President Barack Obama

president_obamaBarack H. Obama, the 44th President of the United States was elected on November 4, 2008, and re-elected in 2012. President Obama’s second and final term ends January 20, 2017. 

His story is the American story – values from the heartland, a middle-class upbringing in a strong family, hard work and education as the means of getting ahead, and the conviction that a life so blessed should be lived in service to others.

With a father from Kenya and a mother from Kansas, President Obama was born in Hawaii on August 4, 1961. After working his way through college with the help of scholarships and student loans, Obama moved to Chicago, where he worked with a group of churches to help rebuild communities devastated by the closure of local steel plants.

Barack went on to attend law school, becoming the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. Upon graduation, he returned to Chicago to help lead a voter registration drive, teach constitutional law at the University of Chicago, and remained active in his community.

President Obama’s years of public service are based around his unwavering belief in the ability to unite people around a politics of purpose. In the Illinois State Senate, he passed the first major ethics reform in 25 years, cut taxes for working families, and expanded health care for children and their parents. As a United States Senator, he reached across the aisle to pass groundbreaking lobbying reform, lock up the world’s most dangerous weapons and bring transparency to government by putting federal spending online. 

The Obama administration’s achievements would be too lengthy to list on this page. This is remarkable, considering that the opposition party conspired in private in 2008 to obstruct anything proposed by the newly elected President. What stands out among President Obama’s myriad accomplishments is the grace, poise and leadership he showed in spite of unfair demonization and unparalleled obstruction. He overcame this all and fulfilled his campaign promise to be a “President to all Americans.” 

Antonio Knox

antonioAntonio Knox is the 40th Grand Basileus of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. He is married to Angela Knox and has two children, Antoinette Knox Haygood and Antonio Knox Jr.. The Knox ladies are members of Delta Sigma Theta and Tony Jr. is an Omega. Antonio feels he is the luckiest man in the world to have such a loving,caring and supportive Omega / Delta family.

Knox has been a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity for 38 years. He is a charter member of the Kappa Lambda Chapter at NC State University and served as advisor at Kappa Lambda for many years before becoming a District and National Officer. He has served on various committees and held many offices including Basileus of Iota Iota Chapter, the 33rd District Representative of the Sixth District, the Grand Keeper of Finance and First Vice Grand Basileus.

Antonio is the Deputy Administrator at the NC Credit Union Division. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University, attended the UNC School of Banking and is a Certified State Credit Union Supervisor.  His office is responsible for regulating an industry that has over two million members and 30 billion dollars in assets in NC. Prior to becoming a regulator he was a VP and Regional Manager at NC Federal S&L and AVP at Branch Banking and Trust Co.He has been in the financial industry for 35 years.

Knox is also a community champion; he has coached youth sports for 30 years, served on the board of directors for many organizations along with task forces for the City of Raleigh, and NC State University. Antonio has additionally served as the Chairman of the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee at NC State for several years. His passion is working with youth and serving as a volunteer at the Garner Road YMCA, where he has been the Chairman of the board for many years. Knox’s proudest achievement is assisting young men in getting into college and finding scholarships.

Dr. Cynthia Jackson-Hammond

cynthia_jacksonDr. Cynthia Jackson-Hammond is the eighth president of Central State University (CSU) and the first female president in the University’s 129-year history. President Jackson-Hammond’s more than 30-year career in educational leadership includes faculty status and tenured professorships. 

Jackson-Hammond earned both her Bachelor’s degree and also a doctorate degree in Higher Education from Grambling State University. She additionally has received an Education Specialist degree in Counseling Education and a Master’s degree in Communications both from the University of Louisiana-Monroe. 

Under Jackson-Hammond’s leadership as president, Central University developed and is guided by Six-Compelling Priorities: provide a quality academic/collegiate experience; targeted student enrollment; improve retention rates; reduce time to degree; develop graduates with the knowledge, skills and dispositions for advanced studies and professional careers; and maintain efficient and effective institutional operations.

