Huami Magazine Charleston July/August 2023

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The Chatman Group

CHARLESTON July/August 2023 Vol. 2 Issue 5 ®

Defeating The Distractions

I’m a firm believer in God-given purpose and assignments. Huami Magazine is a result of answered prayers and isolated conversations with God. I could hear God’s voice mainly due to my ability to block out any unnecessary noise and ultimately focus on what I was seeking God for. I had a yearning for something more, something greater than myself, but I knew I didn’t possess the ability to visualize it by my own efforts. I had no choice but to rest on what I needed for God to show me.

The experience I just described exemplifies the power of defeating distractions blocking and holding our blessings and purposes hostage. Distractions are often present as a means to prevent us from seeing or hearing the things needed to grow. Distractions are only effective when we allow them to be. Even more, distractions have no power unless we give them power.

What are you allowing to have relevance in your life that serves as a distraction? What are you giving energy and attention but serves you no purpose or benefit? If you can identify what is fruitful and what is not in your life, you will take the first step in clearing the path to what is purposed for you—your destiny.

Distractions can present themselves in various ways and forms. Distractions can be friends or associates. Distractions often appear in text messages, emails, and other places such as social media platforms. Distractions can begin as small meaningless occurrences but can grow into things that consume your time and affect how you act, move, and live.

We must eliminate distractions to reach our goals and live more purposeful lives. We must focus on the things that help us become the most excellent versions of ourselves. While many things in life can be reproduced and duplicated, time isn’t one of them, and with the time that life offers us, we must make the most of it.

My best advice is for you to live your life to the fullest potential by identifying and defeating distractions.

4 Tamara
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JULY/AUGUST 2023 CHARLESTON CONTENTS Vegan Food Done Right Cheryl Gibbs 6 On The Cover Also Featured 22 32 10 Kiing Le Learn more about how he has stepped out and created a new flavor of Go-Go in the Queen City and surrounding areas. Charlotte, NC Dr. Erika Hendrix Emerging Leaders Consultants is designed to help minisitries gain insight on operating in todays element. Greensboro, NC Black Excellence on Display The Huami Magazine Awards Gala showcased black excellence from around the United States. Greensboro, NC UniKorn-ish
Slade Uncle Reggie’s Catering Reggie Rhodes Liberty Juneteenth Celebration Sandra Bartell 36 28 38 Huami Magazine Cutest Baby Robert Duece Austin 21

The Chatman Group

Shakeima Clark Chatman’s mission is to help every individual to possess land, as God has promised them.

Shakeima Clark Chatman is the owner of The Chatman Group and a broker associate with Keller Williams Realty. In her career, she has earned a reputation for being a woman of action and has helped countless families realize the American dream of home ownership throughout the Lowcountry community of Charleston, SC.

The Chatman Group with Keller Williams Realty is a team of black female real estate agents who help individuals build wealth by selling, buying, or investing in real estate throughout South Carolina and North Carolina.

A native of Charleston, Shakeima is a mother and a 1996 graduate of South Carolina State University and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education. Before starting her real estate career, Shakeima served in various other fields, including education, corporate training, and software consulting. Shakeima’s real estate career also affords her the flexibility to develop and nurture her true passion and vision, which is mentoring teenage girls through her nonprofit organization, D.I.V.A.S In Training. Her organization’s mission is to bring out moral excellence in teenage girls so that they can aspire for success, power, and honor. Their Dream, Sparkle, Shine Conference has inspired and empowered over 1000 girls in just six years.

Shakeima’s journey of becoming an accomplished real estate agent began in 2011 after a career in software consulting ended. She says, “I was licensed in June 2011 and took a leap of faith in December of the same year. I quit my corporate job and jumped into real estate fulltime. I gave myself six months to make it work; however, it took me nine months to get to my first sale. Twelve years later, I’m still here.”

Photos Provided by exPROsures Photography Kim Craven Photography and Journey Grace Photography

Shakeima believes in the power of connecting with members of her community. In the Spring of 2017, she released her first book, Possess the Land: The Believer’s Guide to Home Buying. In the Summer of 2019, she released the Possess the Land Home Buyer Workshop. She has hosted an Affordable Housing Town Hall Meeting to address the shortage of affordable housing in Charleston and the surrounding area.

