Ray Brown

Ray Brown was a very popular and famous African-American jazz bassist and cellist born in Pittsburgh. He started taking lessons when he was just eight years old and Jimmy Blanton was one of his main role models. He was one of the first Black persons to perform in many popular places in Pittsburgh. He worked with some very popular musicians including Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson. Ray Brown later married Ella Fitzgerald. Even though Ray Brown was not part of the civil rights movement he managed to show the world through his example that Black people are very talented and that they can create high-quality music. In 2001, one year before his death, Ray Brown received the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art. He also got a Grammy for Gravy Waltz composition.

http://www.npr.org/event/music/443414636/ray-brown-on-piano-jazz

ROBERT BOWDEN, CHAMPION OF THE UNDERDOG

Robert Bowden, Champion of the Underdog
Robert Bowden, Champion of the Underdog

Hill District community leader Robert Bowden (b. 1946) reflects on his education, upbringing and life’s work based on interviews conducted by teens Isaiah Brice-Pickens & Terrell Truss-Moore in 2012.  More stories like this are available at www.neighborhoodvoice.org/crossingfences

REVEREND DONALD P. TURNER, HOMESTEAD PASTOR AND RETIRED PARATROOPER

Reverend Donald P. Turner, Homestead pastor and retired paratrooper
Reverend Donald P. Turner, Homestead pastor and retired paratrooper

Homestead pastor and retired paratrooper Donald Turner (b. 1936) reflects on racial tension in his adolescent years and his faith in God based on interviews conducted by teens Darnel Youngblood and Alon Rutledge in 2015.  More stories like this are available at www.neighborhoodvoice.org/crossingfences

NEW BOOK REVEALS TOP 365 QUOTES AND LIFE LESSONS FROM BLACK MILLIONAIRES AND BILLIONAIRES

black quotes
— The best inspirational quotes from Bob Johnson, Oprah Winfrey, Daymond John, Russell Simmons, Tyler Perry, Cathy Hughes, and more! —

Nationwide (BlackNews.com) — Successful Black business owners have been saying a lot over the years, but perhaps we haven’t been listening. And so one new e-book reveals exactly what they’ve been saying!

Published by Urban Ebooks, its called Top 365 Inspiring Quotes From Black Millionaires and Billionaires (exclusively available for just $2.99 at www.urbanebooks.com), and its the first publication ever that features famous and inspiring business quotes solely from African American millionaires and billionaires. Readers can not only benefit from their priceless advice and wisdom, but also the valuable life lessons that they share.

According to federal statistics, African American business owners continue to increase in numbers but most have just 1-2 employees, and generate revenues of less than $50,000 a year. Even worse, 1 in every 5 Black-owned businesses fails within five years. It was those devastating statistics that became the motivation behind publishing and releasing Top 365 Inspiring Quotes From Black Millionaires and Billionaires.

The book features famous quotes from:
* Bob Johnson, founder of BET and first ever Black billionaire
* Oprah Winfrey, founder of OWN and first Black woman billionaire
* Daymond John, founder of FUBU and star of ABC’s Shark Tank
* Russell Simmons, founder of Def Jam and Phat Farm
* Tyler Perry, actor, director, playwright and filmmaker
* David Steward, founder and CEO of World Wide Technology which makes $2 billion a year
* Cathy Hughes, founder of Radio and TV One
* Magic Johnson, NBA legend and founder of Magic Johnson Enterprises
* Sheila Johnson, co-founder of BET and founder Salamander Hotels & Resorts
* Jay-Z, founder of Rocafella Records and Rocawear Apparel
* Percy “Master P” Miller, founder of No Limit Records
* Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, founder of Bad Boy Records and Sean Jean Apparel
* Will Smith, actor, rapper, and co-founder of Overbrook Entertainment
* Madam C.J. Walker, first female self-made millionaire in America


Here are a few sample quotes from the book:

“I got my start by giving myself a start.” — Madame CJ Walker

“If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready.” — Will Smith

“You’re not in the music business unless you have a hit record.” — Master P

“The thing about using other people’s money is they’re going to set the rules.” — Tyler Perry

“Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.” — Oprah Winfrey


Great tool for both aspiring and existing entrepreneurs

The insight and knowledge from these successful African American business owners can be used to help readers so that they too can be successful in business, build their own empires, and create your own destinies. It’s a great book for both aspiring and existing entrepreneurs. All in all, the book features 365 different quotes. That’s one quote for every day of the year!