Her administration has had many notable advancements. These advancements include: ten year reaffirmation of accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools; accreditation of CSU’s College of Business by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs; creation of the Teacher Education Advisement & Partnership Center supporting the matriculation of graduates to licensed professionals in education; federal designation as an 1890 Land-Grant University; completion of an energy conservation/efficiency project – $1M annual savings; construction of a $33 million, 85,000 sq. ft. Student Center; and recognition as the 5th most affordable University in the nation for out-of-state students. 

In addition to her amazing accomplishments at Central State, Jackson-Hammond has received many distinguished awards over the years. Her awards include: being named one of Dayton Business Journal’s POWER 50 for 2015 & 2016; being honored as a 2016 Woman Of Distinction by the Girl Scouts of Western Ohio; and being named the 2016 HBCU Digest Female President of the Year.

President Jackson-Hammond also serves on local and national associations: Dayton Development Coalition; American Association of State Colleges and Universities; American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education; 1890 Land Grant Council of Presidents; Council for Higher Education Accreditation; Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference; and National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II Presidents Council Region 3.  

Dr. Janice K. Jackson

jkjDr. Janice K. Jackson, a recognized leader in the field of urban education, was named Chief Education Officer for Chicago Public Schools in July 2015. A self-described progressive educator, she believes that all children deserve high expectations and equally high levels of support. Dr. Jackson is responsible for leading the entire academic arm of CPS, the third largest school district in the country, encompassing 660 schools in 13 Networks. 

During her first year in this role, Dr. Jackson focused on implementing a comprehensive high school strategy that will provide a high-quality high school option for every student in Chicago regardless of their address. She has expanded early childhood education opportunities for our city’s youngest learners, and is continuing investments in the resources and programs that have helped raise CPS graduation and college enrollment rates to record-high levels. 

Dr. Jackson has been serving the children of CPS since 1999, teaching History and Economics at South Shore High School before securing a grant to create Al Raby School for Community and Environment in 2004. Under her leadership, Raby became one of the District’s most successful neighborhood high schools, with a graduation rate of over 80% and higher than expected college enrollment.

After five years as principal of Raby HS, Dr. Jackson was chosen to lead the new George Westinghouse College Prep High School. This diverse westside high school’s success has been recognized nationally.

Her successful opening of two high-quality schools made Dr. Jackson an ideal choice to lead Network 9, which includes 26 schools and over 14,000 students. After assuming this role in 2014, Dr. Jackson provided principals with direct supervision and guidance as they worked to ensure that every child receives an academic foundation to prepare them for success in college, career and beyond.

Dr. Jackson is a native of Chicago and a graduate of CPS schools. She holds a Bachelor’s in Secondary Education and a Master’s in History from Chicago State University, along with a Master’s in Leadership and Administration and a Doctorate of Education in Policy Studies and Urban School Leadership from the University of Illinois at Chicago. 


Dwyane Wade

dwayne_wadeDwyane Wade joined the HEAT as the fifth pick of the 2003 NBA Draft. Just three seasons into his NBA career, the renowned shooting guard led his team to the city’s first ever NBA Championship in 2006. Five years later, he helped them reach the 2011 NBA Finals, followed by back-to-back Championships in 2012 and 2013. After thirteen years with the Miami HEAT and three respective NBA Championships, the 12-time All-Star is embarking on a new journey with the Chicago Bulls. 

Off the court, Dwyane is readily recognized for both his personal style and for being a trendsetter. Wade has also been able to incorporate his love of fashion and passion for design into his partnerships. As one of the most highly sought-after celebrity endorsers, he has partnerships with Li-Ning, Gatorade, Hublot, MISSION Athletecare, Stance, The Tie Bar, Naked, Pahlmeyer Wine, Sandals Foundation and Get it Hoops.

Dwyane’s proudest accomplishment is being a father. In March 2011, in a landmark legal decision he earned sole custody of his sons, effectively setting a new precedent for professional male athletes. Wade was also appointed to President Obama’s Fatherhood Task Force in 2011 to support his Fatherhood & Mentoring Initiative, a national parenting program geared toward encouraging fathers to become more involved in the lives of their children. In September 2012, he became a New York Times bestselling author, with the release of his first book, A Father First: How My Life Became Bigger than Basketball

The NBA Superstar recognizes his true accomplishments go far beyond the basketball court and fashion magazines.  Through the establishment of the Wade’s World Foundation in 2004, Dwyane’s mission has been to leave the world a better place than he found it. The foundation’s  mission is to provide support to underserved communities in Miami and his hometown of Chicago. 

