Category: Community Events

Morehouse Graduates’ Student Loans to Be Paid Off by Billionaire

Not even Morehouse College administrators knew the announcement was coming.

Addressing the college’s class of 2019, Robert F. Smith, a man who is richer than Oprah Winfrey, made a grand gesture straight out of the television mogul’s playbook.

“My family is going to create a grant to eliminate your student loans,” he said on Sunday morning, bringing the approximately 400 students in caps and gowns to their feet.

“This is my class,” he said.

In January, Mr. Smith, a billionaire, donated $1.5 million to the college to fund student scholarships and a new park on campus. He received an honorary degree at the graduation on Sunday.

[Who is Robert F. Smith? Read more.]

The value of the new gift is unclear because of the varying amounts the students owe, but the money will be disbursed through Morehouse College and will apply to “loans students directly have for their college education,” a representative for Mr. Smith said.

Because Morehouse was not informed of Mr. Smith’s plans before the ceremony, details about how the money would be distributed were not immediately available.

A private equity titan, Mr. Smith founded Vista Equity Partners in 2000.

After making a fortune in software, he was named the nation’s richest African-American by Forbes. According to that financial magazine, Mr. Smith’s estimated net worth is $5 billion, making him richer than Ms. Winfrey, who previously held the title of the wealthiest black person.

Mr. Smith studied chemical engineering at Cornell University and finance and marketing at Columbia Business School. Although he shunned the spotlight for many years, Mr. Smith has recently embraced a more public role, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and making major charitable contributions. Cornell named its chemical and biomolecular engineering school for him after he announced a $50 million gift, and he has made major donations to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. He started the Fund II Foundation, which is focused in part on preserving African-American history and culture, and signed the Giving Pledge, a campaign through which wealthy individuals and families commit more than half their wealth to charitable causes, either during their lifetimes or in their wills.

Anand Giridharadas, the author of “Winners Take All” and a frequent critic of big philanthropy, said Mr. Smith’s offer was “generous.” But, he added, “a gift like this can make people believe that billionaires are taking care of our problems, and distract us from the ways in which others in finance are working to cause problems like student debt or the subprime crisis on an epically greater scale.”

Sunday’s announcement came amid growing calls to address the crushing burden of student loan debt in the United States, which has more than doubled in the past decade.

Over the past 20 years, average tuition and fees at private four-year colleges rose 58 percent, after accounting for inflation, while tuition at four-year public colleges increased even more, by over 100 percent, according to research from the College Board.

According to federal data, the average federal student loan debt is $32,000. The standard repayment plan for federal student loans is up to 10 years, but most students, according to research, take far longer than that to pay off their balances.

For the students at Morehouse, an all-male, historically black college in Atlanta that costs about $48,500 per year to attend, the gift could be transformative, especially in the unsettled years after graduation.

In an interview with the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Elijah Dormeus, a 22-year-old business administration major carrying $90,000 in student debt, said: “If I could do a backflip, I would. I am deeply ecstatic.”

Mr. Smith’s prepared speech did not include his plan to pay off the students’ debts.

“Now, I know my class, who will make sure they pay this forward,” Mr. Smith said on Sunday morning. “And I want my class to look at these alumni, these beautiful Morehouse brothers — and let’s make sure every class has the same opportunity moving forward — because we are enough to take care of our own community.”

At Nipsey Hussle’s Memorial, Los Angeles Comes Together to Mourn

LOS ANGELES — Thousands of mourners are expected to gather in downtown Los Angeles on Thursday to honor the life of Nipsey Hussle, the Grammy-nominated rapper who was fatally shot last month and whose success and commitment to redeveloping South Los Angeles made him a local hero.

The funeral, billed as a “celebration of life,” will be held at the Staples Center. All tickets for the event, which were free, were claimed online within minutes of being made available earlier this week. The arena’s capacity is 21,000.

Tens of thousands of fans are expected to gather around the venue, where a public memorial for Michael Jackson was hosted in 2009. The two-hour service will begin at 10 a.m. local time and will be followed by a procession from the Staples Center through South Los Angeles.

Hussle, born Ermias Joseph Asghedom, channeled his upbringing and adolescence as a gang member into music that spoke powerfully to many who live in Los Angeles’ most vulnerable neighborhoods. As his star rose in recent years, Hussle brought investments and attention back to the area, earning the adoration of his neighbors and fans.

Though he developed a following far beyond Southern California, his death last week struck a particularly painful chord among residents of the Crenshaw District, where he grew up. His clothing store on Slauson Avenue in South Los Angeles, The Marathon Clothing, had become a potent symbol of local success and black entrepreneurship, a theme he addressed regularly in his music. His fans clung to lyrics that melded familiar rap bombast with exaltations about self-discipline and long-term financial planning, a break from a music culture that often emphasizes flashy spending.

The store transformed into a makeshift memorial on March 31 after Hussle was gunned down there over a “personal dispute,” according to the Los Angeles Police Department. The suspect, Eric Holder, was apprehended by authorities two days after the shooting.

