TBW Founder Nsenga K. Burton to Give Talk on Race & the Blogosphere at CAU

Burton CAU FlyerThe Burton Wire‘s founder & editor-in-chief Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D. will be discussing the topic, “Race and the Blogosphere ” at Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, GA, Wednesday, April 16, 2014 at 11 a.m. in the Thomas W. Cole Jr. Research Center. The event is sponsored by the Department of Mass Media Arts and the Theta Tau Chapter of Lambda Pi Eta Communications Honor Society.

Dr. Burton will discuss the new media landscape and the precariousness of being black and female in these exclusive spaces.

This event is free and open to the public. Questions will be taken from the audience at the end of the public lecture.

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Jamaica: Journalists Covering Vybz Kartel Trial Receive Death Threats

Dancehall and Reggae artist Vybz Kartel.  (Photo Credit: Google Images)

Dancehall and Reggae artist Vybz Kartel.
(Photo Credit: Google Images)

The Jamaica Observer newspaper is reporting that two journalists who covered the recent trial of Dancehall and Reggae artist Vybz Kartel have received death threats. The author of a post on Caribbean 360 writes:

“The Jamaica Observer newspaper said that its Crime/Court Desk Editor, Karyl Walker, had been receiving several threatening calls on his cellular phone after the paper published the latest article on the case on Sunday involving the entertainer, who was given a life sentence for murder.
Nationwide News Network said its reporter/producer Abka Fitz-Henley had also received death threats after the radio station aired the voice notes that were used by the prosecution in convicting the artist and three co-accused — Shawn ‘Shawn Storm’ Campbell, Kahira Jones and Andre St John — for the murder of Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams.

Read more at Caribbean 360.

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‘Dear White People’: Director Justin Simien Has More Stories to Tell

Justin Simien, director of the indie hit 'Dear White People'.  (Photo Credit: Yale Zhang)

Justin Simien, director of the indie hit ‘Dear White People’.
(Photo Credit: Yale Zhang)

Dear White People is the clever feature debut of Houston native-now-Los Angeles-based writer, producer and director Justin Simien. The winner of this year’s Sundance Film Festival U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent is a satire that chronicles four diverse black students each struggling to find their identity at a fictional predominately white Ivy League university.

Having already directed a series of short films, Simien’s unapologetic film was inspired by his undergraduate experiences as one of very few black students at his alma mater, Chapman University. The film and theater major tackles Obama’s presidency, color consciousness, interracial dating, hair texture, hip hop, reality shows, sexual preference, father/son relationships, white privilege and Tyler Perry movies on screen.

Dear White People is also inspired by nationwide news headlines reporting white fraternities on various college campuses hosting parties mocking black culture. Some of the article clippings appear in the end credits. Dear White People, which Simien originally titled Two Percent during the script’s infancy in 2006, was the cathartic process he used to become more comfortable with his racial and ethnic identity.

“The theme of the film centers around identity versus self,” says a crossed-arm Simien. “I had to make peace with all of the different parts of me. Walking through the world as a minority is complicated. Whatever identity I create, no matter how useful it is, ultimately I have to let it go to be a bigger version of myself. That’s the lesson I learned.”

For inspiration, Simien says he looked up to Star Trek, Spike Lee, Wes Anderson, Stanley Kubrick, the Coen Brothers and Ingmar Bergman. He doesn’t believe he’s a comedian under any circumstances. “My knack is storytelling that I tell from a place with a very specific form of humor,” says Simien. “I just want to tell the truth about the human condition from my point of view as best as I can.”

Dear White People’s concept trailer, which Simien refers to as his “visual pitch,” began streaming in May 2012 and quickly went viral. Shortly after, an Indiegogo campaign was launched with a $25,000 goal. The financial goal was met and surpassed in three days. Simien even sat in on screenwriting workshops and included some of the harsher criticisms in his work to give the story more substance.

Shot on University of Minnesota’s campus, Dear White People was constantly met with resistance from studio executives even as national media began to pay close attention. Simien believes executives couldn’t relate to the subject matter nor did they believe there was a market for black art-house cinema. Simien, both openly gay and working in publicity and marketing in Hollywood for eight years, saw Dear White People as an opportunity to develop characters that mainstream films often don’t include.

