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PHOTO BY J. MARIELLA PHOTOGRAPHY

Derek Payne

Are you following your dreams?

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his past weekend I had the pleasure of meeting a young lady who drove to Columbus, Ohio from Cleveland, Ohio to discuss graphic design needs for her new business. The initiative of her driving several hours to meet instead of phone and internet discussions indicated to me the level of passion she had for her new business. Our meeting inspired me to ask several questions, “Are you doing what you love to do?” “What is your passion?” “Are you following your dreams?” For those of us who aspire to be better, it is evident to us that we need a plan in order to succeed. Many successful people find a mentor or someone to “show them the ropes” in their respective industry. Some people actually achieve their goals strictly through research and implementation. No matter what approach you’ve decided to take, it is imperative to remain focused and work smarter rather than harder. Continue following your dreams and striving to become a trendsetter in your community. Thank you Trina Kinnebrew for your encouragement and enthusiasm! Be blessed! - DPayne ■

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VP NOTES

OFFICIAL GRAPHIC DESIGNER FOR TRENDSETTERS TO TRENDSETTERS MAGAZINE


WILLIE STEWART

MESSAGE FROM THE PUBLISHER

was out looking at a house one Saturday and I ran into a man who was looking at the same house, and we began to chat. As we compared our family size, and preferred features of each one’s potential new home, it struck me that this man probably makes a lot more money than I do. The realtor shows up, we both look inside the home, and as we began to leave the property I said to him, “I’ll let you have it because I’m not rich enough to buy this house.” Not realizing at the time that the man was a minister, he said to me, “You may not be rich, but I’m sure you are wealthy.” It never dawned on me until that day, that there is a difference between being rich, and being wealthy. Anybody can be rich. If you live above the poverty level, you’re considered to be rich. Rich people are governed by the economic system of the world, and can be poor at any given moment. If the economy falls, your riches fall. But when you’re wealthy, it doesn’t matter if the economy is up or down, you are still wealthy. Being wealthy means you’re able to weather the storm and still have peace in your spirit. The person that is wealthy can

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sit back in a cubby hole with nothing to eat but Ramen noodles and be happy. You open your cabinets and your refrigerator and you’re grateful for whatever is in there. You’re wealthy when you have serenity, and you don’t allow the cares of the world to affect how you feel about people. Wealthy has everything to do with what’s in your heart, and being prosperous, not in your hands and pockets, but in your soul. When your soul is prosperous it produces a joy and peace that surpasses all understanding. It has nothing to do with what is tangible. So don’t be fooled by the riches of the world, or enticed that they will make you happy. Be fulfilled with integrity and character. Get away from the place where you feel being rich is more important. Begin to understand the value of your own wealth, and the importance of living a meaningful life of purpose. Don’t dwell on the material possessions of others. And stop comparing the monetary value of your neighbors’ riches and belongings, to what you do not have. For being wealthy brings peace and tranquility beyond what the eye can see. I remember leaving the community that day feeling better than when I arrived, and grateful that God allowed my path to cross with someone so positive. I am proud and thankful for the things that I have, and the peace that is within my soul. I am wealthy. Which one are you? ■

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PUBLISHER’S NOTES

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Are you Rich…..or Are you Wealthy?


“From the EYES of a Child…” By Bennie Foster

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Growing up a country boy in Madison, Mississippi left many vivid memories. I became a city boy at the age of 13 when my family was forced to move to Jackson, which is like moving from Decatur to Atlanta, after the tragic loss of our home to a fire. This was a pivotal transition in our lives. My mom, Minnie, and dad, Bennie Sr. went through a separation before eventually divorcing. My two older sisters, my baby sister and I began to go through what I call the “You gonna have to get used to it…” years. My dad started living at his mom’s house and moved on with his life while my mom, my sisters, and I were learning at a rapid, harsh, unapologetic pace. “You gonna have to get used to it!” By this time, my super dad and I were like two peas in a pod. Everything he did or said, I mirrored and mimicked. So, this divorce thing was causing me to look at life a whole lot differently. The only father I had known and grown used to taking me hunting and fishing, slopping the hogs, planting, tending, and harvesting the garden, and even horseback riding for miles was gone. My father and I were so in tune with one another. We had walkie–talkies and even CB radio handles of Papa Bear and Baby Bear. Even our physical mannerisms were alike-our walk, our talk, our smiles, our dimples, and our laugh. He showed me how to gather eggs out of the chicken coop, bag vegetables from the garden and slay a hog for meat for the winter. He taught me

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some of the smallest, yet biggest things that I still utilize to this day. As confusing as it was to me back then, it is much clearer now. For a few years after their separation, mom would periodically bring to my attention that my laugh and facial gestures reminded her of him. She would say, “Boy you laughed just like your dad just then!” I would hear pain and pride co-mingled in her voice. At times shortly after her painful praise of me, I would be scolded for minor, seemingly insignificant things I did or didn’t do. Yet, I never stopped loving my mom. She nurtured us into her relationship with our Step-father Charles as he supported her and us greatly, which we all learned to appreciate him and his love for our mom. From the eyes of a child I realized that she was not just telling us that we were going to have to get used to it but acknowledging that she was “Gonna have to get used to it” too. She led by example. She had to become super mom and did all she could to continue to cover us. Even though my mom often chanted “I’m sorry but…you gonna have to get used to it…,” it never felt like any one was empathetic about my situation. Yet my mom refused to have a pity party over it. She raised us to reverence, praise, and worship God for all of His grace and mercy. She limited me running the streets or partying too much and even gave me balance with the extra -curricular activities. Mom was my biggest fan and cheerleader as I played basketball and ran

CJ and Minnie

Back Row: Bennie, Beverly, Wanda and Tracy track. She took up for me and was my protector on more than one occasion. She helped me learn how and when to pick my battles. As I look back and reflect from the eyes of the man I am today, I believe no matter what our past issues or challenges have been, we all should honor, appreciate, and love our Mothers. I love you Mom… Happy Mother’s Day! ■

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A TRIBUTE: Bishop Andrew Howard By Melody Edwards

Bishop Andrew Howard and Daughter Melody Edwards

Born August 4, 1930 in Sumter, South Carolina, Bishop Andrew Howard is one of 13 children of which three remain. His family moved to Brooklyn, New York when he was six months old, and needless to say life was interesting for the Howard family. “We used to wear hand me downs – one outgrew it, they put it on the one that was a little lower. When we were coming up things were real tight then.” His dad worked as a janitor for the New York City Subway until he was 70 years old, and his mom was a homemaker. Bishop Howard’s dad and mom were both preachers, so church was not optional. “Momma always took us to church when we were young.” His parents stayed together for approximately 50 years until his mother’s death. The entrepreneurial spirit was something that was passed down in the Howard family. Bishop Howard’s dad acquired four properties in New York, and started a stand where he sold fruits and vegetables, and several of his children established businesses of their own. “Andy, the Handy Man” is what they called Bishop Howard. He even had business cards with that slogan across the top. He did everything from detailing cars, moving furniture and pianos, to driving school buses. Eventually he also acquired property. In addition, he worked the night shift as a Therapeutic Aid for 25 years until he retired at 55 and went into full time ministry. Bishop Howard took an interest in the church early, and began speaking in church as a teenager. He was ordained at around 20 years old. He soon left his home church and traveled around singing in quartets, playing drums, and preaching, until he settled down to pastor a church in Brooklyn. My dad – Bishop Andrew Howard – that’s right – I’m a “Preacher’s Kid.” I learned so many valuable lessons from him, including the importance of a man’s character. He loves his cars (I can remember those Deuce and a Quarters), and he has always loved to dress; don’t mess with his clothes! People often looked at us from the outside, and some were even jealous because they thought we were the “perfect” family. In their ignorance they failed to see that like everyone else, we had our struggles. Sometimes it was hard, like when I wanted him to just give me the fish, and as I got older, he would teach me to fish instead. And then it got harder, like when my mom began to exhibit the first signs of mental illness when I was 16. Eventually there was a separation – and then a divorce. But through everything, Daddy has always been supportive, and I am forever grateful for the foundation that he and my mom provided. Daddy was never the touchy feely type, but I have always known him to have a kind heart, and rarely have I seen him really lose his cool. Riding in the car the other day he looked to the right and pointed. “That’s where I’m going to be buried….I already purchased the plot.” We looked at the fresh flowers and benches in the memorial garden and he jokingly asked if we were going to visit, and sit and talk to him. We laughed, but for a moment my heart skipped a beat, because I know he won’t be with me always. I watch as his gait gets a little bit slower and realize how blessed I am to have him in my life. His advice to his three children, eight grandchildren and six great grandchildren – “Do the right thing; go the right way, and help somebody as you go along; don’t do evil for evil.”

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Thank you…… I love you Daddy. ■


TRENDSETTERS TO TRENDSETTERS STAFF PUBLISHER Willie Stewart / Atlanta, GA DIRECTOR OF SOCIAL NETWORK MARKETING & WEB DEVELOPMENT **Lukeither Willingham / Atlanta, GA VICE PRESIDENT / CREATIVE ART DIRECTOR Derek Payne / Columbus, OH DIRECTOR of MARKETING Kenneth Prophet / Atlanta, GA DIRECTOR of PUBLIC RELATIONS Glenda Scott / Atlanta, GA COPY EDITOR Melody Edwards / Atlanta, GA EDITOR Greta Wheeler / Atlanta, GA FREELANCE WRITERS Greta Wheeler / Atlanta, GA Shernita Wiggins / Atlanta, GA Beverly Hill Shelley / Atlanta, GA Glenda Scott / Atlanta, GA Melody Edwards / Atlanta, GA CONTRIBUTING WRITERS **Kirstin Fuller / Washington, DC Dr. Linda Amerson / Arlington, TX Joseph Booker / Baton Rouge, LA Carmen M. Colon / New York City, NY Nita Gray / Atlanta, GA PHOTOGRAPHY Joe Carter (J. Carter Photography) Atlanta, GA Rodney Adams Photography Memphis, TN TRENDSETTERS TO TRENDSETTERS MEDIA GROUP RESERVES THE RIGHT TO PUBLISH ANY MATERIALS RECEIVED. WE APPRECIATE ALL MATERIAL, HOWEVER, SUBMISSIONS MUST BE OF A POSITIVE AND INFORMATIVE NATURE. PLEASE MAIL OR EMAIL ARTICLES TO WSTEWART@TRENDTOTRENDMAG.COM | TRENDSETTERS TO TRENDSETTERS MAGAZINE, 3007 PANOLA ROAD | SUITE 283C | LITHONIA, GA 30038 / 1866-958-7363.

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what’s inside

04 VP Notes 05 Publisher Notes 22 Young & Trendy 24 Up and Coming Trendsetters 31 Education Trends 41 Commentary 42 Health & Wellness Trends 47 Business Trends 48 Fitness Trends 50 Inspirational 56 Event Trends 62 Fashion Trends 64 Arts and Entertainment 68 Real Estate Trends

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features

12 Trendsetter Spotlight

Congressman John Lewis Rev. Doctor Joseph Lowery Ambassador Andrew Young Celebration of Women

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38 Cover Story

Jerome “Ro” Brooks

49 Fitness Spotlight Kashma Maharaj

54 Author’s Corner Yakinea Marie John Baker

58 Beauty Spotlight

”Triple The Beauty” Dedra, Donna & Dadra

ON THE COVER: ◄

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Today’s Leading Man, Jerome “RO” Brooks of Tyler Perry’s “The Haves and the Have Nots”

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“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” TRENDSETTERS TO TRENDSETTERS MAGAZINE TRENDSETTERS TO TRENDSETTERS MAGAZINE

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- MAYA ANGELOU JAN / FEB 2014 11


TRENDSETTER SPOTLIGHT

A National Treasure:

CONGRESSMAN JOHN ROBERT LEWIS By Ava Alexander

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“In 1963 when I became the Chair of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), I had no idea that we would have such an impact. I was only trying to do my part and just help out. Growing up in rural Alabama during the 40’s and 50’s, I saw segregation and racial discrimination – I tasted the bitter fruit of racism and didn’t like it.” Congressman John Robert Lewis, representing Georgia’s 5th District, is speaking to me about the fire that was lit in him many years ago – the fire that would move him to sit-ins, freedom rides, historical marches - March on Washington (1963) and the Selma to Montgomery March (1965) - over 40 arrests and jailings, brutal beatings and injuries. The Congressman continues to recount his desire to understand and make sense of it all when he was just a boy. “I would ask my parents and grandparents why this was happening. They told me it is just the way it is – don’t get in trouble or get in the way. They told me not to get involved,” he said. But getting involved is exactly what he did. When he was only 15, he’d heard about Rosa Parks and heard the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on his radio. “The actions of Rosa Parks and Dr. King’s words and leadership inspired me. Two years later I met Rosa Parks and the next year I met Dr. King and it changed my life. I made a commitment that I would do whatever I could in a peaceful, nonviolent fashion to help end segregation and racial discrimination in America.” Before he ever met Dr. King, young John had first written him a letter in 1957, when he was only 18. He had applied for admissions into Troy State College (now known as Troy University) and forwarded his transcripts, but had never heard back from the school. He wrote to Dr. King and asked for his help. Dr. King responded to Lewis’ letter by sending him a roundtrip Greyhound bus ticket to Montgomery to meet him. “I didn’t tell my parents about the letter. When I arrived in Montgomery, I was taken to meet with Dr. King at the First Baptist Church pastored by Rev. Dr. Ralph Abernathy. I was ushered into the Pastor’s study and saw Rev. Abernathy and Dr. King standing behind a desk. I was so nervous and scared. I knew that I was standing in the midst of greatness. Dr. King asked, ‘Are you the boy from Troy? Are you John Lewis?’ and I said, ‘Dr. King, I am John Robert Lewis.’ And from that moment on, we clicked and became friends.” Congressman Lewis continued to share his memories of Dr. King. “When you went to a mass meeting or had a one-on-one conversation with him, you came away believing that you could do anything,” he continues. “At