For days outside the store, fans prayed, lit candles and left hand-written letters addressed to Hussle. One of the mourners was Candace Cosey, 32, who remembers him as Ermias from their time attending Hamilton High School together in the early 2000s, a magnet school on the West Side of Los Angeles. She recalled how Hussle would sell mix CDs to her and others at school, and how he later started selling music in the neighborhood out of his trunk.

She came close to tears as she pulled out a picture of him from the high school yearbook. “If you grew up here, you either knew him directly or you knew someone who knew him,” she said.

Even as his career took off, Hussle remained approachable and “big hearted,” she said. As he amassed fame and wealth, he continued living modestly while making investments in businesses in the neighborhood. And he could be very generous. When a colleague passed away several years ago, Ms. Cosey approached Hussle’s team to see if he could help with the funeral expenses. He contributed several thousand dollars, she said.

“He was about uplifting us. He hired people from the neighborhood who wouldn’t have had a job otherwise. He took care of so many people, and he invested in what he believed in, here, because he grew up here,” she said. “We have to keep that work going. It’s what he was about.”

[Read more about the community’s reaction to Hussle’s death.]

Hussle’s death has drawn attention far beyond the Crenshaw District. Celebrities and political leaders across the country have offered their condolences to Hussle’s family and friends. In an interview last week, Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles praised Hussle’s contributions to South Los Angeles, a community that he acknowledged has been historically overlooked by the city’s political establishment.

Mr. Garcetti said Hussle embodied the very idea of black entrepreneurship, a critical component of lifting the community and its residents.

“He represented redemption and hope. He had come from the world of gangs and gotten out,” he said. “This is a devastating shock to the stomach. He was really ambitious — he wanted to get African Americans into tech, on top of his music game, on top of his businesses.”

“Then to be killed in such a clichéd way, by guns, for a beef in South L.A., it feeds into too many stereotypes,” he said.

Velma Sanders, 60, said she did not listen to Hussle’s music but, as a lifelong resident of South Los Angeles, she felt pride watching his career grow in recent years. His presence, she said, was felt by everyone.

“He would be out here. He showed you that he didn’t fear where he grew up. He was proud of it,” she said. “He was building up this community, giving back to this community. He took that money and instead of buying something luxurious, a big home or whatever, he put it back in his community so these would not be vacant buildings. It’s just beautiful.”

[Read an assessment of Hussle’s music and its place in hip-hop.]

Manuel Pastor, a professor of American studies and ethnicity at the University of Southern California who has researched the demographics and culture of South Los Angeles, said Hussle’s killing “felt like a kick in the stomach.” He described Hussle as “a hometown guy lifting up his hometown.” Nothing illustrated this more, he said, than when Hussle and his girlfriend, the actress Lauren London, posed for a photo shoot in GQ in February at locations around South Los Angeles — not Hollywood, not downtown Los Angeles, not New York.

“This really hit hard. This was a hometown guy who stayed home,” said Mr. Pastor.

Mr. Pastor said Hussle had left the gang life but never rejected the culture of the community. Alienation and the search for identity amid violence and poverty often feed into gang culture, something Hussle spoke about openly.

“He did what many people ask of black celebrities, to come back to their community,” said Najee Ali, an activist in South Los Angeles who knew Hussle. He said the community is accustomed to feeling left behind when one of its own makes it big and finds fame.

“They all leave,” he said. “Hussle was the only one to stay in the community. He believed in the slogan, ‘Don’t move, improve.’ That’s what made him special.”

Hasani Leffall, 35, who knew Hussle, once worked for the rapper’s stepfather at a South Los Angeles restaurant called Bayou Grille. To emphasize the depth of feeling over Hussle’s murder within the black community of Los Angeles, he mentioned the murders of Tupac, Biggie Smalls, even Malcolm X and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Even with his fame, money and the support of the community, Hussle couldn’t escape the violence of the streets he rapped about.

Mr. Holder, the suspect in the killing, is an aspiring rapper who knew Hussle when he was younger. Mr. Holder, Mr. Leffall said, “represents a dark side about L.A., and a dark side about just men in L.A., in Crip life. There’s always somebody that just doesn’t like you, doesn’t like the fact that people love you.”

National Underwear Parade a fleshy first for Mid-City

Boxers, briefs, brassieres and bikinis saw the light of day Sunday (Aug. 5) during the National Underwear Day parade that promenaded around Bayou St. John in Mid-City from Toulouse Street to Esplanade Avenue and back.

The indiscreet procession was organized by Ryan Ballard, the founder of the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus Mardi Gras parading group, which may explain the Star Wars Stormtroopers who strode amidst the Victoria’s Secret shoppers Sunday.

Underwear Day is a celebration cooked up by the underwear industry 15 years ago to lend its little-seen products some extra exposure. But Ballard said, from his point of view, the New Orleans Underwear Day parade is merely meant to present the public with a splash of fleshy fun in the heat of August. Plus, paraders donated fresh packs of underwear to the homeless.

Ballard’s first National Underwear parade in 2016 took place in the Bywater. Back then, Ballard hoped to set a Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of underwear wearers, but he was foiled by the fact that so many paraders added costume accoutrement to their skivvies that the Guinness judges disqualified the event. Such is the nature of parading in the Crescent City, of course, where costuming just comes naturally. Having learned his lesson, Ballard did not attempt to break any records in 2018.

