Huami Magazine Raleigh/Durham Feb./March 2024

Page 1



Feb./March 2024 Vol. 5 Issue 4 Celebrating Black History Month


5FT Productions LLC

Raleigh/Durham - Feb./March 2024


When it comes to your data... PROACTIVITY IS SMARTER. REACTIVITY IS HARDER. Manage Your Security Risks

We ensure that your business is meeting FTC security guidelines and reduce your risk of getting hacked. Perform Vulnerability Tests

We consistently test your safeguards and your employees to find risks within your company. Support Every Phone, Computer, and More

We improve your business’s efficiency by managing and securing every device connected to your data.

Schedule a Discovery Call! New monthly clients get a $50 Visa Gift Card just in time for the holidays!

336-558-4660 WILL CASTERLOW


Love Is What Makes Black History Important There Are No If, Ands, Or Buts About It!

A Letter From The Editor

It’s Black History Month, and Huami Magazine has produced a A Letter from the Editor gallery of artistic portraits to honor 29 individuals who’ve helped us enjoy many opportunities. Follow our social media pages to enjoy the productions, and please feel free to share and include someone What if tomorrow didn’t arrive? All of your plans, hopes who belongs and is worthy to be celebrated also. and dreams wouldn’t have a street to park on. What if everything that you decided to put off until tomorrow never In recent years, the argument has been that Black History should happened? There would be no reason to save for a rainy be celebrated 365 days per year. I agree. I am also aware there day, and you could spare someone the trouble of making needs to be more emphasis on an annual year-round celebration of promises. What if your last opportunity seemingly expired our Black history. Let’s get the conversation started, and let’s talk today? What would you do? about what needs to be discussed.

I’ve been toldthe that I often like IIdo too much. While producing gallery forseem this year, enjoyed learning Honestly, I feel like I am not doing enough and I’m ainclude firm more about the individuals that are showcased. These believer in knowing that God wouldn’t put anything on me George Washington Carver, Elijah McCoy, W.E.B. DuBois, Carter that I couldn’t sometimes wonder life would G. Woodson, Hiramhandle. RhodesI Revels, Sarah Boone,how Garrett Morgan, be if I chose to sit idle and accept what it presented to and others. It’s fascinating to learn how their perspectives me. on I have found that to beresonate very boring. mypresent opinion, opportunity social issues of their time withInthe day. As Black is a blessing that isn’t afforded to everyone. A challenge people, we still face similar challenges, and it appears that we are me is an is the worst can question, happen? still to fighting theadventure. same fightsWhat of decades ago. Ithat ask the If I do nothing, I fail, and if I try I don’t, but instead learn what has changed? something new about myself. Relinquish your pride and in return a people to create better living What areacquire we doing

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

Editor/Founder Terry L. Watson 4


November/December 2014 Terry L Watson

Publisher Dorjae’ McClammey Editor In Chief Writer Terry L. Watson Writer Terry L. Watson Alana AllenHill - Deputy Editor Sherry Rogers Writer Monica Montgomery Writer Writers

Tonya Dixon Terry L. Watson Ashleigh Crawley Alana Allen Photographer Tamara Smith Todd Youngblood Jeuron Dove Photographer Katrena Wize Photographer Photographers Todd Youngblood Photography Perfect Lenz Photography

Shaw Photography Group StillGeneral Shots Photography Inquiries

Howard Gaither Photography Who Shotya Photography Layout (336)340-7844 Mykel Media Company GeneralBennett Inquiries Linda Mykel Media Company LLC Greensboro, NC (336) 340-7844 2024 All Rights Reserved

HUAMI MAGAZINE is published quarterly by the Mykel Media Company. Any reproduction of any portion of this publication is prohibited without written permission from the publisher prior to doing so. Mykel 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

Scan The QR Code Above To Visit Our Website On The Cover

Want To Photography Advertise?Group Photo by Shaw Call 336-340-7844

Want To Advertise? Call (336)340-7844




CC PatchWorks LLC

Keisha James


On The Cover

5FT Productions LLC

Dr. Terrence Graham

Gearing Up for 2024

Percy B. Lawson



South Carolina Us Senator

Deon Tedder

Huami Magazine Cutest Baby

Mecca Causey



Also Featured

Thomas C. Deans III Flooring has paved the way of his life. Learn more about his journey from the streets of New Orleans to Georgia. Conyers, GA


Joy Clayton What began when she was a small child has grown into a life of serving God. Learn more about her journey. Norfolk, VA


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



Raleigh/Durham - Feb./March 2024


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.