When asked what she loves most about her career, Shakeima says it’s the opportunity to help buyers and sellers realize their real estate goals. “I get joy helping a first-time buyer purchase their first property. I also find joy in helping clients use their equity to upgrade to their dream home. Additionally, when I can help families’ close chapters in their lives by settling the estate of a loved one, or help a couple move on peacefully after a divorce, and even assist clients with moving on to the next chapter in their lives in another city; I know that I am operating in my purpose,” she shares.

“As a kid, I didn’t know that the place I held so dear was a rental for my grandmother. She had rented the same home for over 30 years until her landlord died. After the death of her landlord, she had to move after the home was sold, causing us to lose all our family memories.
I vowed that that would never be my story.”

The lineage of strong black women in Shakeima’s family, she says, has had the most significant impact on her life. “My mother, Dianna Clark, had me at 17 years old, but she never allowed being a teenage mother to stop her from succeeding. I grew up watching her constantly improve herself and strive for the next level, to her about to enter retirement as a Systems Administrator for a Fortune 500 Company. My grandmothers, both of them, did not have a high school diploma, yet they were some of my greatest teachers. My maternal grandmother, Edna Singleton, was one of my biggest cheerleaders and always made me believe I could do anything. My paternal grandmother, Mattie Tell, was the first entrepreneur I knew. She never looked for a handout. If there wasn’t an opportunity, she created one. Growing up with these strong examples, failure and mediocrity was never an option,” Shakeima confesses.

Shakeima continues to describe how her grandmother, Edna Singleton, impacted her life. “As a little girl, my grandmother’s house always held memories for me. It was the place where my family gathered for every holiday and Sunday dinner. Her home was where I spent carefree summers with my cousins growing up. As a kid, I didn’t know that the place I held so dear was a rental for my grandmother. She had rented the same home for over 30 years until her landlord died. After the death of her landlord, she had to move after the home was sold, causing us to lose all our family memories. I vowed that that would never be my story; I would ensure that I left an inheritance for my family and help others do the same.”

As one can imagine, Real estate can be a very stressful business. Shakeima shares a few of them, from dealing with all the complexities of a transaction and managing client’s expectations and emotions during the process to consistently ensuring that you have a constant flow of business. “The biggest challenge that I have faced is adapting to the economic environment and riding the waves and rollercoasters of the real estate market. I’ve managed them by always staying current on what is happening in the market, adapting as needed, and being wise with my expenses. Diversifying my income has also been beneficial. In addition to my real estate team, I have a credit repair and a real estate coaching business,” she shares. Shakeima practices what she preaches as she owns a rental property also.

As life continues for Shakeima, she says her goal is to grow her team and steer them away from the routine of conducting day-to-day transactions. She also plans to focus more on marketing for her team and developing agents within The Chatman Group. Doing so, she says, will allow her to focus more on coaching and speaking and helping real estate agents grow their businesses. “I see myself on stages impacting agents’ lives across the nation,” she says.

To learn more about Shakeima and The Chatman Group, please visit their website.


June 9th, 2023

Marriott Hotel - Downtown Greensboro, NC Charleston - July/August 2023 10
Photos Provided by Still Shots Photography
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Charleston - July/August 2023 19 Charleston - July/August 2023 20 Eric Watson Community Leader Honoree Sherrika Myers Every 1 Voice Matters Huami Magazine Community Awards Gala 2023

To submit photographs to be placed in the Huami Magazine Cutest Baby feature, please send a detailed email to

The son of Staci Simms and Anthony Austin
Cutest Baby MAGAZINE Robert Duece Austin

are all Iconic..... That’s the Truth”

Are you looking for new music to add to your playlists? If so, then you must consider Charlotte, NC, very own Kiing Le and the Iconic Truth Band. Iconic Truth Band has the “I.T.” factor capturing a unique and infectious Go-Go vibe. While displaying various components of percussion and vocal excellence, audiences will always be enlightened and entertained.

Born and raised in South East Washington, DC, Kiingi, a natural neo-soul artist, moved to North Carolina in his thirties to pursue music. Surprisingly, he didn’t start as a go-go artist; Kiing was pursing other interests. He was a personal trainer and owned a company, Get Fit For A King. Soon his focus would change, or more so, get in alignment with his true passion for music.

Kiing’s pursuit of music grew while living in Charlotte. He joined a few R&B bands as a lead vocalist. This was his platform until a friend took him to see a go-go band in Charlotte. After attending a few of their shows, Kiing auditioned to be a vocalist, but he didn’t make the cut. Determined to succeed, he didn’t let that stop him and eventually earned the role of the band’s talker. He says, a talker is like an orchestrator; they give shoutouts and help boost the crowd’s energy. “If you know the talker and the talker knows you, you’re popular.” From the platform of band talker, everything started to fall into place for Kiing.