At the Center of Change, Cherry’s Unisex Saturday night in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, where the salon is an almost always-open witness to a neighborhood in the throes of change.

02drunk190.1It was past 1 a.m. in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, on Memorial Day weekend, on Fulton Street between Throop and Nostrand. A few bodegas and a fried chicken spot were open, supported by gaggles of hungry young people bubbling up from the subway every few minutes. Hip-hop from passing cars with windows open or tops down melted into the night. But for the most part, it was quiet. This strip of Fulton is dominated by 26 storefronts that specialize in black hair, but at this hour, most were dark, their gates down.

One shop, however, was open for business. It was a cavernous salon with a black tile floor and white walls, and its door was propped open. Black chairs ringed the room, and an island of hair dryers took up its center. This was Cherry’s Unisex Salon. Two barbers and four customers lounged in chairs. A short, muscular man wearing a black T-shirt and sweatpants, Cory Parker, took off his do-rag and sat in a barber chair, running a hand over short, curly hair as he consulted a chart of 30 men’s haircuts on a wall.

“I want between a 3, an 18 and a 27,” he said over his shoulder to a barber rummaging in a drawer.

“O.K.”

“You’re not even looking at the chart! What did I say I want?”

The barber turned around and peered at the chart. “You said you want an 18, a 23 …” he started. They both laughed.

READ MORE:https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/07/nyregion/cherrys-unisex-salon-bedford-stuyvesant-brooklyn.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=second-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

ARISE 100: DYNAMIC WOMEN

In boardrooms and parliaments, on television and the stage, women are increasingly making their presence felt across Africa and on the world stage. The inaugural ARISE 100 list champions just some of the remarkable women shaping modern Africa today. Icons such as Angélique Kidjo, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Charlize Theron sit alongside lesser-known heroines such as scientist Tebello Nyokong, social entrepreneur Wendy Luhabe and political comedian Odile Sankara. We share their stories and record their amazing achievements in the fields of politics, business, campaigning, fashion, science and technology, arts and literature, media and communications, law, sport and entertainment.The African Union has christened this the African Women’s Decade, so what better time to celebrate the women changing the face of Africa on the continent and around the world? This is their time.

To Name A Few 

Business + Law

Ayo Obe, Vice Chair, National Crisis Group, Nigeria
Bridgette Radebe, President, South African Mining Development Association, SA
Cherie Blair, lawyer, UK
Dambisa Moyo, economist, Zambia/US
Dr Eleni Gabre-Madhin, founder, Ethiopia Commodity Exchange, Ethiopia
Eva Muraya, co-founder and CEO, Color Creations Group, Kenya
Fatou Bensouda, Chief Prosecutor, International Criminal Court, The Gambia
Genevieve Sangudi, Managing Director, Carlyle Group Africa, Tanzania
Hajia Bola Shagaya, founder and CEO, Bolmus Group International, Nigeria
Irene Charnley, CEO, Smile Telecoms, SA
Isabel dos Santos, investor and businesswoman, Angola
Jonitha Gugu Msibi, Senior Partner, Ernst & Young, SA
Maria Ramos, CEO, Absa Group, Portugal/SA
Minoush Abdel-Meguid, co-founder, Union Capital, Egypt
Monhla Hlahla, Chair, IDC, SA
Ngozi Edozien, Director, Actis West Africa, Nigeria
Nombulelo ‘Pinky’ Moholi, CEO, Telkom SA LTD, SA
Nonkululeko Nyembezi-Heita, CEO, Arcelormittal South Africa, SA
Phuti Malabie, CEO, Shanduka Group, SA
Rosalind Kainyah, Vice President, External Affairs & CSR, Tullow Oil, Ghana/UK
Stella Kilonzo, Chief Executive, Capital Markets Authority, Kenya
Susan ‘Santie’ Botha, Chancellor of the Nelson Mandela University, SA
Teresa Heinz Kerry, businesswoman and philanthropist, US
Thuli Madonsela, public protector, SA
Tsega Gebreyes, Managing Partner, Satya Capital, Ethiopia/UK
Wendy Ackerman, retail tycoon, SA
Wendy Luhabe, social entrepreneur, SA

 CONTINUE READING FOR THE COMPLETE LIST….

25th Anniversary American Business Women’s Association Fashion Show & Celebration

OAKLAND, CA. Recently the American Business Women’s Association held their 25th Anniversary, presents “Cities in Paris” at Scott’s Seafood Bar & Restaurant. The event was well attended by business women from all over the bay area, also the Mayor of Oakland was in attendance. Dinner was provided by Scott’s Seafood Bar & Restaurant. The celebration had various speakers who spoke about empowerment for women, opening doors to women in the Pacific Rim so employment, financial, mentoring and information can be provided to women who want to break the boundaries of business primarily dominated by men as one of the speakers so eloquently told the audience. The fashion show was an array of eclectic  designs from bay area designers. The audience was engaged by the different fashions being shown from evening wear, business, casual wear and hats. To view the highlights of the event check out the pictures at: http://ronfulcher.zenfolio.com/p44844807