Huami Magazine Louisville Feb./March 2024

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Feb./March 2024 Vol. 1 Issue 11



Brew & Sip Coffee Bar Louisville - Feb./March 2024


Elevate your style with A Few Wood Men’s empowering wooden watches!

Love Is What Makes Black History Important A Letter From The Editor

There Are No If, Ands, Or Buts About It!

It’s Black History Month, and Huami Magazine has produced a gallery of artistic portraits to honor 29 individuals who’ve helped us A Letter from the Editor enjoy many opportunities. Follow our social media pages to enjoy the productions, and please feel free to share and include someone who belongs is worthy to be celebrated What ifand tomorrow didn’t arrive? All of also. your plans, hopes

and dreams wouldn’t have a street to park on. What if In recent years, has been that tomorrow Black History should everything thatthe youargument decided to put off until never be happened? celebrated 365 days per year. agree. to I am alsofor aware there There would be noI reason save a rainy needs to be more emphasis on an annual year-round celebration of day, and you could spare someone the trouble of making ourpromises. Black history. getlast theopportunity conversationseemingly started, and let’s talk WhatLet’s if your expired about what needs to be discussed. today? What would you do? While gallery forseem this year, I enjoyed learning I’veproducing been toldthe that I often like I do too much. more about the individuals that are showcased. These Honestly, I feel like I am not doing enough and I’m ainclude firm George Washington Carver, Elijahwouldn’t McCoy, W.E.B. DuBois,onCarter believer in knowing that God put anything me G. Woodson, Hiram RhodesI sometimes Revels, Sarah Boone, Garrett Morgan, that I couldn’t handle. wonder how life would andbe others. It’sto fascinating toaccept learn how their perspectives on I if I chose sit idle and what it presented to me. social issues of their time resonate with the present day. As Black have found that to be very boring. In my opinion, opportunity people, we still that face isn’t similar challenges, and it appears that we are is a blessing afforded to everyone. A challenge stillto fighting the same fights of decades ago. I ask the question, me is an adventure. What is the worst that can happen? what has changed? If I do nothing, I fail, and if I try I don’t, but instead learn

something new about myself. Relinquish your pride and in What we doing returnare acquire life. as a people to create better living opportunities for our race and the world as a whole? Tearing each other apart with our words, actions, and slander on social media The best advice ever given to me happened when someone doesn’t solve our problems. We need unity instead. We need to told me to make my tomorrow happen today. In doing so love one another a whole lot more. How do we do that? I have pressed my way through doors with a key that only hope provided. I have also learned the difference between I believe it begins with us genuinely supporting each other’s what God blesses me with and what life can burden me with efforts, whether in business or our communities. We must love and as well. I compare it to knowing when to be confident and pray for our neighbors and truly desire to see everyone succeed. when to be quiet, because Let’s not be too concerned by what the other person has and what someone may get it confused we may lack; instead, let’s find ways with being arrogant. to collaborate and level the playing field for us all. That is real love. Make you tomorrow happen today, but most One’s skin color doesn’t define real importantly make it count. love. Real love encompasses culture, Life is but a whisper and race, and religion. When we get to a we must put ourselves in a place where we care more about the position to hear what it is welfare and survival of our neighbors telling us. just as much as we do for ourselves, real love will already be waiting for us there.

Terry L. Watson Terry L. Watson Editor/Founder


November/December 2014 Terry L. Watson

Publisher Dorjae McClammey Editor In Chief Writer L. Watson Writer Myra DavisTerry Branic Alana Allen - Deputy Editor Monica Montgomery Writer Sherry Rogers Hill Writer Writers

Tonya Dixon Ernest Welch Terry L. Watson Photographer Katrena Wize Alana Allen Photographer Tamara Smith Laura Schneider Jeuron Dove Photographer Christal Marshall Photographer Photographers Perfect Lenz Photography Todd Youngblood Photography

Shaw Photography Group General Inquiries Still Shots Photography Howard Gaither Photography Who Shotya Photography Layout

Mykel Media Company Linda Bennett (336) 340-7844 HUAMI MAGAZINE is published quarterly by the Mykel Media Company. Any reproduction of any portion of this publication is prohibited without written permission Greensboro, from the NC publisher prior to All Rights Reserved doing so. Mykel2024 Media doesn’t accept responsibility for statements made by individuals featured or advertisers. Comments concerning this publication may be submitted to the editor by E-mail at or to Mykel Media Company, LLC P.O. Box 20102 Greensboro, NC 27420 HUAMI MAGAZINE 2014 All Rights Reserved

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Music. Life, Love

Roberta Lea


On The Cover

Brew and Sip Coffee Bar Alvin and Latoya Bradley

Crystal Hemphill-Hayes Meet the face and founder of Too Rise Up Inc. Her organization is committed to enriching lives of others. Los Angeles, CA



Love and Faith

Urshala Rivers


Kiesha James Meet the face and founder of CC PatchWorks. Learn more about how her programs is helping children and families beyond the classroom. Norfolk, VA




Author & Poet

Zaneta Johns

Huami Magazine Cutest Baby

Mecca Causey

Dr. Terrence Graham Don’t look now, but the face of founder of 5FT Productions LLC is up to something new. Learn more about it. Raleigh, NC