He would stay with that particular band for nearly eight years before leaping to do his own thing. Thus the birth of The Iconic Truth Band happened. Launched in 2020, Iconic Truth started with Kiing, his cousin Darnell, and Keena Thompson. The band chose the name ‘Iconic Truth’ because it genuinely reflects their energy. Kiing says his mentee told him, “You all are iconic, and that’s the truth”. The group was excited about the opportunity to be a fresh new face on the band scene and a new voice for Go-Go.

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Like anything else that starts from scratch, there were some hurdles and obstacles the band had to endure. Kiing says, “It was a struggle at first. We would practice in a little section of my home. We had different artists moving in and out, but everything eventually fell into place.”

At one point, Kiing was ready to give it all up. When he started Iconic Truth, it took a toll on his family because of the time and focus he was putting into the band. However, after hearing his music on the radio and his brother’s constant encouragement, he was motivated to continue the journey. He, unfortunately, lost his mother in 2022, but before she passed away, she gave him a folder with his complete bio of work that he did in D.C. When he asked why, she said, “It’s yours.” He says that was her way of reminding him who he was. “You’re Kiing Le, don’t stop; keep it going. She was so proud of me.” From that moment, no matter the trials and tribulations, he decided to move forward.

When asked what he loves most about the band, Kiing says he loves the creativity his band brings. “Everyone is so individual, and together, we make Go-Go magic. We can take Mary Had a little lamb and make it into a cranking Go-Go song. What’s interesting is how we work to formulate an original sound through each song and have fun with it simultaneously. As a band, we focus on doing what feels good without trying to fit anyone’s mold. We want everyone on that stage and in the audience to live in their iconic truth.” Charleston - July/August 2023 24

“Everyone is so individual, and together, we make Go-Go magic. We can take Mary Had a little lamb and make it into a cranking Go-Go song. What’s interesting is how we work to formulate an original sound through each song and have fun with it simultaneously. As a band, we focus on doing what feels good without trying to fit anyone’s mold. We want everyone on that stage and in the audience to live in their iconic truth.”


Kiing isn’t just a musician; he is also a businessman. He owns a production company, DC2NC Productions, which allows musicians and bands to go schedule live performances. He also contracts DJ’s, comedians, vocals, and more. He also has a clothing line called ‘I Don’t Think You Ready”, a spinoff to his onstage performance. Kiing has also found a way to combine his music love with personal training. On his podcast Cardio Conversation, Kiing talks music with guests while they work out. Additionally, he has enjoyed some memorable moments in his career, such as performing with Mint Condition and SWV, traveling, and performing with other big bands and celebrities. He has also written a song for Tone-X, the voice of V101.9 FM in Charlotte.

Kiing advises upcoming artists to persevere, stay consistent, and connect themselves with people who will challenge them. “Remember always to follow your heart and passion and trust your gut. Most importantly, always put the creator first with everything you do, and everything else will fall in place.”

Kiing’s primary goal is to be known as The King of Southern Go-Go. He says it’s time for Iconic Truth to be known as the “go-to Go-Go band” in the South. He wants his name to be in the company of other greats such as Chuck Brown, Little Benny, The Masters, Big G from Backyard Band, and many more.

In the future, Kiing Le and Iconic Truth Band will continue to be involved with community awareness programs and teach kids more about live music and performing arts, “Performing arts saved my life, and that is something I want to give back to the community.”


Band members pictured from left to right Irvin, Darnell DC, Keena, Kiing Le. -Top, David (Fish), Howard

Uncle Reggie’s Catering

If you are looking for proof, check their reviews. Uncle Reggie’s Catering is regarded as one the best catering services available in the Richmond, VA, area and is known for its Mac n Cheese (Smac Mac).

Owned and operated by Richmond native Reggie Rhoades, Uncle Reggie’s Catering offers a variety of items for their clients, including brunch, lunch, and dinner. They also offer a buffet, drop off, or drop off with setup services for events. Additionally, they allow their clients to customize menus to fit their events. Reggie shares that his services are designed to be professional and affordable.

Reggie describes himself as someone who loves to cook. He earned his culinary degree from Virginia College in 2007 and started his catering company shortly after. He has been married to his wife, Alisha, for 20 years, and they share four beautiful kids; Quintrell, Mariah, Jordan, and Reginald Jr. They also have a grandson, Dazai.