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and liberated people, not just people of color, but a nation. The vote is powerful – the most powerful nonviolent instrument or tool that we have in a democratic society – it is almost sacred and precious. You can be middle class, very wealthy or poor – but we all have one vote and we can use it to bring about change.” I asked the Congressman if he ever thought he’d see a black President in office in his lifetime. “If someone had told me that I would live to see a black man – a person of color- as President, I would have said they were crazy and out of their minds! I would have accused them of not knowing what they were talking about.” He says that on the night of the election, he was speaking to a group at Ebenezer church. The television was on and, although continuing to address the group, he kept one eye on the elections. “I looked out of my right eye and could see the screen – Pennsylvania and Ohio had gone for Barack Obama! I knew then that he’d won and it was just a matter of time before he would be declared the winner.” I could hear the excitement in the Congressman’s voice as he recalled that night. “I jumped so high and started crying and I didn’t think my feet were going to touch the floor. During the inauguration, I cried tears of happiness and joy and kept wishing that Dr. King and the other members of the Big Six were there. I wished that President Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Medgar Evers and my parents were all there, along with all the people who died and never lived to register to vote.” Congressman Lewis reflected on us

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dered to myself if I would have had the courage and bravery that he and so many others had during those turbulent times. Would I have been on the front lines marching for equality and risking arrest or even death? Or would I have been too afraid to fight? I asked John Robert if he was ever afraid or ever considered leaving the movement. I wanted to know where his courage, dedication and tenacity came from. A true soldier in the fight for freedom, he responded, “As students and young people in Nashville, during the fall of 1959 and spring of 1960, every Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m., near Fisk University, a group of us would attend nonviolent workshops and study the ways of peace and love – we studied what Gandhi attempted to do in South Africa and what he accomplished in India– what Dr. King was all about in Montgomery and many of us accepted the way of nonviolence as a way of life. In discussions during those meetings, they spoke about what could happen – we could be arrested and jailed, beaten or killed. We were prepared to die for what we believed in. I lost all sense of fear. The first time I was arrested was February 27, 1960 for sitting in at the Woolworth lunch counter. Eighty nine of us were arrested. I felt so free and liberated – I felt like I had crossed over. I never, ever considered or thought about getting out of the movement, or giving up.” I asked him what he felt was the single most relevant and life changing civil right that we have today. “The most important accomplishment has been the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It has freed

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times he was like a big brother – he was my hero and my friend – he inspired me. I often wonder if it had not been for Dr. King, what would have happened to me.” Congressman Lewis states that Dr. King wanted to pursue legal action against the school, but warned him that if they did so, that his family’s home could be bombed and they could lose their land. After returning to Alabama and talking to his parents, he decided to study in Nashville instead. “My folks were so afraid – they didn’t want anything to do with my efforts to get in. I was only 18 and couldn’t sign the papers myself – it required my parents’ signatures. My mother and father had been share croppers and my mother begged me later on to get out once I became involved in the movement. They lived in fear.” Lewis says that he continued his studies in Nashville and eventually became the Chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1963. The SNCC was greatly responsible for organizing student activism. “Later I got involved in the freedom rides and Dr. King invited me to become a member of the board of the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference) – as a liaison between the students and the adults in the movement.” At only 23, Congressman Lewis was the youngest member of what was considered the Big Six leaders in the fight for civil rights, which included Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., James Farmer, A. Phillip Randolph, Roy Wilkins and Whitney Young. As I listened to Congressman Lewis share his story, I won-


Reverend Doctor Joseph E. Lowery

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Cover Photo By Caselove Productions

B.A., B.D., LL.D., D.D., L.H.D.

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Civil Rights Born in Huntsville, Alabama, Dr. Lowery’s legacy of service and struggle is long and rich. His genesis as a Civil Rights advocate dates to the early 1950’s where, in Mobile, Alabama he headed the Alabama Civic Affairs Association; the organization which led the movement to desegregate buses and public accommodations. In 1957, with friend and colleague Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., he was a Co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). He served as Vice President (1957-67); Chairman of the Board (1967-77); and, as President and Chief Executive Officer from Feb. 1977 – Jan.15, 1998. In 1961, while still in Mobile, Lowery was one of four Alabama pastors whose property was seized by the Alabama Courts in a historic, precedent setting libel suit, Sullivan v. NY Times, Abernathy, Lowery, Shuttlesworth, & Seay, because of their civil rights work. The United States Supreme Court vindi-

Servant, Freedom Fighter, Advocate As president of SCLC, he negotiated covenants with major corporations for employment advances and business contracts with minority companies. He led one of the first protest campaigns against the Atlanta based Southern Company for contracting to purchase ten million tons of coal from South Africa (1977). He was among the first five persons arrested at the South African Embassy in Washington, D.C. in the “Free South Africa” campaign (1984). He co-chaired the 1990 Nelson Mandela visit to Atlanta following his release from prison, and awarded Mandela the SCLC/Martin Luther King, Jr. Human Rights Award. In 1998, he was Keynote Speaker at the African Renaissance Dinner in Durban, South Africa honoring Mr. Mandela’s retirement. He was invited to keynote the dedication of a school and hospital in East Germany honoring Martin Luther King, Jr; led a Peace Delegation to the Middle East and met with the President of Lebanon and with Yasser Arafat to seek justice by nonviolent means; led another Peace Delegation to Central Amer- ►

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ailed as the “Dean of the Civil Rights Movement” upon his receipt of the NAACP’s “Lifetime Achievement Award,” Rev. Dr. Joseph Echols Lowery has assumed and executed a broad and diverse series of roles over the span of his eight decades: Leader, Pastor/ Preacher, Servant, Father, Husband, Freedom Fighter and Advocate. One milestone in this remarkable journey took place on August 12, 2009 when President Barack Obama awarded him the nation’s highest civilian honor: “The Presidential Medal of Freedom,” in recognition of his lifelong commitment to the nonviolent struggle for the causes of justice, human rights, economic equality, voting rights, peace and human dignity. Prior to that, on January 20, 2009, in his inimitable style, Dr. Lowery delivered the Benediction on the occasion of President Obama’s inauguration as the 44th President of the United States.

cated the ministers in a landmark ruling which defined and clarified constitutionally protected freedoms, and made possible the accurate and unfettered reporting of civil rights campaigns. To this day, the case is an important element in setting forth the protections afforded the free speech rights of the press, and of citizens advocating and protesting for justice and societal change (Read Make No Law by Anthony Lewis, 1964). In March 1965, Dr. Lowery was chosen by Dr. King to Chair the Delegation delivering the demands of the Selma-toMontgomery March to Alabama Governor George Wallace. As the world witnessed, Wallace ordered the marchers beaten in the incident that came to be known as “Bloody Sunday” --- and ---which ultimately led to enactment of the Voting Rights Act. Years later, in 1995, as Dr. Lowery led the 30th Anniversary Re -enactment of the historic march, former Gov. Wallace personally apologized to him for his conduct. In Birmingham, he served as president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, which spearheaded the hiring of the city’s first twenty Black police officers, among other accomplishments. He was also a leader in the movement in Nashville to desegregate public accommodations.


First Class, Inc

The Andrew J. Young Foundation Celebrates Ambassador Andrew Young’s 82nd Birthday with Special Honored Guest Stevie Wonder

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Hosts the Pass on Blessings Awards 2014 Honoring American Legends Who Helped Build Modern Atlanta, Modern America

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he Andrew J. Young Foundation will celebrate the 82nd birthday of its founder, Ambassador Andrew Young with its 2nd Pass on Blessings Awards ceremony to be held on Sunday, May 18, 2014 at 6:00 pm at the Buckhead Theatre, 3110 Roswell Rd, Atlanta, GA 30305 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Pass on Blessings Award was created to affirm the giving spirit and actions of accomplished people who have used the bounty of

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Ø President Lyndon Baines Johnson and Lady B i r d J o h n s o n (posthumously) o Luci Baines Johnson (daughter, accepting) Ø Henry “Hank” Aaron and Billye Suber Aaron Ø John C. Portman, Jr. and Jan Portman Ø Herman J. Russell, Sr. and Sylvia E. Russell Ø Stevie Wonder The Pass on Blessings Awards was coined by Carolyn McClain Young, Vice Chair of the Andrew J. Young Foundation, and wife of Ambassador Young, in homage to a quote made famous by Oprah Winfrey which states, “Blessings are not ours to keep, they’re ours to give away.” Young decided during the planning of her husband’s 80th birthday

celebration that it was an appropriate time for the Foundation to honor those who have passed the blessings they've received in life on to others. Oprah Winfrey received one of the first Pass on Blessings Awards in 2012. Ambassador Young stressed the need to salute the honorees for this year’s ceremony. “The progress and success of Atlanta is based on a half-century of visionary service. Many people today think it happened by accident,” states Ambassador Andrew Young. “With the Pass on Blessings Awards ceremony we are saying thank you to the courage and contributions of the investors in this vision, and in so doing, helping the millions of new Atlantans realize how all of this came together. It was through collaboration. We brought businesses, government, churches, universities and the panorama of cultures together. That is what has made Atlanta the city of the future.” As the nation recognizes the 50th anniversary of hallmark legislation passed by President Lyndon B. Johnson, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act, Medicare, Head Start, the Food Stamp program, and many others, the Foundation deemed it fitting to honor Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson whose achievements during his administration transformed America. The bills Johnson signed into law struck down racial barriers, promoted equal rights and opened the doors to opportunity for black Americans. Their service to this

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country left a legacy that continues to shape American life today. “In the wake of the civil rights movement, Atlanta came of age as a model of cross-racial cooperation as a means to economic growth and opportunity for all, a model that subsequently set the standard for cities across the nation,” said Andrea Young, Executive Director of the Andrew J. Young Foundation. “For a decade now, the Foundation has fostered a mission to continue the vision, values and virtues that have moved this nation to a higher ground. Our Pass on Blessings 2014 honorees embody those same ideals and have demonstrated their commitment for a better society in their life’s work.” The ceremony will be emceed by legendary Atlanta newswoman Monica Pearson and actors Nicole Ari Parker and Boris Kodjoe. Superstar recording artist Stevie Wonder will be on hand to receive a Pass on Blessings Award for his life’s work as a global ambassador for peace and justice through music. The “UK Queen of Soul” now Atlanta transplant, Julie Dexter, will perform throughout the show. Event co-chairs are Alexander B. Cummings, Jr., Vicki R. Palmer, Nick C. Sellers and Carolyn McClain Young. The first Pass on Blessings Awards ceremony was held in 2012 in conjunction with Ambassador Young’s 80th birthday celebration and featured a host of celebrities and star-studded performances. Oprah Winfrey,

Edwin Moses, Dallas Austin and Laura Turner Seydel were on hand to receive the first Pass on Blessings Awards and were serenaded by India Arie, Tyrese, Rev. T. Renee Crutcher, and many others. Proceeds from the event are used to support the ongoing work and operation of the Andrew J. Young Foundation. For more information and to purchase tickets or a sponsorship, visit www.andrewjyoungfoundati on.org About the Andrew J. Young Foundation The Andrew J. Young Foundation exists to share the vision, values and virtues that shaped the life of a Civil Rights activist, a U. S. Ambassador to the United Nations, a two-term Atlanta mayor, and a world champion of human rights. The Foundation provides vehicles and opportunities so that others may be inspired by Andrew Young’s life experiences. Award-winning documentaries, lectures, international health projects, and community engagement initiatives are among the Foundation’s programs that give insight and instruction based on Ambassador Young’s zeal for education, world health, leadership and human rights. ■

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their blessings to make a difference in the lives of others. This year’s ceremony will recognize the life and work of American legends that helped build Atlanta’s skyline and Atlanta’s image as a world-class metropolis, and changed America from a divided to a united nation. Their contributions and acts of courage in government, business, philanthropy, sports, entertainment, and human and civil rights were instrumental in breaking down racial barriers, and racial and economic injustice in America; altering the course of our nation; and creating a legacy that continues to make an impact on Atlanta and the world. The Pass on Blessings 2014 honorees are:


Celebration of Women

First and Foremost - Faith Story by Melody Edwards

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He who loses money loses much. He who loses a friend loses more. But he who loses faith loses all.