6 Louisville - Feb./March 2024

Brew & Sip Coffee Bar By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Perspective Studios LLC

Upon entering the doors of Brew and Sip Coffee Bar in Louisville, KY, patrons are greeted with a warm and heart-felt welcome. The aroma of ground coffee permeates the atmosphere, and the sights of tasteful pastries and food items are within arm’s reach. Owners Latoya and Alvin Bradley have invested their time and talents into building a brand and business with two locations in the “River City”: one at 505 W. Broadway and the other at 3800 Shepherdsville Road. “Everything we do is fresh. We are cracking real eggs and frying beef bologna. We offer expresso-based beverages and provide fresh products each day. At our downtown location, we do more customization for lunch. We offer soups that are made in-house and a smoked chicken salad, which is a favorite amongst our customers. It doesn’t have nuts or grapes, and it only has three ingredients,” she says. Al, as he likes to be called, is a native of Louisville, KY. He has also lived in Columbus, Ohio, and Indianapolis, Indiana. He is the son of a teacher and a drill sergeant. Alvin attended the University of Louisville. Alvin shares that his life experiences have dictated how things have happened in his life. “I studied Chemistry while in college. However, due to life events, I spent 15 years in a Juvenile Justice Department in several different areas within the State of Indiana. I was also a reserved Sheriff’s Deputy and worked in the county jail. After that, I worked in Medicaid and Medicare billing for several hospital systems. That experience lasted for another 15 years. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Latoya expressed her desire to stop working in an office setting. She also poised the idea of opening a coffee shop. I responded, “Why not?” and the rest is history,” Alvin says. “When I listen to my wife, things tend to work out better for me in life.” Though she now calls Louisville home, Latoya is originally from Fort Wayne, IN. Latoya attended Indiana Tech and Ivy Tech. Before arriving in Louisville, Latoya was already a chef. She partnered with someone and opened a catering company that catered to daycares and a soul food restaurant. Once their partnership ended, Latoya revisited her dream of owning a cafe. Covid changed how business was done in Louisville, and the opportunity to open the cafe was presented to them. Running a successful coffee house requires Latoya and Alvin to know their customers’ likes. “We have some customers who want a black coffee with a little cream, and we have some who may want a coffee with nine Splendas. Everyone is different,” they said. Of the menu items offered at Brew and Sip Coffee Bar is the Idlewild, which is two fried eggs with cheese on a buttery croissant. There is also a Rhythm & Blues Burrito, which consists of two eggs, hashbrowns, and your choice of meat. Another favorite item on the menu is Poetic Justice. This sandwich is made with Fried bologna, sautéed sweet peppers, and spring mix.

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Latoya Bradley

Cooking for people and making their hearts smile with food is something that Latoya and Alvin say they love about owning Brew and Sip Coffee Bar. While cooking is Alvins’s forte, Latoya shares that she loves making someone’s day. “We might go from talking to praise and worship in one of our shops. Our customers are family. We will ask questions about them if we don’t see them for a while. We are always honest with everyone and expect the same in return.” Alvin reiterates that he loves to feed people. “That does it for me. I like to nourish people and have intelligent, Christian conversations. Our shops have two different personalities. We may have prayer groups, bible study, and counseling sessions at one location. We may play jazz music at the downtown location,” he says. Being a black-owned business and not having access to resources that other businesses their size have presented a few challenges to Alvin and Latoya. They say it’s both frustrating and a learning experience, but it has made them work hard to get where they are. “We’ve boot-strapped our business and got it from the mud,” they say.

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On the other hand, being a black-owned business in Louisville offers Alvin and Latoya a chance to see things and meet people they may have never encountered. In their shops, Alvin says they are offering a piece of themselves that warms people and puts smiles on their faces. “I love that opportunity,” he says. Alvin and Latoya have been married for five years and collectively have five grown kids. They also have a grandson who turned five in January, who they say is the boss of everything. Their union happened as a result of several encounters. “Our paths had crossed in the past, and nothing came of it. We eventually started dating, and one Sunday, my wife showed up at my church. God spoke to me, and I acknowledged that I heard Him. I proposed to Latoya shortly after that,” Alvin says. Latoya shared her expectations with Alvin, and he responded accordingly. “Being married to Alvin has helped me to slow down and enjoy my life. I couldn’t have built this with anyone else. From the outside looking in, people may think that we are doing a lot, but actually, we aren’t doing enough,” she says. They credit their parents with having a significant impact on their lives. Alvin’s parents, Rubye and Alphonso Bradley, he says, did their job of making him into the man he is. Alvin’s parents have been married for 50 years, an example of which he and Latoya desire to duplicate. “I inherited a lifelong marriage when I married Al,” Latoya says. Latoya’s father, Charles Buchanan, who also works at their business, offers a unique energy and makes every day fun and interesting.