 Glenda F. Newell-Harris, M.D.

glendaGlenda F. Newell-Harris, M.D., is the national president of The Links, Incorporated and The Links Foundation, Incorporated.  She is a board-certified physician in internal medicine. Having served as a local health commissioner, as well as president and secretary of local and regional medical societies, she is a much sought after speaker for youth groups and non-profit organizations that mentor pre-med and medical students. Dr. Newell-Harris has served as a medical consultant in various healthcare settings, such as ambulatory teaching clinics, private practice, and physician foundation clinical practice. 

In June 2014, she was promoted to Regional Medical Director for Corizon Health Incorporated, where she provides clinical and medical leadership to a team of physicians and other medical staff, while maintaining quality care and cost-effective accountability. She has traveled abroad to Africa where she has assessed methods of supporting the delivery of safe and effective health care to women. 

Dr. Newell-Harris is a native of North Carolina and a graduate of Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Connecticut, where she was the first African-American student. She received her medical degree from the University of Cincinnati School of Medicine and her bachelor of science in biology from Tufts University. In 2005, Dr. Newell-Harris received certification in Physician Leadership in Managing Ambulatory Care from the Harvard School of Public Health. 

She believes that health literacy, self-empowerment and initiative are required to create a culture of wellness within the work and home environment. Dr. Newell-Harris’ experiences as an advocate and navigator for her friends and family over the years have affirmed for her the necessity for consumers of healthcare to acquire these skills.  Newell-Harris is also a strong advocate for HBCU schools. “One of the reasons I support Black colleges is because my parents both graduated and taught at HBCUs,” she said. Her organization, The Links, Incorporated, also supports HBCUs through its National HBCU Initiative. Links members partner with organizations and HBCUs in their communities to implement and support efforts that align with President Barack Obama’s plan to increase retention and graduation rates of college students by 2020.

Dr. Newell-Harris is also an author. Her first book entitled, “Focus On YOUR BEST HEALTH,” is a smart guide to practical solutions for medical problems faced by healthcare consumers.

Dr. Newell-Harris is the recipient of the National Medical Association’s highest honor, the Scroll of Merit, as well as numerous awards and honors from many organizations. She is a mother of four children and is married to Robert L. Harris, Esquire.

Harriet Tubman

harriettubmanBorn a slave on Maryland’s eastern shore, Harriet Tubman freed herself and became famous as a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad during the turbulent 1850s. As a slave, she endured the harsh existence of a field hand, including brutal beatings. In 1849 she fled slavery, leaving her husband and family behind in order to escape. Despite a bounty on her head, she returned to the South at least 19 times to lead her family and numerous other slaves to freedom via the Underground Railroad. 

In turbulent times, two things sustained her: the pistol at her side and her faith in God. Tubman would not hesitate to use the pistol in self-defense, but it was also a symbol to instruct the runaway slaves she was guiding, making it clear that there was no turning back. Tubman’s resistance to slavery did not end with the outbreak of the Civil War. Her services as nurse, scout, and spy were solicited by the Union government. As leader of a corps of local Blacks, she made several forays into rebel territory, collecting information. For all of her work, Tubman was paid only two hundred dollars over a three-year period and had to support herself by selling pies, gingerbread and root beer.

After the war, Tubman returned to Auburn, New York, and continued to help Blacks forge new lives in freedom. She cared for her parents and other needy relatives, turning her residence into the Home for Indigent and Aged Negroes. Lack of money continued to be a pressing problem, and she financed the home by selling copies of her biography and giving speeches. Her most memorable appearance was at the organizing meeting of the National Association of Colored Women in 1896 in Washington, D.C. Two generations came together to celebrate the strength of Black women and to continue their struggle for a life of dignity and respect.

