOOD JEAN-BAPTISTE Miss Florida A&M University Christelle Heaven Haygood Jean-Baptiste is a Master of Business Management scholar from Ft. Lauderdale. Jean-Baptiste is an active member of Faces Modeling Troupe Inc., Big Sister Little Sister, Crowns with Curves, and Haitian Culture Club. This past summer she interned at HBCU PULSE, a media company, as a lead interim in influencer marketing campaigns with brands such as Weight Watchers, Bank Of America, Cricket Wireless, and Thurgood Marshall College Fund on behalf of the National Basketball Association. She served as the Miss Freshman Attendant; her sophomore year as the Miss Gold of the Beta Nu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and campus liaison.

KALEB ABRAHAM LEVARITY Mister Florida A&M University Kaleb Abraham Levarity is a fourth-year Accounting scholar from Bimini, Bahamas. While at FAMU, he has served as a resident assistant, a member of Big Brother Little Brother Mentoring Program, chief of staff for the Class of FAMU 2022 Cabinet, the National Association of Black Accountants, the Caribbean Student Association, the National Society of Leadership & Success as treasurer, the FAMU Connection as a university ambassador, Mister 1908 for the Beta Alpha Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., a Brother of the Omega Xi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Business Fraternity, Inc., and a member of The Beta Nu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, Fraternity, Inc.

QUNITERIA WOODS Miss Bethune-Cookman University Quinteria Woods is intelligent, resilient and tenacious. She hails from the historical city of Anniston, Ala. She is a senior majoring in Psychology at the great Bethune-Cookman University. She currently serves as the 68th Miss Bethune-Cookman University. Being inspired by Dr. Bethune’s trailblazing legacy, her greatest hope is to inspire the B-CU community to have pride. As she departs to serve, she desires to specialize in counseling children, families, and women empowerment groups as a Counseling Psychologist. She is encouraged by the quote “Take pride in how far you’ve come and have faith In how far you’ll go,” by Michael Josephon.

SAMUEL BOSTICK Mister Bethune-Cookman University Samuel Bostick, Jr., is inspirational, encouraging, and relatable. He hails from the beautiful city of Orlando, Fla. He is a senior majoring in Elementary Education at the grand Bethune-Cookman University. He has been blessed to represent his institution on the Royal Court, consecutively, the last four years. He now serves as the 11th Mister Bethune-Cookman University. As Bostick’s matriculation has progressed, he has been focused on cultivating his collegiate experiences into lifelong learning lessons and skills. Bostick will continue to be a role model among his community and hopes to inspire others to always remain true to themselves. “Invest in the Human Soul, Who Knows, It Might Be a Diamond in the Rough,” by Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune. ONYX MAGAZINE 35




In one significant turn of events, former Georgia State Rep. Stacey Abrams, a Spelman College graduate, constructed a plan that brought more Black voters to the polls and turned Georgia blue, which helped to usher in Joe Biden as president of the United States. Biden selected Howard University graduate Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate and she ultimately became the vice-president. People started to take notice that HBCUs graduate some of the most talented professionals in any business. Without HBCUs, there would be no Black middle class. And who knows how the course of history would have changed, had Martin Luther King, Jr. (Morehouse College), Thurgood Marshall (Lincoln University, Howard University School of Law), Oprah Winfrey (Tennessee State University), Keisha Lance Bottoms (Florida A&M University), not attended HBCUs? Today, 24 percent of STEM degrees earned by African-American students come from HBCUs. According to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, HBCUs graduate 40 percent of all Black members of Congress and Black engineers as well as 50 percent of black lawyers and 80 percent of Black judges. We created a short list—that does not even scratch the surface—of some notable HBCU graduates who you should know. Rich Black Bethune-Cookman University President and CEO of ONYX Communications and Media Group, Inc. Instrumental in raising funds for the statue of Mary McLeod Bethune on the university’s campus.