_Robert E. Lee

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t was one of the opening quotes from Dr. Paulette C. Walker’s speech at the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, Atlanta Alumnae Chapter, Annual Awards Luncheon. The luncheon, Celebration of Women, took place on April 2nd, at the Renaissance Concourse Airport Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia. Among the honorees were three women who were presented with Fortitude Awards, for their faith and determination to rise above tragedy, and effect social change through their personal chronicles. The grief of losing a child is unimaginable, but to lose a child to a violent act imposed without a cause, is a lamentation of the soul. These women have demonstrated courage beyond faintheartedness, strength beyond despair, and charity beyond aversion. Sybrina Fulton – “Please use my broken heart to say to yourselves, we cannot let this happen to anybody else’s child….I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, God is using my family to make a change.” Her face has become a nationwide symbol of the fight for justice and change. In 2012, after the violent death of her unarmed 17-year old son, Trayvon Martin, Fulton turned adversity into advocacy, and became a spokesperson for Parents and Concerned Citizens across the country. She, along with Trayvon’s father, Tracy Martin, have established The Trayvon Martin Foundation under the auspices of The Miami Foundation. Their mission is to advocate against senseless gun violence; raise awareness about all forms of profiling; educate youth on conflict resolution techniques; provide scholarships; and, provide financial and moral support to fami-

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lies who have lost children under the age of 18 to senseless gun violence – regardless of race, ethnicity or gender. Lucia K. McBath – “The last time that I received anything from him was a Mother’s Day card and that Mother’s Day card…. he said, ‘Mom, you have been my number one fan; you have always supported me when no one else has; you’ve been my biggest cheerleader…..I haven’t always allowed you to kiss me, or to hug on me, but I do know that you’re the best mother I ever could have and I love you dearly.’” In 2012, McBath’s son, 17-year old Jordan Davis, was violently gunned down when 10 rounds from a gun were fired into a vehicle that Jordan was sitting in with his friends. Three of those rounds hit and killed Jordan. The person who shot Jordan was agitated about the “loud music” coming from the vehicle. McBath is now championing for common sense gun laws and solutions to the epidemic gun violence in this country. She has met with the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on the “Stand Your Ground” laws; she has gone to Washington, D.C. to meet with members of the Congressional Black Caucus; she has lobbied at the offices of Georgia state legislators, and she continues to speak out as National Spokesperson for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, about the violence that infects our nation. McBath recently established the Walk with Jordan Scholarship Foundation which provides charitable and educational assistance to graduating high school students attending traditional as well as training colleges and universities. Domestic Violence is an evil that has for too long permeated our society. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) reports that one in every four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, and an estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year. Christy Tucker Sims – “I didn’t find God in this process; I’ve had Him my whole life and I’ve always known where to go when I’m in trouble, and I’m in trouble right now, so I know where to go. I have an amazing support system of family and friends….the entire city of Atlanta has come out to support me. MAY/JUNE 2014


It’s hard to stay in a hole for so long, I go in those holes, but it’s hard to stay there when you are surrounded by so much grace and so many good people. They override the evil that’s happened to me.” In 2013, Sims’ ex-boyfriend doused her with sulfuric acid, disfiguring her and causing her to sustain 3rd and 4th degree burns to over 20 percent of her body, including her entire face, neck, chest and arms, changing her life, and the lives of her two children forever. Although she has a long and challenging road ahead, including numerous surgeries, Sims is advocating not only for herself, but for other victims of domestic violence. She established the Christy Sims Foundation which provides assistance to victims of domestic violence and their children by educating the community, increasing awareness, raising funds to support victims of domestic violence, and providing resources to help them rebuild their lives. Eight other women were honored with 2014 Torch Awards: Jamese Carey Beauford, President of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women in Atlanta; Brooke Jackson Edmond, Executive Vice President and Founder of Jackmont

Hospitality, Inc., Debra F. Harris, Public Servant and Community Leader; Jan Jackson, Educator and Co-founder of The Books for Miles Foundation; Darlene Kimes, Retiree of the City of Atlanta and Community Advocate; Bernese Meyer, Social Service Counselor and Social Event Planner; Betty M. Neal, Educator and Community Leader; Rogsbert F. PhillipsReed, General Surgeon and Community Service Leader; and, Erica Qualls, General Manager of the Atlanta Marriott Marquis was honored with the 2014 Trailblazer Award. We honor and celebrate you all for your perseverance, and most of all – your faith! www.TrayvonMartinFoundation.org www.christysims.org www.walkwithjordan.org

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YOUNG & TRENDY

Elijah

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lijah Johnson is an extraordinary 12-year old boy

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from Akron, Ohio. He has unlimited vocal ability that will leave you breathless and speechless at the same time. From an early age it was known that Elijah had a strong sense of rhythm. He was never a child who clapped off beat or sung off key. Before the age of one, one of his aunts bought him his first, of many, microphones. At 16 months old, Elijah suffered a near fatal head injury that required brain surgery. Elijah pulled through the surgery and from there his vocal ability intensified. He continued his musical journey by always performing in front of family,

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friends and school functions, every chance he got. He was encouraged by all who supported him. Elijah joined the Kingdom Kidz Choir at his hometown church, The House of the Lord. It wasn't until Elijah sang at his grandparent’s 50th anniversary at the age of six that he began to get recognized. At eight, he was the youngest competitor in the Bobby Jones "Who's Got It Gospel Competition." Even though he didn't win, it didn't discourage him but made him more determined and confident in wanting to perform. Elijah wanted more opportunities to perform and use the platform set before him. He started auditioning for singing and acting roles. He did this at the request of local producers and directors of various productions. He performed on local films: "Disappearing Man" and "Darbus: The Happy Forest Expedition," which he sung on the title tracks. Elijah has been a guest performer on the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) and he also performed in several local stage plays, one of which was "Fat Albert." He was hand-picked to portray the character "Russell." An original song was written for the role, specifically for Elijah to sing. Elijah has also done a voice over for a five minute "Who Done It" mystery. He’s conducted several radio interviews and has traveled to various locations to compete and perform including Orlando, Florida. Elijah has a fun and creative side. In his spare time, he enjoys writing music, dancing, playing basketball, and portraying fictional characters that he has created. Although he has done far more than this, he would need to write a book to tell it all. ■

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y name is Brianna Cox, and I am 14 years old. My main two passions are dance and poetry. I got into poetry when I was about 11 years old. At once it was just something I did for school, that was until I realized how skilled I was at it. Poetry was something I kept hidden; I never thought it would become such an important part of my life. Now, I would say it’s my first love. The inspiration to writing “Sky” was very basic; I wanted to take a direction of a simple topic. With this topic I wanted to give off a meaningful moral. “Sky” is a poem about your mental state; your sky is your mind. It’s with you everywhere you go, whatever you feel is shown through your sky. In your sky there is that one person who guards you; you could say your guardian angel. So, with this approach I created “Sky.”

Brianna

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I am the sky I stretch for miles on end I have moods just like humans Sometimes I’m happy or I’m so sad I’ll soak up some water. And let it run down to The earth again My face changes all the time. One day I might be blue the Next I might be gray. I have friends up with me The clouds and the sun I am always there even when you’re not looking But that’s me I’m always around 24/7 The sky I shall be. ■


First Class, Inc

Kirstie Alexandra Bronner (left); Kristie Alexis Bronner (right)

Kirstie & Kristie Bronner launch the next phase of their exceptional career “With strategy, the Source, and sweat, genius isn’t necessary for success.”.”

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Kirstie and Kristie Bronner, best known as the “Bronner twins” who graduated as double valedictorians from Spelman College in 2013 with the world watching, have launched the next phase of their budding, extraordinary career. Wise beyond their years, Kirstie and Kristie have combined their talents to write a book – “Double Vals: The Keys to Success in College and Life Beyond,” recently published and celebrated at an April 14th Book Launch Party held at the Riverside EpiCenter (Austell, GA). Serving as youth pastors at Word of Faith Family Worship Cathedral (Austell, GA), these young women have unleashed their skills, knowledge, personalities, and tireless energy, on those who will listen. People, young and old, are listening to what they have to say. Versed with the legacy of family and with God in their lives, they are already a force in the 21 st century, sometimes referred to as the “God Generation.” Their latest achievement, Double Vals: The Keys to Success in College and Life Beyond, is a small part of their ministry and the work they do at Word of Faith Family Worship Cathedral [WOF]. They lead the WOF Ignite Youth Ministry, which is designed to help young people grow by providing an environment of accountability, counsel, and friendship. WOF Ignite meets on Thursday evenings at the Riverside EpiCenter, 135 Riverside Parkway at 7:30 p.m. It was almost a year ago since the media blitz that introduced the Bronner Twins, now 23, when they graduated from Spelman College, both music majors with a 4.0 grade point average. The young women are currently focused on a career path with the youth ministry and music department at Word of Faith Family Worship Cathedral, which is led by their father, Bishop Dale Bronner. Their immediate plans are to grow their ministry, record a contemporary Christian CD, and to write another new book. ■

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Photo By VOD Photo

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Kecia Johnson “Stop The Stigma” By MeMe House of PR

15. She will be an Artist Management guest instructor for the WEEN Academy class of 2014 in Harlem, NY. Kecia will be known for her work in the music business and her passion to change the world, but she will serve a legendary purpose as the new face of HIV/AIDS in 2014. Teaching everyone to stop the stigma, you don’t have to “look sick” to be positive. Kecia states, “You need to know that the disease is nothing like it

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used to be and everyone with the disease has been chosen for a higher purpose.” For more info go to www.iamkeciaj.com ■

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ost people find it strange how peaceful Kecia Johnson is living with a disease the world frowns upon. Kecia grew up with a good family, she went to college, and she got a bachelors degree. Everything you would expect to happen to someone with great family support was happening in Kecia’s life. At 22 years old, Kecia fell sick and was told she had contracted AIDS after dating someone who was not faithful. Being an Artist Manager in the music industry with a public relationship placed Kecia in a very sensitive spot at that moment. Since then, Kecia has discovered her purpose in life and is doing what God has called her to do. She took that platform in the music industry and used it as a tool to change the game of HIV and AIDS. She travels the nation telling her story, providing empowerment, motivation, and education at conferences, colleges, events, and high schools through her company, Absolutely SIKning. Kecia is a certified HIV/AIDS health educator and an 8-year survivor. She continues to live a normal life, aside from the obvious (medication). She’s into fashion, music, and traveling. She works in Artist Management, with major record label experience. With Kecia’s place in the music industry she has created, “Stop The Stigma” campaign, with the goal to raise HIV/AIDS awareness through music. She is asking entertainers to do PSA’s or lyrics to raise awareness for her campaign. In the Fall, you can expect a “Stop The Stigma” music tour to benefit HIV/AIDS. Some of Kecia’s upcoming projects include the release of her new book, “Dying To Be D.I.V.A” on May 15, 2014. Kecia is very much a “D.I.V.A,” Doing It Vivaciously Alone and her book will share a story that most won’t tell. Book Signing will be held during her 7-city tour, with the first stop being Atlanta, GA on June


Kwajalyn Brown of the Tyler Perry's Hit Show, “The Haves and the Have Nots” Shares her Acting Journey By Sylvie Chantal Humphreys

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recurring guest-star on the Tyler Perry's hit TV show, The Haves and the Have Nots (aired weekly on OWN), as well as a returning act on Lifetime Television's Drop Dead Diva as Judge Tara Flint, Kwajalyn Brown is taking Hollywood by storm! Sensational, passionate, and fun-loving, Kwajalyn Brown is as unique as her name, and ultimately on her way to stardom. Originally from Jacksonville, Florida, the daughter of a minister and minister's wife, and a Public Relations major/Theater minor from Georgia State University, Kwajalyn moved to GA in 1998 pursuant to marrying her military husband a year prior. Unfortunately, however, this once blissful union reached a terminus before the two could share the joys of parenthood or pet ownership. Nevertheless, Kwajalyn refuses to allow anything to stand in her way. Being currently represented by the reputable J. Pervis Talent Agency, you can find her living out her dreams on the stage, film, and television! She has always known she was destined for greatness! In her past life, Kwajalyn Brown worked as a Commercial Real Estate Project Coordinator, developing shopping centers, and subsequently in the Atlanta University Center (AUC) as an Executive Assistant in the Development Department. Kwajalyn appreciated life in the corporate world. Particularly, she enjoyed her interaction with students and witnessing their matriculation process, as well as gleaning knowledge from the various scholars. However, Kwajalyn experienced a defining moment in her life

– the death of her father in 2009 that caused her to reevaluate her trajectory. Feeling lost and perplexed at the loss of her dad, considering their very close relationship, Ms. Brown had an epiphany. In response to her self-addressed inquiries and spiritually heightened experience, she heard a still small voice whisper, "Try acting!" while floating in a pool. A week

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flicts. Moreover, she proudly awaits the debut of a feature Film by Brazilian director, Raphael Viera, called Untouched, which is in process. In the film, she plays a police officer (Theresa Gant) who is assisting her brother, a detective in search of a baby's killer. She has also been featured in a hospital scene in CBS Television's Under the Dome, and last, but certainly not least, she has been invited to return repeatedly on both Drop Dead Diva and Tyler Perry's The Haves and the Have Nots. She revealed an encounter with the man himself, Mr. Tyler Perry. "He had me read my lines from the script, and then asked me to put it away and adlib. Thankfully, God was on my side!” she recollected. She described the horror she felt as she stood there, transfixed, trying to prevent herself from melting like the evil witch on The Wizard of Oz. Talk about intimidating! Despite the initial shock, however, she considers it her "best training thus far" in the Entertainment Industry. That experience has since enhanced her respect for Mr. Perry and his staff. He personally directed every scene in which she has been. "It's been amazing! He's a constant professional. He jokes, but he's also serious," she shared. During her time on set, he demonstrated high levels of compassion, dedication, and commitment; he has a very "hands-on" approach to his work/ craft and cares about what he does. She confirmed that his work ethic is immeasurable. “I don’t think he sleeps!" she suggested. She further expounded on The Haves and the Have Nots' staff and crew's very supportive and humble dispositions. Additionally, Kwajalyn [news reporter] reported that she and Angela Robinson [Veronica Harrington] are both coincidentally from Jacksonville, Florida. Jacksonville seems to be the place to find great talent! But apart from Tyler Perry and her fellow cast members, Kwajalyn finds inspiration in other role models like Angela Bassett. "She connects to the character and the role; I would be totally star struck [referring to the possibility of meeting her]," confessed Kwajalyn. She also gave Don Cheadle his "props" for giving "120%" to his roles. “He is DEFINITELY underrated; you can tell he does it for the love of the craft," she

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purported. Ultimately, however, Kwajalyn believes that she can learn something from each person she meets as she admires the way they "become" the characters. Furthermore, in preparation for her future roles, Kwajalyn wanted to leave this advice for aspiring actors, "Do not get into this business unless you absolutely LOVE it; you're judged every day, and you need a strong inner core and spiritual connection that will keep you grounded because you never know what they are expecting. Don't let anyone tell you that you're not good enough; if it's for you then it's for you. BE YOURSELF!!!! Do your best! 'You are infinitely more interesting than any character that can be written' [quoting her acting coach, Vince Pisani]." Lastly, she wishes to extend her sincere gratitude to everybody for their support, especially when she needs it. But she is particularly grateful to everyone for allowing her to be herself. So, what's on the horizon for Ms. Kwajalyn Brown? She disclosed that she will be in another feature film, Underhanded Truth, where she plays a very compassionate doctor in a psychiatric ward, Dr. Sarah Rayne. Moreover, she just received word that she will return for another season on the hot Lifetime Television show, Drop Dead Diva. Incredible! Kwajalyn has no plans to stop acting anytime soon. In fact, her train has just gotten in motion. Look out! You will be seeing a lot more of her in film, television, and on the big stage! Her overall aspiration is to do one theater production a year. You can follow Kwajalyn Brown on Instagram @kwajalynb, Twitter @kwajalyn, FB @kwajalyn1, or visit her website at www.kwajalynbrown.com. Tags: The Haves and the Have Nots, Tyler Perry, Tyler Perry Studios, Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), Drop Dead Diva, Lifetime Television, CBS, Under the Dome, Underhanded Truth, Untouched, Black and Single Web Series, Choices, Black Monologues 2, J. Pervis Talent Agency, Kwajalyn Brown ■