Brew and Sip Coffee Bar

Their advice to other aspiring business owners who may follow in their footsteps is clear. “Do it anyway. Also, do not allow counseling in your marriage to be a dirty word. Others do have things to teach, and you have things to learn. If you see things falling apart in your marriage, bring it to a halt, squash it, and talk to someone. You can’t run like we run and do what we do and have unspoken conversations because you are not comfortable with having them.” The future looks bright for Al and Latoya, and they plan to build their brand and expand their reach in the Louisville community. The are plans to open a Bistro and Coffee Shop that will offer craft cocktails, and also a Food Hall that will offer their catering services. To learn more about The Brew and Sip Coffee Bar, please visit their website. h

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10 Louisville - Feb./March 2024

Music. Life. Love By Sherry Rogers Hill - Photos Provided by Laura Schneider and Christal Marshall

To her fans, Roberta Lea is a rising musical creative ambiguously regarded as a soulful country-neo-pop singer/songwriter. While her style is eclectic, uniquely representing a fusion of musical genres, her familial roles are more precisely defined. Roberta is the devoted wife of 14 years to her husband, Nick, a retired veteran, and the loving mother to 10-year-old Vanessa and seven-yearold Michael, who seemingly have bustling social calendars of their own. When Huami Magazine caught up with Lea, she was transporting her children to piano practice, a responsibility often shared by Lea’s sister—a wonderful benefit of living within proximity to her family village. “I am extremely blessed. I have a supportive family with sweet kids, and my husband supports me 100%. We all have dreams that we’re pursuing and supporting one another as best as we can,” she says. For instance, her daughter, Vanessa, is currently participating in a play, “Black Girl Magic,” for which Lea has penned the original music. Much like her daughter, Lea’s musical journey began in elementary school, where she excelled in both piano and violin. She recalls attending a church concert series where she started exploring other instruments, including the drums. As a teenager, Lea developed a keen interest in songwriting and began crafting original songs for the church band. “The church is such a great place to incubate talent. It plays a crucial role in talent development. Regardless of your skill level, because you were singing and playing for the Lord, you would receive an ‘Amen’, or someone would tell you that you were great,” she laughed. “It was a space that said, ‘Yes,’” she added.

I was given two extreme perspectives and not enough conversation about the middle class of musicianship. I was told that either you would be a starving artist or sell your soul in the business.

After high school, Roberta Lea pursued her education at Virginia Wesleyan University in Virginia Beach, graduating in 2008. Following the conventional path, she eventually landed a position as a high school Spanish teacher. She says, “I was following the worn, beaten, and predictable path. You graduate from college, get a 9 to 5 job, retire, and get your pension.” When the opportunity to pursue music arose, Lea found herself at a crossroads, admitting she had no mental framework for how to navigate the process. “I didn’t know how it worked. I was given two extreme perspectives and not enough conversation about the middle class of musicianship. I was told that either you would be a starving artist or sell your soul in the business.” Preferring neither option, she continued teaching while honing her musical craft, as she describes it, “It was something that I could never not do. It was an itch I needed to scratch.” Louisville - Feb./March 2024


Photo by Laura Schneider

With the onset of Covid-19 and the transition to virtual learning, Lea, like many educators, found herself reevaluating her career. “Not all of my students logged on to participate in class discussions, and when they did, they rarely showed their faces on camera, so I didn’t know what most of them looked like. It made me consider this as an opportunity to make a change,” Lea explained. Toiling over her decision, she grappled with feelings of doubt and questioned if she was too old to pursue music full-time. “I started feeling like I was too old. I was in my 30s.” She silenced her doubts by drawing inspiration from musical icons like Tina Turner, Bill Withers, and Anita Baker, who found success later in life. “I recall figuratively talking to my 80-year-old self who asked if I had at least tried songwriting and music professionally.” Determined to pursue her dream, she shifted into a different posture, what she coined as the “pandemic pivot.” As part of her preparation, she and her husband, a realtor, devised a financial plan to support her transition to full-time music. “You really have to put yourself in a financial position where you can devote your attention without the weight of needing to make money. Having that distraction definitely interrupts the flow. This gave me the freedom to be wide open to possibilities,” Lea says. A year later, in the summer of 2020, they achieved their financial goals, becoming debt-free. “The process is called the ‘quantum leap’ because I really do believe that there is power when you finally make a decision and tell God and the universe ‘Yes’. On the very day that I resigned, I went on Twitter and posted, ‘I just resigned from my job so that I could pursue music full-time. Here I go!’ On that same day, Rissi Palmer, host and founder of the Color Me Country radio show, reached out to me and offered me a grant.” With the grant money, Lea recorded and released several singles. Meanwhile, music journalist Holly G. created the Black Opry, initially as an online blog. To Lea’s surprise, Holly G. posted on her blog, “Yay! Roberta just released her first country record. When I read it, I thought, ‘I did?’” as she laughed. Holly G. included Lea’s profile along with other Black and Brown country artists on the Black Opry Revue’s site. A few months later, the Black Opry creator invited Lea and several others to attend the Americana Music Festival.