Rosalind G. Brewer Spelman College President & CEO of Walgreens. Rosalind G. Brewer is the former chief operating officer of Starbucks and the former president and CEO of Sam’s Club. Chadwick Boseman Howard University Film and TV actor and director best known for lead role as a superhero in the Marvel film “Black Panther.” Deborah A. Cole, Ph.D. Tennessee State University Former president and CEO of Citizen’s Bank, one of the oldest Blackowned banks still in existence. Marian Wright Edelman Spelman College Marian Wright Edelman is a children’s rights activist who helped establish the Head Start program.

Colbert King Howard University Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for “The Washington Post” and the deputy editor of the Post’s editorial page. David Satcher Morehouse College The 16th Surgeon General of the U.S., David Satcher and fourstar admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. Will Packer Florida A&M University Film producer and the founder of Will Packer Productions and Will Packer Media. He produced three films that earned $1 billion combined at the box office. Michael Strahan Texas Southern University Former National Football League Player and current co-anchor on Good Morning America.

Nikki Giovanni Fisk University One of the world’s best-known U.S. poets.

John Thompson Florida A&M University Lead Independent Director at Microsoft Board of Directors.

Katherine Johnson West Virginia State University A mathematician and NASA employee portrayed in the movie “Hidden Figures.”

G. Scott Uzell Florida A&M University President & CEO of Converse, a subsidiary of Nike, Inc.

Lonnie Johnson Tuskegee University An inventor and engineer, Lonnie Johnson holds more than 120 patents. He invented the Super Soaker water gun, one of the world’s bestselling toys. Barbara Charline Jordan Texas Southern University A lawyer, educator, politician and leader of the Civil Rights Movement. The first Southern African-American woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Booker T. Washington Hampton University An educator, author, orator, and advisor to presidents.

Keisha Lance Martin Luther King Bottoms

Thurgood Marshall

Oprah Winfrey



oo often, we don’t recognize the amazing accomplishments Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have made to further improve our nation—and the world. Talented HBCU graduates contribute to business, medicine, engineering, education, the list goes on…. However, it took some recent developments for the world to start viewing HBCUs and their graduates through a different lens.







hy Not Us: FAMU Football presented by Cricket Wireless, the second season of the acclaimed Why Not Us series from The Undefeated on ESPN+ and executive produced by NBA All-Star Chris Paul, premiered Thursday, October 14, exclusively on ESPN+. The new, eight-episode season will take fans behind-the-scenes of Florida A&M Football, one of the most storied athletic teams at an Historically Black College and University, as the Rattlers experience one of the most eagerly anticipated football seasons in school history. 38 ONYX MAGAZINE

Like last year’s first season of Why Not Us, which followed the North Carolina Central men’s basketball team, Why Not Us: FAMU Football examines the distinct culture, experiences and challenges of an HBCU athletic program, exploring what makes FAMU special on and off the field. The FAMU football program is led by head coach Willie Simmons, who grew up in a mostly segregated town 20 minutes from the FAMU campus. Simmons took over the Rattlers in 2017 following academic violations, sub-par recruiting and budget shortfalls that threatened to shut

down the program. In just a few years, Simmons has reshaped FAMU Football in his image, with the values befitting FAMU’s reputation of rich culture and tradition that include its incomparable Marching Band 100, legendary homecoming celebrations and a star-studded list of alumni. Presented by The Undefeated, Why Not Us: FAMU Football is produced by Roadside Entertainment, Paul’s Ohh Dip!!! Productions, and ESPN+. The Why Not Us series highlights the ethos of being a student and student-athlete at an HBCU.