For more details and/or to purchase the book, visit www.urbanebooks.com

Reverend Johnnie Monroe, Voice of Hope

-Reverend Johnnie Monroe, Voice of Hope
-Reverend Johnnie Monroe, Voice of Hope

Hill District pastor and community leader Rev. Johnnie Monroe (b.1941) reflects on the importance of the church and his faith in today’s youth to become the leaders of tomorrow based on interviews conducted by teens Timothy Zigler and Isaiah Brice-Pickens in 2012. More stories like this are available at www.neighborhoodvoice.org/crossingfences

Paradise Gray, Hip-Hop Pioneer

Hip-Hop legend Paradise Gray (b. 1964 )
Hip-Hop legend Paradise Gray (b. 1964 )

Hip-Hop legend Paradise Gray (b. 1964 ) reflects on becoming an activist and ushering in a new generation of hip-hop based on interviews conducted by teens Davon Moultrie and Justin Hodeney in 2014. More stories like this are available at www.neighborhoodvoice.org/crossingfences

Paradise Gray, Hip-Hop Pioneer

Hip-Hop legend Paradise Gray (b. 1964 )

Hip-Hop legend Paradise Gray (b. 1964 ) reflects on becoming an activist and ushering in a new generation of hip-hop based on interviews conducted by teens Davon Moultrie and Justin Hodeney in 2014. More stories like this are available at        www.neighborhoodvoice.org/crossingfences

Taking Black History Month to the next level: Why Pan-African history is important

blackman
Taking Black History Month to the next level: Why Pan-African history is important by Jaimee A. Swift

Growing up, the monotony and one-dimensionality of Black History Month was utterly frustrating. Being one of few African-Americans in a predominantly white school, the educational curriculum for the month of February centered on only two narratives: Black people were slaves and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream. Often, if not most of the time, I was constantly bombarded by white peers and teachers with questions like:

Why can Black people say the n-word and we can’t?”

“Do black people prefer Black or African-American?

“Why don’t Black people follow MLK’s rhetoric on peace and nonviolence?

And even flat out statements of white guilt—

“I’m sorry for what my people did to your people.”

Despite coming from a semi-conscious family, as I got older, I had to unlearn stifling narratives about individuals and movements within Black history. I had to become knowledgeable about African-American inventors, theorist, authors and leaders through self-education.

Charles Drew's research on blood plasma lead to the invention of the first blood bank. (Photo: LIFE)

Charles Drew’s research on blood plasma lead to the invention of the first blood bank. (Photo: LIFE)

I learned about Dr. Charles Drew, who pioneered the use of blood plasma banking; Garrett Morgan, who was the inventor of the gas mask and the traffic signal; Sarah Goode, who invented the folding cabinet; and Jan Matzeliger, who created the “shoe lasting machine.” I discovered the stories  of Audre Lorde, Dr. Frances Cress Welsing, Countee Cullen, James Baldwin and Florynce “Flo” Kennedy.

However, while discovering the amazing contributions of African-Americans, I realized something was missing — a link to the African Diaspora. We hail from a lineage of mighty African ancestry that spans generations. “Their” history is our history too.

In efforts to break the perpetual historical and media representation of Africa and Africans as “poor,” “war and HIV-ridden” and “primitive,” many millennials of the Diaspora have been creating their own narratives.

Take for example singer and songwriter Juliana Pache, who created the hashtag #blacklatinxhistory, inciting a much-needed dialogue on the presence of Afro-Latinxs as a part of the Black historical framework.

Courtesy of Twitter (@thecityofjules)

Juliana Pache, creator of #blacklatinxhistory is redefining historical narratives (Courtesy of Twitter @thecityofjules)

It taught me about Afro-Dominican musician and social activist, Johnny Ventura; Luz Guerra, an Afro-Puerto Rican and Dominican Human Rights and LGBT activist; and Felipe Luciano, an Afro-Boricua poet, who was also a part of the Young Lords, a Puerto Rican nationalist movement for self-determination within the barrios of the United States.

