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FLORIDA A&m UNIVERSITY’S CAMPUS MAGAZINE

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LY G UVIEW M E H IN RE N T IG &S YEAR S D Y’ A E E D B N D R N U E U O F H J T ROYVON O , G L R L I UR E4TRA E H O T G STIC E S N H I A T D #JU

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FREE JOURNEYMAGONLINE.COM

JOURNEY APRIL 2012

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remember the first time I saw it. Tucked carefully between a campus map and a copy of my curriculum in a brown paper envelope, I would spend the four-and-a-half hour drive home to Atlanta soaking in the spring 2009 edition of Journey, scanning every inch of the 32-page magazine for a glimpse into the complexities of college life. Three years and 12 issues later, I am still in awe of this publication but for an entirely different reason. Only after spending endless nights camped out in the office alongside budding journalists, photographers, and graphic designers as we continuously mulled over every word and graphic detail, did I learn to truly appreciate its edge, indulge in its thought-provoking nature and stand proudly behind its unapologetic content and appearance. Simply put, Journey is more than the average student publication. More than an avenue for SGA aspirants, upstart rappers, and wannabe models seeking free publicity and more than a cookie-cutter extension of the university’s public relations department. It has always been and will continue to serve as an unflinchingly honest reflection of the university, its flaws, imperfections, and accomplishments. So to the critics and naysayers, we appreciate the attention and to our many supporters, contributors, and mentors we can’t quite tell you how much you’re appreciated. The Journey continues...

Kristen Swilley

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

What do you think about this issue? Tell me on Twitter @OhSoSwilleyious


Expl ore J our ne y P hoto Ed itor La Gre tt a J o h n s o n ’s wh i r l wi n d l i f e a s a New Yor k Fa s hion We e k inte r n. S he s h o ws y o u h o w t o t a k e t h e Bi g Apple’s s ty le s c e ne one b ite a t a time !

“As a fashion week intern you pretty m do all of the “b*tch work.” If you have e seen “The Devil Wears Prada,” picture me Anne Hathawa

CONTENTS

WORDS BY L AGRETTA JOHNSON DESIGN AND PHOTOS BY L A NORRIS BLUTCHER

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he night of Feb. 26 on his way to his father’s house, Trayvon Martin joined a long list of robbery v Martin Lee Anderson’s adolescence was stolen, Sean Bell’s happy marriage was stolen, Troy D freedom was stolen, and, on that night, Martin’s life was stolen. These are only a few of the many A American males whose lives have been cut short at the hands of itchy-fingered vigilantes and a criminal justice system. Chances are, if you own a television, computer, or have stepped outside of your house in t month you know the story of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. But only after facing this injustice directl learn to appreciate what this movement really meant. The weekend of April 6 sparked a deep interest in me to co the work – the work to steal the dream back and the work to move the state of Florida beyond Trayvon Martin shackles of modern-day Jim Crow mentalities. Our mission: Zimmerman’s arrest. Our spirit: UNSTOPPABLE. DAY 1 It is noon on Friday. We march out of Daisy Stocking Park through the campus of Bethune Cookman Univers onto the streets. As I look down at my already sore feet and around at the other college students who took time DON’T NECESSARILY M their hectic lives to make the four-and-a-half hour drive to Daytona Beach, I think to myself,“Are we“...YOU really HAVE TO BE SIGNEDwalk TO A M SO-H O T IM E S SQ U AR E L I NCO L N CE NTE R M ET RO LABEL TO BE A SUCCESSFUL miles?” ARTIST BECAUSE AS AN ECLECTIC GLAMGabe Pendas,ASYMMETRY SIGNATURE STYLE TECHNICOLOR INDEPENDENT YOU’RE ofusat ha student known as the Dream Defenders, think T organizer his spri ng’s m v e i s t heactivism coalition C o l o rasked a n d s p us a rkMAKING lto e w100 i l lPERCENT ma kOFeab y Pa i r kn e e -hig h bo o t s wit h so met hing S t a t e m e nt p i e c e s l i k e m y fur- c oa t m a k e 

Design & Photos By Raymond Love II

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10TTHHE HHILILL,12 14 I T BBAAD & 18 THHE 16

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Journey stylist David Marshall forces with some of DFAMU’s besthig h-lo w. re s s i t up or d ow n! sh ort to sho w ojoined ff t he leng t h and yo ur dressed students to highlight their personal style. What are you wearing? l

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annual HBCU awards. During his freshman year he decided he was going to pursue music and his degree at the same time. Harris has been wellreceived on campus and once performed one of his songs called “College Boy Swag” before a crowd of about 8,000 during Homecoming. “As soon as I came on stage and started rapping, it seemed like about 90 percent of the crowd stood up on their feet and started dancing. I never knew that many people vibe with me and from that point on I felt like I had potential to do something big in music,” Harris says. He later released a song called “Facebook Friends,” which was posted on World Star Hip Hop. The video has more than 150,000 views and Harris has never paid a dime.

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g if m y a p b s

“ g s th o a to e s o f in th f p o d in T is I

s h i n e i n a n y c o n d iYOUR t i oMONEY.” n . Wa l k i d o o r, a n d d e ma n d-Willie a t tBeema e n t i o n wae Throughout the past three years he has la your outfit! emerged as one of the most popular un- R

s i m p l e out fi t s p op . M a k e s ure y ou ha v e a s i gna t ure s t a t e m e nt p i e c e .

t is 32 degrees, the 1 Line uptown decided to stop showroom and behind the scenes during their fas after 9 p.m., and I am in a high-end Soho shop scouring show. I even got to meet the masterminds behind bins for a black, cashmere muffler, preferably Ralph Couture as they worked on their latest project, Sk Lauren Black label. Wrapped in my red, knit H&M Taylor California Eccentrics, but it wasn’t all glamoro As a fashion week intern you pretty much do a scar f, Michelle Obama-inspired winter white coat, and leather gloves I am freezing my ass off because mother the “ b*tch work.” If you have ever seen “ The Devil W Prada,” picture me as Anne Hathaway! nature decide to add snow to an already hectic day. For me, this consisted of running around all 5 borou Sound glamorous? Well, let me tell you; it really is. I was granted a rare fetching three $15 California spring rolls, sliced opportunity in Februar y – an internship at Mercedes Benz and lemons, a bowl of ice, and Perrier, all to be pla Fashion Fall Fashion Week! My journey started around on Marie Amélie Sauvé’s table before she walked thro 2 a.m. weeks before on an independent fashion news the door. The senior fashion editor would stay for site called Fashionista.com. When I spotted their ad for than an hour and barely touch the food I spent h interns amid endless fashion show reviews, I jumped at the gathering, but that didn’t make the experience any chance and wound up landing a gig with Navia Vision, gratifying. By the end of the week, standing in the s a Brooklyn-based production company, which specializes room as celebrity stylist Racheal Zoe, “ Project Run in fashion shows and photo shoots. While in New York, judge Nina Garcia, and Vo gue Editor-in-Chief A I got to network with people in the fashion world and Wintour actually felt quite normal. The internship present one truly daunting challenge. As much as I experience the type of things fashion fans dream of. For those........................................................................ thinking, “ What the hell is so special about fashion, while working I had to wear all black – not a fashion week?” Well, it is the Super Bowl of fashion! of color. If any one knows me, they know mixing hu Top designers come out and showcase their upcoming my specialty. So here are some looks yours truly tried Copyright 2012 by Florida A&M University. All rights reserved. This issue of Journey magazine was produced by the student season I spent the time in the Diesel when Journey I explored the city beyond the Br yant Park ten organization Journeycollection. with essential support from the bulk Schoolof of my Journalism & Graphic Communication. is funded through l