“I’m gay and black, and that puts you in a sort of gray area of what kind of black man you’re supposed to be,” says Simien. “There was no version of me in the culture that felt true, so I was in no man’s land.”

Despite the lack of faith some had in Simien and his multiethnic team, their creative efforts paid off. Dear White People earned top honors at both Tribeca Film Institute and Sundance. Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions inked a deal to distribute the film later this year. Simien doesn’t care to replicate making the same type of film.

He believes memorable films have original stories that are brave enough to defy conventional story arcs and character development. “You don’t get anywhere trying to make a movie based on what you think people are going to like or based on what you think has worked in the past,” says Simien. “You don’t get anywhere doing that. If you want to make a cultural impact, you’ve got to tell the truth. Tell the story that’s burning deep inside of you.”

One of the next projects on Simien’s radar is the web series, Twenties, executive produced by Queen Latifah’s Flavor Unit Entertainment imprint. He makes it a point to credit his equally diligent best friend, Lena Waithe, as the creative force behind the project. Tightlipped about sharing Twenties’ details, he did confirm that he’s directing the series. “I read it, and I was like ‘I’ve got to be a part of this.’ It’s her world and voice. She’s getting that project pushed further, but you’re definitely gonna see it,” says Simien

Dear White People was this year’s closing film at the Atlanta Film Festival. Completely sold out, it was the final cut’s third overall screening. The theatre was full of laughter and humorous gasps throughout the film’s 108 minute running time. “You never know what movie you’ve made until you screen it for an audience,” says Simien. “People at Sundance laugh at different moments that people in Atlanta or New York. It’s been a pleasure to see the movie play to such different audiences and seeing it connect on very different ways.”

Even as Dear White People’s accolades and popularity continues to grow, Simien remains humble about the hard work, dedication, patience and perseverance the film required. “It’s great to know that I did something that a lot of people told me wasn’t gonna happen or there was no model for it,” adds Simien. “I made it. That’s a really powerful thing, and I’m grateful.”

This post was written by Christopher A. Daniel, pop cultural critic and music editor for The Burton Wire. He is also a contributing writer for Urban Lux Magazine and Blues & Soul Magazine. Follow Christopher @Journalistorian on Twitter.

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Tommy Oliver: ’1982′ Filmmaker Tackles Addiction in Families with All-Star Cast

Director Tommy Oliver. (Photo Credit: Tommy Oliver)

Director Tommy Oliver.
(Photo Credit: Victoria Kovios)

1982 is a 90-minute tearjerker loosely based on the life of filmmaker Tommy Oliver. The movie tells the poignant story of a loyal, hard-working Philadelphia family man (Hill Harper) taking care of his 10-year-old daughter (Troi Zee) while he struggles to help his wife (Sharon Leal) overcome a crack cocaine addiction.

Set during the Reagan-era, Oliver’s actual experiences occurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The period piece opens with vintage home movies. Subsequent scenes have dark lighting that gives the entire story its somber mood. The family’s West Oak Lane home featured in the movie was the very house where Oliver’s grandmother raised him. Growing up with an absentee father, Oliver created the ideal father and innocent daughter to reflect his aspirational desires as a child.

1982 was Oliver’s coping mechanism for overcoming his single mother’s substance abuse. The story is a cautionary snapshot of how drug abuse trickles down and interrupts the family structure. So far, Oliver is amazed by the audiences’ initial reactions. “The reception has been really incredible…like genuinely,” says Oliver post-screening at this year’s Atlanta Film Festival. “There have been multiple standing ovations, people crying and being all emotional. The film has been well-received far more than I could’ve ever hoped for.”

Oliver goes on to say that he is interested in the diverse audiences of 1982, all of whom relate to different messages in the film. “I trust my audience,” he says. “I believe they are smart, and I never want to pander to them. What they gravitate towards or what they will take away will depend on what they bring, who and how they are.”