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Photos Provided by Uncle Reggie’s Catering

Uncle Reggie’s Catering came to life because Reggie was connected to the right person and at the right time. He shares, “My wife’s best friend Kenya Bundy had a catering business when I graduated from culinary school. Her business was thriving, and she would have to turn down many potential clients due to her already being booked. She brought the idea of catering to me, and I thought it sounded like a good idea, so I gave it a try. Kenya took me under her wing and taught me everything about catering, and I have been blossoming ever since.”

Besides cooking, Reggie says he loves making people happy through his food. He also loves meeting different people regularly and experiencing different venues. He credits his mother for instilling the importance of working hard and being consistent in everything he does. “My mother is my rock, and I love her to the ends of the earth,” he says.

Reggie advises others who may follow a path similar to his to have realistic expectations. “Running a catering business is a fun but sometimes stressful job. You have to ensure with every event that you give 100% to your clients no matter what. It is your job to help make their event as successful as possible,” he says.

Moving forward, Reggie says he plans to own a food truck. He says he would also like to do more travel catering jobs for artists. He mentions that he just finished a catering job for the Lacrae tour.

To learn more about Uncle Reggie’s Catering, please visit their website. Charleston - July/August 2023 30
“My wife’s best friend Kenya Bundy had a catering business when I graduated from culinary school. Her business was thriving, and she would have to turn down many potential clients due to her already being booked. She brought the idea of catering to me, and I thought it sounded like a good idea, so I gave it a try.”

Emerging Leaders Consultants

Dr. Erika Hendrix is a must sought out speaker and entrepreneur who operates in two spaces the Marketplace, Business and with individuals. Dr. Hendrix is well-versed in building organizations and churches with sound leadership skills. Emerging Leaders Consultants, LLC is designed to help churches and organization rebuild and recover from the loss they sustained during the global pandemic.

Dr. Hendrix is the Executive Director of the Non-profit Agency Positive Connection Care, Inc and the Executive Director of Creative Management Source, Inc. These two organizations work with adults who have Intellectual Developmental Disabilities and those who have severe and persistent mental illness. These two agencies were started with Dr. Hendrix’s mom Mrs. Barbara Hendrix and Ms. Kimberly Perkins. The success of these two agencies hinges not on the of “I” but the US. Teamwork makes the dream work. Dr. Hendrix has been a proclaimer of the Gospel for 28 years and her love for the word of God has been a motivator to her next God idea. One of Dr. Hendrix’s greatest accomplishments is being the CEO/Founder of Lady E Specs LLC designer eyewear company for men and women. These different paths of entrepreneurial pursuits and her gifts have created the perfect and clear path for her next launch.

Dr. Hendrix’s mentor has challenged her to see the symbolism of what has moved her beyond her own ability. Dr. Hendrix or some refer to her as Dr. Challenge because it seems that trouble is attracted to her, and the pressure of it motivates her to shift the way she thinks and operates in both spaces. The idea of a business consultant firm was conceived over 12 years ago, the Lord pressed upon her to give it a name and to formally register it, and so out of prayer, the word “Emerge” kept coming up. To emerge is to move out of or away from something and bring it into view. Over those twelve years, she’s had several pastors and business leaders reach out to her for strategic planning and coaching. This year God told her to name it and define the scope of consultant work she can offer. So out of the culmination of my years of experience as a business owner, pastor, leader, and community leader was birthed, “Emerging Leaders Consultants LLC.” Charleston - July/August 2023 32
“We are a global consultant firm focused on propelling organizations, churches, and individuals to reach their optimum success through transformational psychology, strategies, and communication..”

Seen as a leader in her church and business community, Dr. Hendrix is a familiar and trusted voice in her community. “It started with pastors and leaders of different churches calling and asking for advice. Next, I was asked to travel and speak to different groups and organizations. Then I started conducting training for Pastors and churches as well as in the Marketplace. Before Dr. Hendrix started her own business, she worked with the Housing Authority, writing policies and procedures as well as property management. Accessing that skill set has given her a gateway to write leadership manuals for churches and secular businesses.”