ollege football's preeminent HBCU rivalry returns this fall when Florida A&M University and Bethune-Cookman University square off for the 41st time in Florida Blue Florida Classic history and the first time as members of the Southwest Athletic Conference. The 2021 Florida Blue Florida Classic will kick off at 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Nov. 20, at Camping World Stadium. Tickets are available now on Ticketmaster. The game will be carried live on ESPN3, and fans can relive the action during an encore showing later that night on ESPNU. In addition to gameday, the 2021 Florida Blue Florida Classic weekend will also feature a variety of events, including the Florida Classic Consortium Kickoff Luncheon presented by Florida Blue (Nov. 19, noon) and the popular Florida Blue Battle of the Bands at Amway Center (Nov. 19, 7 p.m.). On the field, this year's game will be the 41st Wildcats-Rattlers matchup to be played under the "Florida Classic" title and marks the 75th overall meeting between the schools. B-CU enters 2021 with nine consecutive wins over the Rattlers, however, Florida A&M leads the all-time series 49-24-1. The teams did not compete in 2020 due to COVID-19. Bethune-Cookman won the 2019 edition 31-27 in front of an announced crowd of 55,730. Overall, more than 1.3 million fans have attended the Florida Blue Florida Classic since the game made Orlando its permanent home in 1997—an average of nearly 60,000 spectators annually. The Classic also holds the Camping World Stadium football attendance record (73,358), set in 2003. Additional information regarding the 2021 Florida Blue Florida Classic and its events will be released in due course. For more on the game, visit FloridaClassic.org.



he holidays give us the opportunity to enjoy family, friends and most of all food, food, food! From now until the new year, almost every favorite relative will encourage us to partake in what I call the “SEEFOOD Diet.” There will be plenty of ham, turkey, pot roast, stuffing, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, vegetables, breads and desserts gracing the dinner table. It is very hard to turn down any one dish because someone will surely get offended—at least that is the excuse I always use. What should last only a couple of days becomes weeks of indulging in bad eating habits. But wait, it is OK that we splurge for an entire month because our new year’s weight loss resolution will surely save the day, right? If you are tired of making the same resolution and not sticking to it, utilize some of my tips to help you survive the holiday eating frenzy.

8 HOLIDAY EATING SURVIVAL TIPS: 1. Don’t deprive yourself all day and eat one big meal. 2. Drink lots of water with your meal, which will keep you full. 3. Double up on the non-starchy vegetables. 4. Limit those decadent high fat and cholesterol favorites. 5. Try splitting desserts with someone, like 1/2 slice of pie. 6. Learn to just say no and take the focus off food. 7. Don’t go back for a second serving. 8. Practice, practice, practice portion control. 40 ONYX MAGAZINE








hile the holiday season can be a busy and hectic time for many, it presents the perfect opportunity to reconnect with family and friends. But with the presence of COVID-19, holiday plans may look different this year as many families host virtual celebrations or small gatherings with increased safety measures. Regardless of how the holidays are celebrated, they are still an ideal time to check in on the health and well-being of older loved ones, especially during this particularly isolating time. Even though many of us may not see our loved ones in person over the holidays, virtual platforms are making it easier than ever to stay connected. While not being able to come together to celebrate holidays and major life milestones isn’t new for 2021, the impacts of isolation and loneliness are still very real, particularly for the aging population. As social distancing remains necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19, many are feeling the effects on their physical and mental health. In fact, earlier this year more than half of older adults (56 percent) reported feeling isolated from others compared to 27 percent in 2018, according to a poll on healthy aging. "The rise in feelings of loneliness and isolation in older adults (since the beginning of COVID) is alarming," says Lakelyn Hogan, Ph.D., gerontologist and caregiver advocate. "While home remains the safest place for seniors this holiday season, it’ll be more important than ever to stay connected with your loved ones and pay close attention to any changes to their personality or behavior." So, whether you are celebrating the holidays virtually or practicing a socially distant get-together, here are a few signs that could indicate that