1982’s ensemble cast includes Ruby Dee, Wayne Brady, Bokeem Woodbine and LaLa Anthony. The independent feature film was an official entry at Toronto International Film Festival. 1982 also earned Audience Awards at the Pan African Film Festival and Austin Film Festival and an additional Top Prize at U.S. in Progress.

Oliver, an economics and digital media major with a business minor at Carnegie Mellon University, was originally moonlighting as a filmmaker while working for Microsoft. Now the owner of a production company, VILIV Studios, Oliver initially wasn’t set to direct his own film. “When I took the job, I knew I was halfway selling out. I told myself I’d pursue filmmaking on the side, which is bold. There’s no such thing as filmmaking on the side,” says Oliver.

Prior to 1982, Oliver’s work had been recognized at film festivals. He produced the 2011 film, Kinyarwanda, which won Sundance Film Festival’s Dramatic World Cinema Audience Award. Raising capital to make 1982, however, proved to be a challenge. Though Oliver received partial funding from the San Francisco Film Society and the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, funds completely depleted as production was on the verge of completion. Oliver made numerous attempts to attract investors.

His compelling story, he remembers, wasn’t exactly enough to encourage some supporters to contribute. Oliver says, “People like the story, but they can like something and don’t have to necessarily see it as being financially viable,” he says. Oliver pulled through and got the film completed. He wore many hats on set but credits his peer group as his motivation for staying on task. “It wasn’t a one-man-band,” says Oliver. “There were a lot of amazing, smart and talented people around. Otherwise, I would’ve lost it. I had people that I could trust, ask things and just have that support.”

Most importantly, 1982 has allowed Oliver to resolve issues and work on his relationship with his mother, who has been clean for over 20 years. Following the Q&A at the Atlanta screening, Oliver read a congratulatory and apologetic text message from his mother to the audience. She expresses how proud she is of her son’s accomplishments. “My mother never really understood how her addiction impacted me,” says Oliver. [The film] offered this perspective she never really thought about, and that’s been pretty incredible.”

Oliver is currently working on what he tells one audience member is “a lot of different projects.” He hopes that his films spark conversations outside of film critics circles and the theaters. “It’s not a message movie,” says Oliver. “The reason I wanted to make movies is to be able to make a difference. I believe in the transformative power of film and to have people talk about these things not necessarily publicly.  Being able to avoid some potential missteps within their own small circles and families is what it’s all about.”

Christopher A. Daniel is pop cultural critic and music editor for The Burton Wire. He is also a contributing writer for Urban Lux Magazine and Blues & Soul Magazine. Follow Christopher @Journalistorian on Twitter.

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Is the U.S. Supreme Court Destroying ‘Representative Democracy’?

The United States Supreme Court.  (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

The United States Supreme Court.
(Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

Last week, the five conservative judges on the U.S. Supreme Court deemed that monetary caps on how much an individual could contribute to a political campaign was unconstitutional. Last year, those same five conservative justices gutted critical key provisions to the U.S. Voting Rights Act. Back in 2010, those same five conservative judges gave us Citizens United, giving corporations the same Freedom of Speech rights only intended for citizens — that is people.

These rulings coincide, not coincidentally, with unprecedented cash flowing into political campaigns. According to the Wall Street Journal, Super PACs alone poured nearly $568 million in the 2012 elections. That is compared with $30 million in spending during the 2008 election cycle. Overall, total spending – which included Super PACs and “social welfare” groups (yeah the same ones whose tax-exempt status the IRS had the gaul to question) totaled roughly $5.8billion. And that’s only the money we know about. Because not only did Citizens United remove the taps on political cash flow, it also cloaked the source. There’s so much money polluting the political waters, through shadowy 501C(4)s, that it is even difficult for the watchdogs to keep up with how much, where it’s coming from, and how it’s being used. What we do know is that due, in part to the U.S. Supreme Court, we now have a political system in which 105 people (roughly the top 1 percent of super Pac contributors) now make up about 58 percent of all super PAC funding.