“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.


Raleigh/Durham - Feb./March 2024



Raleigh/Durham - Feb./March 2024

Raleigh/Durham - Feb./March 2024


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.”


Raleigh/Durham - Feb./March 2024


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 fifty-three, 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

Raleigh/Durham - Feb./March 2024

Raleigh/Durham - Feb./March 2024



Raleigh/Durham - 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. 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. 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. Too Rise Up is also supported by Cristina Hemphill BSN, NP, who serves as Director of Health and Wellness. 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, Crystal 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 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. h

Crystal Hemphill-Haley

Raleigh/Durham - Feb./March 2024

Too Rise Up


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


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



Raleigh/Durham - Feb./March 2024

C. Dean III

Premier Flooring Group Information and Photos Provided by Thomas C. Dean III

The story of Thomas C. Dean III is a classic American story of overcoming adversity through hard work, determination, and guts. But this story comes with some very unusual twists and turns that make Thomas uniquely qualified to inspire others through his gifts as a community leader and public speaker. New Orleans, LA, native Thomas C. Deans was born to a large Creole family. At age 17, Thomas’ mother gave birth to him with the help of her “village,” which included Thomas’ maternal grandparents, his paternal grandmother, his uncle, and five aunts, she raised him. His mother worked a lot to provide for him, a quality Thomas also observed in his Grandfather as he held down three jobs while providing for his family. Witnessing his family’s hard work implanted sound values and work ethics in him, qualities that he continues to carry even today. Throughout his childhood, Thomas’ Grandfather was a revered “Indian Chief” in the 2nd Line Mardi Gras tradition in New Orleans. From the age of five, Thomas’ Grandfather and uncle began to teach him the art of costume making and indoctrinated him into the traditions of the Mardi Gras culture as a young Indian. This would become a defining part of Thomas’ life as he grew older. At the age of 11, Thomas was forced by his Grandfather into his first public speaking engagements. He was commissioned to speak at 28 public schools throughout New Orleans on the traditions and history of the Mardi Gras Indians. At 13, Thomas began working in the French Quarter as a busboy. Money was tight in the family, and part of earning your status in New Orleans as a young man meant dressing to impress. Thomas recalls, “We were a poor community. The only thing guys in the neighborhood had was their appearance, so dressing sharp and staying well groomed was a priority to gain respect and status.” Growing up in New Orleans also meant that Thomas would have to learn how to survive, and knowing how to fight was a necessity if you wanted to go to the playground. “To make it in the neighborhood and gain the respect of your peers, you had to be able to stand your ground and learn to scrap, and that’s what I did,” says Thomas. While Thomas worked a job and even played football in Middle School, academics were more important to his mother, specifically for Thomas to maintain good grades. “My mother’s rule was that I had to maintain at least a B average if I wanted to work during school,” he says. Following his mother’s instruction, Thomas excelled and became captain of the football team, even holding the office of Student Body President. In high school, Thomas continued to hone his public speaking and leadership skills. He was part of the speech and debate club, and in his Senior year, he was class president. As a Senior, Thomas earned a nomination through the Louisiana House of Representatives, gaining him a full scholarship to the U.S. Air Force Academy. Thomas experienced a few ups and downs while adjusting as a young cadet with the U.S. Air Force Academy. Things didn’t go as planned, and at 22 years of age, he returned home to New Orleans and dove directly into his work creating Mardi Gras costumes with his Grandfather and uncle. His uncle had since graduated to become the 2nd generation Indian Chief, following Thomas’ Grandfather, who remained the patriarch. His uncle had fallen ill and was forced to pass the Chief’s stick on to another member of their Tribe. Fortunately, Thomas had developed a formidable self-confidence and was prepared to answer the call of his family’s legacy.