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signed artists in North Florida and performs regularly in Tallahassee. Harris is even featured on Yung Trap’s “She Thick” which has more than 500,000 YouTube views. “At first, I thought you needed a record deal to determine success in music but what I have realized is you don’t necessarily to be signed to a label to be a successful artist because as an independent you’re making 100 percent of your money,” Harris says. The young rapper says he would love to be signed to a label but does not want to approach major labels until he has the regional buzz he is looking for. Tanza Thompson, a FAMU alumna who has appeared frequently on “106& Park,” knows about the struggles of getting signed all too well. Like Harris, she also performed regularly on campus before appearing on the BET show. Tanza says she thought the televised performance would be her

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Featuring Vallery Agenor, Sierra Morgan, Brandon Martin, Michael Barnes, Rashad Benton, Jamil McGinnis, and Paige Jack

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t is 2002. Jermaine Lamar Cole is a 17-year-old German-born, North Carolina transplant living in New York City. When he is not working as a bill collector, he rhymes under the pseudonym Therapist and uses the 808 beat machine his mother bought him to transform his lyric-filled notebooks into songs. His work: Tupac Shakur inspired. His struggle: endless. On this particular day he is standing outside of a building in downtown waiting for Jay-Z to exit the building. After more than three hours, the producer walks out only to brush off the aspiring artist’s pleas to hear his sampled beats. That teenager, now internationally known as J. Cole, was eventually signed to Roc Nation. His story of initial rejection is commonplace and considered by many the way amateur rappers and singers “pay their dues” in the industry, but emerging artists are changing the game in the age of social media and self-promotion. Jacksonville resident and third-year broadcast journalism student Willie “Beema” Harris II has been pursuing a rap career since his freshman year and recently won HBCU Rapper of the Year in the

in a K ta th d b

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THE UGLYMASTER Un WORDS BY ASHLEY WILLIAMS DESIGN BY WESTIN GILES PHOTOS BY LaGRETTA JOHNSON MODEL AKILAH WALDON

FIND OUT HOW A GROWING NUMBER OF FLORIDA A&M UNIVERSITY STUDENTS ARE SKIPPING THE LABEL EXECS AND FINDING SUCCESS IN THE INDUSTRY ON THEIR OWN.

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OF DESIGN 5. FAMUNITED

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WORDS BY MORGAN GRAIN | DESIGN BY LAMONT HOWARD ILLUSTRATIONs BY WILKEN TISDALE the student activity and services fees, as allocated by the Student Senate of Florida A&M University. For more information on

every day, but MPION women’s big just playing ere shocked to Suspicions of nstrels? ed in the wake of

.......................................................

Journey or the Magazine Program, contact the Division of Journalism, 510 Orr Drive Room 3078, Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, FL, 32307 Cover Design By Chidozie Acey

Cover Photo By Alexis Calhoun On the Cover (L to R): Kyson Clark And Lucius Oglesby 

WORDS BY JASMINE MITCHELL

h s a to in s

Well Rattlers, it has been a hell of a ride. Through allegations, protests, accomplishments and embarrassments, we survived the national spotlight…and each other. JOURNEY reflects on moments from an exceptionally “interesting” year. n accolades for

al anti-hazing

b h e


E xp lo re Jour n ey Ph oto Ed itor La G re tta J ohns on’s w h i r l wi n d l i f e a s a N ew York Fash ion We e k inte r n. S he s how s y ou how t o t a k e t h e Bi g A pple ’s st yle scene o ne b ite a t a time ! WORDS BY L AGRETTA JOHNSON DESIGN AND PHOTOS BY L A NORRIS BLUTCHER

“As a fashion week intern you pretty much do all of the “b*tch work.” If you have ever seen “The Devil Wears Prada,” picture me as Anne Hathaway!”

CHECKOUT BEHIND-THE-SCENCES FOOTAGE OF GRETTA’S INTERNSHIP.

SO -H O

T IM E S S Q UA R E

P a i r k n e e-hi gh b oots wi th so met hing s h or t t o sh ow off the l e ngth and yo ur

T his spr ing ’s must have is t he hig h-lo w. D ress it up o r dow n!

ECLECTIC GLAM

ASYMMETRY

I

t is 32 degrees, the 1 Line uptown decided to stop after 9 p.m., and I am in a high-end Soho shop scouring bin s for a black, cashmere muffler, preferably Ralph Lauren Black label. Wrapped in my red, knit H&M scar f, Michelle Obama-inspired winter white coat, and leather gloves I am freezing my ass off because mother nature decide to add snow to an already hectic day. Sound glamorous? Well, let me tell you; it really is. I was granted a rare opportunity in Februar y – an internship at Mercedes Benz Fashion Fall Fashion Week! My journey started around 2 a.m. weeks before on an independent fashion news site called Fashionista.com. When I spotted their ad for interns amid endless fashion show reviews, I jumped at the chance and wound up landing a gig with Navia Vision, a Brooklyn-based production company, which specializes in fashion shows and photo shoots. While in New York, I got to network wi th people in the fashion world and experience the type of things fashion fans dream of. For those thinking, “ What the hell is so special about fashion week?” Well, it is the Super Bowl of fashion! Top designers come out and showcase their upcoming season collection. I spent the bulk of my time in the Diesel 04 • SPRING 2012 JOURNEYMAGONLINE.COM

L I NCO L N CE NTE R

ME TR O

S t a t e m e nt p i e c e s l i k e m y fur- c oa t m a k e s i m p l e out fi t s p op . M a k e s ure y ou ha v e a s i gna t ure s t a t e m e nt p i e c e .

C ol or a nd s p a r k le w i l l ma k e y o u s hi ne i n a ny c on d i t i o n . Wa l k i n t h e d oor, a nd d e m a n d a t t e n t i o n w i t h y our out fi t !