In looking at all this influence peddling, it is easy to focus on the class of “Super Citizens” that the U.S. Supreme Court have effectively created by giving them unfettered influence on our political processes. People like Las Vegas gambling tycoon Sheldon Adelson, one man legally entitled to one vote who personally bankrolled Mitt Romney’s presidential election campaign — donating roughly $10 million to get his man elected. Or people like the Koch Brothers, who thanks again to the U.S. Supreme Court, have spent millions more electing tea party politicians and are directly responsible for the gross overrepresentation of extremism in the U.S. Congress — despite the fact that the U.S. electorate has gotten more liberal on a host of issues from gay marriage to marijuana legalization to gun control or raising the U.S. Federal Minimum Wage.

During this iteration of the U.S. Supreme Court, five people have effectively been allowed to decapitate the entire concept of Representative Democracy.

In a Representative Democracy, elected officials represent the electorate. Their entire purpose is ensure that there are elected individuals representing the people, as opposed to autocracy and direct democracy. The entire system is designed to ensure that representation is in proportion to those being represented and that majority rules. In the U.S. Congress, specifically, representation is directly tied and in proportion to the population of a specific electorate. In the very practice of having free elections where each citizen, regardless of wealth, is only afforded one vote, we have tried to uphold this fragile notion of Representative Democracy.

But when the U.S. Supreme Court uses words like speech and money and people and corporations interchangeably, you no longer have a Representative Democracy. When 105 of the richest among us are allowed to buy elections across the nation unchecked, you no longer have a Democracy. What you now have is an Oligarchy.

And why now? Why now does the U.S. Supreme Court choose to dismantle voter protections for minorities while giving the rich and powerful, white and male, unprecedented influence over our political processes? Why now do they choose to redefine the meaning of democracy, where one individual’s freedom to give money suddenly outweighs our collective right to uncompromised elections? Could it be because there is a black man in the White House and a woman waiting in the wings? Could it be because within the next 10 years white people will no longer be the clear majority of the U.S. electorate?

Could it be because the U.S. Supreme Court neither respects or accepts the changing demographics of the U.S. electorate and has no interest in upholding a Democracy with an electorate that no longer looks like them?

These questions are just the symptoms. The real illness is the U.S. Supreme Court.

Devona Walker is the politics editor for The Burton Wire. Follow her on Twitter @DevonaWalker.

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EXCLUSIVE: Aaron Neville Talks ‘My True Story’ (Album), God and Grace

Legendary singer Aaron Neville.  (Photo Credit: DJ Blak Magic)

Legendary singer Aaron Neville.
(Photo Credit: DJ Blak Magic)

For over five decades, Aaron Neville has entertained audiences with his unique wailing vocals and willingness to defy fitting neatly into any musical genre. The four-time Grammy award-winning New Orleans native has explored a wide array of styles spanning pop, R&B, soul, country, rock & roll, doo wop, jazz and gospel.

Neville’s latest album, My True Story, is his debut release under the legendary Blue Note Records. Produced entirely by Don Was and Rolling Stones’ guitarist Keith Richards, My True Story’s 12-track sequence pays homage to some of Neville’s favorite songs growing up in the Big Easy. “I’ve done standards. I don’t know if you would call that ‘jazz,’ but I do it all,” says a monotone Neville with his heavy New Orleans accent.

Relaxing in his dressing room backstage prior to showtime at Atlanta’s Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, Neville, who wears an arching crucifix tattoo across his left cheek, speaks in great detail about recording My True Story with both Was and Richards. The trio ended up recording 23 tracks over five days each in one take. Richards shared with Neville during those sessions that he “felt like he was back in the ‘50s.”

“It was cool,” says a raspy Neville with a slight chuckle soon following. “The music just brought us back. It was a bunch of hard musicians in the studio acting like a bunch of kids. It was a labor of love for all of us.”

Neville’s chart-topping hits include “Tell It Like It Is” and the duet with Linda Ronstadt, “Don’t Know Much.” He continues to perform with his siblings as part of New Orleans’ first family of music, The Neville Brothers. Aaron’s brother, Charles, joined him onstage in Atlanta and played saxophone. The Louisiana Music Hall of Fame inductees heard everything from local jazz bands playing for funerals to the sounds of drums from Mardi Gras Indians’ experienced when growing up.