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later, she unexpectedly received an email from a friend for a casting call, which would become her first "gig." Let's just say… she was quite a nervous wreck during her audition. Fortunately for her, she got the part. "Wait, and the answer always comes" are the words by which she tries to live her life. Not everyone is as lucky as Kwajalyn to have "stumbled" upon their destiny. Perhaps, luck has nothing to do with it. It may simply be that she was finally introduced to her true calling. When asked about her other gifts, Kwajalyn Brown initially desired to become a singer whilst growing up. However, her fear of performing in front of an audience eventually put that dream on a hold. She bashfully shared an early childhood experience; "I sang in the choir and then midway through the song, I would be hiding behind the podium due to fear," divulged Ms. Brown." "Karaoke even scares me," she further confessed. Nonetheless, she admitted that if offered the challenge to do a musical, she would take it head on. That's surely the attitude of a champ! How about dancing? "Dancing is off the table," she jeered! Last but not least, writing is a strong probability – whenever she puts her mind to it; after all, she enjoys the occasional short story. So what has Ms. Brown been up to these days? Since her acting debut in 2010, Kwajalyn's acting career has catapulted. She considers that a true blessing. Still trying to navigate her way through, she has met a myriad of creative people, and remaining humble, continues to work on enhancing her confidence. In her very first role, she played a psychologist in a short independent film. The beautiful thing about it was that they perceived her to be an actual psychologist. The film was unfortunately discontinued. Nonetheless, she has worked on other projects, including Jacquay Waller's [DreamCatcher Productions] stage plays, Choices and Black Mon-O-logues 2. She has also been a regular on the Black and Single web series – capturing the title of "Producer" during the first half. There she played the role of Vivian Lane, a smug and impetuous, yet revered Ivy League attorney in Season 1. The production of Season 2 is tentative due to schedule con-


“The

FLEX Files” Joseph E. Carter’s Puppetry Theater

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By Glenda Scott

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lex is a young man in his 20s who made bad decisions in the past. Now with a new responsibility on the way, he's trying to better his situation and not become a statistic. Flex is a puppet Carter created a year ago. He needed a dependable actor who would always be on time LOL. Joe was inspired to create Flex to address social issues such as education, employment, and relationships, but in a comical way. This comic book format tells the story of Flex overcoming obstacles and refusing to give up. Mr. Carter wishes to inspire the audience and make them laugh at the same time.

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pleted his GED and his life seems to be moving in the right direction. He has a part-time job as a greeter at a department store, but this is not enough to take care of a family. He surrounds himself with people in the music industry in order to learn the business, and plans to one day own a record label. Flex doesn’t want to go back to the life he once knew, and he definitely doesn’t want to miss out on being a part in his child’s life. For he knows what it’s like not to have a father at home. Flex still has a lot of growing up to do, and some important decisions to

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make. Join Flex on his journey of trying to become a better man, a father, and an entrepreneur. Flex Files coming in the July/August issue of Trendsetters to Trendsetters Magazine. FLEX FILES atownsfilms@gmail.com YouTube: FLEX Files Twitter.com/flex404 ■

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Flex was born on the east side of Decatur, Georgia in 1991. Raised in a single parent home, he never met his dad. His momma always told him that his daddy was a “wanna be rapper from New York who was always on vacation.” Flex dropped out of high school to follow his father’s dreams of becoming a rapper with just six credits shy of graduating. And lo and behold, there he was, just like his dad, on a road leading nowhere. Now at the age of 23, with no place of his own, and a baby on the way, Flex has decided it’s time to get his life together. He com-


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When Dr. Ralph L. Simpson was offered the position of Head Principal at Towers High School in Decatur, Georgia, it was a job no one else wanted. The academic history of the school, along with its reputation of violence, suffering test scores, school disruptions, distressed teachers, high staff turnover, and being the lowest performing school academically and athletically in Dekalb County, made it an unattractive plot for survival; a principal’s graveyard. Realizing he would be the eighth principal at Towers High in eight years, Simpson was up for the challenge. On June 10, 2013, he took possession of the tormented and gloomy halls of the facility, and did a complete 360 turn-around. Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Simpson was a product of the Atlanta public school system and the type of student who did just enough to get by. His teachers seemed to focus more on the smarter students rather than the students that were struggling. He had low SAT scores and barely got into college, but was accepted at the University of West Georgia, where he majored in Criminal Justice. Shortly thereafter, Simpson started working as a Corrections Officer in the penal system, which was a very depressing environment. He worked there for four years. And being in that particular environment helped him to realize that his purpose was to help people. However, he felt he could be more effective helping in the beginning of a person’s life to create a positive path of direction, rather than at the adult stage. This led him to the school system. Simpson went back to school and received his master’s degree in Education Administration. He taught 5th grade for a number of years, and developed a “Joe Clark” mindset because he wanted to make a positive difference in each child’s life. He was the type of teacher who took just as much time with the straight “A” students as he did with the students who were struggling, for he remembered not getting the help he needed from his own teachers when he was a child. Dr. Simpson is an educationalist of knowledge, discipline, and progression. He is now a firm believer in the importance of academics, and he is a game

changer in education. He set out to improve the environment and philosophy at Towers High School and was successful in doing so. He held a job fair specifically for Towers High to fill the 30 slots for teachers that were created through previous turnover. He set consistencies about the school’s expectations, wrote standard operating procedures, and put processes in place to create a winning environment for the students, the faculty, and the staff. Simpson created an atmosphere to inspire the students to want to come to school. On the first day, the students were greeted with a spectacle of welcome bands, new faces, red carpet, cheerleaders, ROTC, and more. After the first couple of weeks, Simpson kept looking out for major issues, disputes, and concerns to pop up. But nothing ever did. He was expecting the worst but got the best. “Children want change and discipline and they found it,” says Simpson. “I was able to draw on my experiences from the other schools I worked at. We transitioned from students wearing street clothes to uniforms, which were appropriate for school. We banned book bags so there was no possibility of carrying weapons or other paraphernalia. We did not issue lockers, so the students had no excuses for being late to class. It was a culture shock for the students, but it helped them to a new order, a new day, and they are now on a straight and narrow path.” Tragedy and Triumph In 2007, Dr. Simpson wrote a book called “From Remedial to Remarkable.” The book was a huge success, and many schools purchased the book as a learning tool for students. But in 2010, Simpson was demoted because of what was said to be a conflict of interest in selling the book to the schools. “I wrote the book for the students like me who didn’t like to read so they wouldn’t be intimidated about learning, double spaced the sentences, and included larger words,” he explains. “But things backfired. I was principal at two schools and had worked my way to assistant superintendent. I experienced public assassination of character behind the demotion. But I went to work with my dignity intact. I

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was not disgruntled, for I still had my education and my skills. I had to remind myself that I would get my shot again one day and if I kept working hard I would experience success. And now I’m gaining local and national attention for the work that I’ve done. It’s the work of God; I’m blessed.” A Bright Future for Towers High Towers High School went from a school that everyone identified as “Oh my God, you go to Towers,” to now being proud to go there. Last year the school had 30 open teaching positions, and now they have zero positions open because teachers are stable and happy at Towers. “We must build a relationship with the children,” says Simpson. “Yes there are challenges, and the teachers and staff who come here must want to be here. But during the interview and selection process, I ask the faculty, are you the type of teacher you’d want your child to have, and that’s what I expect them to be. I was the visionary. But I have four exceptional assistant principals, exceptional faculty and staff, and they jumped right on board with my plan. They are the ones that make it happen.” Dr. Simpson always closes his staff meetings with a positive message, and also sends out a quote of the day to keep the faculty and staff inspired. With only a few days left in the school year, there is a lot of room for growth. But Towers High School is well on its way through a path of success for everyone who enters there. What’s Next For Dr. Simpson? He has a thirteen year old son, and an eight year old daughter. He says he will continue to work hard to lay a foundation for his children to make life easier for them, coaching them through adversities, providing opportunities, and letting them know that if they continue to pray and stay positive, things will go their way. As for Dr. Simpson’s future, he plans to build a standard operating procedure and model of what’s in the blueprint for success at academic institutions. He is a motivational speaker and will continue to assist and provide knowledge to aspiring leaders. ■

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PHOTO By GSCOTT PR

Written by Glenda Scott


The Stewart Foundation 7th Annual Career Day Towers High School Written by Glenda Scott Photos by GScottPR

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◄ (L to R) Hank Stewart, Gwen Mason and Georgia State Rep Hank Johnson. ▼ Bern Nadette Stanis and Tommy Ford were amongst celebrities attending the event.

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he Stewart Foundation held its 7th annual Career Day at Towers High School in Decatur, Georgia on Thursday April 17th. Trendsetters to Trendsetters Magazine and GScottPR were there to cover the event. What an amazing day it was, as more than 200 celebrities and business leaders from the community joined together for a day of inspiration and motivation to the students at Towers High School, to encourage them to become prominent, educated leaders of tomorrow. The Stewart Foundation did its usual fantastic job of organizing and planning a health fair, and a career day that included motivational speakers from all industries. Well known celebrities and professionals Tommy Ford, Aliyah “Mama Pain” Najm, Bern Nadette Stanis, Tuskeegee Airman Val Archer, Andre Gates, and a number of congressmen and women, government officials, motivational speakers, and small business

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owners came out to show their support. Each speaker was asked to share their triumphs and successes with the students, stressing the importance of education and being positive role models.

“The Stewart Foundation’s mission is to encourage a generation of children to become influential leaders of society through a program that fosters independence, self-pride and respect for others while also educating and motivating each child to reach their ultimate potential.” Towers High School went from a school that everyone identified as the worst place to be, to now being a proud institution for education in the Dekalb County community. “The partnership with Hank Stewart, CEO of the Foundation, amplified the career day program which brought in many great leaders, and the students had an opportunity to see professionals who they may aspire to be like,” says Principal Ralph L. Simpson, Ed. D. Representatives from Dekalb County Workforce Development connected with local businesses McDonald’s, Chic-fil-A, and many others, to secure and present approximately 400 job openings to the students. “Students are impacted by the quality of life when their basic needs are not met,” says Dr. Simpson, “and helping to fulfill those needs by providing jobs allows them to focus on their education.” The local media came out in full force to sponsor the career day event. Silas “Si-Man Baby” Alexander, Ramona Debreaux, Chubb Rock, WAOK, V-103, and Art Terrell of Kiss l04.1 FM were all on-site conducting live interviews with celebrity participants. We must all continue to invest in the future of our children, and encourage them to be the best that they can be. Founder Hank Stewart believes in the importance of academics and the success of all children. It is events such as this, and the work of The Stewart Foundation, that help motivate our youth, and keep them on the right track, giving them hope, and a better tomorrow.

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www.The Stewart Foundation.com ■


"SEVERE OutRAGEoUS Solutions... S.O.S." “You’ve Tried Everything Else … Now Try Something OutRAGEoUS !”

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ou’re probably reading the title of this and saying to yourself “OMG… What the Wacka Flocka is this?!?” Well that’s a great question… I’m so glad you asked! Let us start with this infallible truth, “There is no change without conflict, and no conflict without change.” Throughout my years I have had more than my share of conflict, yet because of it, I’ve witnessed an abundance of change in my life and the lives of others. So, it will be more than appropriate to express the levels of my life that somewhat defined me and pressed me into my purpose. There are exactly eight severe outrageous stages of my life which helped develop the phenomenal S.O.S. programs. I firmly believe that during a majority of these stages, though it may seem as if I accomplished a lot of great things, I was still secretly silently screaming for HELP inside. Let me start with life #1. A coy, barefooted southern Negro boy running down gravel roads swinging through the trees on hose pipes like Tarzan Lord of the woods. I made fishing poles and bow and arrows out of tree limbs, bent bottle caps, colored thread, and worms on safety pins for the hook. Life #2, a very athletic and agile, popular but not so popular, big dreamer who was gonna slam dunk on everybody in the Pros and become an Olympic hurdler who broke records worldwide. If I could just stay out of the gang, not get hooked on crack, and not go to jail or even worse, be murdered. Life #3, was the college frat boy who pledged and pledged hard to the tune of the line name “QuecifiX”. We would out step, out sing, and out represent any others. As a matter of fact, we are all still connected like blood brothers to this very day. Life #4, a drinking and fighting womanizer who occasionally smoked black and mild cigars while

carrying my small green bible in one hand and my handgun in the other. I was ready to kill a rock and put a tree in the hospital if I really had to, so to speak. Life#5, the husband, father, and animated teacher who would crisscross apple sauce with 4 year olds or teach all the “unteachable” youth placed in my care. Life #6, I was an out da’box street preacher who reached the unreachable. I walked into crack houses and commenced to having bible study, pulling youth out of gangs while wearing platinum gold teeth and gold chains. At this time, I was preaching, by any means necessary, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I utilized everything from hip-hop music, dance, video games, and sports, to radio, stage plays, and television. Life #7, a motivational speaker, outreach coordinator, interventionist specialist, youth director, and transitional specialist who facilitates workshops domestically and internationally. Last but not least, life #8 “SEVERE OutRAGEoUS Solutions… S.O.S.” is a bridge over troubled waters developed to help youth navigate through transitional challenges of life and offer them some “SEVERE OutRAGEoUS Solutions…” Our programs: “i think life" Campaign; assembly on choices, “Dare-2-Dream Boot Camp CHALLENGE”; 3-5 hour prevention intervention session, “A Taste of Prison LIFE"; a reality check, "Pure PANDEMONIUM Party”; teen talent showcase, “My Best Friends Funeral”; mock funeral anti-gang, peer pressure, and violence, “Youth Olympics Day” wacky teamwork games, and “Hoopin-n-Da’Hood; 3 on 3” basketball tournaments. S.O.S. also consults and facilitates orientations, trainings, leadership & teamwork workshops, retreats, and ceremonies such as graduations and rites of passage. I’m currently serving as a consultant, strategist, information guru and teen advocate via this column. Just call me “Mr. S.O.S.” because I am here to offer teenagers information and advice, just like the priceless guidance I got from great teachers, my coaches, and mentors. For more information about me, references, and testimonial letters please contact 404.GOT.LOVE or ScreamingSOS@gmail.com. ■

www.bennieSOSfoster.com *Email: ScreamingSOS@gmail.com *Number: 404.GOT.LOVE (404-468-5683).