SIGNATURE STYLE

TECHNICOLOR

showroom and behind the scenes during their fashion show. I even got to meet the masterminds behind Juicy Couture as they worked on their latest project, SkaistTaylor California Eccentrics, but it wasn’t all glamorous. As a fashion week intern you pretty much do all of the “ b*tch work.” If you have ever seen “ Th e Devil Wears Prada,” picture me as Anne Hathaway! For me, this consisted of running around all 5 boroughs, fetching three $15 California spring rolls, sliced limes and lemons, a bowl of ice, and Perrier, all to be placed on Marie Amélie Sauvé’s table before she walked through the door. The senior fashion editor would stay for less than an hour and barely touch the food I spent hours gathering, but that didn’t make the experience any less gratifying. By the end of the week, standing in the same room as celebrity stylist Racheal Zoe, “ Project Runway ” judge Nina Garcia, and Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour actually felt quite normal. The internship did present one truly daunting challenge. As much as I love fashion, while working I had to wear all black – not a drop of color. If any one knows me, they know mixing hues is my specialty. So here are some looks yours truly tried out when I explored the city beyond the Br yant Park tents.


T

he night of Feb. 26 on his way to his father’s house, Trayvon Martin joined a long list of robbery victims. Martin Lee Anderson’s adolescence was stolen, Sean Bell’s happy marriage was stolen, Troy Davis’s freedom was stolen, and, on that night, Martin’s life was stolen. These are only a few of the many AfricanAmerican males whose lives have been cut short at the hands of itchy-fingered vigilantes and a faulty criminal justice system. Chances are, if you own a television, computer, or have stepped outside of your house in the past month you know the story of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. But only after facing this injustice directly, did I learn to appreciate what this movement really meant. The weekend of April 6 sparked a deep interest in me to continue the work – the work to steal the dream back and the work to move the state of Florida beyond Trayvon Martin and the shackles of modern-day Jim Crow mentalities. Our mission: Zimmerman’s arrest. Our spirit: UNSTOPPABLE. DAY 1 It is noon on Friday. We march out of Daisy Stocking Park through the campus of Bethune Cookman University and onto the streets. As I look down at my already sore feet and around at the other college students who took time out of their hectic lives to make the four-and-a-half hour drive to Daytona Beach, I think to myself,“Are we really walking 40 miles?” Gabe Pendas, organizer of a student activism coalition known as the Dream Defenders, asked us to think about the 06 • SPRING 2012 JOURNEYMAGONLINE.COM


purpose of the march. The words “Why are you here?” played continuously in my head as we completed the first 10 miles of the march.While cameras flashed and news reporters gracefully interrupted our “alone time,” questions were running through my head. “Will we be arrested?” “What are we getting accomplished?” “ But one will always stay in the back of my mind: “What dream am I defending? This march was inspired by the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala. during the civil rights movement. Nearly 47 years later, we have resumed our parents’ battle cry and carried this spirit through the streets of Sanford because, like our predecessors, even in 2012, we are treated as second-class citizens and governed under a faulty justice system. At the end of the day we walked to a juvenile detention center in Daytona Beach. The 40 of us held hands in a circle as we prayed for the young men in the center and reflected. At that moment we discovered another part of the dream. Just like there are hundreds

DAY 3 The Dream Defenders attend a local church where we are allowed to operate the service in order to spread our message. We are supported by the congregation and the members of the community who stand with us in solidarity for the arrest of Zimmerman and justice for the countless African-Americans like us who’s names remain unknown and cases stay unsolved. DAY 4 Monday, April 9, the real work begins. Around 9:30 a.m. we walk to the Sanford Police Department and hold a peaceful protest, an example of the “non-violent civil disobedience” that has been drilled into our heads since day one. For about seven hours we sing, chant and form a human barrier around a building that has served as a symbol of injustice, demanding its would-be inhabitants take action. That day we successfully shut down the Sanford police department, spoke with the city manager, held a press conference for the community and spoke with the special

of other Trayvon Martin’s, there are hundreds of juvenile detention centers being occupied. I stood there and reflected I realized that we have so little of the dream left to defend. For years we have fought for freedom, citizenship, and equal rights but our dream has been stolen. DAY 2 Since our journey began yesterday, we have received support nationwide support from public figures including the support of Jeff Johnson, an award-winning journalist, social activist, and political commentator that is also marching with us. My fellow protestors have made their voices heard on the “Tom Joyner Morning Show” and the Dream Defenders have been featured on CNN. We have now covered more than 21 miles with no clear end in sight. Filling the air with chants and soulful songs of continuing the struggle for justice, our march continues.

prosecutor on the Trayvon Martin case, admittedly more than I bargained for when I stepped on the bus days ago.. Marching from Daytona Beach to Sanford we encompassed the thoughts and actions of that old civil rights protest. We became a diverse network of students, alumni, youth and young adults from across the nation. As we walked the streets of Daytona, Deland, DeBary and Sanford in solidarity, the feeling was inexplicable. To play a small part in such a transformative movement was difficult to take in. Throughout the trip we were reminded of the number 40. Forty of us walked 40 miles 40 days after the murder of Trayvon Martin. But, it does not end here. When the buses return to campus, we sit silently in our classes, make our way across the Set and continue our daily lives, we will continue to build on our experience and lay the foundation for future activism. We will persist until justice is served, working tirelessly to defend the dream. JOURNEY • 07


Design & Photos By Raymond Love II

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Journey stylist David Marshall joined forces with some of FAMU’s bestdressed students to highlight their personal style. What are you wearing? Featuring Vallery Agenor, Sierra Morgan, Brandon Martin, Michael Barnes, Rashad Benton, Jamil McGinnis, and Paige Jack 08 • SPRING 2012 JOURNEYMAGONLINE.COM


JOURNEY • 09


TTHHE

1. THE BURN BOOK July 25, 2011 While Rattlers were passing their precious summer months at internships and classes, at least one person felt the need to (anonymously of course) troll the Internet by hurling insults at several members of the student body under the username @TheBurnBook.

2. MAN VS. MACHINE September 13, 2011 Most of us have fallen victim to reckless drivers and careless campus pedestrians. Impatient drivers want students on foot to hasten their steps and stubborn pedestrians dare drivers to hit them. This daily stand-off came to a halt when a vehicle accidentally struck a student crossing the street! Oops! The student did not sustain any serious injuries.

TTHHE

THE

Well Rattlers, it has been a hell of a ride embarrassments, we survived the nation moments from an exc ................................

3. DEATH OF ROBERT CHAMPION

WORDS BY MORGAN GRAIN ILLUSTRA

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November 19, 2011 As Florida Classic weekend drew to a close, students were shocked to learn about the death of drum major Robert Champion. Suspicions of hazing surfaced and The Marching 100 has been silenced in the wake of an nvestigation. Students were required to attend several anti-hazing workshops and campus organizations were placed under moratorium, barring them from membership intake until further notice.