He rejoined the family processions and, that year, created his own costume. While participating in the event, Thomas’s costume and presence in the “2nd Line” procession caught the attention of the community, and people began whispering about how Thomas had outshone the new chief of their tribe. Thomas had created a bright yellow costume, and people said Thomas was the “prettier” one of the two of them. This was unusual, particularly as Thomas was quite young at the time, and this ended up creating a certain degree of jealousy and friction with the new Big Chief. The following year, when Thomas was 23, his Grandfather stepped in to resolve the matter. He determined that between the two of them, Thomas possessed the greater charisma and leadership abilities. So he anointed Thomas to the role of Big Chief and handed him the ceremonial stick. Thomas was given the name “Big Chief Bo”. Something else happened upon Thomas’s return to New Orleans: he reunited with his girlfriend Enola, whom he’d been dating since he was 17. He and Enola were married that same year, and the following year, their twin sons Thomas and Tony were born. In the years to follow, Thomas worked for MCI as a salesperson and at a restaurant at night. When MCI left New Orleans, Thomas moved into a few corporate Sales Management positions, first at Cadillac of Metarie and later with Fairfield Resorts, while continuing to work nights in the restaurant business. His next career venture would be in the flooring business, where he learned the trade and worked doing sales and installations. He also opened a dry cleaners around this time.

Elona and Thomas C. Dean


In 2003, he decided to open his own flooring store and installation business in New Orleans, Premier Flooring Group. Things were going well, but then Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and turned his business upside down. The impact of the storm was too severe, and Thomas and Enola decided to pack their bags and relocate with their children to Atlanta, GA. What was supposed to be a temporary move became a permanent stay. In Atlanta, Thomas took a position as a sales manager in the flooring business to support his family until his sons graduated high school. A few years would pass while he worked as a salesperson in Atlanta, and Thomas knew there was more that his family needed. Obediently, he opened his heart and asked God to please lead him to something that would provide more financial stability to his family. God was listening.

Raleigh/Durham - Feb./March 2024

While attending a meeting at his place of employment, he got a call from his wife, Enola, telling him their home was in flames. Everyone was safe, but the entire house was burning down. All of their belongings, including any family photos that survived Katrina, were taken in the fire. When the fire department arrived, and the scene was investigated, it was determined that a shoe-shining device that Thomas used had shorted and created the spark that ignited the fire. By the grace of God, Thomas had recently restructured his home insurance policy to cover everything. From that tragedy grew a blessing, and Thomas was able to use some seed funding to open his own flooring business. Thomas and his family moved from Stone Mountain to Conyers, GA, and purchased a new home. In 2017, Thomas founded the Premier Flooring Group, the same name as the fledgling company he’d started in New Orleans before Katrina hit. In Conyers, Thomas worked as a community leader, helping in local political campaigns with the Splost Committee, as an Ambassador/Chair in the Rockdale/Conyers Chamber of Commerce, and as a teacher for the Entrepreneurs Academy at the Chamber. In 2019, he graduated from the “Leadership Rockdale” program, and he currently speaks as a mentor for two different organizations: the 100 Black Men of Atlanta, a national group as well as The Hills Academy representing “The Man’s Cave”, a Rockdale County-based mentoring organization that has adopted Hills Academy for its mentoring program. Premier Flooring Group has grown to become a successful business, which Thomas runs today with his two sons, Thomas and Tony. He has 15 teams of installers in the field who run a range of commercial and residential projects ranging from flooring to staircases, kitchen and bath remodeling, and basement renovation throughout the greater Atlanta area. In 2021, Premier Flooring Group was named the #1 business partner for education by the Rockdale/Conyers Chamber of Commerce and Rockdale County Schools. In 2023, Thomas founded the Premier Business Network, a 501c3 and thriving weekly Business Development Organization of entrepreneurs who meet to network, exchange ideas, and help members grow their businesses. He speaks regularly at meetings and does a range of public speaking engagements in and around the Atlanta community, focusing on the power of relationships in building a successful business career. h

Big “Cheif ” Bo

The Conyers Chamber of Commerce Raleigh/Durham - Feb./March 2024


“It’s pretty hard for the Lord to guide you if you haven’t made up your mind which way to go.”