Photo by Laura Schneider


“I had never been to a music festival and had no idea what the Americana festival was,” she laughed. Despite the uncertainty, Lea made her way to Nashville to assemble with other musical talents. “On the first day, there were four of us. By the second day, there were eight, and by the third day, there were 20 of us. NPR was conducting interviews at the house, and famous artists were stopping by, and suddenly, we were a thing.” During their time together, the group developed a bond and friendship. Shortly after leaving Nashville, one of the musicians sent out a call for a performer interested in a show in New York. A featured performer had canceled, and the show was six days away. The new friends answered the call. “We did this show at Rockwood Music Hall, and this was the birth of the Black Opry Revue.” The rest is history. Lea’s career has taken off like wildfire. In addition to touring extensively with the Black Opry Revue, she ended 2022 with a fully funded independent project. In September 2023, Lea launched her debut album, “Too Much of a Woman.” Last year, the musical talent was inducted into CMT’s Next Women of Country. “And I don’t even live in Nashville,” she laughs. Roberta Lea’s story is one of determination and courage. Exchanging feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt, she demonstrates that it is never too late to pursue your passion. With her debut album creating a buzz and continuing to inspire audiences, one thing’s for certain, Roberta Lea’s journey is just beginning. h

Photo by Christal Marshall


Photo by Laura Schneider


16 Louisville - Feb./March 2024

Crisis To Connection

By Terry L. Watson - Photos Providied by Too Rise Up Inc Crystal Hemphill-Haley has dedicated her life to serving. She is the First Lady of the United Christians Missionary Baptist Church of Los Angeles and has been married to Pastor Nathaniel G. Haley Sr. for 16 years. Together, they have seven Children and six Grandchildren. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and is currently seeking her masters in the same field. Additionally, Crystal works as a public servant to various disenfranchised communities in Los Angeles, as well as the Inland Empire.

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We need our community to trust us and allow us to assist and help them. They have often been let down, and promises were made and broken by other organizations. For this very reason, I take what I do seriously. Crystal Hemphill-Haley

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Crystal is also the founder of the Too Rise Up Non-Profit Foundation. “My focus is to bring resources and services into communities in need,” she says. To Rise Up provides health and wellness services, food distribution, drug addiction recovery programs, spiritual counseling, and resume writing assistance for job seekers. Additionally, they offer free professional clothing for job interviews, CPR training, PTSD Counseling, housing for abused women, and Safe Passage Facilities. They also offer mentorship programs for boys and girls, summer camps, and Professional Security Training. Along with her co-founder, Delores Simms, they are driven to make a difference, as they have experienced similar challenges and risen above community and social struggles and inequities to achieve a particular level of success.

Crystal says the motto for herself and Too Rise Up is “The Sky’s The Limit”. Moving forward, Crystal plans to lead her organization by being instrumental in establishing programs and resources. This includes developing community policies that will be vital in changing the trajectory of what happens in Los Angeles, The Inland Empire, and surrounding areas. To learn more about Too Rise Up, please visit their website.


Delores Sims is the mother of two children and has a passion for helping youth and their families. “I have worked for the Kaiser Hospital for the past 15 years, and in my capacity, I have had the opportunity to provide support to many in need,” she says. The Too Rise Up Non-Profit Foundation was born out of a sincere desire and passion to help others in Los Angeles and the Inland Empire. “We have been working in these various communities for three years, and we are full speed ahead in our efforts to make a profound and positive impact on these communities and to improve the quality of life for the many needy families and youth of these communities. More than anything, Sandra states she appreciates the opportunity she has to help enrich the lives of members in her community. “I love seeing our organization make a difference in people’s lives. I have a sincere heart for people, and to be able to give back to needy communities, even the very community where I was raised, is very fulfilling. It’s a great blessing and falls directly in line with my husband’s vision for our ministry.” Too Rise Up has a wonderful support system and network of professionals and organizations. Those partnerships are essential in helping Crystal and her team reach those who most need her services. She says, “We need our community to trust us and allow us to assist and help them. They have often been let down, and promises were made and broken by other organizations. For this very reason, I take what I do seriously. We have staff and members of our organization who fundamentally understand our mission, and therefore, they work diligently in their capacity, in a spirit of excellence, and with integrity. We are obligated to them and committed to being transparent and open about every program and resource we offer. This is how we gain and maintain our client’s trust.”