On Wednesday, April 20, the U.S. Treasury Secretary announced that Harriet Tubman will replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. She will be the first African-American to be featured on U.S. currency.

Herb Kent

herb_kentHerb Kent was an urban radio pioneer and one of the most important figures in Chicago radio history. He passed away October 22, 2016 at the age of 88. Kent’s on-air presence and community involvement opened up many doors for African-Americans. 

Kent spent his childhood living in Chicago’s Ida B. Wells housing community. At an early age he displayed interest in radio and as a teenager built radio equipment from surplus World War II parts. Herb eventually joined a local community theater group known as the Skyloft Players which helped him develop popular radio characters such as “The Wahoo Man,” “Gym Shoe Creeper” and “The Electric Crazy People.” “I brought theater of the mind to radio,” says Kent. 

In 1949, Herb received his first paid radio job at WGRY in Gary, Indiana for 35 dollars a week. He was able to learn every aspect required to put a radio show together, namely producing, writing, interviewing and polishing his on-air presence. Herb worked relentlessly, putting in twelve-hour shifts, seven days a week.

In the 1950’s, Kent formed a fan club and his nickname, “Cool Gent” was born. He coined the term “dusty records” to describe old-time hits. Kent interviewed several music icons during his career including Duke Ellington, Smokey Robinson, James Brown and Marvin Gaye. He even gave career advice to Soul Train creator Don Cornelius. In the 1960’s, Kent hosted a program with Stevie Wonder for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s last visit to Chicago. After the assassination of Dr. King, Herb took to the airwaves to calm rioters on Chicago’s West Side.  Kent was also an active community and civil rights leader and spent decades serving as a role model to African-American youth.

Herb received numerous honors over the years. He was one of the first History Makers, had a Chicago street named “Herb Kent Drive,” was named honorary Mayor of Bronzeville and was inducted into the Museum of Broadcasting’s Radio Hall of Fame and the National R&B Hall of Fame.  

Kent continued to host two highly rated shows on WVAZ FM (V103) up until the day he died. Before he passed, Herb was looking forward to being a notable in this edition of our Black History Calendar and Resource Guide. The Educational Network is celebrating the amazing life and fabulous career of this legend and pioneer of Black Radio. We know that Herb’s legacy will continue to live on, as he has truly made the world a better place by all that he contributed to it. 

Holly Robinson Peete

holly_robinsonActress, author, talk show host, activist and philanthropist, Holly Robinson Peete has been touched by the entertainment industry almost all of her life. Her first experience in front of the camera was at the age of four, when she appeared on television opposite her father, Matthew Robinson who portrayed the beloved character of “Gordon” on the iconic children’s program “Sesame Street.” 

Upon finishing her BA at Sarah Lawrence College, Holly’s heart led her back to show business. In 1986, she landed a starring role on the television drama “21 Jump Street” opposite cast members including Johnny Depp. She went on to star in many other successful television series including “Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper,” “For Your Love” and “One on One.” Robinson Peete’s successful television career places her as one of only a handful of actresses to star in four shows in syndication.

 Robinson Peete was recently seen alongside with her family in the critically acclaimed docu-series For “Peete’s Sake.” She was also seen recurring on hit drama series “Chicago Fire,” as well as the comedy series “Mike & Molly” after successfully launching the show “The Talk” as one of the original co-hosts. “The Talk” came on the heels of the enormous success Robinson Peete had on the third season of NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice.” Making it all the way to the finals, Robinson Peete set a fundraising record for her charity, the HollyRod Foundation.

In 1997, Robinson Peete and her husband formed the HollyRod Foundation, inspired by her father’s courageous battle with Parkinson’s disease. In 2005, when their eldest son was diagnosed with autism, HollyRod Foundation’s mission expanded to also provide support and resources to those affected by an autism diagnosis. The HollyRod Foundation highlights Holly’s philanthropic prowess and sheds a national spotlight on two causes very personal to the Peete Family. 

Robinson Peete is also an accomplished author. In 2010, she released her second book, an NAACP Image Award winning children’s book about autism entitled My Brother Charlie.

Robinson Peete and her husband of 20 years, Rodney Peete are the proud parents of four children. They currently reside in Los Angeles.