4. DOWN WITH THE FAMUAN December 4, 2011 Yearlong tensions boiled over when, in the midst of FAMU’s hazing scandal, one of the university’s oldest and most powerful entities found itself in the hot seat. “J-school” alum and accomplished journalist Peter McKay wrote a controversial article incorrectly identifying Ammons as a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. inspiring the trending topic #AccordingToTheFamuan.

Tallahassee TRENDS

#AccordingtoTheFamuan #YOLO #Tightsuit #FAMUShouldveFired #JusticeforTrayvon #AndThenIHitMy...

10 • SPRING 2012 JOURNEYMAGONLINE.COM


10. CAMPUS ELECTIONS April 10, 2012

HHIL ILL,

M

M

BBAAD &

With billboards, limo rides to class, and free barbeque seemingly becoming a thing of the past, campus elections seemed a little dry. However, they quickly got very interesting. After two of the three student body president and student body vice presidential tickets were disqualified, accusations surfaced surrounding the ethics and constitutionality of the race. A re-election was held April 10 where the original winners claimed victory again. #OnlyatFAMU

9. CELEBRITY SIGHTINGS March 30, 2012

UGLY

e. Through allegations, protests, accomplishments and nal spotlight…and each other. JOURNEY reflects on ceptionally “interesting” year. .........................................

| DESIGN BY LAMONT HOWARD ATIONs BY WILKEN TISDALE

Several famous faces graced The Hill this year including film-maker Will Packer, civil rights activist Angela Davis, Grammy-winning artist John Legend who came to speak at the State of the Black Student Summit, and panelists Marc Williams, Eve Wright, Jacqueline Del Rosario and Marc Lamont Hill.

8. FSU WEBSITE February 14, 2012

..................................

5. FAMUNITED

The term “post-racial America” is one that has been hurled in the faces of African Americans for years, but even the biggest skeptics were forced to face reality when a few Florida State University students created an anonymous and racist website, fsuacb.com. The site was temporarily made inactive for an investigation but eventually allowed to operate under the First Amendment. .

December 9, 2011 In an effort to recoup our public image, several students and alumni uploaded videos on YouTube entitled FAMUnited spreading positive stories about what the university means to them.

7. We’re No. 1!

6. PINK SLIP RICK STRIKES AGAIN!

February 8, 2012

December 16, 2011

You can’t keep a good school down! In the 2012 News and World Report ranked FAMU No. 1 among public historically black colleges and universities. Washington Monthly magazine ranked FAMU as one of the “Top 100 National Universities” in September 2011, our second consecutive year making the list.

Students scheduled a protest after Governor Rick Scott “suggested” University President James Ammons temporarily step down during the hazing investigation. The rally made national headlines and produced more of the governor’s famously colorful quotes about growing up in public housing. *Sigh* How long ‘till elections again?

#ButYouGotThemConcordsThough #RHOA #BBW

FOLLOW: @journey_mag | @FAMU_1887 JOURNEY • 11


12 • SPRING 2012 JOURNEYMAGONLINE.COM


ONE THING ABOUT FAMU IS THAT IT’S A PLACE THAT FOSTERS DREAMS . t is one of those unseasonably warm afternoons in early March, the kind of fickle North Florida weather that has students donning an odd combination of hoodies and sundresses and Tallahassee residents dodging the heat for cooler accommodations indoors.

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About 100 people find temporary solace inside a lecture hall as diminutive film producer and Florida A&M University alum Will Packer answers a series of questions before a captive audience. The small crowd leans in and listens intently as he delivers some advice to the room of aspiring industry professionals. Packer has officially taken the film industry by storm. In September of 2007, the industry trade magazine Daily Variety selected Packer as one of their “10 Producers to Watch.” He was later listed in Giant’s “The Giant 100”, JET’s “Who’s Hot To Watch in 2008” and Black Enterprise’s “Most Powerful Players Under 40.” Packer’s first theatrical release, an independent film called “Trois,”grossed $1.2 million and became the fastest-grossing film distributed by an African American. His most popular films include “Stomp The Yard,” “Obsessed,” “This Christmas,” and “The Gospel.” Tonight Packer is hosting an advance screening of his latest film “Think Like A Man,” an adaptation of comedian Steve Harvey’s 2009 best-selling, self-help book “Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man.” The FAMU alum’s latest venture required the film’s creator to take a book written entirely in first person and develop six distinct characters squaring off in the game of love. As usual, on this day, Packer is testing the limits of convention. He could have taken an advance screening of his multi-million dollar film somewhere glitzier Grauman’s in Los Angeles, Broadway in New York, or enjoyed the company of his peers in Black Hollywood, better known as Atlanta. At the very least he

could have steered clear of a university that became the poster child of hazing months before. “They told me to take it to all these places, but I knew FAMU had to see it first,” Packer says. But, as usual, Packer took the unconventional route and held an advanced screening of his star-packed film in Tallahassee’s AMC Theater inside a decidedly unglamorous Tallahassee Mall. Packer decided to return to his alma mater for personal reason. “It’s good to come back and be able to show my progression. When I found out that FAMU was partnering with the Tallahassee Film Festival and that there was an opportunity that kind of worked within the time frame with what we were doing for my new film ‘Think Like A Man’ I wanted to be a part of it. I’m honored to be part of it,” Packer says. “I’m definitely a product of this great institution and I wanted to be a part of bringing positivity and highlighting all of the positive things about FAMU. If I can be a small part of pushing that message out and getting that message forth that’s exactly what I want to do.” Packer offers advice to current students who are trying to break into the industry. He says his time on campus was one of the keys to his success because unlike many institutions FAMU encourages what some may consider naive pursuits. “It can’t happen. It’s over. I was the only one. Sorry. Next question,” Packer says about his success with a laugh. “You know what? It’s all about a dream man. I think one thing about FAMU is that it’s a place that fosters dreams. There are a lot of institutions and entities in this society, and they’re not in the dreamfostering business. They’re in the dream subduing business, the dream submission business. But one thing about this institution is that it encourages you to believe in yourself. If you got a dream, it’s up to you to make that happen. The power and strength is within you.”

CHECK OUT BEHIND-THESCENCES FOOTAGE OF WILL PACKER’S FAMU VISIT.