Crystal Hemphill-Haley Too Rise Up

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5FT Productions LLC “The Building of A Legacy” By Monica Montgomery Photos Provided by Katrena Wize Artography He is best described as a man of vision. Dr. Terrence Graham is a licensed therapist and the sole owner of Graham Moore & Clark, LLC. He is a Licensed Clinical Addiction Specialist, a Clinical Certified Sex Offender Treatment Specialist, and a Distance Credentialed Counselor. Dr. Graham also works as an S.A.P (Substance Abuse Professional) with the Department of Transportation. He evaluates employees of the D.O.T as they work to regain their driving privileges after failing a drug screening. In addition to working with adults, Dr. Graham also provides therapy services to adolescents across seven different states, including Kentucky, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Louisiana. Dr. Graham, a Gulf War Combat Veteran in the United States Army and an NC A&T State University graduate, has been blessed with many gifts and talents. He is a locally acclaimed author and independent filmmaker preparing to build his own studio on family land, which will be his company’s new home, 5FT Productions, LLC. Family is essential to Dr. Graham. He shares his parent’s love and support is what shaped him and his brother. “I was born and raised in Magnolia, NC. My parents raised my brother and me to value family, education, sports, and community. My father was a Vietnam Combat Veteran in the United States Air Force, and my mother, a retired Quality Assurance Clerk, wore many different hats. By setting the standards and helping me focus on what’s important, my parents made it possible for me to become the man I am today.” As a child, Dr. Graham’s love of the arts was sparked by one of his classmates. He wanted to create amazing drawings like his friend. So, he went to his number one fan for help. “While in elementary school, I had a friend named Stan Singletary who could draw. He used to draw comic book characters, and they were amazing; I was so inspired that I went home one day and asked my mom to teach me how to draw,” Graham shared. “My mother wasn’t an artist, but she taught herself so she could teach me. I’ve always loved comic books and I learned to draw Marvel and DC comic superheroes like Spiderman and Batman. I worked at it until I became good at drawing and began making my own comic books and selling them to the kids at school. It was just pocket money to buy snacks, and not knowing what an entrepreneur was as a kindergartner, it would become the first time I would make my passion profitable.” Dr. Graham’s creativity is something that has stuck with him. As a therapist, he pulls on his unique personality and gifts to help his clients and utilizes his love of hip-hop and comic books as part of his therapeutic process. As with art, there aren’t any limitations on where it can go. That principle applies to Dr. Graham, who saw an opportunity to use his talent for storytelling and drawing to create a book to use in his practice. The book allowed his clients to engage and explore topics like anger and grief. In 2003, in collaboration with his brother Eric Graham, Dr. Graham created their first action comic series, Bobbee Bee the Hater. Although the production company was conceived in 2003 with the publishing of the Bobbee Bee the Hater book series, 5FT Productions, LLC was formally launched in 2016.

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“Growing up, my eldest son had a lot of anger issues. He couldn’t see how the things he was doing and how he was reacting to certain situations were impacting the family. So, my brother and I decided to create a character based on my son. We wrote and illustrated an action comic depicting him and the situations he would find himself in,” Graham explained. “There are three books in the series: In the Mind of Bobbee Bee the Hater, Larry Long Legs featuring Bobbee Bee the Hater, and A Sad Day for Jose.” Understanding that art imitates life, Dr. Graham felt the Bobbee Bee the Hater books could help his son and other children dealing with anger issues. “Bobbee Bee the Hater is a reflection of most kids at that age who are struggling with anger issues. H.A.T.E.R is actually an acronym that stands for His Anger Teaches Everybody Reality. The goal was to use these books as a cautionary tale to show kids what happens when you allow your anger and frustration to control you,” Graham explained. “I was a School-Based Therapist for Wake County Human Services for thirteen years. The book series was an effective tool I utilized in my therapy sessions. By using a platform that will get the child’s attention, we have a better chance of helping them discover the keys to success. That is why the Bobbee Bee series was so successful.” The popularity and reach of the Bobbee Bee the Hater series went beyond Dr. Graham’s clients. “The books were being used in classrooms throughout the district, as well as by my colleagues,” Graham shared. “The downside is, although they were short action comics, in reality, kids don’t like to read. We had to find a platform that was accessible to everyone.” The Graham brothers sat down and formulated a plan of action. Due to their desire to make a bigger impact, the duo decided to turn the book series into an independent film. In 2012, the movie, In The Mind of Bobbee Bee the Hater, debuted at James Sprunt Community College in Kenansville, NC. “The community came out and supported its own. It was a rough cut because it was our first film, but being selftaught, it went pretty well,” Graham shared. “Remember, it was before we were using social media the way we do now, so most people heard about the movie through word of mouth. That said, there was an overwhelming reception of our movie and a huge outpouring of community support. People hadn’t seen anything like that done in their communities before, and they were excited! It became a whole movement. We sold Bobbee Bee the Hater DVDs, soundtrack CDs, T-shirts, and other merchandise. People wanted to be a part of what the film represented to them.” Another key to the successful reception of In The Mind of Bobbee Bee the Hater had a lot to do with their decision to cast people from their local community. “We decided what better way to connect the film with people than to make them a part of it. We cast individuals from the community, some of our childhood friends, and their children. My son, William Shakur Graham, the inspiration for Bobbee Bee, played the title role,” Dr. Graham says. Even more impressive is that William is currently working on his PhD in Education Leadership, Policy, and Human Development at North Carolina State University.

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Seeing the impact of the books and the film, Dr. Graham was inspired to explore cinema and storytelling further. “What is important to understand is that our stories are how we maintain history and culture. After the first film, I recognized I had another skill set to draw on. Since I am a therapist, I wanted to find a way to connect the new skill, filmmaking, with my private practice,” Graham passionately explained. “I decided I wanted to make documentaries on people in my community. Who better to tell our stories than us?” The next project the production company would take on was a documentary spotlighting an essential figure in the local community. “My first docu-film was based on Rudolph Becton. Mr. Becton’s barbershop is a pillar in my community. He was my grandmother’s best friend. Everybody went to Becton’s barbershop to get their hair cut. He wasn’t just a barber. He was a role model to young black men. He was the first black entrepreneur I had ever seen. He owned his own business; he was a deacon in the church and a civil rights leader. Without knowing it, Mr. Becton created a safe space for black men to gather and speak their minds. It was a place where fathers could take their sons to teach them everything from politics and religion to sports and music. Every community needs a Becton’s Barbershop.” With a new target in sight, Dr. Graham spent a year interviewing Mr. Becton and filming his story. He shares, “A big part of therapy is giving people a voice, a platform, and a space to tell their story. Telling Mr. Becton’s story wasn’t just about him. It was also about the community he served faithfully. It is about the young men he inspired and nurtured. We let the community see themselves in the life and story of Mr. Becton. In his narrative, we were all elevated.”