Before the pandemic, businesses and churches were operating on projection and data models on what direction their business or church should look like. They were working from a sustainable business plan that did not include a pandemic. Coming out of the global pandemic, we are now seeing the heightened mental health of depression, an all-time high in suicide, and Pastors and CEO walking away from it all because they couldn’t handle the pressure. Shifting of mindsets, ministry, marketplace, and entrepreneur endeavors has evolved post-pandemic. There has been a significant change in the Movement of Industry and Movement of Ministry. Movement is paramount to all moving parts in any organization. Anything that is not moving is dead and the life source must be cut off so that new life can come. There is an urgency of NOW for Emerging Leaders Consultants. A sailboat depends on the wind, and a cruise line ship depends on a system to push through the waters. For the first time, businesses and churches had to deal with the absence of space and tread through unchartered waters, therefore, building the foundation of a business or church for their leaders to stand on is paramount.

An obvious post-pandemic observation when looking at businesses and religious organizations is that if the framework was not in place before the shutdown, those entities didn’t survive. Businesses with a personality-driven customer base closed when the patrons could no longer connect with that individual. Most churches whose memberships depended on a single person’s reputation and weren’t ready to shift into the metaverse danced dangerously on the brink of extinction. Dr. Hendrix desires to help organizations look at their current reality while helping them prepare for the future they desire.

A big part of being organized is understanding roles and responsibilities. “It’s not uncommon, especially in the Black church, that we have people working or serving in the church without a title or job description. One essential element that many people miss is a church is a business we do not need to replicate we need to organize a plan for succession and functionality. We must have set expectations or written paradigms. “What you don’t face on the inside will mask itself on the outside. Moses had to learn to navigate between two worlds, and we must determine to bridge gaps and structures, and we need external components to move during this season of transitions. Setting expectations associated with each title will aid in advancing your church or business. Our organizations and churches are shaped by personalities that lead them, but we must balance personalities and skill sets.

The goal of any organization or church desiring to grow in this new hybrid space is a customized business model of growth and prosperity. We produce Optimum results with minimum circumstances, with emotional and thought-out leadership or partnership, and not competition. We are pushing the church to embrace a more business model and vision planning that’s more in sync with your church’s vision. One key element that I think businesses, as well as churches, must visit is to rewrite their vision and mission because the world has changed to a digital encounter that has become our normal sense of operating.”

Utilizing her bachelors in political science, a doctorate in divinity, specializing in leadership development, and certification in emotional intelligence innovation leadership, Hendrix has created a formula that will restructure and revitalize your church or business. These three components are the keys to her recipe for success.

Dr. Hendrix operates from three key components: Psychology, Anthropology, and Theology. Hendrix explains, “The psychological element focuses on the mindset of the church, specifically the leadership. What I find in churches or organizations that were once thriving but now are dead and dying is that they may have missed their moment to shift. People often say this is just how we do things here. What some of us fail to understand is like any other business, for churches to survive, they must stay relevant. We don’t change what we believe. We find new ways to share it. I can’t stress enough how important having a growth mindset is to stay relevant. I often remind people that anything that isn’t growing is dead. This includes the church.”

Every church or organization has its own Psychology. “The psychological element focuses on the mindset, especially leadership.” The psychology of how we think will affect how we shift, and if the truth is told, many businesses and churches were dying before the pandemic, and the pandemic gave them a way out. “We don’t change what we believe, we find new ways to share it.” I can’t stress enough how important having a growth mindset is to stay relevant. I often remind people that anything that isn’t growing is dead, including the church.


Dr. Erika Hendrix

Emerging Leaders Consultants

Instagram @iamdrerikahendrix

Facebook @Erika Hendrix

YouTube @Dr. Erika Hendrix



Podcast: Think Tank Unplugged

The second component is Anthropology is a blend of culture and community. In both spaces, churches and businesses have a mixture of Baby Boomers and Millennials who speak two different languages. A good leader must first recognize that the two groups exist, then create an environment where they can coexist. Every good leader knows that everyone has something they can bring to the table. Our seasoned volunteers and employees don’t just bring a wealth of wisdom; they are the core and stability of your organization. What your millennials lack in experience, they make up for energy and risk-taking. This is the group that will move your organization forward. We start to struggle if we lean too far in either direction. Balancing culture and climate are key to the success of any organization.

The third component is Theology. “It’s important to make the word of God and the work of the Kingdom relevant to the new construct,” Hendrix explains. “As explained before, what we believe doesn’t change, but we must be willing to look at new delivery methods. Gone are the days when the only way to go to church was to go there physically. Now you can attend church anywhere around the world, from the comfort of your living room. With YouTube, Zoom, and Facebook spreading the Gospel has never been easier. One major aspect I initiate is helping leaders understand the benefit that technology brings to the teaching of theology as well as building community.”