Neville’s knack for performing and singing, he says, stems from being saturated with New Orleans’ spirited musical legacy. “We’ve heard that since we were kids,” says Neville. “like the Satchmos, Professor Longhairs and Fats Dominos. We had a lot in front of us to give us guidance. All of that contributed to our thing.”

Neville’s career endured its share of hard times. Even with hit records, he experienced not receiving royalties because his first record label folded. As audience preferences shifted in the early 1970s, Neville’s record sales began to dwindle. Following Hurricane Katrina, Neville’s home was wiped out by the storm.

Despite the odds, Neville remained passionate about music. He continued to record, entertain audiences and got more in touch with his spirituality. Neville says, “I would like to see the world in a better place. I like to see all mankind be more kind to each other and not so many wars and killings everywhere on Earth.”

Post-Katrina, he performed numerous benefit concerts. Before he goes on stage, Neville pulls his band and brothers together for prayer. “I pray all of the time,” says Neville. “That’s my saving grace all day long. We live in a crazy world. I pray to be safe, for my family and that I have patience with everybody. That keeps me centered.”

Once Neville takes center stage, his repertoire includes soulful ballads, funky conga-based jams, band member solos and impromptu renditions of some notable standards. He likes to leave his audience and fans with one thing in mind. “[Aaron] came into this world to sing and that gives me joy,” says Neville. “And I’m gonna do it ‘til God comes. That’s the bottom line.”

This post was written by Christopher A. Daniel, pop cultural critic and music editor for The Burton Wire. He is also a contributing writer for Urban Lux Magazine and Blues & Soul Magazine. Follow Christopher @Journalistorian on Twitter.

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Chuck Stone: Veteran Journalist and NABJ Founder Dies

Pioneering journalist and Tuskegee Airman Chuck Stone has died at 89.  (Photo Credit: Philly.com)

Pioneering journalist and Tuskegee Airman Chuck Stone has died at 89.
(Photo Credit: Philly.com)

WRAL-TV (Raleigh, NC) is reporting that veteran journalist and National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) founder Chuck Stone has died. According to Stone’s daughter Allegra, Stone died at an assisted-living facility in Chapel Hill where he was a journalism professor who taught censorship and magazine writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for 14 years. He retired from that position in 2005. Stone, a Tuskegee Airman in World War II, founded NABJ along with 43 other members in Washington, D.C. in 1975.

The author writes:

“…Stone was a writer and editor at influential black publications in New York, Washington and Chicago through the early 1960s, using his writing to urge the Kennedy administration to advance the cause of civil rights. Subsequently, he served as an adviser to U.S. Rep. Adam Clayton Powell of New York.

His reputation grew after he was hired as the first black columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, where he worked as a columnist and editor from 1972 to 1991. He was known for being outspoken on discrimination, police brutality and racism.”

Throughout his life, Stone received six honorary doctorates and multiple honors, including the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award from The Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation, the National Association of Black Journalists’ Lifetime Achievement Award and The Freedom Forum’s Al Neuharth Free Spirit Award. He was NABJ’s first president.

In addition to Allegra Stone, Stone is survived by children Krishna Stone and Charles S. Stone III; grandchild Parade Stone and sisters Madalene Seymour and Irene Gordy. He was 89.

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Lupita Nyong’o Named New Face of Lancôme

Academy award-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o has been named the new face of Lancôme.  (Photo Credit: Google Images)

Academy award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o has been named the new face of Lancôme.
(Photo Credit: Google Images)

Vanity Fair is reporting that Academy award-winning actress and fashion darling Lupita Nyong’o has been named the new face of Lancôme cosmetics. Pria Rayo writes:

“Nyong’o joins fellow A-listers Julia Roberts, Kate Winslet, and Penelope Cruz as ambassadors for the brand. ‘What appealed to me about Lancôme is that they’re not dictating what beauty is,’ she told Women’s Wear Daily. ‘What they do supports something that already is — and that was appealing to me, too. It’s what drew me to them. Hopefully it’s a symbiotic relationship — that I benefit from being associated with them, and they benefit from being associated with me, as well. And for the consumer at large, I think Lancôme has a range of products for every woman, and I think having me will expand people’s understanding of, hopefully, what Lancôme stands for, who Lancôme is for.’”