your loved one may be experiencing the effects of this crisis and could benefit from a helping hand and more consistent companionship: Lack of Communication. Have they lost interest in socializing, either virtually or in person? Do they repeat themselves or struggle to find the right words? Do they forget what they are saying mid-sentence? Varying Moods. Have you noticed any recent changes in their attitude? Do they seem easily flustered or unusually sad? Are they leaving voicemails or sending text messages that seem out of the ordinary? Changes in Appearance. Do their clothes seem rumpled or unwashed? Is their hair unkempt? Have they gained or lost a noticeable amount of weight? Difficulty Concentrating. Do they seem disengaged or restless? Are they having difficulty keeping up with conversations? Do they appear to have trouble hearing or ask for details to be repeated? Memory Loss. Are they having difficulty remembering names of family and friends? Have they forgotten recent events? Do they seem confused or overwhelmed? Acknowledging these signs may be difficult for both family members and older adults, but accepting that your loved one may need additional help early on will increase the likelihood they can continue to age safely and comfortably in their home for years to come. For additional tips or to learn more about temporary or long-term care options, contact your local senior care specialists and facilities. ONYX MAGAZINE 41




hristmas is just around the corner, and everyone is excited to celebrate! However, what about Christmas celebrations in Jamaica? You might wonder. How does Jamaican Christmas differ from other countries? The decorating process begins early. Various colorful lights, such as "pepper lights," are dotted through streets, communities, and along trees, and elaborate ornaments, curtains, tablecloths, and place settings take up much of the space. Unlike traditional Norwegian pines typical of northern climates, local Blue Mountain pines are an excellent alternative. Buying poinsettias in advance is necessary due to their popularity in holiday décor. In the days leading up to Christmas, a host of holiday concerts, parties and balls are held in communities, city squares, and local churches. Many of these will last until the break of day. AnnMarie Williams moved from Jamaica to Miami in the early 1990s. She expresses that Jamaicans attend church to Jamican Jonkonnu Festival in 1975 bring in Christmas day with good praise and worship. "Once the clock moves midnight on Christmas day, we head to church for our every year Christmas mass," Williams said. "If you didn't already know, Jamaica has the maximum church buildings in line with rectangular mile withinside the international that's indicative of its very Christian roots." The Grand Market is by far the most important of all these events. From Christmas Eve through Christmas Day, sellers assemble in every town to offer last-minute gifts, toys, decorations, apparel, and plenty of food in a festive atmosphere. The actual celebration starts at sunset, with music, dancing, and partying lasting all night to keep the shoppers entertained. Linstead, St. Catherine, has the best Grand Market.


A masquerade parade is known as John Canoe, or Jonkanoo, was brought to Jamaica by their African forefathers. It used to be a familiar ritual throughout the island, but presently it's mostly limited to rural areas. Because Jamaica has more churches per square mile than any other country globally, Christmas is one of the most important holidays on the island. Many people will attend a midnight mass service after the Grand Market. Others will stay up all night parting and instead attend a Christmas Day morning service. Churchgoers dress up for the occasion, sing carols, clap their hands, and dance to Christmas music reggae versions. Joyce Terry have been in South Florida for over 50 years and love sharing her culture with her peers. “Every year, local vendors set up shop in the town's main square and make their best Christmas gifts, clothes, food, and candy treats available for purchase, Terry said. “Thousands of Jamaicans flock to this bountiful display to enjoy the festivities and experience the Christmas spirit.” Ackee, saltfish, breadfruit, fried plantains, boiled bananas, and freshly squeezed fruit juice or tea are part of the traditional Christmas Day breakfast. In most cases, dinner is served in the late afternoon. Curried goat, pig, chicken, and oxtail are among the main meals served with rice and gungo peas. Ham and imported turkey are served to the more affluent families. For dessert, there's sorrel, a favorite seasonal drink, and Jamaican Christmas Cake, which involves soaking fruits in red and white wine for months before Christmas. On Boxing Day, December 26th, the National Pantomime execution of The Upsies and de Downzies Dem by the Little Theater Movement has been a yearly festival of Jamaican culture, legends, and history starting around 1941. Also, in the evening, make sure to get the well-known dancehall show Sting.