Issa Rae

issaIssa Rae is a rapidly ascending actress, writer, director, producer and web series originator. She is well known as the creator of the popular YouTube web series, “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl.” Since its premier, Rae has developed her own YouTube platform where she features various content created by people of color.

Her shows have garnered over 20 million views and over 200,000 subscribers on YouTube. Rae has won numerous distinctions for her innovative work, including being named one of Glamour Magazine’s 35 Under 35, one of Forbes’s 30 Under 30 and getting featured on Entertainment Weekly’s “Breaking Big” list. “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” was also the recipient of the coveted Shorty Award for Best Web Show.

Issa Rae graduated from Stanford University with a major in African and African-American Studies. Her amazing talents were clearly evident even as a college student. While at Stanford she made music videos, wrote and directed plays and created a mock reality series called “Dorm Diaries.” After college, she received a theater fellowship at The Public Theater in New York City.

Issa’s first book, a collection of essays, is a New York Times Best Seller. Her latest project, “Insecure,” a half-hour comedy show for HBO, premiered in Fall 2016. With her own unique flare, infectious sense of humor and unparalleled talent, Issa Rae’s career will undoubtedly continue to climb to even greater heights.

Kevin B. Brookins

brookinsKevin B. Brookins is a versatile electric utility manager with over thirty years of experience. Brookins started his career with ComEd in 1983 as a Corporate Planning Analyst. Since then, Kevin has served in a number of key positions, including Vice President, Operational Strategy and Business Intelligence; Vice President, Distribution System Operations; Vice President, Work Management and New Business; Vice President, Customer Field Operations, ComEd and PECO; Director, Construction and Maintenance, ComEd Chicago Region; and Director, Regional Operations, ComEd Southeast Region. Appointed Senior Vice President of Strategy and Administration in February 2012, Brookins is responsible for driving fundamental change throughout ComEd and providing a strategic foundation to address future business opportunities. 

Brookins’ accomplishments include achieving best customer satisfaction on record, best average outage duration on record, and best meter read rate on record; constructing $43 million state of the art training center with 90% MBE spend; significantly reducing fleet costs; and enhancing revenue from non-standard services. 

Kevin was also selected to the Chicago Defender’s 2016 Men of Excellence and Chicago United’s 2011 Business Leaders of Color. In 2008 and 2010, he was selected by the editors of U.S. Black Engineer & Information Technology magazine as among the 100 Most Important Blacks in Technology. In 2008, Brookins was selected by the editors of Diversity MBA magazine as among the Top 100 Executives under 50. He also was recognized by Who’s Who in Black Chicago in 2006, 2007 and 2010.

Brookins serves on the boards of After School Matters, the American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE), Chicago United, Illinois Math & Science Academy (IMSA) and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) / Chicago. He also serves on the Black Creativity Advisory Committee at Chicago’s Museum of Science & Industry and as co-chair on the Executive Advisory Council at Governors State University. He is additional a Fellow of Leadership Greater Chicago, a 30-year-old nonprofit organization that cultivates Chicago’s business and civil leaders.

Kevin holds a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Howard University in Washington, D.C. and also a MBA from Governors State University in University Park, Illinois.


Louis Carr

louiscarrLouis Carr, President of Media Sales at Black Entertainment Television (BET) Networks, is one of the most influential and prominent African-Americans in both the media and marketing industries. He has been responsible for more advertising dollars targeted towards African-American consumer markets than any other professional or company. In 2016, Carr celebrated his 30th year anniversary with BET. In the same year, he earned the Diversity Award from the Hyatt Corporation and another Diversity Award at the First Annual Legacy of a Lifetime Award Celebration. Carr has also been listed on NAMIC’s Most Influential African-Americans in the cable industry several times.

Utilizing his B.A. in Journalism from Drake University, Louis has become a compelling author, writing two books: Dirty Little Secrets and The Little Black Book: Daily Motivations for Business and Personal Growth. His engaging works share anecdotes from his captivating road to success. These nuggets of wisdom were written with the intent of paying it forward and telling his individual story. Throughout his childhood and along his career path, Carr has acknowledged the encouragement and assistance he received from others who deemed him “special” even before he believed it himself. Carr openly lays out his own roadmap to greatness with surefire tips to aid students, business professionals and those in pursuit of self-purpose to get to the next level. 