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In 2017, Dr. Graham received the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I AM A DREAM Award for the docu-film, Becton The Barber. “Mr. Becton is well known in Magnolia, and stories like his enrich us all and can inspire other communities to see their greatness within. That is why I wanted to get it out there,” Dr. Graham says. Additionally, Dr. Graham has five films to his credit, including Earl of Duplin, The Cycle, and Dumpster Diving. In 2022, he received the Let’s Talk Media Productions Community Social Wellness In Film Award for Dumpster Diving, a docu-film. His growth as a writer, director, and filmmaker is exhibited in each production. “The theme in all my films is self-help and overcoming trauma. Thanks to social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Amazon Prime, I can get my films out to those who can benefit from them,” he shares. When Dr. Graham created his first comic book, he knew the arts would be an important part of his life. Now, at fiftythree, he is about to achieve something few black men have by building a television studio on his family’s land. “Now that I have done the books, the independent movies, and the docu-films, it’s time to take things to the next level,” he professes. Construction of the new home of 5FT Productions, LLC began in August 2023 and will be completed during the summer of 2024. It will be the home of the Terrence Graham Talk Show, hosted by Dr. Graham and co-host DeAndria “Dee” Blount. Dr. Graham says with the support of his childhood friends, the studio will provide a platform for guests to laugh and learn. It will also honor others with love for their accolades, accomplishments, and achievements and offer advertisement opportunities. Dr. Graham says, “I’ve always wanted to have my own talk show. I loved watching shows like The Johnny Carson Show, The Arsenio Hall Show, Stephen A. Smith, and Rap City with Big Tigger. My dream is to host a show that combines those influences.”

Dr. Terrence Graham 5Ft Productions LLC 919-710-7332

In addition to producing his talk show, Dr. Graham plans to utilize his newly constructed studio to record his podcast, shoot other films, produce a sitcom, and provide live workshops and trainings. Having such a life-changing experience happen in his hometown of Magnolia is very important to Dr. Graham. “This isn’t for me. I want to make this space an opportunity for people to be seen and heard. I’m creating a platform for educators, therapists, entrepreneurs, budding artists, and musicians. My parents helped me understand the importance of family and community. Because of the land my Grandmother, Bertha Graham, left our family, my dream is coming full circle. With this generational gift, I can build my legacy upon theirs,” he says. “Along with my sons, William Shakur Graham and Xavier Graham, and with my community behind me, the sky is the limit for 5FT Productions, LLC.” h

24 Louisville - Feb./March 2024

Louisville - Feb./March 2024


Keisha James CC PatchWorks LLC

By Terry L. Watson - Photos Provided by Keisha James Without question, the COVID-19 pandemic will be remembered for its sudden and harsh wave of destruction imposed throughout the world. Countless lives were lost, sickness and illness became bedfellows with fear, and the adage of tomorrow isn’t promised lived up to its daunting declaration. As with each storm, there are often a few bright spots that were revealed in the pandemic’s wake. One is the creation of CC PatchWorks LLC. Keisha James of Norfolk, VA, shares the vision to launch CC PatchWorks LLC, which came from her desire to serve the early education community during the pandemic by providing virtual administrative support to childcare providers. Her desire grew into serving entrepreneurs who serve children and families. CC Patchworks LLC offers Processes & Systems Consulting Services to establish and improve systems within her clients businesses. She is passionate about serving black and brown entrepreneurs who may be starting or fully established. Keisha’s goal is to establish or improve systems within her client’s business. Presently, she is in the process of releasing a children’s book and working on launching a Homeschool Hub & Networking platform that will allow entrepreneurs to establish profiles to market their businesses. Additionally, homeschooling families can connect and utilize resources from highlighted companies or providers that