I GOT THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT By Connie Schofield-Morrison It's the most wonderful time of the year, and a mother and daughter are enjoying the sights and sounds of the holiday season. The little girl hears sleigh bells ringing and carolers singing. She smells chestnuts roasting—CRUNCH! CRUNCH! CRUNCH!—and sees the flashing lights of the department store windows--BLING! BLING! BLING! She spreads the spirit of giving wherever she goes. And when she reaches Santa, she tells him her Christmas wish--for peace and love everywhere, all the days of the year.

CHRISTMAS IN LAGOS By Sharon Abimbola Salu It is ten days to Christmas, and also the last day of school. Ranti, a six year old girl who lives in the West African city of Lagos, Nigeria, sits in class and listens to her classmates describe all the exciting, far-away places they will visit during the Christmas holidays. Many of them will travel abroad for Christmas with their families. Ranti feels left out, and believes that her Christmas will be the most boring Christmas ever because she will be spending it in the city where she lives: Lagos. Because there is no snow in Lagos, she won't go ice skating or build a frosty snowman. However, with the encouragement of her class teacher, Miss Ani, Ranti starts a Christmas journal where she details all the amazing things that take place in the city of Lagos during Christmas.

CHRISTMAS IN FULL BLOOM By Denise N. Wheatley This Christmas, can they slow down long enough to smell the roses and fall in love? When savvy, up-and-coming floral designer Lauren Beal returns home to Maple Valley, Michigan, for her sister's holiday wedding, she's determined to be the perfect maid of honor. She didn't expect the best man to be the college crush she'd reluctantly left behind to pursue her Chicago-based dreams. Family practice doctor Mel Jennings always knew he'd remain rooted in Maple Valley to work for his father's clinic. He happily juggles his demanding practice with philanthropic endeavors that connect him to his tight-knit community. Sparks fly when he reunites with Lauren, the one who ran away. As they enjoy Maple Valley's Christmas festivities, Mel remembers how close they once were. But can they ever have a future? Lauren finds herself falling for Mel and suspects the feelings are mutual. Yet they're both pulled in different directions by work and family. Will the pair find a moment alone during the hectic holiday season to figure things out, or will they miss their chance at love once again?

THE GILDED ONES (AUDIOBOOK) By Namina Forna Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs. But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity–and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death. Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki–near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire's greatest threat. Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she's ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be– not even Deka herself.





hristmas is just a few weeks away. Don’t get caught without the perfect item for those special people in your life. However, it can be a challenge to decide what is perfect for whom. A few popular online Christmas list wizards identified the items that would be the most popular in 2021. Below are just a few for loved ones of all ages.

BABY ALIVE LULU ACHOO “Sniff, sniff… ACHOO!” Baby Alive Lulu Achoo doll sneezes and actually moves her hands up towards her face! When she’s not well, she makes sounds and her nose and forehead light up red. The doctor station tells you what’s the matter, and how to make Lulu Achoo better. By Hasbro

ORIGINAL TABLET PILLOW The Original Tablet Pillow is great for holding your tablet while you shop or watch movies online. The lightweight design and snap-on handle makes this a perfect electronic device companion. By LapGear

UNO® TRIPLE PLAY The UNO® Triple Play™ game is three times the fun, with this special unit that holds three discard piles and features exciting lights and sounds for suspense and surprise! Game play is like classic UNO®, but players may only discard to any pile(s) that are lit up on their turn. And if any pile gets too many cards in it, it may OVERLOAD! If it does, the LED display dictates how many cards must be drawn! By Mattell®

FISHER-PRICE® 4-IN-1 ULTIMATE LEARNING BOT This toy is a transforming playtime buddy for baby featuring 4 ways to play and lots of fun music, lights and hands-on activities. Each bot has its own fun for little ones to discover, from spinning eyes to silly popping balls to exciting crawl-and-chase play. Baby can play and explore each bot individually or build them up into one big interactive buddy with fresh music, sounds and phrases! And with Smart Stages® technology, you can switch up the learning content to best fit your child's age and stage. By Fisher-Price®

THE NINJA® NUTRI-BLENDER PRO WITH AUTO-IQ® This awesome buddy features a powerful 1100-peak-watt motor to pulverize tough ingredients. 2 preset Auto-iQ Programs combine unique pulsing, blending, and pausing patterns to take the guesswork out of blending. The Pro Extractor Blades® Assembly breaks down fruits, vegetables, and ice. Blend in your Ninja Single-Serve Cup and use a spout lid to take your drink to go.