Other hashtags such as #BlackHistoryYouDidntLearninSchool and #BlackHistoryUntold are helping reclaim our past. We rightfully honor Rosa Parks for her valiant and brave act on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus in 1955, but we rarely learn she was not the first to refuse to leave her seat. Claudette Colvin was.

Claudette Colvin refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus before Rosa Parks took a stand. (Photo: Claudette Colvin family photo)

 Claudette Colvin refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus before Rosa Parks took a stand. (Photo: Claudette Colvin family photo)

There’s Sofiya Ballin, a staff writer at the Philadelphia Inquirer, who curated an identity series called “Black History: What I Wish I Knew.” With celebrities such as Jazmine Sullivan, Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter of The Roots and Marc Lamont Hill giving their insights, the series is a powerful testament to the intrinsic need for the integration of African Diasporic history within Black History Month.

In one of his most powerful speeches, Malcolm X touched upon a need to discover our pasts, as means to know oneself – now, then and forever:

They’ll come at you and me next month with this Negro History Week, they call it. This week comes around once every year…They give us the impression with Negro History Week that we were cotton pickers all of our lives […]

But when you go back into the past and find out where you once were, then you will know that you weren’t always at this level, that you once had attained a higher level, had made great achievements, contributions to society, civilization, science, and so forth. And you know that if you once did it, you can do it again.”

We must know fully that our presence expands the length of time, place, and space. It must be taught to our children from inception that while they must give homage to those who were enslaved, they are not to be reduced to slavery. It must be ingrained in us that we are heirs and heiresses of the cradle of civilization.

Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia (Photo: Biography.com)

Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia (Photo: Biography.com)

This is our greatest weapon: the consciousness of our true history. For when we know ourselves, we shall not be moved, deterred or shaken. Despite whips and chains, we are still here. No matter how hard the mainstream tries to deny our salience, we are the backbone of this country and the world.

From Baltimore to Bahia, even with guns pointed at us, no weapon formed against us shall prosper.

We must keep learning about African-American pioneers such as Ida B. Wells, Benjamin Banneker, and Dr. Ronald Walters.

But it’s also time for Black History Month to comprise Pan-African leaders such as Yaa Asantewaa, the appointed queen of the Ashanti tribe of Ghana; Haile Selassie, a renowned emperor of Ethiopia; Zumbi dos Palmares, a leader of a slave-resettlement community in Brazil; or Faith Bandler, a profound campaigner for the rights and equality for the Aboriginal people in Australia.

Don’t know these names? It’s okay.  It’s not too late.

Because today even the Black history they don’t want you to know is still yours to reclaim.

America’s first black-owned radio station let the words of MLK and others ring

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By Yasmin Amer, CNN

Atlanta (CNN)Two blocks away from the famous King Center in downtown Atlanta is a small brick building that tourists typically overlook.

But in the 1950s, that little brick building reverberated with the messages of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders.

The building was home to the first black-owned radio station in the United States — WERD — and it was the medium that King used to broadcast his Sunday sermons then, later, announcements of his civil rights marches. The station was a fixture of Atlanta’s African-American community. It offered a rare public venue for black jazz and blues performers during the Jim Crow era, and amplified the voices of King and other African-American leaders as they encouraged black citizens to vote.

In the decades that followed the tumultuous 1950s and ’60, the building that had been WERD went through the incarnations of any professional building in a changing city, finally serving its community as a hair salon during the 1980s and ’90s. That — a hair salon — was what hairdresser Ricci de Forest thought he was getting when he signed a lease in 2004.

Life returns — slowly — to MLK’s old neighborhood

What he knew, though, was that it was not just any hair salon; it was one of only two “Madam C.J. Walker” hair salons left in the country. Named for an African-American beauty pioneer who made a fortune from licensing her salon chain and selling beauty products in the early 20th century, the salon and the building housing it had the appeal of that historical niche.

“I wanted to attach her legacy to my business,” says history buff de Forest.

It wasn’t until about two years later that he discovered his new salon had a much broader and deeper place in African-American history, as the birthplace of WERD and as the amplifier of King’s words to a community and to a nation.

The discovery was met with a sense of jubilation mixed with disappointment. De Forest didn’t understand why the space hadn’t been preserved in the years before he came to Atlanta from Cleveland.