JOURNEY • 13


I

t is 2002. Jermaine Lamar Cole is a 17-year-old German-born, North Carolina transplant living in New York City. When he is not working as a bill collector, he rhymes under the pseudonym Therapist and uses the 808 beat machine his mother bought him to transform his lyric-filled notebooks into songs. His work: Tupac Shakur inspired. His struggle: endless. On this particular day he is standing outside of a building in downtown waiting for Jay-Z to exit the building. After more than three hours, the producer walks out only to brush off the aspiring artist’s pleas to hear his sampled beats. That teenager, now internationally known as J. Cole, was eventually signed to Roc Nation. His story of initial rejection is commonplace and considered by many the way amateur rappers and singers “pay their dues” in the industry, but emerging artists are changing the game in the age of social media and self-promotion. Jacksonville resident and third-year broadcast journalism student Willie “Beema” Harris II has been pursuing a rap career since his freshman year and recently won HBCU Rapper of the Year in the

FIND OUT HOW A GROWING NUMBER OF FLORIDA A&M UNIVERSITY STUDENTS ARE SKIPPING THE LABEL EXECS AND FINDING SUCCESS IN THE INDUSTRY ON THEIR OWN. 14 • SPRING 2012 JOURNEYMAGONLINE.COM

WORDS BY ASHLEY WILLIAMS DESIGN BY WESTIN GILES PHOTOS BY LaGRETTA JOHNSON MODEL AKILAH WALDON


annual HBCU awards. During his freshman year he decided he was going to pursue music and his degree at the same time. Harris has been wellreceived on campus and once performed one of his songs called “College Boy Swag” before a crowd of about 8,000 during Homecoming. “As soon as I came on stage and started rapping, it seemed like about 90 percent of the crowd stood up on their feet and started dancing. I never knew that many people vibe with me and from that point on I felt like I had potential to do something big in music,” Harris says. He later released a song called “Facebook Friends,” which was posted on World Star Hip Hop. The video has more than 150,000 views and Harris has never paid a dime.

“...YOU DON’T NECESSARILY HAVE TO BE SIGNED TO A LABEL TO BE A SUCCESSFUL ARTIST BECAUSE AS AN INDEPENDENT YOU’RE MAKING 100 PERCENT OF YOUR MONEY.”

-Willie Beema

Throughout the past three years he has emerged as one of the most popular unsigned artists in North Florida and performs regularly in Tallahassee. Harris is even featured on Yung Trap’s “She Thick” which has more than 500,000 YouTube views. “At first, I thought you needed a record deal to determine success in music but what I have realized is you don’t necessarily to be signed to a label to be a successful artist because as an independent you’re making 100 percent of your money,” Harris says. The young rapper says he would love to be signed to a label but does not want to approach major labels until he has the regional buzz he is looking for. Tanza Thompson, a FAMU alumna who has appeared frequently on “106& Park,” knows about the struggles of getting signed all too well. Like Harris, she also performed regularly on campus before appearing on the BET show. Tanza says she thought the televised performance would be her

big break but soon realized you have to hustle harder than everybody else already established in the industry is to succeed. “If you want to make it you better get ready to fight for what you want, and if you’re not going to get up early in the morning or stay up late at night, and if you’re not going to work and go to school and record and make money to fund your projects, write the music, find the producer; basically do it all, then just stay home,” she says. Labels once relied on talent scouts or “A&Rs,” short for artists and repertoire, to go to night clubs and underground talent shows, looking for people who possess that ‘it’ factor that can sell records and sell out shows. FAMU has several aspiring artists, but why should any A&R listen to their demo out of the thousands sent each month? There are four major labels, so aspiring artists often begin the process on their own before ever stepping foot in front of a major label executive. Today’s industry has taken a different path from the old school. Now labels are searching for talent that already has a following, preferably a mixed tape and a few videos on YouTube. There are also several sites dedicated to promoting independent artists, including unsigned.com and Band Camp. The label execs and A&R’s job description is evolving because labels are going to the Internet to shop new marketable artists. Amir Windom, another FAMU alum and A&R for Atlantic Records has held executive and management positions at labels like Atlantic Records, Def Jam Records and Bad Boy Records and assisted in the developing and managing the careers and brands of artists T.I., Trey Songz, and Kanye West. He says he knows what it takes to make it in the industry and says that even with the new wave of online discovery of talent a good A&R will always be in demand. “Good A&Rs know to build a brand through music. They also know how to build a brand that can lead to business opportunities as well,” Windom says. He says job as an A&R is not at risk of being eliminated because of the internet and social media. “Being a great A&R takes more than having a great ear for music,” Windom says.“If you don’t know how to creatively articulate yourself and if all you can bring to a label is going on the Internet and type in people’s names and have amazing search skills you need to be working at Google

instead of a record label.” Windom says an artist’s abilities usually transcend how they choose to market them.“If you are really trying to get out there, you just have to get creative with how you put yourself out there,” Windom says. “Bottom line is that it used to be if we see talent in you we are going to invest money in you, but now it’s we are going to put money in you only if we can see an immediate way to make money off of you.”

J. COLE By the age of 17, Cole was posting songs on various internet forums under the name “Therapist.” He once stood outside of Jay-Z’s place of business for three hours before later being signed to Roc Nation.

WIZ KHALIFA Rostrum Records president Benjy Grinberg first heard about Wiz Khalifa in 2004 when the rapper’s contribution to a mixtape of various new Pittsburgh artists caught his attention.

SOULJA BOY In November 2005, he posted his songs on the website Sound Click before establishing his own web pages on YouTube and MySpace. By the end of May 2007, “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” received its first airplay and Way met with Mr. Collipark to sign a deal with Interscope Records.

BIG K.R.I.T

K.R.I.T previously released several mixtapes, including Hood Fame, with DJ Wally Sparks and The Last King, with DJ Breakem Off.

JOURNEY • 15


MASTER OF DESIGN

WORDS BY JASMINE MITCHELL DESIGN BY WILKEN TISDALE PHOTOS BY ALEXIS CALHOUN

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wo fashion fanatics were plucked from the masses to compete in Journey’s “Project Runway”inspired Master of Design competition. The pair only had one hour to create an original ensemble worthy of gracing this issue’s cover. The catch? They couldn’t use a sewing machine or a needle and thread. Their canvas? A plain T-shirt and bottom from a mystery bag. Their paint brushes? A hot glue gun, a stapler and scissors. Let’s see how these two artists mastered this challenge.