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*Instagram: MrSEVERESOS

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*Twitter: @MrSEVERE

*FaceBook: Bennie SOS Foster

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Listed Above: R. Kimberly Grigsby, Director of Career Services, Atlanta Campus; Charles Sessions, Support Systems Technician, Atlanta Campus and LaTonya Calhoun, Dean of Academics, Atlanta Campus; and Eric Williams, Douglasville Director of Career Services.

WOMEN IN TECHNOLOGY Atlanta Takes the Lead in Placing Women in Technology

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The Atlanta Campus sourced an opportunity with USTGlobal, an international IT sourcing and development company which has committed to train and employ 5000 U.S. women who have been exposed to technology programs in inner cities. UST-Global has called their program the Step (IT) Up Program focusing on IT programs. They have enlisted the help of several corporate partners including, HP, Microsoft, CISCO, IBM, Kony, SAP, Oracle, Informatica, Amazon, Home Depot and Equifax in the Atlanta market and nationwide. The program was created initially in UST-Global’s India locations then was rolled out to the UST-Global’s Mexican locations. In January 2014, the Atlanta Campus took the lead in helping them source 33 students in the inaugural program for their USA Launch, with the assistance of the Douglasville, Duluth and Kennesaw Campuses. The Atlanta Campuses are in Phase Two, in which they helped to source another 33 students for their February class start. Step IT Up is charged with identifying 100 women in U.S. inner cities. The ideal candidates will have an Associate’s Degree and excellent communications and soft skills, but

36 EDUCATION

may have had difficulty breaking into the technology market. The program employs the students and trains them for four months before permanently placing them in jobs in the fields of Java Programming, Quality Assurance Testing, and Business Analyst among other areas. The Step IT Up project, led by Andrea Thornton, talent acquisition specialist, has created a technology forward process that has not only allowed the students to interview virtually, but has exposed the students to the cultural diversity of the constantly global economy. The young ladies had to prepare a video presentation of themselves and Skype interview with people from California to India before they were selected. The program was so impressed by our candidate selection and their ease of adapting to our process, that we quickly connected them to Amy Rusiloski, National Director of Career Services, who has now connected UST-Global with the family of our 140+ campuses around the U.S. So when the UST-Global train comes to your city, be prepared to Step IT Up and provide the women on your campus an opportunity for an entrée into the world of Technology. ■

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Jerome “Ro” Brooks

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By Shelley “Que” Roebuck

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Photos By Tisa Washington

erome Ro Brooks, also known as Michael on "The Haves and The Have Not's", the #1 hit show on the OWN Network says, "Being cast in Tyler Perry's #1 hit series is a joy and a blessing." Michael is the grandfather of Lizzy, the little girl who was struck and killed in a hit and run accident. Michael won't rest until he gets justice. Ro also says that they have a great cast and they work really well together. “Tyler Perry is awesome to work for and with. He is an actor’s director. He works really fast; it's a challenge and I love it. He gets the shots that he wants and moves on. He's hands on and a great inspiration to us all.” When asked about Michael and Hanna's relationship, Ro eluded the question saying "I don't know; you'll just have to tune in to find out"(smiling with a sneaky grin on his face). Season 3 premieres May 27th, Tuesday 9/8c on OWN. Ro knows all too well both sides of those who have and those who have not. Having come from the rough streets of Baltimore to where he is today was a huge transition. Ro was one of four children, the youngest and the only male child raised by their mom. Being a leader, protector, and serving came naturally for him. His Grandmother and Great Aunt were instrumental in encouraging him to be a successful and productive young man and to pursue the art of acting because he was very outgoing at a very tender age. In lieu of the crime in their neighborhood, and the impact it had on the young black youth in their community, they understood the importance of motivating and giving Ro the fundamental principles of young adulthood. Fast forward to 1993; Ro had the unique opportunity to be casted as an extra in Meteor Man, a film written and directed by Robert Townsend. This is where his love for the big screen was birthed. Not new to hit shows and films, Ro has also played in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Deitrick Haddon's " A Beautiful Soul," FOX's Brooklyn Nine Nine, CBS CSI New York, and many more including a host of Billboard’s top 10 music videos which includes the Grammy nominated "Dead and Gone" by rap artist TI. The last several years have been a whirlwind of catalog stacking success, from TV-ONE's "Will to Live" which was also a #1

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rity artists to the “hood,” from the likes of G Unit, Dipset, David Banner, Red and Meth, and a host of other mainstream artists. Ro's goal was to provide a safe environment particularly for the youth, an outlet to explore opportunities, and offer employment and a lot of inspiration, substantial opportunities that the hood rarely offers. An entrepreneur at heart, Ro also started The Hook Up Magazine, created for and inspired by prison inmates who most times are often forgotten by family and friends and left to fend for themselves. THU Magazine was a music store combined with an entertainment magazine with articles from many of today's popular artists. “One could purchase music, read interesting interviews, write pen pal letters to employees at SNDH, and in turn receive letters from us. They would also be given inspirational messages in each issue. ‘You Are Not Forgotten.’ Our mission at THU was to inspire inmates throughout the U.S.” Ro eventually moved to Atlanta, opening yet another music store in the Stonecrest area of Lithonia, Georgia while working as an actor. He made a huge impact on the community by regularly participating in local community events as well as being very hands on with local community organizations and outreach programs like "Blankets of

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Love," a non-profit organization that helps feeds the homeless in Atlanta. Now living in Los Angeles, California, Ro is currently a member of M.O.C.I.T.I. (Men of Color in the Industry), created by Mr. Jon Covington. M.O.C.I.T.I. is an organization of men in the entertainment business, from directors, actors, writers, DPs, and entertainment lawyers making a conscious effort to work together in harmony to help create more avenues of employment in the entertainment industry for minorities. “We also have a mentorship program where we mentor young males for two hours every Friday at the Barack Obama Preparation Academy in Los Angeles. You would be amazed at how much of a change two hours can make.” Get Involved. There's no greater feeling. To sum it all up, Ro has one mission and that is to inspire and serve the leaders of tomorrow.” Ro's slated projects to look out for are: The Congregation (faith based comedy), starring opposite Shari Headley; In Mysterious Ways (faith based drama) starring opposite Wendy Raquel Robinson, and Matador, a new series on the El Rey Network. Twitter: @JeromeRoBrooks. Facebook: @Ro Brooks Instagram: @_robrooks www.robrooks.com ■

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show on TV-ONE. "Will to Live" was a show that chronicled the lives of those who endured life threatening situations and lived to tell their story. The story of Yvette Cade was a horrific one. Yvette Cade made national headlines when her estranged husband Ray, played by Jerome Ro Brooks, doused her with gasoline and set her on fire at her work place. Ro also co- starred in FX's "Sons of Anarchy," where he played the role of Kettle. Kettle was the leader of the African American inmates, and was given the order to give Clay (played by Ron Perlman) an ultimatum while holding a shiv to his throat; and, most recently, the 2013/2014 Toyota Avalon commercial where Ro starred opposite Idris Elba. “This commercial was the most exciting commercial that I had ever done,” says Ro. “There were a lot of car chases, bad guys, and it even had a storyline. The experience was that of shooting an action film. I really enjoyed being a part of that.” Escaping the trappings of the inner city in Baltimore, Ro and his cousin opened their first music store at Westside Shopping Center called Rome Records. Several years later, Ro opened his own music store called Sounds -NDa Hood in the neighborhood that he grew up in. SNDH grew to be very popular around town for bringing celeb-


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INTERNET MARKETING MANAGER & STRATEGIST

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The Debilitating Effects of Distractions and How to Overcome Them

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e all have goals that we seek to accomplish in life. Whether we accomplish those goals or not is up to us; but, one thing that is for certain, once we decide to embark on accomplishing our goals, we will be distracted. Many people know that distractions are nothing more than stumbling blocks that are inconven-

iently positioned between us and our goals; but, many of us still seem to allow ourselves to be hindered by these stumbling blocks on our way to success. Distractions come in many forms that are too many to name, but they aren’t always as sinister as they may seem…on the surface anyway. A distraction can present itself in the form of your favorite junk food that you need to stay away from while trying to accomplish a fitness goal. Another form of distraction can be your favorite late night television show that comes on when you have a job interview at 7am. A distraction can even manifest itself in the form of genuine family and friends with good motives, who require your time even though it may potentially take you off task, which eventually causes you to lose focus.

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There’s no rocket science to overcoming distractions, other than asserting a gift that we’ve all been blessed with, and that’s our free will. Some people’s wills are stronger than others, but a strong will creates the discipline needed to stay on task to accomplish your goals. Learn to properly identify distractions. Although they normally present themselves as you proceed to your goals stay focused! ■

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By Bryson Clark


Hair Under Attack By Dr. Linda Amerson

Be

kind to your hair! Your neglect and abuse can cause you to be your hair's worst enemy. Although IMAGE is socially important, there are consequences which may result from hair abuse! Professionals and consumers must first obtain the right tools for the variety of hair textures. Below includes a list of commonly used grooming tools and the correct way to use them. In addition, if you think you have alopecia, damaged hair, hair shedding, hair breakage, dry hair, or all other problems associated with hair or scalp disorders, seek the expertise of a doctor of Trichology.

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Heat damage from styling/grooming tools may include:  Blow Dryers-when using a blow dryer, be careful not to over dry the hair particularly on a high heat setting. You could contribute to a hair shaft defect known as bubble hair, which further damages the hair shaft. Choose a dryer that has balanced weight in your hand. It should also fit comfortably and not be too heavy, and have a long enough power cord for easier mobility. It should have heat settings of low, medium, high, and cool air, and wattage between 1200-2000 is sufficient.  Curling Irons-are a popular tool. However, these hot little devils have metal cylinders which require careful usage on all hair textures. Always test the heat temperature on a white towel or paper towel to avoid scorching and damaging the hair. A variety of sizes are available according to hair length, and the desired curl size. Professional curling irons should have more than one heat setting, and fit easily in your hand. Make sure your hair is thoroughly dry prior to using a curling iron. Licensed Professionals, please educate your clients about how to properly maintain their hair style at home. This helps to avoid any further damage to the hair shaft.  Flat Irons - These irons are very popular and vary in price. Some consumers choose the detachable style, which includes detachable plates for straightening,

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crimping, and waving the hair. Avoid over usage of this tool as you may contribute to hair shaft defects such as trichorrhexis nodosa, ridges and grooves on the hair shaft, trichoptilosis, and tapered hair.  Mini Flat Irons-These irons work well for short hair styles. Straightening Tongs-are smaller and more compact than the regular flat iron. They are most effective on short hair and bangs. Again, avoid over usage of this tool, as this may contribute to further hair damage.  Thermal Straightening Irons- also called pressing combs or hot combs. Thermal straightening irons are used popularly on ethnic hair textures. Use extra caution when heating your thermal iron. Over heating this thermal iron may contribute to hair breakage, central centrifugal scarring alopecia (ccca), scorching of all hair textures, ridges and grooves in the hair, and brittle hair. Hair does have a tolerance to heat used on it. These irons are available in both marcel or electric. The Nouri Edge Stick is another alternative to straightening the hair. It has a guard on the sides to help avoid scalp burns. The Nouri Edge Stick is good for children and adults.

It is important to keep the plates and barrels of any heat implement clean. Styling products may build up quickly and make these tools extremely hard to use, not to mention unsanitary. One suggestion is to use oven cleaner to spray and remove the buildup weekly, or when buildup is visible. There are other professional items available to also assist with buildup removal. And remember - always turn off or unplug your heat appliance after usage. All questions and inquiries should be forwarded to Dr. Linda Amerson at (817)-265-8854 - LA’s Hair & Scalp Clinic, Arlington, TX. Tune in every Wednesday @ 11am-12noon CST to Ask the Hair & Scalp Doctor Radio Show on www.DfwiRadio.com dramerson@hairandscalpessenttials.com, www.hairandscalpessentials.com www.facebook.com/divadoctor09 www.twitter.com/scalpdoctor ■

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HEALTH & WELLNESS

Nutritional Oxygen By Andretta Garnes

Photo by JCARTER Photography

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ot days are ahead and eating right and light is good. So, let’s start with Oxygenating the body with food that provides oxygen. But before I continue, Dr. Otto Warburg, 1931 Nobel Prize Winner, discovered a close connection between oxygen and cancer. His studies showed that the primary cause of cancer is directly related to oxygen-deprived cells. In fact, he found that cancer cells are anaerobic and actually thrive in an oxygen-deficient environment. ( http:// migenetics.wordpress.com/2011/02/27/the-prime-cause-and -prevention-of-cancer/). Eating foods that are alkaline such as dark leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale, collard greens just to name a few and there are some supplements such as super greens that include chlorella, spirulina, barley grass and alfalfa grass that will also help to alkalize the body. Processed foods are acidic - whether from a box, canned, and even frozen. Here is why….