Read more at Vanity Fair.

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Jackie Joyner Kersee and Tamera Young Talk Sexism in Sports

Iconic Olympian Jackie Joyner Kersee talks Title IX and giving back on Women's History Month panel.  (Photo Credit: Robin Walker Marshall/Robin Lori Photography)

Iconic Olympian Jackie Joyner Kersee talks Title IX and giving back on Women’s History Month panel.
(Photo Credit: Robin Walker Marshall/Robin Lori Photography)

Title IX prohibits gender discrimination in athletic programs that receive federal funding. Enacted in 1972, the law grants women and girls equal access to the essentials necessary for becoming successful competitors such as scholarships and training facilities.

Three-time Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Chicago Sky forward Tamera Young are two generations of black female athletes both highly affected by reform. They are instrumental in changing the scope of how female athletes in general are perceived by various publics. During a two-day Women’s History Month celebration at Atlanta’s Roc House Women’s Fitness Spa, Kersee and Young were panelists sharing their insights.

Both women discussed the importance of female athletes of color continuing to defy the norms in male-dominated competitive spaces. Kersee, one of track and field’s most versatile and well-known figures, is still the first and only heptathlete to score over 7,000 points. Accumulating the points in the 1988 Summer Olympics, the Hall of Famer also holds the indoor record for long jump.

Making sports history was beyond anything the determined East St. Louis, IL native could’ve ever imagined. “I didn’t envision growing up that I would become a world record holder or Olympic champion,” says Kersee. “I really just wanted to get on television. It was challenging, but I wanted to do it.”

One of Kersee’s coaches registered her to compete in the heptathlon for her age group. Excelling in varsity volleyball and basketball also, Kersee earned a full track scholarship to UCLA. Black female participation in the heptathlon was unheard of at the time. On the other hand, a down home Kersee was up for the challenge.

“Black girls wanted to be strictly sprinters, jumpers or hurdlers,” says Kersee. “Once I started educating myself and learning more about how to get the points, I saw myself developing. I knew I wouldn’t win all of the time, but I kept on. You can’t take a day off. Multiple events keep you humble and give you a real view that you have to work hard.” Knowing talent when she sees it, the iconic Olympian keeps a close eye on Georgia freshman pentathlete Kendell Williams, who was named SEC Freshman of the Year. “She’s very special,” says Kersee. “She has all of the tools to be one of the greatest.”

Kersee’s and Young’s careers weren’t without prejudice from men. Kersee remembers her coaches keeping her away from racist and sexist coaches from opposing teams. She and her teammates often traveled in groups and sometimes couldn’t go into certain places. “I always wanted to focus on the positive,” says an optimistic Kersee. “I realized that wasn’t gonna stop me from achieving, believing and working hard. There’s no substitute for hard work.”

And then there’s Young, a Hall of Famer at Wilmington, NC’s Laney High School (basketball legend Michael Jordan’s alma mater) who set the conference record as a member of James Madison University’s women’s basketball squad. The stellar WNBA athlete was drafted in the first round by the Atlanta Dream in 2008.

Young, who likes to take a moment of silence before she steps on the court, became the first player from JMU to accomplish pro eligibility. “People thought men were better athletes than women,” says Young. “We actually had to prove that we can do the same as men. It takes hard work, effort and heart. If you have heart, then you’re a champion.” Young immediately follows through with more encouragement. “My motto growing up was ‘Prove doubters wrong,’” she says. “Don’t let anyone tell you something that you can’t do. If you believe in yourself, have self-discipline and motivation, you can prove anybody wrong.”

Since Kersee retired in 2001, she’s concentrating on being a people’s champion. She founded a facility, Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center, to encourage youth in her hometown to actively participate in physical activity. In 1988, she founded a nonprofit organization, the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation, to enhance the quality of life for families and communities. Recently inducted into the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) Hall of Fame, Kersee co-founded Athletes For Hope with other notable sports figures to promote humanitarianism and sportsmanship throughout athletics.