“The burden of the responsibility hit me like a sucker punch. This is a heavy responsibility,” he says.

In 1949, Atlanta University Professor Jesse B. Blayton Sr. bought WERD for $50,000. Although it was only allowed to operate from sunrise to sunset and was allocated limited frequency power, it quickly became a staple to Atlanta’s black community.

Young reader builds list of #1000BlackGirlBooks

King’s office at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference is on the other side of the wall. It was said that King would tap the ceiling of his office with a broomstick to get the attention of the WERD DJ upstairs when he needed to make an announcement.

Today, you can still hear broadcasts from WERD online, where de Forest plays his record collection under the motto “All vintage. All vinyl. All the time” on Wednesdays from 3 p.m.-5 p.m. ET.

De Forest wanted to preserve the legacy of both Madam C.J. Walker and WERD by gradually turning his salon into a makeshift museum. Thousands of donated vinyl records — including albums by Billie Holiday, Miles Davis and Count Basie — decorate the walls, along with segregation-era signs de Forest has collected over the years. His desk displays a rusty “we serve colored carry out only” sign.

The hair salon portion of the building looks like an early 20th century time capsule and still operates as a functional hair salon. While Some of de Forest’s regular customers get their hair done, visitors stop by to look at the old curling irons and hair straighteners on display. One visitor named Selena says she’s lived in Atlanta for 18 years but didn’t know about the legacy of this place.

Frederick Douglass gets a Google doodle

“It’s embarrassing — I’ve never stopped but there’s so much history in this one little space that I never knew about.”

It’s not just this building that doesn’t get much foot traffic along Auburn Avenue. In fact, many of the historic buildings in this district are not frequented by many visitors.

A once bustling district built by black entrepreneurs in the early 20th century, Auburn Avenue later suffered from a lack of investment after the city integrated. The National Trust for Historic Preservation declared the area “endangered” twice.

De Forest says he sees his efforts to preserve the Madam C.J. Walker Museum and WERD radio station as part of a larger mission to preserve the district’s history and contributions to the civil rights movement.

He gained nonprofit status in fall 2015 and keeps a small donation jar at the entrance of the building. De Forest says he’s received a few donations over the years but also has to frequently dig into his own pockets to keep the doors opened.

“I’ve been keeping it open for years and it hasn’t been easy … it hasn’t been a financial gain. It’s been a financial drain.”

Despite this, he says he loves going in to work, where he is part-time hairstylist, DJ and tour guide.

“It’s like a 5-year-old going to ride his tricycle. It’s unbelievable. I feel that good.”

Nowadays, de Forest frequently thinks about retiring and moving abroad to train other hairstylists, but also worries about what this would mean for the future of the museum. He invites young local artists to use the museum for performances as a way to reach out to younger generations, with the hope that they, too, can share his enthusiasm and love for the space.

His outreach seems to be working. There are a handful of young volunteers, including a bubbly 24-year-old named Chiane Matthews, who by chance stopped by the building last spring and had been returning almost every day since.

“I fell in love with this place and so I wanted to do something to help preserve it,” says Matthews.

She started volunteering as a social media director and show producer and eventually brought her best friend, 23-year-old Amani Hassan, on board. In the short time before our interview, they had both been able to persuade another one of their friends to volunteer as “brand manager” for the museum.

On Wednesday nights, young men and women fill the makeshift museum. Matthews and Hassan take turns announcing the performers of the night, which include two R&B singers and two local rappers accompanied by a small band. During the performances, de Forest quietly sits in the corner and listens as he plays black and white video of a jazz duo on the back wall projector. “I want them to know this is where it started,” he says.

 

Leonard Brown, Air Force Veteran and Retired Food Service Supervisor

Leonard Brown, Air Force Veteran and Retired Food Service Supervisor Beltzhoover native Leonard Brown (b.1934) reflects on the progress of his community and his hopes for the future based on interviews conducted by Anthony Carrington and Elijah Peterson in 2013.
Leonard Brown, Air Force Veteran and Retired Food Service Supervisor
Beltzhoover native Leonard Brown (b.1934) reflects on the progress of his community and his hopes for the future based on interviews conducted by Anthony Carrington and Elijah Peterson in 2013. More stories like this are available at www.neighborhoodvoices.org/crossingfences