Carr has served on boards of the Ad Council; International Radio and Television Society (IRTS); American Advertising Federation (AAF); and the Video Advertising Board (VAB), formerly the CAB. He currently serves on the board of the Boys Hope Girls Hope and the United States Track and Field Foundation. 

Louis is a dedicated mentor and benevolent philanthropist. An advocate for diversity, Mr. Carr has hired more people of color and has the most diverse sales team than any other executive or company in the media industry. For over thirteen years, the Louis Carr Internship Foundation has dedicated its efforts to improve diversity in corporate America.

Mr. Carr and Diane, his wife of 30 years, reside in Chicago, IL

Niecy Nash

niecyNiecy Nash is a multi-talented Primetime Emmy nominee and Emmy-Award winning producer who many remember from the popular home-makeover show “Clean House” and from the acclaimed comedy, Reno 911. She has since expanded her brand as a comedienne and actress starring in the popular television series THE SOUL MAN (TV Land) and HBO’s GETTING ON where she shows her diversity as an actress. This fall, Niecy can be seen on FOX when Ryan Murphy’s SCREAM QUEENS returns for Season 2 and on SHOWTIME as a recurring guest star on MASTERS OF SEX. In addition, Niecy also headlines the new comedy series, CLAWS, coming to TNT this fall. Adding to her accolades, Niecy was recently nominated for both a Critics’ Choice Award and a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her role in GETTING ON.

Nash’s television credits are another testament to her talent. Her style, humor and quick wit garnered her a stint as a correspondent on NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” She is also well known for her recurring role on the Peabody Award-winning comedy series, “The Bernie Mac Show,” portraying Bernie’s uproarious baby sister, Benita. Other recurring roles include TV’s “Presidio Med,” “That’s Life,” “Popular,” and “City of Angels.” Also included on her resume are guest starring roles on such top-rated series as “My Name Is Earl,” “Monk,” “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “Girlfriends,” “NYPD Blue,” “That’s So Raven,” “One on One,” “Judging Amy,” and “Reba.”

Additionally, Niecy is developing various television and film projects through her own production company, Chocolate Chick, Inc. In her rare spare time, she is devoted to church and participating at charitable functions in support of causes that are close to her heart, including the prevention and awareness of HIV/AIDS, breast cancer, school violence, and domestic abuse, among others.

Niecy completed her education at California State University Dominguez Hills, where she majored in theater. She resides in Los Angeles.

Ta’Rhonda Jones

tarondaTa’Rhonda Jones (pron: Ty-Rhonda) is an actress, recording artist & fashion designer, best known for her scene-stealing role as ‘Porsha Taylor,’ Cookie Lyon’s (Taraji P. Henson) assistant on the top-rated television series, FOX’s “Empire.” A native of Chicago’s South Side, Jones is one of eight siblings. Her passion for music developed at a young age, blossoming into a rap career under the moniker Lady Heroine. 

Jones was working as a butcher and nursing home cook before she responded to a casting call for a female rapper, which landed her in front of award-winning TV/film director, Lee Daniels, who immediately gravitated to her persona, turning the intended bit part character into a series regular role; Daniels has stated plans for an “Empire” spinoff centered around Jones’ character (Porsha). Jones’ other credits include a co-starring role on “Chicago P.D.” (NBC), and as a TV personality, she has contributed to programs/networks, such as “Dr. Oz,” “E! News,” MTV and BET. 

Jones’ creative talents extend far outside of the music industry. Taking an interest in fashion at a young age, Jones designs many of her own red carpet looks, in addition to several pieces that we have seen come out of (her character) Porsha’s wardrobe. When not in the studio or on set, she can often be found in the kitchen preparing her next culinary feat, with friends, family and even co-stars lining up for a seat at the table. Fans got some insight into Jones’ cooking habits earlier this year as she was crowned the first champion of FOX’s Masterchef: Celebrity Showdown. 

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