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We love to eat and we must fuel our bodies with the right foods. Let’s face it, you are what you eat; and, in the last 30 years animals have been treated with chemicals and anti-

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biotics, and crops are grown and treated with pesticides. Here are a few tips: Fish should be wild caught, not farm raised because dangerous diseases and parasites are common in farm-raised fish. They are given doses of antibiotics to control disease. http:// www.americanfishmarket.com/wild-caught-vs-farm-raisedfish/. Meat should be grass fed, not grain-fed which means added steroids, hormones & antibiotics for a quicker growth. Vegetables should be fresh not frozen unless you froze it yourself, and not in a can. Good fat! Yes…fat is good, but which one? I suggest Olive oil, coconut oil and flax seed oil. Monounsaturated (Omega-9) and polyunsaturated fat (Omega-3 & 6). These fats may help reduce risk of heart disease, stroke & diabetes. Promote cell development and a healthy nervous system. It is shown to improve cholesterol levels, recommended by the American Heart Association. So, when planning your next meal choose wisely. Read the ingredients, not only the nutritional facts. Less is more! Don’t eat foods that will weigh you down that are acidic. Organic fruits and vegetables are best. http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/ article_28779.cfm. Your body will thank you because you will have more energy, better focus, better mood, glowing skin, shiny, healthy hair, better digestion and you will even lose weight. Only because your body is Oxygenated! Eat right, do right, and live right. Relax, let’s Oxygenate! ■

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Autism utism continues to be a growing concern along with sky rocketing statistics that have reported 1 in 66 children are diagnosed with autism. Currently, there is no cure. So, the issue that remains is what can be done to be proactive rather than reactive in the early detection of this neural developmental disorder that knows no race, gender, religious or socioeconomic status. A good start is to first identify your child’s growth and development. However, development presents differently than growth. Growth only refers to the child growing in size. In fact, it is the physical presentation of the child. However, when development is assessed, it reaches beyond the borders of the physical presentation. It encompasses a child’s ability to play, learn, speak, etc. in a typically developing manner. I think the question that many parents and caregivers ask is what is typical development? It is important to note that typical development is described in what we call developmental milestones. Developmental milestones are a set of functional skills or age-specific tasks that most typically developing children can do within a specified age range. These milestones are used by your pediatrician to monitor your child’s development. Keep in mind that each milestone may be age specific, but the rate at which a typically developing child reaches that milestone can vary quite a bit. Although there may be a degree of variance at which each child successfully reaches the age appropriate milestone, it does not necessarily indicate a serious concern. However, if the child’s developmental age(performance in age specific activities, i.e. play skills, gross and fine motor skills, etc) deeply lags behind his/her chronological age (actual age), it is time to be concerned. Below are the areas of typical development that are monitored: Gross motor: using the larger groups of muscles that are generally more broad and energetic than fine motor movements. They may include walking, kicking, jumping, climbing stairs, keeping balance and changing positions. Fine motor: using the smaller muscle groups required for a higher degree of control, manipulation and precision. These may include cutting, writing, eating with utensils, etc. Language: using facial expressions, body language, gestures, speaking, etc. Cognitive: This involves the thinking skills which encompass problem-solving, reasoning, and remembering.

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Social: Interacting appropriately with peers; having good relationships with family and friends, etc. So what happens now that you know the areas for typical development and you suspect that your child’s development is not typical? If you have concerns that your child could have a developmental delay secondary to not meeting various developmental milestones, talk to your child’s doctor or nurse about what you have observed in your child’s development. If you or your doctor think there could be a problem, you can take your child to see a developmental pediatrician, neurologist or other specialist. Below are some specific questions you should ask your doctor as you begin to seek immediate help for your child: What developmental specialist or neurologist would you recommend we see? What is the procedure for referring my child for Early Intervention Services? What is the contact information for Early Intervention Services in my state? If you are not satisfied with the outcome you do have more options. You may choose to make another appointment with another doctor or specialist if you feel your concerns are not being addressed properly or in a timely manner. When developmental delays are not detected early in the development of a child, they must wait to get the help they need. It is a strong possibility that your child’s development may lag significantly behind his/her peers. In addition, this waiting period makes it more difficult for them to effectively interact within their environment and learn at a pace that is age appropriate when they begin school. Please remember that early detection and intervention results in a proactive rather than reactive fight against autism. Look for the next article that will go more in depth regarding the red flags of development as it relates to autism. ■ Dr. Frederica Kennedy OTR/L Early Intervention Specialist

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Dr. Frederica Kennedy OTR/L


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Cheryl Raglin, CEO

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prehending why people exercise the practices that they employ also provides insight on how to make more cost-effective business decisions,” she states. For more information on Ms. Ragland’s company, visit www.TheMarketPlaceFirm.org. ■

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uthentic leadership, commitment to excellence and razor-sharp precision are only a few of the many attributes that make Cheryl Ragland one of the most competent and accomplished women in the market research technology arena. Ms. Ragland is CEO of The MarketPlace Firm (TMPF), a highly successful independent market research and analysis firm that serves global leaders of businesses and non-profit organizations. Specifically, her realm of expertise has afforded her the opportunity to strategize winning solutions in an array of professional settings to include health care, banking and finance, media, hospitality, business advocacy, small business, Fortune 500, faith-based, broadcast and print media, as well as telecommunications. Under Ms. Ragland’s leadership, TMPF has helped its clientele achieve greater sustainability and productivity through the utilization and analysis of statistical data and market research. Ms. Ragland is frequently sought to share expertise on market research & technological topics with a diverse group of audiences. She has been recognized by the Atlanta Business League, Urban Professionals, Rolling Out Magazine Top 25 Influential Business Women, Who’s Who in Black Atlanta (2009 & 2012), Trendsetter to Trendsetter Magazine, among others as an exceptional leader. But the accolades she has received are meaningless without the opportunity to give back. To that end, she counts mentoring others, particularly young women, among her greatest prides. With a strong sincere desire to give back, Ms. Ragland successfully launched The Lamar Jones Foundation. Named in honor of her mentor, this organization was established to honor and recognize mentors for their outstanding contributions. Additionally, the foundation will focus on four key areas to serve: community, church, country and education. Ms. Ragland’s strong determination to create a company that would strengthen other organizations has helped create a solid foundation upon which to build The MarketPlace Firm. “Our firm clearly understands that the stats are facts. Having statistical data is a wise investment that can safeguard against costly business mistakes. Many times it’s underrated, but com-


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his winter was a challenging time for Atlantans. This season we had a few extra days off to sit home and stuff our faces with food, we really didn’t need, only because there was nothing else to do. And now that spring is here, it’s time to do a little spring cleaning. And nothing says spring cleaning for the body like a great detox program! To detox the body is to remove tox-

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ins from the body so it can function better. Overweight and obese people have toxic bodies. Simply put. It is a known fact that our fat molecules store toxins. We accumulate toxins from additives and chemicals in processed foods, cigarettes, pollution in our environment, stress, and bad bacteria within our bodies that release toxins into our blood stream. Our organs work over time eliminating toxic agents through perspiration, urine, and bowel movements. But sometimes our bodies are so weighed down with garbage that we have to detox to reset our bodies. If you are experiencing unexplained body aches and pain, tiredness, mental confusion, or belly bloat, then you may

have had one too many cartons of supersized fries at your local burger joint. It is time for you to take a few days out of your busy schedule and handle the business of cleaning out your temple. Our Big Boned Philosophy embraces healthy, holistic methods of detoxing that anyone can work into a busy schedule, or shop for in the local grocery aisle. Fasting from solid foods, and drinking fruit and vegetable juice, has been proven to cleanse the system and heal the body. Drinking more water throughout the day keeps you full and flushes out your kidneys. A salt water flush will clear fecal matter from your intestinal tract and can work better than an expensive colonic. Exercise works your muscle groups and stimulates bowel movement. Sitting in the sauna and allowing yourself to sweat also eliminates toxins. But the biggest thing about detoxing is the effects of detoxing… inevitable weight loss. All of these detox methods facilitate weight loss. A healthy weight loss regimen should at all costs include some type of detox method. It will make you feel incredible on the inside, which will inspire you to look even better on the outside. For a list of my favorite detox methods, visit www.BigBonedFitness.com. Also check out our YouTube channel for work out videos. (www.youtube.com/ BigBonedFitness). ■

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FITNESS SPOTLIGHT

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FITNESS SPOTLIGHT 49

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recently celebrated my 33rd birthday and unlike the big gathering of friends, fans and relatives, and the full day of celebrations that some would have expected, I actually spent my birthday on my own. There was no fancy dinner, wine and champagne, or birthday cake, since I was on a competition preparation diet. This has actually been how I have spent my birthdays, Christmas, New Year's and most "festive" occasions since 2012. This sport and this bodybuilding lifestyle demands a lot of sacrifices each and every day. Most people do not really understand what bodybuilding is all about. They think they know because they know about Arnold Schwarzenegger, or have read some muscle and fitness magazines, and may even have gone to a competition. But Arnold is the exception to the rule when it comes to becoming rich and famous from this sport. The athletes in the magazine are the best of the best or sometimes just the crowd’s favourites, and the more marketable faces and bodies, but those snap shots are just moments in time, usually taken just before or after competing. Bodybuilders do not maintain that lean, vascular, shredded look all year round. And that time spent on stage is just the culmination of years of hard work to get your body stage ready; time spent in the gym, time spent away from your friends and family, time spent prepping your food and measuring it so that you are prepared each and every day, time spent practicing your mandatory poses and posing routine. I have been competing since 2008. I started off in the Figure category and progressed into the Women's Bodybuilding category the very next year. My career has been quite successful over the years and I plan to keep it that way. ■


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oming from humble beginnings in Mobile Alabama, Carlett Martin grew up in a very supportive and loving family. Although she was an only child, she was always surrounded by relatives who shared a special bond. Her father died in the Vietnam War and her mother never re-married. Carlett’s grandfather was a musician and songwriter, and she remembers the early days of him listening to the gospel sounds of Mahalia Jackson and Aretha Franklin. This initiated her interest in singing and created her love for gospel music. The talents of the gifted artists that recorded during her teenage years helped Carlett to understand the art of harmony, which captured her ear not just as a singer, but also as a performer and entertainer. She always knew that singing and songwriting was what she wanted to do in life, and ended up driving to Los Angeles to pursue her goals. There she met the group “Female” who was seeking a fourth member for their R&B singing group. She auditioned, landed the part, and signed with Mercury Records, which offered her an opportunity to travel all around the world. Carlett stayed busy making money using her voice in many areas, including vocal coaching, background singing, and voiceovers. She eventually began working at BMI alongside a number of talented television and film producers. Her magnificent voice and teaching skills provided the chance to work with American Idol’s David Archuleta, along with many other contestants, renowned singers, and up and coming trendsetters in the music industry. Her songwriting accomplishments include lyrics written for artists such as Paula Abdul, Usher, KRS-1, Kid Rock, Hilary Duff and Christina Aguilera. Testimony and Triumph Some would say that Carlett Martin has been to Hell and back. She was abused emotionally and physically in her relationships, as well as in her marriage of more than ten years. Never did she understand why abuse followed her. The feeling of having no foundation or purpose led her to the wrong men. She abused herself by drinking and smoking pot and felt that darkness was always following her. Carlett cried a lot because of feeling lost in the world, and had given up on life, even attempting suicide once. Leaving an unhappy marriage, she moved closer to her family, who provided moral support to handle the torment of going through divorce. Secure working in the family business, she still felt restless and lost. Carlett called on various local venues in the city to inquire about singing opportunities, but the possibilities were scarce. Hungry for more of her passion, she moved to Atlanta, where she met a man who recognized her talents. That man, Domonique Mitchell, recruited Carlett to help with vocal coaching of performers in Café 290’s “Who’s Got That Vibe” showcase. Although she was doing what she loved, it didn’t matter; Carlett was not happy inside, and still felt she was missing pieces of her life. “One day I began soul-searching,” says Carlett. “I wrote on paper what I didn’t like about myself, my thoughts, why I felt I had nothing to offer, and the truth about why I was drawing negativity into my life. After evaluating my notes and thinking of all the abuse and turmoil in my past, I decided to surrender to God. That’s when the answers started to come. Through the word of the Bible and through meditation, I began to understand who I was and my purpose was

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SABRINA McKENZIE The Dancing Preacher Story by Greta Wheeler

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forward and try to live the life that her brother wanted for her, but was hit with another devastating blow that following year when she learned that her sister’s husband had taken her life. “That was the straw that broke the camel’s back because I was like, I’m done. I just can’t do this,” McKenzie shares as she reflects back on the days when she toured with Dallas Austin. She remembers feeling like she didn’t belong among the group of artists that she travelled with. “I never really felt like I fit in because I always felt in the back of my mind that there was this call on my life… I always felt like the missing link or a sore thumb.” It was at that moment when she resolved within herself that it was time to make a decision. “When that happened with my sister, I just gave my life to Christ.” Because of her very strict religious background as a Pentecostal, she made the decision to forfeit her dreams of becoming a dancer to fully commit to a life in ministry. “I felt like dance can’t be a part of my life anymore. I literally felt like that if I didn’t take the path of the Lord that I was going to die….” McKenzie stepped away from dancing to commit her life to God and ministry, but once she received liberation from religious rituals, her passion for dance resurrected and she began to dance again. Today, the proud mother of three is a Pastor and heads her International Dance Commission (IDC). McKenzie finds solace and healing through her dancing, and the pain and grief of losing two siblings led to her more recent role as Pastor of the Epic World Center, a place that she avails as a platform to minister God’s word through the expression of performing arts and sermons. ■

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abrina McKenzie was dancing on the road to stardom. She has worked with artists from Salt N Pepper to TLC, and toured with record producer, Dallas Austin. But, when tragedy struck her life twice within a year, the promising dancing

career and her road to stardom came to a halt and ushered her into a life of Ministry. McKenzie shares that dancing has always been a part of her life. Although she felt that God had a special calling for her, she believed that God would allow her to live out her dreams of becoming a dancer before committing to whatever it was that He had planned for her. “My mother says that I’ve been dancing since I was 2 [years old], so having dance be a very intricate part of my life, I just felt like the Lord’s calling, whatever that was, was going be on hold until my dance dream came into fruition.” One of the biggest advocates behind her dance career was her older brother who encouraged her to follow her dreams. “ He was the biggest advocate for my dance life and he encouraged me to go to the School of Fame,” says Sabrina. Shortly after leaving home at the age of 17 to attend college, during her freshman year, Sabrina received the news that her brother lost his life to AIDS. “That was horrific for me because I had never been away from home… now all of a sudden my brother is dead and all of my family is there. I really didn’t know how to cope with that,” Sabrina recalls. After the passing of her brother, McKenzie made an attempt to move