Madam C.J. Walker


Raleigh/Durham - Feb./March 2024

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

Raleigh/Durham - Feb./March 2024



Raleigh/Durham - Feb./March 2024

United State Senator

Deon Tedder By Sherry Rogers Hill Photos Provided by Senator Deon Tedder

Deon Tedder was born to lead. With charisma and an innate ability to motivate and inspire others, the 33-year-old attorney is one to be watched on the political spectrum, recently making history as the youngest member of the South Carolina State Senate. A native of Durham, North Carolina, he continued his family’s legacy by attending Durham’s Hillside High School, where his dad, the late Louis Tedder Jr., and his mom, Chandra Tedder, once attended. At Hillside High, he excelled academically and discovered his sphere of influence through extracurricular activities. “In high school, I was class president, Mr. Hillside High, a student government representative, and a trumpet player in the marching band,” he shares. During summer breaks, the young scholar participated in North Carolina Central University’s Legal Eagle camp, sponsored by the university’s law school. “The summer camp taught us about law and government, and toward the end of camp, we participated in mock trials. This is what sparked my interest in wanting to pursue a legal career.” By the time Tedder graduated from High School in 2008, he had the rare distinction of acquiring a perfect attendance record, never missing a day of school from kindergarten to the 12th grade. This accolade was a nod to his parents’ strong value of education. “Although my parents did not attend college, education was very important to both of them.“ They instilled this core belief into their son, who not only graduated with honors but also as the recipient of a full academic scholarship to South Carolina State University. His family was ecstatic. In preparation for his college transition, the firstgeneration college student traveled with his mom and dad to Orangeburg, South Carolina, to the campus to meet with the honors program director and tour the residential facility. Deon was all set to go when the unthinkable happened only a few weeks later. His dad died unexpectedly, completely devastating his family.

Raleigh/Durham - Feb./March 2024


“Life threw us a curveball after my dad died. I contemplated not going to college. I was mom’s only child, and it was just her and my dad. So, I felt like I needed to stay home and work to help her pay bills. I felt guilty leaving her to go to college,” he says. Recognizing the pivotal moment in Deon’s life, his family rallied around him. “My aunts and uncles said my dad would have wanted me to go because he didn’t have that opportunity. Earning a full academic scholarship made him super excited.” With the assurance from his family that his mom would be supported, the resilient leader stayed the course and reluctantly headed to South Carolina State University. Void of the typical excitement experienced by new college students, Tedder was grieving the loss of his dad, compounded by the concern of leaving his mother. Tedder says, “When I arrived, my anxiety increased. I learned that my mom, who was an administrative assistant, had picked up a second job. She was working so hard to prevent me from having to work. It was very tough.” Recognizing his mom’s sacrifice, Deon would remain focused and committed to excelling while in college. Once acclimating himself, he did what came naturally to him: to thrive academically and engage through leadership and student involvement. During his tenure at South Carolina State, Tedder was actively involved in various facets of student government. He served as junior class president and pledged the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated. In his senior year, he experienced the sting of defeat when he ran for Student Government president and lost the election to a friend. Characteristic of the wise young leader, Tedder graciously conceded to his opponent and agreed to support him. Together, the two created the position of Chief of Staff for Tedder, and the student government position still exists at the university today. During summer breaks, Tedder took advantage of internship opportunities. His assertiveness changed the trajectory of his life, landing him an opportunity to serve as an intern at the United States Senate for the late Senator Ted Kennedy. “This experience exposed me to politics and sparked my interest in wanting to go into public service,“ said Tedder. “It was interesting seeing people making serious decisions about people who looked like me, but there weren’t people who looked like me making those decisions. Decisions were being made regarding minority communities, yet there was no representation or perspective in many cases. So that sparked my interest and the exposure was amazing,” he added. There was no one in my family involved in politics or law, so I used different opportunities to expand my network.“ Another internship opportunity was with Sidley Austin’s Pre-law Scholars program. Notable alumni of the firm include the former first couple, President Barack and Michelle Obama. Tedder acknowledges that each of the work experiences he acquired through networking, expanding his network, and exposure. This a skill he imparts to young people when given the opportunity. Tedder graduated magna cum laude from South Carolina State University in 2012. He describes his graduation as an emotional experience. “My entire extended family, aunts and uncles, and even some of my dad’s friends came. People joked with me by asking if my family took a charter bus because we had so many people who showed up for my graduation. It was emotional because people were there to support me while knowing that my dad would’ve been there. We had a huge section in the stands at the football stadium, and when they called my name, you would’ve thought that someone scored a touchdown at the Superbowl,” he laughed.