Paid for by Val Demings for U.S. Senate




he holiday season typically invites charming images of families huddled together; loved ones in the kitchen, helping to create your annual holiday feast. The holidays are a time when people typically want to feel settled in their homes; for this reason, the last two months of the year are traditionally looked at as a bad time to list a property, and fewer properties come to market during the holiday season. But it could be the best time to list. People who have their home on the market between Thanksgiving and Christmas are viewed as being serious about selling. The same goes for buyers—which can be why the holidays can be the best time to enter a real estate transaction.

TECHNOLOGY MAKES HOME SEARCHING CONSTANT It used to be assumed that if you were selling your home, you should wait until after the holidays. The idea was that people would be too busy to prioritize their home purchasing process between Thanksgiving and the new year. Therefore, listing your home in the first few weeks of January would guarantee maximum traffic. With technology, a lot of these views are outdated. Today’s modern buyer is always looking for a home. With apps on phones and tablets that allow buyers to constantly be searching, home purchasing is a 24-hour hobby. People are working right up until Christmas and are constantly on their mobile devices— so why shouldn’t you throw your property into the mix?


PEOPLE WHO BUY AND SELL DURING THE HOLIDAYS ARE SERIOUS Serious buyers will do whatever it takes to secure a home. If someone shows up to your open house in unfavorable weather, they are serious. If someone comes to check out your home Christmas week, they’re serious. Maybe you won’t have as much traffic at an open house in December as you will in May, but you’re likely to host a higher percentage of people who are truly interested in buying, as opposed to people who are spending time in the nice weather hitting up various open houses.

IF YOU’RE A BUYER, THE HOLIDAYS MAY GIVE YOU AN EDGE Some traditional brokers still believe that sellers should take their property off the market over the holidays. So, if you leave your home up, that means you have less competition on the market. At a time of the year when people generally

become more relaxed, leaving your home listed is a surefire way to make it stand out and to reinforce to the public that you are serious about selling. On the buyer side, some buyers take a break from their home searches during the holidays to travel or to recharge before the new year. So, this idea of having less competition also works out for buyers—only the very serious homebuyers will be looking at properties, and with less competition, they’re more likely to be able to snag a dream home. Additionally, extra-driven sellers may drop their prices to try and get a deal done before the New Year, leaving them as much as 5% undervalued. One agent quoted a price drop between $3,000 and $12,000 during the holiday season.

AND YOU MIGHT EVEN GET A LITTLE FROM THE BANK Believe it or not, interest rates might be lower for buyers surrounding the holidays! While interest rates fluctuate, they historically tend to be lower during the holidays. Due to less demand for homes, sometimes lenders can offer more favorable rates to help a purchase come to term during a slow season for them. Speak with a real estate agent in your area. He or she can give you statistics about how similar homes have previously performed during the holiday months, as well as share how competitive your home will be when stacked up against what’s currently on the market. Good luck! ONYX MAGAZINE 49



ift Orlando is working together to strengthen the historic neighborhoods around Camping World Stadium. The organization shared upcoming improvements for the neighborhoods where many prominent leaders call home. How did the development of Camping World Stadium impact the neighborhood? Lift Orlando’s story cannot be told without talking about the renovation of Camping World Stadium. Orange County and the City of Orlando’s multi-million-dollar investment provoked an important question from the leaders tasked with managing the renovation: What if this financial investment could also benefit the neighborhoods surrounding the stadium? The five historically Black neighborhoods near the stadium, now called The Communities of West Lakes, are vibrant, proud, and home to generations of Orlando families. For decades, however, they’ve experienced disinvestment and infrastructure challenges that led to their isolation and pockets of decline. The investment into the renovation of the stadium led Orlando business leaders to reinvest back into the surrounding neighborhoods. From this, Lift Orlando was born in 2013 to work with resident leaders, nonprofits, and business leaders to strengthen the neighborhoods through mixed-income housing, cradle-to-career education, health and wellness services, and longterm economic viability.