CARLETT MARTIN CONTINUED FROM PAGE 50 revealed. God restored my life and put me on a straight and narrow path. And I saw for the first time, life for what it really was. Previously thinking that being single was a scary position to be in, God revealed to me that being single means whole and complete. So not only am I at peace with being alone, but I am stronger, wiser, and happier, and my faith is unbreakable!!!” Music Ministry The acceptance of God helped Carlett to identify the objectives of her songwriting. Now her lyrics reflect the real meaning of life and her purpose in it. And that man, Domonique Mitchell, who helped her when she first moved to Atlanta, also surrendered to God, and is now Carlett’s manager, and the CEO of Executive Decision Enterprises/Gospel Rhythm Music. Carlett has a recording deal with Gospel Rhythm Music, and her new CD appropriately titled “Unbreakable,” and set to drop summer 2014, is filled with 13 inspirational testimonies of her triumphant victory over abuse. Martin’s music is not just gospel, but a blend of urban, rock, pop, and jazz. The debut single, “Thank You Lord For My Mama,” gives appreciation to the Lord, and pays tribute to mothers all over the world. A number of great singers, musicians, and producers worked together on “the mama song” including

R&B and multi-platinum award winning artists Ellis Hall, Tony Terry, Dave Tolliver and Silk’s “Lil G” Gary Jenkins. “Thank You Lord For My Mama” will clearly set the standard for the all-time favorite Mother’s Day anthem for families throughout the world. Carlett is very excited about her rebirth, and the testimonies revealed in her new CD. Her Pastor, John D. Reed of Kingdom Embassy Diplomatic Center (KEDC), supports her mission, and did a wonderful job in presenting a powerful “Unbreakable” introductory message on the CD website. Revival “I was abused in every form of the word, and I had to heal myself so that I could help others heal. I go to the women’s shelters on behalf of our ministry and speak to the women, specifically those who were battered. I can relate to what they’ve been through and we pray together to become stronger. When I perform my songs, women come up to me and invite me to share my story, and I plan to visit as many shelters as possible to testify to those who are lost. I not only talk the talk, but I walk the walk,” says Martin. “My main goal is to continue to minister to battered women, to talk to them and share my testimony through the word and through my songs, so that they understand that they are not alone. We

don’t always understand the trials that come our way. But, we should never be ashamed of the situations we go through. Use those tribulations as learning tools to help you understand who you are, where you are in life at this moment, and allow it to help you grow stronger. A lot of us don’t know what our purpose is in life,” says Martin. “But, once we tap into it, we have a better relationship with ourselves and with God. I love understanding who I am. We should always seek the kingdom of God first. Mathew 6:33 seek Him first and everything else will be added unto us.” Things are working out very well for Carlett Martin. She has written a book My Life of Restoration, is writing a play Restore All, and is active in assisting women in shelters around the world. For powerful quotes of daily bread to get you through your day, please visit Carlett Martin’s website, pre-order her CD, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram. ■ www.CarlettMartin.com www.facebook.com/carlett.martin Twitter & Instagram: @carlett_martin

CONGRESSMAN LEWIS CONTINUED FROM PAGE 13

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as a race today and shared that he remains optimistic and hopeful about our young people and the future. He explained that he speaks to a lot of young people at schools and colleges. “When I speak to these little children and young people, I say that it doesn’t matter if you’re Black or White, Asian, Latino or Native American – if Barack Obama can become President, you, too, can be President, senator, mayor, teacher, doctor, lawyer or scientist. You can achieve – read, study, never hate, respect yourself and others, never get bitter or hostile – be bold and courageous.” Finally, I couldn’t end the interview without asking him about his “Happy”

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video that has gone viral. If you haven’t seen it, visit the link below. There you will see Congressman Lewis jovially dancing to Pharrell Williams’ Happy. “I love the song, the beat and the message.” He says that it was completely unplanned and that he and his office staff had just finished a meal for his belated birthday celebration. “Someone played the song and a young woman in my office used her phone to record the video – I was just moving and it was fun. It was leading up to International Happiness Day that the UN sponsors. And that should be one of the roles of the government – to find a way to make people happy!” ■

Click links to see Congressman Lewis’ Happy videos: Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=4QchDC9FaiI&feature=youtu.be Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=-Eg3x-PVr_M Videos shot by: Rachelle O’Neil – Congressional Staffer

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he book/journal “The Strength of a Woman: Born to Turn Pain into Power,” reintroduces the W.O.M.A.N. to her power and purpose by repositioning her to discover her authentic self, and explore her potential, while embracing the totality of who she it. Through coaching and empowering women, Yakinea Marie has discovered that often times women live their lives trying to be all things to all people, only to lose a part of who they really are. The Strength of a Woman helps them to gain their life back. WHO IS THE STRENGTH OF A WOMAN? She is a woman who can own both her weaknesses as well as her strengths. On her journey of discovery and growth, she has learned to love ALL that she is. She accepts her imperfections but embraces her perfections. She will not hide to fit in; she feels more alive when she Stands Out because she knows that average just won't do. She is comfortable with just being.... just being herself; she loves who she is. Yakinea Marie is a Transformational Life Catalyst, Speaker, and Author whose focus is to equip those who are seeking more, with life transforming principles and strategies that will transform their minds and lives, causing them to live and lead an unstoppable life. She is the President and CEO of Yakinea Marie Enterprises, Kingdom Entrepreneurs International, LLC, and Executive Director of the Ladies of Royalty Women's Business & Empowerment Network, Inc. In addition to coaching and speaking, she hosts entrepreneurial conferences and leadership workshops to equip creative thinkers, business owners and entrepreneurs for economic development, and students for life success.

Yakinea Marie

THE STRENGTH OF A WOMAN

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For more information please visit www.YakineaMarie.com. ■

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John Baker

The Washingtons of Wessyngton Plantation By: Beverly Hill (Shelley)

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ohn Baker Jr., born in Springfield, Tennessee, is a direct descendant of a slave family from the Wessyngton Plantation in Tennessee. My introduction to John came when I went to the Tennessee State Library and Archives to do research on my family. Most of my maternal family looked white, so I wanted to know more. Upon inquiring about my family, I was given John’s name as a contact. He was also researching the area and family name that I was researching; ironically our families came from the same plantation! When Baker was in the seventh grade, he spotted a photograph of four former slaves in his social studies textbook. His grandmother told him that two of them were her grand-parents. Baker began a lifelong research project of over 30 years that culminated in the writing of The Washingtons of Wessyngton Plantation: Stories of My Family's Journey to Freedom. He tells the story of his ancestors Emanuel and Henny Washington who were enslaved at Wessyngton. This is also the story of the hundreds of other African Americans connected with the plantation for more than two hundred years… a story of family, faith, and community. Simon & Schuster published this first time author and has submitted The Washingtons of Wessyngton Plantation for the National Book Award in non-fiction, and also for the Pulitzer Prize in Letters. John Baker’s research revealed that Wessyngton Plantation was founded in 1796 by Joseph Washington, a distant cousin of America's first president, George Washing-

ton. Baker states, “The plantation covered 15,000 acres in Robertson County in Cedar Hill, Tennessee. The enslaved population of 274 was the largest on a single plantation in the state of Tennessee. Wessyngton was the biggest tobacco plantation in the United States and the second largest in the world. Only two slaves were ever sold which allowed family groups to remain intact for generations. Many descendants still reside in the area close to the plantation, while others, now numbering in the tens of thousands, live throughout the United States! Some of the slaves at Wessyngton retained their true African names which was very rare for that period. This has made it possible for me to trace their African ethnic group heritage which was confirmed by DNA testing.” Participants in the Wessyngton DNA project included eleven men and seven women. I was fortunate to be one of the female participants representing my family (99.7% Somali). Descendants of the plantation owners were crucial in Baker’s ongoing research of Wessyngton’s history. Many of them shared their remembrances, photographs and portraits of former slaves. Baker says, “When the Washington family sold the plantation in 1983, it was the largest farm in America owned by direct descendants of the original founder.” Wessyngton Plantation is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is still a working farm. Baker continues, “The mansion, built by its slaves, still stands. There also remains a slave cabin, and a cemetery nearby.” Today hundreds of Wessyngton descendants throughout the country visit the plantation to learn more about their ancestors' lives. Baker offers consultations to teach others how to organize their research and trace their family histories. He provides consulting services that are designed to help guide you through the process of finding your ancestry. At present, there is a must see exhibit titled, Slaves and Slaveholders of Wessyngton Plantation which opened in Nashville at the Tennessee State Museum on February 11th, 2014 and runs through August 31st, 2014. A documentary on Baker’s research and book is planned for July 2014. ■

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Contact info: http://www.wessyngton.com/


Written by Glenda Scott Photos by GScottPR

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e all have a role to play in assuring the success of our future leaders, and the nation’s celebrities are doing their part. The United Negro College Fund (UNCF), along with officials from the office of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, the Atlanta City Council, and top celebrities, announced on March 12, 2014 that the 35th annual UNCF An Evening of Stars® television program would move its home from Washington, DC to Atlanta, Georgia. The star-studded event was held on April 6th, and hosted for the second year by actor-comedian Anthony Anderson, with special appearances by Grammy Award winning artists Jill Scott, The Isley Brothers, Usher Raymond, Alice Smith, Monica, Marsha Ambrosius, Tye Tribbett, Cedric the Entertainer, Trey Songz, Demetria McKinney, and many others. Recognizing the importance of minority education, UNCF awards scholarships to African American and Hispanic teens and adults from across the nation. The event was surrounded by a weekend of activities highlighting education and calling for support of the UNCF and the students served. “Rising Star” student achievers were presented with scholarships awarded by celebrities Jill Scott, Usher Raymond, Will & Jada Smith, Trey Songz and his mother April Tucker, Queen Latifah, and Snoop Dogg, who all have established foundations to support education and an investment in a better future. Originally airing in 1979, UNCF An Evening of Stars® was formerly the Lou Rawls Parade of Stars®. Since that time, the event has become one of the longestrunning and most successful televised events in U.S. history, raising more than $200 million to help thousands of

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students to attend and graduate from college. The UNCF is the nation's largest and most effective minority education organization. Through scholarships and programs, the UNCF supports student education and development, advocates for the importance of minority education, and strengthens its 37-member historically black colleges and universities which are highly effective in awarding 20 percent of African American baccalaureate degrees. The UNCF administers scholarships, mentoring, internships and fellowships, summer curriculum, and faculty development. It comprises more than 400 programs, and supports more than 60,000 students at over 900 colleges and universities across the country. Dr. Michael L. Lomax, President of UNCF, speaking directly to the audience said, "…when you support the UNCF, the return on your investment is a student's life transformed, and that is your dividend." UNCF “Rising Star” sponsor, Target, announced that they invest 5% of their profits in the community, approximately $4M every week, along with thousands of volunteer hours to help educate workforce leaders of the future. Official sponsor, General Motors/Buick, awarded the Buick Achievers Scholarship. Produced by Jesse Collins Entertainment and director Chris Robinson, the event was also made possible by national sponsors McDonald’s, Wells Fargo, Softbank, the City of Atlanta, and media sponsors BET and Clear Channel. The 2014 UNCF An Evening of Stars® aired nationally on BET and Centric on Sunday, April 13th and will air in syndication on May 31 and June 1 (check local listings for dates and times). ■

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"A mind is a terrible thing to waste® …but a wonderful thing to invest in.”

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www.UNCF.org


PHOTO By Reggie Anderson

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Written by Dedra Carpenter

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edra, Donna, and Dadra are three of a kind. They were born in Center, Texas to WM and Beulah Lee Swindell. They are the last three of 10 children. Unfortunately, their mother was killed by a drunk driver while she was coming home from church. The Triplets then had to move in with their older brother, Earnest Swindell, and his wife Janet of Houston, Texas while their Dad recovered from his injuries in that tragic acci-

dent. They grew up on the Southside of Houston doing everything together. They were inseparable, and in fact, they all ended up with basketball scholarships to Wharton Junior College. It was always a dream of theirs to do hair. Donna was the first to get her license and then the other two followed. They have been in the industry for 25 years and over that time have owned several salons individually. But now they are currently working together at the middle triplet sister’s salon, Hair Gallery by Dee, located in Houston, Texas. They are very lively, energetic, and entertaining as they satisfy their clients on a daily basis. On May 4, 2014, they were recognized as “Living Legends” at the Bobbi Boss Hair Show in Houston, Texas held at the Royal Sonesta Houston Galleria Hotel. They believe that education is vital in the hair industry, and that you should never miss out on an opportunity to advance yourself by attending classes. ■


Andrea Scott “Full Figured & Fabulous” By Joseph Taylor Photo by GScottPR

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orn and raised in Durham, North Carolina, 36 year old Andrea Scott has always had a passion for the arts. She attended Barbizon Modeling School in the early 90’s, but set aside her dreams of modeling to pursue a career in culinary arts. Armed with her grandmother’s recipes, Andrea began catering for restaurants and special events. She worked numerous jobs, becoming a “Jill of all trades” with experience in the travel, event planning, entertainment, and construction industries. Born under the sign of the Leo, her fetching eyes and mane like hair, matched with a fierce yet exuberant personality, has earned her the byname “Lady Leo.” True to form, Andrea is actionoriented and driven by the desire to spread love and be loved. In 2010 Andrea moved to Atlanta with her two daughters. Always keeping God first, she is more determined than ever to take her culinary career and full figured and fabulous modeling experience to the next level. Even with the day to day struggles of being a single mother, she is adamantly auditioning and finishing a double major in business management and culinary arts. This full figured prepossessing lioness is ready to roar!!!

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Imladyleo15@yahoo.com Twitter: @ladyleothemodel Instagram: @ladyleothemodel

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CARRIE’S “FRESH ANOINTINGS”

Organization, Organization, Organization

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o you have a closet full of clothes but say you don’t have anything to wear? This has been said by every woman imaginable. Have you purchased a garment only to find out you already own it? The reasons we encounter these issues and make these statements are due to the lack of closet organization. Everything we need to have a functioning wardrobe lies in our closet. Here are a few helpful tips to get you started and on your way to a successful relationship with your closet.

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Remove all the clothes that you cannot fit. This means anything too small or too large. Keeping these items in your closet adds to confusion. Anything you select, you should be able to wear. We waste so much time trying on clothes that don’t fit. Let’s not forget to mention it almost always makes us depressed. Remove them to eliminate those potential feelings altogether.