Although the components are similar for the church and secular entities, their use and focus may differ slightly. “When it comes to secular companies, we examine their business model. The psychology behind the company and its leadership. Who they are, and what their purpose is. Anthropology is all about building effective teams properly equipped to execute their goals for the company. The third component would be mentorship. Like Theology, the vision, policies, procedures, and the company’s purpose must be communicated to have all personnel focused on the same goal. To accomplish this, we work with the leadership to create a solid training model that can be adjusted as the company evolves,” Dr. Hendrix says.

Dr. Hendrix shares that the days of going to church in the physical space have changed, now, you can attend church anywhere around the world from the comfort of your home. “The Gospel can be watched on YouTube, Zoom, and the Metaverse. Technology is the biggest engine we must push to make our two spaces relevant. Technology is the key that opens the door for aligning and adapting to new ways to push your church and business into the 23rd century. Emerging Leaders Consultants LLC is available to help your church and business move from deconstruction reconstruction and create a vision and build a new community.”


Kala Slade is the super stylish owner of Unikornish, the brand that celebrates one’s individuality. The Greensboro, NC, native has been a serial entrepreneur and hairstylist for 24 years and counting. She’s tried her hand at all types of businesses that intrigued her. For the most part, if she wants to do it, it’s done.

So how did Unikorn-ish come into the picture? Well, Kala has dealt with depression and anxiety, and to help, she joined a group called ‘I Rock My Curves,’ a modeling agency for plus-sized models. At first, it was a hobby to get her mind off the things she was dealing with, but as she grew within the agency, it became so much more.

Entering the industry at 42, Kala did not fit the usual profile, but she used that to her advantage. “I wanted to do something that would encourage others to accept their differences, walk in it, and be comfortable with who they are.” That was when she gained the nickname ‘Unicorn Chick.’ When she started modeling, Kala constantly changed her hair, keeping it original.

Overall, this boost in self-confidence and the inspiration from the ladies in the agency motivated her to open Unikorn-ish, which was officially established in August 2020. Unikorn-ish offers many brightly colored, unique items, from t-shirts, hats, and lip gloss to duffle and messenger bags. She also sells limited edition items from time to time.

Kala’s primary goal is to give back to her community. To do so, she has partnered with the local nonprofit Peace of Hope, founded by her best friend. The organization provides various services for those struggling with mental health and illness. With each purchase made on Unikorn-ish, 10% goes to Peace of Hope. “I love being able to work with someone so close to me, and at the same time, I am able to help strengthen their business as well,” Kala says. Kala believes, “It’s our differences that make us,” and loves that through Unikornish, she can encourage and help others.

Finding a group of people who love unicorns just as much as she does is icing on the cake. Kala’s work through Unikorn-ish has kept her and others pushing through major and everyday issues. She notes that the business has a sense of hold on her and says, “when I want to give up, it won’t let me go.”

- Photos Provided by Kala Slade

Kala also says she feels accomplished seeing the joy on customers’ faces, and witnessing the impact it has on their lives. “A lot of times, God does things, and you think He’s giving it to you for other people. In reality, He’s giving it to you too. I thank God daily for His grace and mercy and for putting me in a position where my testimony helps others.”

As her business grew, there were a few challenges. One was learning her target audience and ensuring she reached them. Plus becoming more tech-savvy in a now heavily virtual world. Although Kala has come out of her shell more, there were times when she second-guessed her purpose. But just like the original unicorn she is, Kala flew past the problems. She stretched outside her comfort zone through prayer and skill-building and broadened her horizons. She took classes that would help her invest in her business and herself as a person.

Through her journey, Kala found her ‘why.’ She says, “If I can remember that there’s somebody else out there feeling and thinking how I’m feeling today. If I can say something or do something that can give them hope for one more day, that’s my ‘why’. I want to make sure no one feels alone in this.”