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THE Competition Cars race from the parking garage blasting 2 Chainz, flyers with nearly naked video vixens litter The Set, and students are finally free from a week of quizzes, tests, projects, papers and presentations. It is a Friday afternoon at FAMU.While some quickly find vices to ease their stress, two students chose to be productive. Both competitors began by deconstructing their T-shirts using scissors. Minutes into the competition, both designers realized that they wanted to incorporate multiple fabrics into their creations. While both Oglesby and Cromartie layered fabrics in their looks, their approaches were anything but similar. Oglesby created graphic shapes from various fabrics. This created a streamlined design that could pass for a screen printed T-shirt at first glance. “I’ve always been a big fan of prints, so I decided to incorporate them into the shirt while still leaving some of the shirt exposed,” he said. Cromartie used her combination of fabrics to add three-dimensional volume to the neckline on the front of the model’s top. “The hardest part of the competition was not being able to use the tools I normally use a sewing machine,” said Cromartie, who has been designing since high school. The designers devoted more than half of their time to making the tops for their outfits and used their remaining time to form their bottoms. Both bottoms, although dramatically different in appearance, presented challenges for the designers. Cromartie’s chosen bottoms were pair of black leather leggings that were about four sizes too big for her model. On the other hand, Oglesby’s pants were a combination of a banded skirt and a pair of printed bell-bottoms about four sizes too small and six inches too short. Among the many mishaps, both designers finished with only seconds to spare. The creations were

judged by Journey staffers, Gina Cherelus, Ian McRae and Kristen Swilley. The panel based their final decision on the overall creativity of the final look and how well the participants used the materials available. “In the end, Oglesby’s meticulous construction and ability to transform women’s wear pieces into fashion-forward, urban menswear solidified the win,” Swilley said. For more looks from his clothing line, Roy G. Biv, check out “Boys of Summer & Girls of Spring,” pg. 22.

Lucius Oglesby Meet Journey’s Master of Design, Lucius Oglesby. The 23-year-old AfricanAmerican studies and art history double major is currently the creative director for Roy G. Biv clothing company, a collection of rainbow-inspired threads . His winning creation was a marriage of multiple fabrics and prints. Equipped with a hot glue gun and a single pair of scissors, Oglesby remained calm throughout the competition, even finding time to make conversation with the judges during the 60-minute competition. Utilizing his background in menswear, Oglesby created a spring men’s ensemble. The daytime casual look included a T-shirt and a pair of shorts. The young menswear designer actually deconstructed two distinct women’s pieces and incorporated them in his final product. For the t-shirt, he fused fabric from a solid gray t-shirt, a gray and black cheetah print t-shirt, and a black and beige tribal printed wrap maxi skirt. With the accompanying shorts, Oglesby used a black, fuchsia, green and blue striped pencil skirt as the main component. He added cuffs to the shorts using fabric from pair blue, red and yellow floral-printed vintage bell-bottoms. “It’s very humbling to win, especially for something related to the arts. I enjoyed both designs,” Oglesby said.

NaKena Cromartie NaKena Cromartie is more than the face of FAMU. She is also a skilled garment worker. The Saint Petersburg resident and business student plans to enter the fashion industry after graduation. Cromartie’s finished product was a women’s spring look. Her evening ensemble included an embellished haltertop and a pair of black, leather hot pants. Not only were intricate details added to the neckline but the back of the shirt was carefully designed as well. The deep-v neckline Cromartie created combined hot pink chiffon fabric from a long sleeved shirt-dress and gold, sequined fabric from a short-sleeved mini dress. The back detail incorporated crossed straps with circular knots to fasten the shirt.

TO BUY THE WINNING LOOK , CHECK OUT WWW.JOURNEYMAGONLINE.COM.

JOURNEY• 17


More black women gain accolades for their performances every day, but are the roles these women’s big break or are they just playing modern day minstrels?

“Is she mixed?”

“She looks like she could have a lil’ bit of Black and Asian in her.” “Her curls come from her mother’s Brazilian side of the family.” This is not the type of conversation that could ever surround Florida A&M University theater professor, Marci Duncan. She is unmistakably, unapologetically Black. From her full lips, almond-shaped eyes and wide nose to her dark caramel complexion and voluptuous figure, many would consider her beautiful. But these common African features seem to be the main obstacle in her acting career. Duncan can not recall the number of times she has received a call from her agent about a role requiring her to depict black women in a stereotypical light. “Typical roles that I see are the ghetto fabulous girlfriend or a young mom or the strict, no nonsense mom. They are very urban, ethnic roles that only a black woman would be able to play,” Duncan says. After completing graduate school, Duncan moved to Orlando where she worked in the film and commercial industry for 10 years before moving to Tallahassee to take her current position as a professor. She continues to travel back and forth from Orlando to act when she receives calls from her agent about roles that she believes will be worth the sacrifice of taking time off and will not compromise a personal level of integrity. But throughout her decade long career, Duncan has experienced several cases of discrimination when auditioning for roles. The reason? Directors were simply not looking for a black woman. She admits to not having a wide variety of roles to choose from because there aren’t many roles written for black women. “Choices of work and variety are not huge,” Duncan says. She describes her situation as 18 • SPRING 2012 JOURNEYMAGONLINE.COM

Words by Morgan Grain Design by Chidozie Acey Photos by Gina Cherelus a catch-22. Sometimes it is necessary for her to take roles as an urban single mother or ghetto fabulous girlfriend because she realizes that telling stories through acting is what she does, even if she does end up perpetuating ethnic stereotypes. Duncan commends actresses like Viola Davis, whom she places in the same category as Meryl Streep, and Octavia Spencer for their ability to accept stereotypical roles and showcasing their amazing acting talents through them. “When opportunities present themselves, it’s hard to walk away. I think Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer have done an incredible job of coming out and saying, ‘Listen, I’m an actor. This is what I do. I would love to be recognized with these awards, but look at my track record. There are other roles besides slave roles.’” Recently Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis received much adulation for their roles in The Help. Spencer even snatched the best supporting actress Oscar for her character in the movie, Minny Jackson. She is only the sixth black woman to win an Oscar and joins the ranks of Whoopi Goldberg, Halle Berry, Hattie McDaniel, Jennifer Hudson and Mo’Nique. Although some consider this to be a tremendous feat for Spencer, it is difficult to ignore the type of role that garnered such attention and admiration from The Academy. Spencer plays Minny Jackson, a sass-talking, neck-swaying, abused maid that helps a white woman write about life in Jackson, Miss., from the perspective of the help. Critics commended Spencer for depicting a maid during an era of segregation and discrimination in the South. But how many African-American housekeepers, mammies, voodoo priestesses, prostitutes or urban angry, bitter and single mothers does The Academy honestly think