Raleigh/Durham - Feb./March 2024

Raleigh/Durham - Feb./March 2024



Raleigh/Durham - Feb./March 2024

Following graduation, Tedder headed off to law school at the University of South Carolina. While in law school, he served as a representative of the Student Bar Association for his first two years. In his third year of law school, he served as a law school senator. While a law student, Tedder worked a clerkship and served as a law school senator representing the law school for the University of SC student government system. He graduated in 2015 and secured a judicial clerkship with the Honorable Casey Manning, a Circuit Court Judge and the first African American basketball player for the University of South Carolina. “That was good exposure and an experience sitting on the bench with the judge, doing legal research,” he says. Tedder’s career did not go without challenges. He acknowledges that he sat for the bar twice before actually passing it. That experience impacted him financially and was humiliating. After all, failure was not a familiar experience for this confident leader. “My favorite scripture, Jeremiah 29:11, kept me going at this time. , “For I know the plans I have for you, declared the Lord. Plans to prosper you and bring you no harm, plans of hope and a future. I kept reciting this,“ said Tedder.

“Had I passed the South Carolina bar, I would be limited to that state, but passing New York’s uniform bar allows me to practice in South Carolina as well as in North Carolina, where my family continues to live.”

Three is a charm, so on his third try, he passed the bar in the state of New York, which granted him reciprocity in several states, including South Carolina. “I know that everything happens for a reason. Had I passed the South Carolina bar, I would be limited to that state, but passing New York’s uniform bar allows me to practice in South Carolina as well as in North Carolina, where my family continues to live,” he says. In 2020, Tedder served in the South Carolina House of Representatives, representing District 109. While in office, the first bill passed by Representative Tedder was “HBCU Day,” which was created to bring greater awareness to historically black colleges and universities. The state of South Carolina recognizes HBCU Day each year on the third Tuesday in February, thanks to the former House Rep. Three years later, a South Carolina senate seat was vacated following the resignation of former SC Senator Marlon Kimpson, one of Tedder’s mentors. Deciding that he could make an even greater impact on others, Representative Tedder threw his hat in the senate race. Following a highly contested campaign, Tedder won by an 11-vote margin in the primary race. He went on to beat the Republican candidate, making history as South Carolina’s youngest state Senator at the age of 33. Earlier this year, surrounded by his wife of six months, Dr. Jillian BroughtonTedder, his mom, and his family village, Tedder was sworn into office as a South Carolina State Senator, representing District 42 (Charleston and Dorchester Counties). The newly elected senator plans to continue pushing legislation that supports affordable housing, public education, criminal justice reform, and the rights of women. “Whatever I do, I want to make sure to provide access and opportunities to other people,” he said. h

Raleigh/Durham - Feb./March 2024



Raleigh/Durham - Feb./March 2024

Information and Photos Provided by Narkie Nartey In a world faced with mounting environmental challenges, it is crucial to recognize and celebrate the tireless efforts of individuals and leaders dedicated to the sustainability of our Earth and the well-being of humanity. The Annual 2024 Wakaboomee Earth Day Gala, scheduled for April 20th, 2024 at the City Club Raleigh, promises to be a momentous occasion for North Carolina, bringing together remarkable leaders who have made a significant impact in the realm of environmental preservation. As the world grapples with climate change, habitat loss, and other pressing environmental issues, it is heartening to see individuals and organizations rise to the challenge. The 2024 Wakaboomee Earth Day Gala aims to honor these environmental champions whose voluntary contributions and scientific breakthroughs have played a pivotal role in safeguarding our planet. Key Highlights of the Gala: 1. Recognizing Remarkable Volunteerism: The Gala will shine a spotlight on those who have selflessly devoted their time and energy to various environmental causes. Their unwavering commitment to initiatives such as cleanups, reforestation, and conservation efforts serves as an inspiration to all. 2. Celebrating Contributions to Science: In a world that increasingly depends on scientific advancements to address environmental issues, this event will acknowledge and applaud those who have made groundbreaking contributions to the field of environmental science. From innovative technologies to cutting-edge research, these individuals are shaping the future of sustainability. 3. Fostering a Community of Sustainability: The Gala provides a unique platform for leaders from across North Carolina to come together, exchange ideas, and collaborate on future projects. It’s an opportunity to build bridges and create a united front for environmental conservation. 4. A Night of Inspiration and Reflection: The evening will be filled with captivating stories, motivational speeches, and a profound sense of purpose. Attendees will leave with a renewed commitment to the Earth and a deeper understanding of our collective responsibility. By highlighting the efforts of these remarkable individuals and encouraging a sense of unity and purpose, the Annual 2024 Wakaboomee Earth Day Gala hopes to foster a greater commitment to sustainability within the community and inspire others to take up the mantle of environmental stewardship. The journey to a sustainable future is challenging, but together, as a collective of dedicated individuals and leaders, we can make a significant difference. The 2024 Wakaboomee Earth Day Gala promises to be a night of celebration, reflection, and a call to action for a better, greener world.