As for the future, Kala’s primary focus is the growth of Unikorn-ish. “It’s bigger than just me; I just want people to embrace themselves and be ok with that.” She is also working to create a platform where anyone can join her, talk about what’s going on in their lives, and create opportunities to pour into your girls. h


The Liberty Juneteenth Celebration Charleston - July/August 2023 38
Committee-Brenda Hornsby Heindl, Sandra Bartell, Michelle Hooker-Ravenelle, Gisela Pacheco and Mary Matthews

Something great is happening in the community of Liberty, NC. Sandra Bartell and a committee of members of the same community have produced the first Liberty Juneteenth Celebration. The festival took place on June 19th, 2023, at Paul Henry Smith Park. There were vendors, food, events for the kids, entertainment, and history. The park exists in the exact location of one of the Rosenwald schools, which were built to help educate young black kids. Currently, it’s being used to educate everyone on the town’s history and bring everything into full circle for the citizens of Liberty.

Born and raised in Liberty, NC, Sandra aims to keep her town’s history alive. She was one of the students who integrated Liberty High School in 1965. After she graduated, Sandra and her high school sweetheart moved to Greensboro, NC. There she attended beauty school and later received a degree in childhood education from North Carolina A&T State University. She worked in the education system, enlightening people for nearly 30 years. During her retirement, she wrote a children’s book called “Money Manners for Kids”, which helps to educate young people about financial responsibility.

The Liberty Juneteenth Celebration is quickly becoming a staple in the small but well-connected southern community. Sandra realized there was a need to share the rich history and efforts of Liberty’s black citizens, so she partnered with her cousin Michelle Revenelle and started researching their family and the town’s history. The town librarian Brenda HornsbyHeindl helped them create a scanning day, allowing others in the community to come and share their history and create archives. Brenda also informed them about a community grant received by the Liberty Library. After President Biden made Juneteenth a national holiday in 2020, that grant moved the committee closer to creating the first Juneteenth celebration for the community of Liberty.

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Snuggs Photography The Bartell’s and Herbert’s Sandra.C. Bartel (Center)

As the festival has grown, so has the committee’s participation. Mary Matthews, Gisela Pacheco, and Michelle Hooker Ravenell have joined the circle, and they all possess a general interest in bringing together the small, diverse town of Liberty and ensuring everyone feels included in the town’s history.

When asked what they each love about the festival, everyone had one common factor; the comradery the celebration brings. “I love how everyone comes together from different walks of life to bring together such an amazing event,” says Sandra. Michelle shares she likes the community involvement and the visible growth that happens each year, saying it reminds her of a family reunion. Committee member Gisela noted the love she sees within the community, “Liberty is the type of community where when we get together, it feels like a family reunion. Many of us can get busy with work, school, and busy with families, so to have a day where we can come together and celebrate is very special. “I am glad that a small group of individuals were concerned enough about the Heritage of Black Americans in Liberty to want to make a difference. It has something of interest for all ages, games, food, crafts, fellowship, and most of all, Black History.”

With the growth of the celebration also comes new challenges. One was the need for updates in the park and resources in general. “We also need more people to fully commit to the interest of the festival and be willing to do whatever it takes to make it a success,” Sandra says.

Despite the challenges, most of the community does show their support. In the first two years, there were 200-250 people, and this year there were nearly 350 people. They support them financially through donations and volunteering and show their support by being there and enjoying each other’s company. This year, people from other towns and Liberty residents celebrated. Sandra shared there was a young man with a rocker, a table for his fan, radio, food, and drinks. “He helped put up and take down tents. It was one great big happy family event.” Charleston - July/August 2023 40
Mary Matthews (Committee Member) Michelle Hooker-Ravenelle (CO-Founder)

In the future, the committee hopes to turn the celebration into a non-profit and find more sponsors. They are also working to connect with people nationwide with ties to Liberty to help make the festival bigger and better. They are also working to create other events that will benefit the community, providing opportunities for Black and minority-owned businesses to thrive. Furthermore, they want to let more people know about the celebration, be more transparent, and educate more people about the history while also being a part of the history they are currently making.

“We want to show people we’re serious about this, and we’re going to be here. We also thank everyone for their support and prayers. With support from the Town of Liberty, the event continues to grow. We’re all in this together, and like Maya Angelou said, when you learn, teach, and when you get, give. That is what Juneteenth is all about,” the group shared.


Charleston - July/August 2023 41
“We want to show people we’re serious about this, and we’re going to be here. We also thank everyone for their support and prayers.
The Liberty Juneteenth Festival Sandra Bartell 336-501-4728
With support from the Town of Liberty, the event continues to grow. We’re all in this together.”
Brenda Hornsby-Heindl (Librarian) Sarah Cheek/Clara Shoffner - Residents of Liberty Gisela Pacheco (Committee Member)
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