exist in present day America? There seems to be a trend in Hollywood when it comes to the types of roles offered to black actresses. Rarely do movie goers see a black woman play the role of an action hero or a quick-witted assassin or a woman who accidentally marries a CIA agent and helps him combat criminals or a successful career woman who struggles to balance being a good mother, wife and friend. “Screen writers fail to realize that the human story is universal,” Duncan says. “Why can’t we just be everyday people? Why do we have to be token? Why do we have to be comedic relief all of the time?” Duncan has been acting professionally for 10 years and has been in movies like “Just Another Day,” which airs on BET, and the Lifetime original film “The Fantasia Barrino Story.” “It frustrates me when I see a movie and there is not one black person. It’s just not practical. It’s not the world we live in,” Duncan says. She says many directors still believe there are very distinct behaviors specific to black women. “I think what society sees as a black woman is she is sassy, you can’t control her, she will flip out on you. And many writers don’t want to portray that with their characters, but that’s not how we all are all of the time,” Duncan says. Black actresses often find themselves settling for stereotypical roles in order to do what they love. “If you sit around and worry about that [the struggle] you will never work. You have to take it one role at a time,” she says. Duncan parallels the struggle of African-American actresses today to that of black actors, both male and female, during the minstrel period. At this time in American history, black actors who truly wanted to perform would paint their faces, exaggerate their features and degrade their people by perpetuating negative images of the black race. But it is now 2012. Is it not sad that black women who want to do what they love are being forced to settle for roles that do not provide them with opportunities to showcase their tremendous talents and abilities? Michelle Robinson has been in the film and theater industry for 30 years. She has acted in movies and plays and had reoccurring roles on the daytime soap opera One Life To Live as a principal. Currently she is directing the play Smokey Joe’s Cafe, which was performed at FAMU’s Charles Winterwood Theater. She says she finds it insulting when she is overlooked during an audition because the company or director was not looking for a black woman, especially not a black woman of a darker complexion. “It’s like you’re walking into a job interview and you are told that you’re not getting it because you are over qualified. You’re not being given the chance to prove what you can do because you’ve been pigeon holed into what they think you can do,” says Robinson. Being a tall and very striking black woman of a darker hue, Robinson not only has to deal with employers who don’t want a black woman, but she also has to deal with employers not wanting a dark-skinned black woman. “You could be dark and be considered gorgeous by everyone on the planet. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get that role. It’s a very unfortunate mindset, that something is being kept from you because of the darkness of your skin,” Robinson says. The story of the struggling black actress is nothing new. Over the years several high profile black actresses such as Robin Givens, Nia Long, and Gabrielle Union have spoken out against the discrimination they face when searching for multifaceted and diverse roles, but for some reason their outcry has not been heard. Terri Vaughn, most commonly known for her character Lovita Alizay Jenkins on “The Steve Harvey Show,” has even made a documentary called “Angels Can’t Help But Laugh,” which profiles 25 different black actresses and their personal struggles in the industry. Laughter appears to be the best medicine for women in the film and on stage performance industry. Kimberly Harding, a theater professor at FAMU,

has been working with on-stage production for over 30 years at several regional houses including the Manhattan Theater Club and an AfricanAmerican theater in New Jersey called Crossroads Theater. When asked how she felt about the roles The Academy continues to acknowledge concerning black women she said, “It’s hilarious, sadly hilarious. Almost like laughing to keep from crying.” And in her opinion what does that say about what they think about African-American women? “What that says?” she asks. Harding paused for an extended moment before answering, “We will always be second class citizens. That’s just how they see us.” Anastasia Mosby, a thirdyear theater major from Daytona Beach notes that casting directors choose actresses based on their ability to put people in theater seats. Unfortunately, black actresses do not appeal to the broader mainstream audiences. “I think producers and directors have a subconscious bias when it comes to casting films. It’s a big risk to break the stereotypical barrier and when millions of dollars are being invested in film, if there is a possibility that a film won’t be financially successful because of the cast, then they’re usually not gonna take the chance to cast a female lead that does not fit society’s perception of beauty,” comments Mosby. Mosby has been acting since her sophomore year of high school and although she has admitted that her biggest obstacle comes from finding auditions that are not specifically calling for white women, she does not feel discouraged by the lack of interest in black actresses in the film and theater industry. She commends Davis and Spencer for their courage and ability to open doors for younger African-American actresses. “I would love to land the lead role in a romantic comedy that was originally meant for a white actress. The lack of African-American actresses in film and on stage is not discouraging to me because it gives me the drive to push harder and perfect my craft so casting directors don’t have a reason to overlook me for a role.” Let’s not ignore the fact that there are white stereotypes in America as well. “Nobody told Charlize Theron that she was misrepresenting the white female with her role in Monster. Because people realized that telling stories is what she does,” comments Duncan. This is true. Acting is simply another form of art and storytelling. However, at the same time Charlize Theron is not always presented with the same roles time and time again. “If there was a larger market or if we demanded it, writers wouldn’t have a choice but to make films multicultural,” Duncan says. Robinson thinks that it is up to AfricanAmerican writers, directors and producers to change the way the film industry operates. “It’s not their responsibility to validate us. We need our own. We need our own networks. Not to just show black programming, but it needs to be controlled in a sense that there would be clear and fair representation of the real world,” she says. “White people are not the only ones that fall in love and have families and excel in their careers. You know Black people do too. And so do Asians. And so do Latinos.”

female african-american

oscar winners

BEST ACTRESS

2001- Halle Berry in “Monster’s Ball” as Leticia Musgrove

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

1939- Hattie McDaniel in “Gone With The Wind” as Mammy 1990-Whoopi Goldberg in “Ghost” Oda Mae Brown 2006- Jennifer Hudson in “Dream Girls” as Effie White 2009- Mo’Nique in “Precious” as Mary Lee Johnstom 2012- Octavia Spencer in “The Help” as Minny Jackson JOURNEY MATTERS • 19


Powell,

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hree middle-aged women are seated in the lobby laughing and swapping the past week’s gossip while a girl of about 10 shifts uncomfortably under a hooded dryer, eagerly anticipating the moment when she can escape the heated contraption. Another woman in her early 20s has just risen from a stylist’s rotating chair to catch yet another glimpse of her new ‘do. As she smiles back at her beautician, her satisfaction is clear. It is another busy weekend at Next Level Full Service Salon, as women of different complexions, generations and occupations prepare for the week ahead. If the atmosphere alone does not give its patrons the feeling of being in the comfort of their own homes, then the new location of the salon will definitely set the tone. Next Level previously opened its doors on the south side of Tallahassee on South Adams Street. However, the salon’s new location which opened up in 2009 is nestled quietly on Mahan Drive. The white and red building’s exterior is that of a contemporary home. Inside, five beauticians trim, curl and brush in four separate suites to keep their customers looking good on the outside, to feel just as wonderful on the inside. This is only a snippet of the salon owner, Jolanda “Jo-Jo” Powell’s vision. Powell, who is no stranger to hard work, opened up Next Level in 2001. The Lively Tech alumna admits that going to cosmetology school was not in her original game plan. “I went to college for a lit20 • SPRING 2012 JOURNEYMAGONLINE.COM