Join us on April 20th, 2024, as we honor those who lead the way in preserving our planet and ourselves. Let this Gala serve as a reminder that our Earth’s future is in our hands, and together, we can build a sustainable legacy for generations to come. Special thank you to Trane Technologies, our premier Sponsor who has set the bar as Leaders of Sustainability. Trane Technologies support the efforts of The Wakaboomee Program 501(c)3 unlike no other as we are unified in our committment to provide all children with STEAM, Wellness & Entreprenurship education and opportunities. h

Raleigh/Durham - Feb./March 2024



Raleigh/Durham - Feb./March 2024

A Kingdom Creative By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Sharp Films

Joy Clayton wears many hats: mother, entrepreneur, and ministry leader. She confesses that God is first in her life. “I was born to believing parents who prayed for my salvation at conception. I gave my life to Christ watching the 700 Club when I was three because I couldn’t understand why someone who didn’t do bad things would die for the bad things I did and would do and the bad things others did. That’s the gospel. Innocent blood in exchange for a bloodline destined to be separated from a perfect God. I learned God as I grew.” The Norfolk, VA, resident is the founder of Joy R Clayton Enterprise, LLC. Her company is segmented into various divisions and DBA’s. Joy’s focus is creatively discovering and developing people’s purpose through education, connection, enjoyment, and community. MiraVida Solutions serves families, individuals, cross-sector companies, and nonprofits to assist neurodiverse teens and young adults transition into adulthood. With RIZound Movement Co., Joy aims to restore the zeal for wholistic wellness through movement, nutrition, and spiritual guidance. Other divisions include an urban arts academy and a Christian athleisure brand called Free Conqueror Apparel. Joy is a divorced mommy of one amazing seven-year-old brilliant brown boy whom she says is the light of her life. “I could talk about him all day.” Joy was raised in Delaware but frequently visited family in South Jersey. She attended Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ, and was heavily involved in church, high school, and college activities such as theater, dance, choir, writing/poetry, leading bible studies, and the Black Student Union. At Rider, Joy obtained a B.A in Psychology with a minor in Speech Communication. “Life has given me so many opportunities to develop myself artistically and professionally. I’m a teacher of the Bible and disciplemaker. I also lead two ministries, Arise & Ascend, where our mission is to curate community spaces for God, and 21Verses, a young women’s ministry that teaches others the ways of Jesus and how to navigate life in the Kingdom of God. I am also a business owner, Purposeful Lifestyle Development Coach, Neurodiversity Advocate & Educator, Speaker, and Spoken Word artist,” she says. Joy’s stage name is The Creative Word. Additionally, she is a NASM-CPT-certified personal trainer. At MiraVida Solutions, Joy is building an ecosystem that focuses on the neurodiverse community and those who support them. Her team offers tutoring, community guidance, advocacy and support, and much more. For cross-sector businesses, they are hired to train staff on how to hire, train, and retain neurodiverse people and how to serve them in their company. For communities, Joy says she plans to hold events that support enjoyment in the family dynamic and awareness of diversity, equity, and inclusion. “We creatively design strategic plans for all three personas,” Joy says. “In phase one, we are developing community partners that will support families on their journey into adulthood and serving families who need a second wind for the next season of their child’s life. It is very scary for parents I speak with to imagine what life will be like for their child living independently or with support. We are here to support those concerns and pain points. In phase two, we are hiring clinicians and opening a clinic that will be franchised or publically traded, Lord willing. In phase three, we are hiring, training, and retaining neurodiverse staff and reaching out to the younger generations to pique interest in this field so we have more color and more men. The mission is to create industry awareness, mentor professionals through scholarship towards certifications, then hire them and teach them to do the same for someone else. Most importantly, discipleship is the model all around.”