WHAT CHANGES HAVE BEEN MADE SINCE 2010? Back in 2013, a massive neighborhood survey uncovered the desires of residents like Mrs. Shirley Bradley, a former Orange County school teacher, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1961. Today, in response to those requests, more than 300 units of much-needed, high-quality, affordable housing exist through Pendana at West Lakes and Pendana Senior Residences. The youngest residents can now access high-quality, holistic early childhood education and wrap-around care through the West Lakes Early Learning Center, the product of a joint venture between Bainum Family Foundation, AdventHealth for Children and the acclaimed Primrose Schools. The Jacqueline Bradley & Clarence Otis Family Branch Boys & Girls Club opened its doors in the spring of 2020. These new properties ushered in hundreds of job opportunities for contractors and construction crews, teachers, and childcare workers. An area of Orlando once known to contain some of the most run-down structures now boasts state-of-the-art facilities, including the newly-renovated Lake Lorna Doone Park.

AFTER ALL OF THIS CHANGE AND DEVELOPMENT, WHAT'S NEXT? While we will never stop innovating with and for the residents of West Lakes, the final piece of the 2013 vision is currently under construction. A two-story, 30,000-square-foot health and wellness center will open in fall 50 ONYX MAGAZINE

Residents of West Lakes break ground to build the Early Learning Center.

2022. The Heart of West Lakes Wellness Center, named by a committee of residents, will provide a new approach to health services for the neighborhood. The first floor will house a café, a co-working space, fitness studio, and community meeting rooms for events and neighborhood meetings. The second floor will be home to Community Health Centers, a federally qualified health care provider, which will bring affordable healthcare services such as pediatrics, obstetrics, family medicine, and same-day urgent care. Once completed, access to affordable health care and the supporting services that ensure a healthy quality of life will be just a stone’s throw from the stadium that started it all!

WHAT IS LIFT ORLANDO'S PROUDEST MOMENT TO DATE? For us, it’s watching a community thrive. Residents like Charlene Broomfield and her four boys, one of the first families to move into Pendana at West Lakes in 2018. Charlene leveraged the programming and resources available in West Lakes to create a bright future. Programs like the West Lakes Financial Wellbeing Center helped her take control of her finances and secure a higher-paying career. This ultimately led to her ability to afford her own home. The facilities Lift Orlando has helped bring to West Lakes are beautiful and crucial, but it’s the stories of the resident success that make us the proudest of our role in strengthening The Communities of West Lakes! How can people get involved in what happens in West Lakes? Supporters can sign up for a tour of the West Lakes campus, volunteer, and donate by visiting LiftOrlando.org.





n a rare opportunity, the Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune statue which has been created for the U.S. Capitol National Statuary Hall is available free of charge to view. Dr. Bethune has been chosen by the State of Florida to represent all of us as one of the two greatest Floridians in our history. The Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune marble statue is expected to be unveiled in Washington DC in February 2022. With only four weeks left to view the statue prior to her journey to Washington DC, the finished statue is on display at Daytona State College’s News-Journal Center in Daytona Beach. Admittance is free of charge every day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and tickets are available at mmbstatue.org. Groups and organizations, both formal and informal, are encouraged to reserve private exhibit time by calling the Daytona News-Journal Center Event Management: (386) 226-1904. Created by master sculptor Nilda Comas in Pietrasanta, Italy, the statue is a powerful, unifying, and historic monument for not only our community but for Florida and the United States. 52 ONYX MAGAZINE


The statue reminds us that with determination, resilience, and passion we have the ability to create positive change and make a difference. Dr. Bethune championed education, voting rights, racial justice and equal treatment under the law for African Americans and women. The United States Congress created the National Statuary Hall Collection in 1864. Each

state was invited to display two statues recognizing prominent citizens worthy of national commemoration. The Mary McLeod Bethune statue will represent Florida in the National Statuary Hall State Collection along with the Sunshine State’s other statue, one of Dr. John Gorrie, considered the father of refrigeration and air-conditioning who has represented Florida since 1914.