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offer educational support services. “I aim to support the whole child through my work because they are influenced by what they are connected to. This can be their environment, immediate support circle, parents, families, educators, and community. By supporting these core components, our children will have a solid foundation to be successful throughout life,” she says. Keisha is a natural lover of life. She is an entrepreneur, educator, and empowered single mother of one charismatic little boy. She is the eldest of four children from her mother and the second eldest from her father. “My father is native to Antigua and my mother’s father native to Grenada so I am of Caribbean Descent,” she says. Keisha was born in Brooklyn, NY and later raised in Atlantic City, NJ. Her educational path began in Early Childhood Education & Development. Keisha holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Family & Child Studies and a Master’s in Teacher Leadership & Educational Management. She is a Certified Infant & Toddler Class Observer with a Certificate in Women’s Entrepreneurship, a Certificate in Career Coaching, and a Certificate as a Trauma-Informed Individual. Additionally, she is the Co-Founder of Curriculum Agents. Keisha has provided her services to entrepreneurs in various industries, including Health Care, Beauty and Hair Care, Food and Beverage, and Professional Services as well as Education and Child Care. “My business has impacted children, families, contractors, and business owners. Most importantly, I work to ensure that they have the support, tools, and resources needed to operate effectively,” she says. Being an entrepreneur can come with many challenges. Keisha says that one challenge she has faced is starting over following a divorce, all while starting two companies, being a present parent, and homeschooling her son. She has managed her challenges by dedicating her time into laying a new foundation for her family by pouring her passion and creativity into growing her businesses. “Things have been tight, but my son is my motivation, and I am vested in doing right by him,” she says. Keisha has also benefited from the support of her SCORE mentor, the Start Small, Think Big program, and her loyal clients and closest friends. “Self-care through journaling, counseling, self-help books, yoga, aromatherapy, daily walks, music, meditation, and prayer have also played significant roles.” Though Keisha has faced some difficult moments, maybe more than she anticipated, she doesn’t regret anything that has happened. “Life is about learning and growing through trial and error to figure out who we are and what works best for us,” she stated. In the future, she plans to publish ebooks and children’s books and launch a homeschool hub. She also hopes to expand her business by hiring other virtual administrative assistants in the near future. h

Keisha James CC PatchWorks LLC 757-354-4596

Louisville - Feb./March 2024


28 Louisville - Feb./March 2024

Author & Poet

By Myra Davis Branic Photos Provided by Zaneta Varnado Johns

Zaneta Varnado Johns is a woman on fire. Known to her readers as Zan Johns, she is an author and poet featured in over 70 national and international publications. What is even more impressive is that she is only getting started. At the age of 62, Zan published her first book of poetry. That was in 2020, yet she has been writing since 1979. Zan’s poise and beauty, both inside and out, are reflected in her poetry. Her soothing and comforting voice is saturated with a natural Southern Hospitality. Zan Johns began writing in her early twenties and was inspired by authors like Maya Angelou and her kindred spirit, Nikki Giovanni, who she reminds me of in a lot of ways. Zan had the pleasure of hearing both celebrated authors speak when they each visited the University of Colorado in the 1970s, but something lit a spark in her when she heard Nikki Giovanni recite the poem “Ego Tripping.” Seeing these black women using their words and doing what they loved to do let Zaneta know that, as a black woman, she could do it, too, and she eventually did. Although Colorado has been home to Zan for almost 50 years, her roots are traced to Hammond, Louisiana, a town of approximately 21,000 people located 45 miles east of Baton Rouge and 45 miles northwest of New Orleans. She came from a large, loving family of nine, including her hardworking parents, five siblings, and paternal grandmother. She says the nurturing she received from her parents helped her to develop into a confident, caring person. Growing up in a nearly half-black and half-white community at the dawn of integration may have led to her insightfulness. This characteristic is beautifully demonstrated in her body of work. Writing and poetry were a goto for Zan, and her passion for them followed her throughout her young life. She attended the University of Colorado for three-plus years before leaving the classroom with exceptional critical thinking skills and knowledge. Soon after, she started working in the university’s payroll department before becoming appointed director of human resources. In between that time, Zan married and had two children. In her professional career, which spanned 29 years, she brought a climate of diversity, equity, and inclusion, which again is reflected in her poetry. During that time, Zan continued to write, penning hundreds of poems she only shared with the people closest to her. At the age of 50, Zan retired and focused more on spending time with her family, traveling, staying fit, and, of course, writing. As time passed on, Zan described getting little nudges from God that she should be doing something with her writing. She says, “Her sister-in-law, an author herself, encouraged me to join the Women Speakers Association. At first, I resisted the idea because I thought of myself as a quiet person. When I worked in Human Resources, of course, I was required to speak, but once I retired, I was more laid back.”