tle while, but I realized that it wasn’t what I really wanted,” she says. “I really enjoy what I do. Cosmetology is my passion.” While very pleased with the success of her salon she continues to strive towards her ultimate vision for the salon. “My dream is to provide a center for advance education. I would also like there to be commission for the stylist,” she says. Currently there are classes available at the salon but only during select times of the year. In May 2012, Powell was presented with the opportunity to literally take her salon to the “next level” and help someone in her community at the same time. Next Level entered the Tallahassee Top Salon competition, which Tallahassee Magazine hosted for the second time this year. During the contest, local salons were responsible for selecting deserving women in the community who could use a makeover and providing them with a new, professional look. “I found out about the contest because I heard some of my students talking about it the year before but I was too late to enter”, says Powell, who also taught at Lively Tech. Upon missing it the previous year, she highly anticipated entering the contest this year. “I thought it would be a great opportunity for exposure,” Powell says. Grateful for the opportunity to showcase the talent of the salon Powell assembled a beauty dream team which included her co-


workers, stylists Angelica McDonald and Kristen Cowan. “We entered to win,” says McDonald, “there’s a difference between just entering a contest and entering to win.” The trio’s task of selecting a model for the makeover for was not difficult at all. “We wanted someone who one, was deserving and two, someone we could impact. I pretty much had a person in mind,” the Powell says. Hubbard and her pastor both had Juanita Barsh in mind. “She’s such a giving person and we really wanted to get the opportunity to be a blessing to her,” Powell says. Juanita, who attends the same church could not have been more excited. Although unemployed, the cheerful giver still managed to help people in her community. Grateful that she had been selected for a makeover that would ultimately get her back into the workforce, Juanita was even more elated about being able to help her fellow church member. “She said she just wanted to be a blessing to the salon,” Powell says. Her loving personality made her a great candidate for the contest, but only Next Level could make Juanita a winner. The trio took Juanita’s dull and lackluster look and completely vamped it up. “Angelica and I did her hair and Kristen did her make-up and put together her outfit,” Powell says. “Juanita was very confident throughout the whole thing.”

“The look was really cute,” McDonald says. “She wore a blazer with a dress so she could go from a work settling to a social setting effortlessly.” Next Level’s extravagant makeover took home the title as the 2012 best salon. “Juanita said she knew we would win, but I was like ‘“Are you kidding me?!’” Powell says. “It was all God,” says McDonald, “we couldn’t have done it without Him.” Hubbard says the fact that Next Level salon was the only black salon in the contest was not intimidating at all. “We were the only black salon and we were the smallest salon. It was actually pretty cool. I knew a lot of the owners so I didn’t feel like an outsider. I didn’t look at it as ‘we’re the only black salon’,” Powell says. She grasped the event as an opportunity to “knock down doors” by exposing their salon and talent to a different audience. After winning the contest Juanita has re-entered the workforce with a new job. Though she had plenty of confidence before the competition, with her new look the generous giver is now even considering doing modeling. To see the before and after photos of Juanita visit www.topsalontlh. com. If you are interested in making an appointment at Next Level Full Service Salon call 850-222-2644.

The results? A very sleek and sophisticated looking woman ready to take on the business world.

Powell JOURNEY • 21


Make-up BY Wandly Joseph

Hair BY Delmarshae Walker Female stylist Robyn Mowatt Male stylist David Marshall

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JOURNEY • 27


Man Under Fire

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Kappa Kappa Psi President Jamaal Nicholas opens up about dismissed director Julian White and the state of the band. l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l

Words By Kristen Swilley Design By Wilken Tisdale

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ressed in a pristine white and gold uniform, the seasoned director steps up to the podium, hoists a baton in the air before a crowd of nearly 60,000 fans, gives a reassuring glance over his silverframed spectacles, and a wave of sound washes over Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium as the world-famous “Marching 100” begins what would be its last musical performance of the year. Before the night is over a series of events take one band member’s life, drag the university into a national hazing scandal, and tarnish Julian White’s once pristine reputation. Robert Champion, a 26-year-old drum major who was slated to become head drum major in the fall, died as a result of a hazing ritual known as “crossing bus C.” His death was ruled a homicide. White, a graduate of Florida A&M University and seasoned staff member who was twice named university “Teacher of the Year,” was dismissed four days after Champion’s death leaving students like Jamaal Nicholas wondering if White and “The

“He was made a scapegoat. I understand that’s how the world works. I just hope people remember him for more than this incident.” - Jamaal Nicholas Hundred” will ever be the same. The sound of Nicholas’ constant foot tapping reverberates off of the linoleum floor as he sits quietly on the second level of the Foster-Tanner music building. Wearing a faded ‘Marching 100’ T-shirt, orange jogging pants, and white sneakers the third-year music education student is preparing for the final audition of his college career, one that will secure his scholarship for the upcoming academic year. His eyes are fixated on a black binder containing his musical selection. It’s a simple audition, a B-flat scale played twice on his tuba without major error, a no-brainer for the sousaphone assistant section leader, but still important. As he waits for the judging panel to call him in, he recalls his earliest memory of White. “I met Dr. White at pre-drill during the summer of 2009. At the time he seemed intimidating, I just remember being a freshman and him seeming like this larger-than-life character,” he says. After joining Kappa Kappa Psi, the same national honorary band fraternity White is also a member of, Nicholas says he truly began to view the seasoned band director in a different light. After visiting White’s home and spending time with him outside of band activities, Nicholas says his passion for “The Hundred” extended far beyond a title or prestige. “Not only is this his livelihood, but it’s a part of his life. Because he has been at FAMU for 40 plus years, it’s got to be taking an emotional toll. It’s probably pretty devastating to him,” Nicholas says. White is currently on paid administrative leave. Since his initial dismissal, he has continued to bring forth evidence of

his anti-hazing efforts. Two decades ago, the now-ousted director of the Florida A&M band warned in a letter about the dangers of hazing among the famed “Marching 100” ensemble, saying “it would be very difficult for the university and the band should someone become killed or hurt.” All members of the band are also required to sign an anti-hazing agreement and attend seminars and Nicholas says the ousted director took every opportunity to enforce the university’s non-hazing policy. In a Dec. 1 interview with CBS’ Mark Strausman, White says he had dismissed more than 100 students because of hazing throughout the years and did everything he could to eradicate the band’s hidden culture to no avail. Just 10 days before Champion’s death White suspended 26 band members for hazing rituals which included paddling. “I think the university could have allowed the band not to perform at the Florida Classic,” White told Strausman. However, he said his warnings were ignored and that “there was never any question that the band would not perform.” However, a special entitled “Crossing the Line for Camaraderie” recently aired on ESPN “Outside The Lines” which appears to show two conflicting stories of White’s knowledge and handling of previous hazing incidents. Nicholas watched the special when it aired. He says he sympathizes with Champion’s family and the band members that have fallen victim to hazing but encourages critics to consider the role of personal accountability. “This is a terrible thing that happened. No one is trying to say that it’s not, but there’s nothing one person can do to control 400 adults,” Nicholas said. “ I believe Dr. White did everything he could. He was made a scapegoat. I understand that’s how the world works. I just hope people remember him for more than this incident.”

JOURNEY • 29


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Journey Magazine Lifestyle Issue April 2012