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Place all like garments together. All dresses, skirts, pants, blouses, 2pc outfits, camisoles, etc.

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Once that is complete, group them together by color, i.e. all white shirts, black shirts, red shirts, etc.

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If you want to get more detailed, lastly separate them by the style, For example, all white long sleeve, short sleeve, and ¾hort sleeve blouses.

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Upon completion, you can assess what is needed and what is in excess. You should now have a workable wardrobe. Say goodbye to spending money on that little black dress that is sitting in your closet tucked away. Say goodbye to those late appointments because you couldn’t figure out what to wear. Following these few organizing tips will bring harmony to your closet. Now pull that outfit together and be FANTABULOUS! ■

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www.carriescloset.biz

222 Merrick Road Lynbrook, NY 11563

(678)671-6564

Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/FreshAnointings

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Vincent (Dichotomy) Hockett, Spoken Word Poet By: Beverly Hill (Shelley)

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incent Hockett was born in Nashville, Tennessee and made Atlanta, Georgia his home in 2002. He noticed that he had the gift of poetry around the age of ten. One evening in 2003 at a coffee house in Nashville, Vincent heard spoken word and fell in love with it! In 2005, ironically he started speaking at that same coffee house, and he still performs today! This ‘truth’ spoken word poet, that now uses the stage name Dichotomy, has no problem being real. His poetry cuts to the bone; it goes much deeper than the heart! When I listen to him, I hear life lessons, everyday realities, love, wisdom, instruction, truth…

and yes, humor. The content of his spoken word has so much depth, yet it is so easy to grasp. The word Dichotomy means a division into two opposing parts. When asked why he uses that name he explains, “I was named after my uncles, Vincent, who is known to be a very traditional and religious person, and Maurice, who had fallen victim to some of the distractions that exist in the inner city. Within my name are two opposing persons; I took a little from both of my uncles.” As Dichotomy began writing, he started to recognize these contradictions within himself. Oftentimes he finds himself having opposing views on the same issue. This is contradictory… Dichotomy! There are no particular topics that Dichotomy favors. He doesn’t write unless it is something that he feels strongly about. One of his favorite pieces is “The Truth.” It is a poem that discusses chivalry and the importance of showing that there are still good men who are willing to make a relationship work. “Think for Yourself” is another

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favorite calling for females to take more responsibility in relationships. He shares, “If you stay in a bad relationship, you’ll never be able to find the person that is right for you.” His final favorite is titled “Vincent Maurice” which tells the story of how he chose the name Dichotomy. Being named after his two uncles, he took on different aspects of their personalities and grew into them both. Evolution of Dichotomy was his first CD released in 2007. In 2010, he challenged himself to do something that no other poet has done by releasing two separate albums at the same time titled, Not Just a Love Poet and The Other Side of the Story! During Hank Stewart’s 12th Annual White Linen Affair in 2013, he released The Best of Dichotomy with poems from previously released CD’s plus four unreleased poems. Currently, Dichotomy is participating in a spoken word play. He has an annual show in February for his birthday titled, “Aural Fixation”! This young man is busy creating his own poetry book, writing a stage play, and working on his next CD project, as he continues to perform his spoken word. Dichotomy is more than poetry. Not only is he one of Hank Stewart’s (Hank Stewart Foundation) mentees, but he also speaks at schools, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and to other groups. With his family, he started the Hockett/ Williamson Scholarship, named for his deceased mom and grandfather. This scholarship is for high school seniors that despite personal and academic challenges can now be accepted into college. He feels a personal obligation to empower. He continues to encourage by saying, “Words are extremely powerful! Continue to write and express yourself pushing the art form forward, because poetry changes lives; it changed mine!” http://www.mydichotomy.com/ https://twitter.com/dichotomypoetry https://www.facebook.com/ dichotomypoetry

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ccomplished musician, songwriter, seasoned vocalist, and mentor, Columbus, Ohio native, Sabrina Tutstone, has performed before a diversified audience making appearances worldwide. From September until November of 2013, Tutstone performed in Genting Highlands Malaysia at The Genting Club. She was also the featured artist for the launching of the new Macallan Whisky, The Ferrari Club Malaysia, and has opened up for two-time Grammy Award Winner, James Ingram. In December 2010 and 2011, Tutstone traveled throughout Spain and performed a Gospel Tour in which every show was followed by demands for an encore. “That experience has changed me profoundly!” Sabrina expresses. Sabrina shares that her talent and passion have opened doors that allowed her to perform with several national recording artists such as, The Singing Chefs, Brian Culbertson, Fededric Yonnet, Dwele, Midnite Star, Maysa Leak, Shirley Murdock, Kelly Price, Bobby Floyd, Gene Walker, Wilbert Longmire, Mary McClendon, Janette Williams and numerous other outstanding artists/musicians. Her resume is a reflection of diversification for her talents which have been showcased in the stage play, ”Five on The Black Hand Side,” at the Center Stage Theater in Columbus, Ohio. For over 20 years, Sabrina also traveled with Prison Ministries and performed at numerous Ohio Prisons and two Federal Institutions - McKean Federal Prison (Pennsylvania/New York), and Alderson Federal Prison in Alderson, West Virginia. Sabrina was a vocal instructor for Worthington Music in Worthington, Ohio. She performed as one of the lead vocalists in the Harmony Project Choir with the historical Lincoln Theater in Columbus, Ohio and larger venues to accommodate the audiences. “We perform concerts and give back to our community through action,” she shares. “We have aided The Mid Ohio Food Bank, Toys for Tots, Habitat For Humanity, and many other agencies that need a helping hand.” After singing with several bands, Sabrina now has her own group, The Sabrina Tutstone Quartet and has released her CD entitled, “It’s Never Too Late!” which consists of a live performance of Jazz Standards at The Lancaster Festival in Lancaster Ohio. Sabrina is currently working on her next CD project. To purchase the CD/Video for the live performance, go to www.harmonyproject.com. ■


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J Blendz is a humbling example of what it takes to truly succeed within the makeup of multiple sound time fields. He poses a steadfast work ethic, an obsessively extensive music library, and the willingness to pursue the full extents of his roots (Funk, Soul, R&B and Jazz), with a strong foundation of (Chicago & Club House), and current genres of (Electronic/Dance music), with no restraints on his abilities. Blendz style and taste in music has been strongly influenced by the Jazz and Soul genres. He tries to play a wide variety of music styles from old to new, while at the same time maintaining a certain flow and continuity from song to song. DJ Blendz’ determination to excel in everything he does makes him a force to be reckoned with in the music and television industry. His outstanding talent and ability to move any and every crowd guarantees the name “Blendz” will be known across the globe through his awe-so-smooth and literally timeless “blends.” Born and raised in the South Suburbs of Chicago, DJ Blendz was influenced by music at an early age. He gained his love for music from what was being played within his house, which is now known as “House Music.” It wasn’t until the early 1980’s when the “Chicago House Sound” hit the scene, that Blendz began learning how to spin with his then biggest influences and mentors, and more importantly his friends; Grammy Award Winner Producer/DJ Maurice Joshua, his brother

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Xavier Joshua, and Grammy Award Winner Producer/DJ Hot Hands Hula. Blendz started learning and perfecting his craft; playing basement parties, local high school events, and other venues in the South Chicago and Suburban areas. As DJ Blendz career progressed into the late 80’s and early 90’s, he was noted for winning WCRX’s DJ Mix-Off and landing a permanent residency for the stations “Rap Review Show” with DJ “Ski.” He also had several guest appearances on Chicago’s radio station WGCI during that time. Blendz took a 10-year hiatus in 1991 before returning to his craft in 2000, and immediately landed a residency at a popular nightclub in the South Suburbs of Chicago where he played weekly. Since then, DJ Blendz has played venues such as; THE CLUB, The Venue, Harrah’s Casino, Club Rev’s, Linger Martini Bar, A-Fusion, Spy Bar, Chicago Theater, Country Club Hills Theater, Genesis Nightclub, Little Black Pearl, Bourbon Street, UIC Forum, Sweet Georgia Brown’s, Morgan’s along with The Checkerboard, and a host of others. DJ Blendz has played the circuit with notable peers such as DJ Phantom, DJ Clue, and Kid Capri to name a few, and has worked on television’s The Ellen DeGeneres (TBS Special) along with Nick Canon. Blendz has also had the opportunity to work with several notable recording artists over the years. He is currently the Official Radio Show Mix DJ for The Shawn Knight Midday Show on WKZJ K927 in Columbus, Georgia. He can be heard weekdays at noon, and Saturday nights from 9pm-Midnight. ■


By Nita Gray

Spring Is In The Air! Welcome the Home Buying Season!

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raditionally, the spring and summer can be the most active period for the residential real estate market. During these seasons, the weather is warmer and children are on summer break from school, which makes it easier for people to move into a new home. Below are three steps that will help prepare you for buying a home.

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Get Pre-Approved For A Loan Selecting a Real Estate Agent can be a great starting point. A Real Estate Agent can refer you to a reliable Loan Officer who can conduct a preapproval process for a loan. The pre

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-approval process allows a potential homeowner to find out how much of a home they can afford. A pre-approval is a preliminary commitment from a lender, in writing, stating that a borrower will qualify for a particular loan amount based on income and credit information under the lender's guidelines. There are many reasons why you should get pre-approved early in the process of purchasing a home. One of the reasons is that you will get an accurate idea of how much you can afford. This helps to ensure that you only view houses that are truly in your price range. In today’s home market, if you make an offer on a house without a pre-approval, your offer will not be taken as seriously as an offer from a person with a preapproval, and you may miss the opportunity to own the home of your ►

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dreams.

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Prepare For Down Payment Homebuyers should prepare by having funds saved or set aside for a down payment. In some cases, the down payment for your new home can be gifted from a relative. The down payment is a percentage of your home’s purchase price that you pay up front when you close on a home loan. It is viewed by lenders as your investment in the home. Mortgage lenders, however, will grant home loans to qualifying home buyers with a down payment of as little as 3 to 5 percent of the purchase price, if the mortgage is insured, such as FHA loans. FHA mortgage guidelines offer a more liberal approach to credit scores and down payments. The FHA will typically require a down payment of just 3.5 percent in U.S. markets. Conventional loans can sometimes require 5 to 10 percent as down payment. In fact, home loans with down payments of less than 20 percent are becoming increasingly popular.

ica; and led protests against the dumping of toxic waste in Warren County, N.C, where he was arrested twice, which gave birth to the environmental justice movement. He was arrested in Atlanta in 1968, fighting for the rights of City garbage workers. Dr. Lowery led the historic Alabama to Washington pilgrimage (1982) to free Maggie Bozeman and Julia Wilder, who had been falsely convicted of voter fraud. This march helped secure the extension of critical provisions of the Voting Rights Act through 2007. Nationally recognized as a strong proponent and advocate for affirmative action, he is a Co-founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Black Leadership Forum, a consortium of National Black Advocacy Organizations, where he served as its third President, following Vernon Jordan and Benjamin Hooks. He served on the Board of Directors of MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) for 23 years, and was chairman for three years (including during the ’96 Olympics). He was instrumental in securing millions of dollars in contracts for minority businesses. Since retiring from SCLC in January 1998, he has helped Black farmers settle a discrimination suit in Federal Court valued at $2 billion against the Department of Agriculture. He assisted black auto dealers seeking redress from discrimination claims against auto manufacturers, and has supported black concert promoters in their fight against exclusionary policies of talent agencies. As Convener of the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda (GCPA), he is active in election reform and voter empowerment, economic justice, criminal justice reform, including alternative sentencing and a moratorium on the death penalty. He is in frequent demand as a speaker across the nation and on college campuses. Recognition of Dr. Lowery’s contributions and service has been diverse and meaningful. As part of the celebration of his birthday- on October 6, 2001, Clark-Atlanta University announced the establishment of the Joseph E. Lowery Institute for Justice & Human Rights. The Institute seeks to provide a forum for dialogue and a laboratory for research and analysis of issues related to human rights, workers’ rights,

Choosing A Home The home you choose to live in should meet your criteria. A home is more than just a collection of bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens. It can be helpful to list the features and benefits you want in a home. Therefore, it’s important to know what options are essential for you and your family. A home buyer should consider such things as pricing, location, size, amenities, school district and distance from work. ■

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civic engagement, voting rights, Antipoverty measures, environmental and sustainability matters, racism, sexism and economic justice. In addition, the Atlanta Board of Education instituted the Annual Joseph E. Lowery Lecture Series on Civic Participation, and the Atlanta City Council changed the name of Ashby Street to Joseph E. Lowery Boulevard. At its 2003 commencement, the University of Alabama awarded him the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. Boston University chose him to receive its first Martin Luther King, Jr. award, and Wayne State University gave him the first Walter Reuther Humanitarian Award. Leader, Pastor, Preacher Ebony Magazine, in recognizing Dr. Lowery as one of the nation’s “15 Greatest Black Preachers,” described him as the “consummate voice of biblical social relevancy, a focused prophetic voice, speaking truth to power.” He was internationally celebrated and admired for these bold messages of “truth” when he delivered eulogies at the funerals of Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King. One commentator observed that… “He prophetically and poetically memorialized a life devoted to peace and justice at the funeral of Mrs. King before presidents, governors, lawmakers and a world-wide television audience….. an unprecedented opportunity to speak truth directly to power.” He served as pastor of United Methodist churches in Mobile and Birmingham, Alabama, and in Atlanta, Georgia-- where he pastored Central United Methodist Church for 18 years. As a historic note, it was in this Church, that Clark College was organized. During his tenure at Central, thousands of new Members were added to the Church, and Central Methodist Gardens— a 240 unit Housing Development was constructed for low and moderate-income families. He served as Pastor of Cascade United Methodist from 1986-1992. Upon his retirement he left the Church $1 million, ten acres of land, and blueprints for the new edifice. Husband and Father Reverend Dr. Joseph E. Lowery is married to the late Evelyn Gibson Lowery, founder of SCLC/W.O.M.E.N, and has five children. ■

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Trendsetters to Trendsetters Magazine May June 2014  

Jerome Ro Brooks on the cover along with Living Legends, Andrew Young, Joseph Lowery and Congressman John Lewis

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