Already the author of two books, Kersee would like to produce children’s books to educate young people on some of the obstacles she has encountered. One specific focus would be on her bout with asthma. Kersee’s transition into humanitarianism came from watching her coaches chaperone her teammates and ensuring they had someone to confide in and look after them.

“I didn’t realize at the time how that would impact my life later on,” says Kersee with her legs crossed. “No matter where my path would take me, I knew I would always come back in the community and help others. If you give the world the best you have, the best will come back.”

Even with both generations of women having amazing careers in sports, competition remains at the core of their identities. Kersee would like to see more females become heptathletes. More importantly, she wants to be remembered as an athlete who performed well on-and-off the track. “I want to be known for being a great human being,” says Kersee. Young, however, just wants people who have dreams to pursue them despite criticism or a lack of support.

“Any kid growing up that wants to dream or wants to believe they can do something, I wish the best for them and hope they keep their dreams alive,” says Young. “Don’t let anyone take it away. You’re built, not born, to be a winner and a champion.”

This post was written by Christopher A. Daniel, pop cultural critic and music editor for The Burton Wire. He is also a contributing writer for Urban Lux Magazine and Blues & Soul Magazine. Follow Christopher @Journalistorian on Twitter.

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Africa: Women Tech Founders To Watch

Rebecca Enonchong a Cameroonian national, is the founder and CEO of AppsTech, a Bethesda, Maryland-based global provider of enterprise application solutions. (Photo Credit: CNN Screen Grab)

Rebecca Enonchong a Cameroonian national, is the founder and CEO of AppsTech, a Bethesda, Maryland-based global provider of enterprise application solutions.
(Photo Credit: CNN Screen Grab)

Writing for Forbes.com, Mfonobong Nsehe highlights ten dynamic women in Africa who are succeeding despite the lack of representation of women in the ‘male-dominated tech scene’ on the continent. Nsehe writes:

“…there is a tiny handful of incredible women who are launching and building successful, innovative tech companies that are upending industries, setting new standards and earning their place at the cool table. These women create and innovate, exploiting ideas, products and services to produce dynamic businesses.”

Nsehe spoke to a few African tech entrepreneurs and hand-picked 10 of the brightest tech founders in Africa. Below are four of his choices:

Rebecca Enonchong, Cameroonian

Founder, AppsTech

Enonchong, a Cameroonian national, is the founder and CEO of AppsTech, a Bethesda, Maryland-based global provider of enterprise application solutions. AppsTech, which was founded in 1999 now has clients in more than 40 countries on 3 continents. The company, an Oracle ORCL +1.42% Platinum partner, offers a diverse range of enterprise software products and services including implementation, training and application management services for large and medium-sized companies. Enonchong also serves as an advisor/mentor to several African tech startups and is also the founder the Africa Technology Forum, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting technology in Africa.

Anne Amuzu, Ghanaian 

Co-founder, Nandimobile

Amuzu, a graduate of Ghana’s Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) is a co-founder of Nandimobile, a company that develops software that enables companies to deliver customer support and information services through SMS. Amuzu co-founded the company in 2010 and it has more than 20 corporate clients in Ghana.

Nkemdilim Uwaje Begho, Nigerian

Founder, Future Software Resources

Begho founded Future Software Resources Ltd, a website design & web-solution provider located in Lagos, Nigeria in 2008. The company also provides online marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), content management system development, online recruitment and IT consultancy services to more than 25 small and large Nigerian businesses and government agencies.

Judith Owigar, Kenyan

Co-founder, JuaKali

Owigar, one of Kenya’s most popular female tech leaders, is the founder of JuaKali, an online and mobile directory for Kenya’s skilled blue-collar workers. JuaKali which was founded in 2012 and is based in Nairobi connects service providers from the informal sector with institutional and individual clients. The service allows workers to create an online profile showing their expertise. The service can be accessed via web and mobile. Owigar is also the founder of Akirachix, an association that aims to inspire and develop young women in technology through a mix of networking, training and mentoring programs.

Read more at Forbes.com.

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