• First African American to represent a state. • First African American woman to represent a state. • First statue sculpted by a Hispanic artist, male or female • First and only statue in the U.S. Capitol dressed in academic regalia cap-and-gown. • First replacement of a statue in the U.S. Capitol by the State of Florida. • First statue in the U.S. Capitol representing a prominent Floridian and resident of Daytona Beach, Florida.



s part of the City of Orlando’s continued efforts to provide equitable opportunities for all residents, including young residents, the City of Orlando recently expanded the My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) program to connect more boys and young men of color with mentoring and support networks. To help run this expanded program, the city has hired Abraham (Abe) Morris to serve as manager. In 2014, the City of Orlando joined the national My Brother’s Keeper initiative and since then has been engaged in targeted efforts to improve life outcomes—including academic performance, employment, and incarceration rates—among Orlando’s boys and young men of color. In addition to MBK, the City’s Families, Parks and Recreation Department (FPR) has a long legacy of working with boys and young men of color through programs such as Parramore Kidz Zone, After-School All-Stars, the Recreation Division’s Recreation Outreach and Mentoring (R.O.A.M) program, City recreation centers, youth sports programs, and FPR’s Youth Employment program. In this new role, Morris will scale up these programs and guide the City’s investments in local non-profit organizations and individuals who have a long history of working to improve outcomes among young residents, creating a citywide coalition of partners dedicated to this important work. Morris brings more than 10 years of experience to this position, having managed a broad range of youth programming focused on health and wellness, suicide prevention and housing. Most recently, he worked for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, managing partnerships with government agencies and nonprofit groups assisting children needing mental health support. Additionally, he co-led efforts in the creation of Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services Office of Health Equity (OHE) and the Health Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (HEDI) Council. From these efforts, the State Council on Affirmation Action (SCAA)


ABE MORRIS’S FAVORITE QUOTE Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “Letter from Birmingham Jail”

announced Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services as the winner of the 2021 Diversity Award. While Morris has taken on progressive responsibilities, he lives by a social services mission and commits in taking direct action to break down barriers for those in the community. Morris is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and earned his master’s degree in Public Policy at Loyola University Chicago.

“Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word “tension.” I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.”





his drink, made from dried hibiscus flowers, is a traditional punch served around Christmas in Jamaica. It is tart and tangy and mixes up to a stunning shade of deep magenta. Add allspice and a few scrapes of nutmeg to the punch to bring some warmth to its slightly sour flavor. In a perfect world, sorrel punch is enjoyed with rum cake, a dark and moist version of fruit cake made boozy from soaking it in strong Jamaican rum. –The Kitchen

INGREDIENTS • 8 cups water • 6 ounces sorrel (dried hibiscus flowers) • 5 ounces sliced fresh ginger • 4 whole cloves • 1 cinnamon stick • 3 scrapes from a whole nutmeg (optional) • 1 cup Jamaican white rum (optional) • 1 to 1 1/2 cups simple syrup • Juice of 1 orange (about 1/2 cup) • 1 teaspoon lime juice • Ice • Orange slices, for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS 1. Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Remove from the heat and add the sorrel, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg if using. Cover and let steep for 1 hour. 2. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl. Discard the dried sorrel and spices. 3. Add the rum, if using, simple syrup, orange juice, and lime juice to the strained mixture and stir to combine. Transfer to a pitcher or punch bowl filled with ice. Garnish with orange slices before serving in ice-filled cups.

RECIPE NOTES Sorrel: The sorrel will become stronger, and consequently tarter, the longer it steeps in the hot water. Storage: The punch can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.