Louisville - Feb./March 2024


Zan had no interest in public speaking but later learned that the Women Speakers Association focused not only on empowering women to express themselves but also on empowering women to write to inspire. It published a series of inspiring books, each featuring women who shared their trials and triumphs. Zan’s poetry is also featured in four of them on the dedication page, including “Voices of the 21st Century: Resilient Women Who Rise and Make a Difference”, “Voices of the 21st Century: Conscious, Caring Women Who Make a Difference”, “Voices of the 21st Century: Women Transforming the World”, and “Voices of the 21st Century: Women Empowered Through Passion and Purpose.” With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020, Zan Johns decided to take her poetry and publish her first book of poetry entitled “Poetic Forecast”. It almost instantly became a #1 Bestseller on Amazon. Zan states, “We were afraid; this was something we’ve never seen in our lifetime; I couldn’t see my family, our grandchildren; we were forced to stay inside and keep still. I looked through my poems, many of which I’ve written years before, sat at my desk, and asked God to give me the words,” she says. The old adage comes to mind, “you have to be careful what you ask God for”, because when she was finished, Zaneta Varnado Johns gave the world Zan Johns, and some of the most intuitive, and compassionate poetry. What has become her signature piece, “What Matters”, beckons the readers to search their hearts for what really matters, as demonstrated in the lines, “If your eyes met my eyes in the midst of a crisis, would their shape and color concern you? If you felt my hands as they massaged your aching body, would you care about the pigmentation of my skin?” This poem gives readers the message to take inventory of what really matters. Her poem, “One Day” explores how things would be in a perfect world. Another poem from Poetic Forecast called “Spiritual Reset” captured 2020 and encased it in a nutshell. It described the pandemic, the chaos, the politics, and the racial unrest experienced during that time. If we were to put that poem, “Spiritual Reset” in a time capsule to be opened 100 years from now, the person who found it would be able to read it and know exactly what we were experiencing. Her next book of poetry, “After the Rainbow,” captured her personal experiences about life, family, nature, and her love of diversity. She published the What Matters Journal in July 2023, and her latest book debuted in the fall of 2023.She hadn’t planned on publishing a poetry book in 2023. Urged by friends and family, she birthed “Encore” which features a poem that became my favorite, “Why I Write”. Zan’s writing has brought her full circle, from listening to Nikki Giovanni speak and writing her ideas on pieces of paper to attending Nikki Giovanni’s latest book signing and presenting the legend with a signed copy of her own book. The things Zan has accomplished in life, even after retirement, prove that it’s never too late to start doing what you love to do, and what Zan loves is “touching the world line by line.” This year, Zaneta has plans to release another book of poetry. Zaneta Varnado Johns is a woman led by her spirituality. She is a sagacious author and poet who encourages other writers to listen to God’s words. “When God tells you what to do, there is a burning…” Zan Johns is a woman on fire. To learn more about Zaneta Johns, please visit her website.

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Louisville - Feb./March 2024


32 Louisville - Feb./March 2024

Family, Life, and Business By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Jeffery Rivers Sr. Pensacola, Florida, native Urshala Rivers wears many hats. Though living in the Sunshine State, she has Cajun, Creole, Jamaican, and Indian roots. She is a wife and has been married to her husband, Jeffery Rivers Sr., for thirty years. She is also a mother of nine children and comes from a military background with several family members to serve. She currently has two of her children enlisted. Urshala says she is well-versed and will give the shirt off her back to help others. “I try to practice the golden rule, do unto others as you would have them do unto you because I believe the Lord will pay me back tenfold for going out of my way to help someone without thinking twice about it,” she says. Urshala describes herself as a “jack of all trades” type of person. She has a notary license and a travel agent license. She is an event planner and wedding consultant. Urshala also sells Paparazzi jewelry, soaps, and candles. Midnight Angels is the name of her business empire. However, Urshala has several brands under that, including Strawberry Dreams Travel Agency, Urshala Rivers Notary Services, R&R Event Wedding Consultants, African Princess Jewels, and African Princess Precious Jewels. Urshala says her entrepreneurial journey began while she was in high school. “It started with R&R Event Wedding Consultants. I established a social club, and we often conducted fundraising events. Whenever we needed something planned, I would handle it. A couple in high school got married, and I planned their wedding for them,” she shared. Urshala’s next venture was her notary business, which happened after high school in 1997, the same year her second daughter was born, and her travel agency business began in 2001, the same year her first son was born. Louisville - Feb./March 2024


Family plays a huge role in Urshala’s life. This includes her husband and children. “My husband is all in. He accepts the title of co-owner. If I need to make a really big decision that will affect our businesses, I always include him. He works in the background as well as out front. When I vend at events, he often assists our clients with their questions about our products. He is all in. Without his assistance, it would probably be much more difficult,” she says. Urshala also has a special needs son, who considers himself a co-owner of her businesses. “He is eleven years old and was born with a rare brain condition. Despite his condition, we treat him like a normal child.” Urshala says what she loves most about being a business owner is interacting with people. Besides her immediate family, she also finds inspiration in her sisters. “I have watched my sisters preserve in life, regardless of their trials. They would not allow the challenges of life to hold them down. When I think about my problems, I reflect on their strength. My sister’s determination encourages me to push through my difficulties,” she says.

I have watched my sisters preserve in life, regardless of their trials. They would not allow the challenges of life to hold them down. When I think about my problems, I reflect on their strength. strength

Urshala also loves gardening and sewing. It is a hobby that she began with her oldest son as a means to get out of his shell. “I love beautiful flowers. Gardening is also something my special needs love. He loves vibrant, pretty, and wonderful-smelling plants. We are presently working on an orange tree, a lemon tree, and a grapefruit tree. Sewing allows me to express myself. I also enjoy making my grandkids blankets, hats, and outfits. My little princesses always got to look good. They know I love them,” she says. One of the benefits of having multiple brands in her business is the profitable opportunities they present. While one brand may not always be strong in sales, another is and carries the weight of her entire empire. Urshala has created many streams of income, and in doing so, it has strengthened the legacy of her family. Looking ahead, Urshala plans to acquire a brick-and-mortar location to house all her brands in one location. She also wants to create more opportunities that will assist others in becoming self-sufficient in her community. “I do what I do with the thought of serving others in mind. I am called to serve and spread love to others,” she says. h

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Louisville - Feb./March 2024


“The two fortresses which are the last to yield in the human heart, are hope and pride.”

Lewis Howard Latimer

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Mecca Causey The son of Ryan Causey and Nijalon Jackson-Causey

Louisville - Feb./March 2024


Louisville - Feb./March 2024


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