Raleigh/Durham - Feb./March 2024

Services with MiraVida Solutions are designed for families with teens and young adults between the ages 16-26. Joy points out that Autism affects African American and Latinx biological males at a higher rate, and as a double minority herself, Joy understands the need to have representation. “All neurodiverse males, and especially BIPOC neurodiverse males, need representation. This includes strong males, strong fathers, strong families, and strong communities. Neurodiversity does not exclude men from a purpose-filled life that leaves a legacy.” Neurodiversity is a new, yet very popular topic. “Diagnoses such as Autism, ADHD, and dyslexia are not sentences to a life of shame, humiliation, and worthlessness. We help families “See Life in the Light”. We take a different approach to help people and their supporters feel empowered. Our long-term plan is to change how the church and the culture adapt to these members of our society.”

“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Deut. 30:19-20

Joy gives all credit to God for the opportunity she has. “It is God. Period. You read these things on paper, and you think, “Wow!!” and I’m thinking, “How?!” God’s vision is to see people whole and set free. I go by JoyStaysFree on all social platforms because that is what God wants for all people: freedom from sin and the penalty of sin, then freedom to live an abundant life. We can’t live that life apart from Jesus, and He deeply cares about our struggle with Krispy Kreme and sugar, our family issues, our soul work, and the marginalized people with Autism, anxiety, depression, and ADHD. He cares. The enemy of your soul doesn’t give two ants about that five-year-old boy with delayed speech and parents who are trying their best to be parents and help him grow. He doesn’t care about your trauma and the wounds people left on your heart. He aims, fires, and leaves you there to bleed out on everything around you, and that makes God angry. God calls people like us, to take back the land and clean up the mess sin leaves behind. That’s the vision God has for the world, that we would take dominion- to occupy- do business until He comes back to make it right,” Joy says. When asked what she loves most about what she does, Joy shares, “I love to see people set free. I love to see the light bulbs in their mind and heart come on and shine bright when they see improvement and realize they are not alone. I love people even though they be peopling. I love it when people praise God for the victory and when He proves Himself to them by making a river in the desert and streams in the wilderness. I love to see the Son shine His light on a heart and it becomes new.” Joy credits her family, friends, and even former educators for inspiring her to become the woman she is today. She says, “I love my parents. I love them even when it’s difficult to. Relationships are hard, but you have to see the value in what God does when He gives you parents who pray and fast with and for you and teach you about their mistakes and how to avoid them. My son and my sister inspire me, too. It’s about where you come from, where you are going, and what you are leaving behind.”


Reflecting on her testimony, Joy states being saved at a young age does not mean there isn’t suffering, trauma, and heartbreak. Joy admits she walked away from the faith sophomore year in college and deconstructed her faith before it was popular. “God saved me so many nights, I owe Him way more than one life. I was talked about, rejected, cheated on, lied to, abandoned, suffered with anxiety attacks and with depression. BUT GOD!!! God set me free and I have not had anxiety since the day God set me free.” Joy states she has been set free, which is what drives her passion for business and ministry. Joy’s advice to others who may follow a similar path as the one she has is to obey God. “Break the generational cycles and stay free. It may not be easy, but you have to make a choice. Will you live in bondage to what the generations before you did, or will you press forward and accomplish what they could not? The choice for life is up to us. Once you have gotten free, you have to stay free,” she says. Looking ahead, Joy has set her sights on doing God’s business. She states, “If the Lord wills, I’m taking dominion. Period. I’m putting my son in a position of young entrepreneurship, and his coloring book will be released in Spring 2024. As the Lord leads, I plan to build, expand, and grow my businesses and ministries. I want to build a larger family and empower other singles to avoid some of the mistakes I made while training to be an example of Kingdom family life to the world.” Joy concludes by sharing, “Tomorrow is not promised, but there are some promises from God that are conditional upon obedience. I h choose to be a vessel of honor for His glory, and as I obey, His promises are yes, and in Him, Amen.” 38

Raleigh/Durham - Feb./March 2024


Raleigh/Durham - Feb./March 2024

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.