Top 5 Young Black Entrepreneurs to Watch, Follow and Keep an Eye on in 2016

Nationwide — All of us have heard the word “entrepreneur” tossed around at some point in time. When you picture an entrepreneur, who do you imagine? Maybe you imagine Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or even Mark Zuckerberg. But they aren’t the only ones!

 Here’s a list of the top five young African American entrepreneurs to keep an eye on in the year 2016:#1 – Jaylen D. Bledsoe: This 17-year old entrepreneur is the founder/ CEO of Jaylen D. Bledsoe Group, and is a motivational and professional speaker on the topics of young entrepreneurship, digital strategy, brand development and youth rights. His company focuses on helping his clients develop their brand, and his clients include superstars like Steve Harvey and Jordin Sparks. For more details, visit www.jaylenbledsoe.com

#2 – Essynce Moore: This 13-year old entrepreneur is the founder of Essynce Couture, a spa and boutique business for teens and tweens. She is also the author of a book entitled 6th Grade Middle School Chronicles, and is known in her community as a motivational speaker who speaks on the topic of entrepreneurship. She also has her own clothing line. For more details, visit www.essyncecouture.com

#3 – Sherron A. Stevens: This 20-year old entrepreneur is the CEO/ founder of Undercover Customer, a customer service consulting company that uses training and evaluations to help organizations generate more revenue by improving their customer’s experience. He has also published a best-selling book on customer service entitled Undercover Customer: 100 Ways to Fix Your Broken Customer Service. For more details, visit www.undercovercustomer.com

#4 – Moziah Bridges: This 13-year old entrepreneur is the founder/ president of Mo’s Bow Memphis, a handmade line of bowties that has grossed over $55,000 in sales. He has always had a vision to bring back bow ties and make them very stylish. This young man has been featured on ABC’s Shark Tank and his bow ties have been worn by President Obama and Steve Harvey. For more details, visit http://mosbowsmemphis.com

#5 – Maya Penn: This 15-year old is the founder of Maya’s Ideas, an apparel line that produces eco-friendly clothing and accessories. She is also a philanthropist, designer, artist, and animator. Her designs are sold all over the world, and she has customers in Denmark, Italy, Australia and more. For more details, visit www.mayasideas.com

Clearly, entrepreneurship and success has no age limit and no color barrier. When you have an idea and you are passionate about it, the sky is the limit!

For business or press inquiries, contact them directly through their websites.

Paula Watkins: First African-American Virtual School Founder

Redford, MI – For more than 30 years, Dr. Paula Watkins has spent her professional career focusing on improving the student achievement gap in the core academic areas of mathematics, writing, reading and languages for school districts in the State of Michigan. Realizing that every facet of the education process from recalibrating the learning environment to staffing, administration, managing governance, updating curriculum, instruction and analyzing testing metrics, Watkins has found all of these elements crucial and a fundamental framework for academic excellence. Watkins previously worked as CEO of Vision Education Center, an Education Management Organization for several charter schools in the Michigan areas. Watkins received her PhD from Oakland University.

So, when Watkins learned several years ago, the State of Michigan had expanded the Charter School legislation to include virtual education, she knew that finally after researching and studying methods for distance learning, coupled with core strategies for academic success at brick and mortal institutions, it was a perfect time for her company to put their knowledge in place to create a technological infrastructure. Virtual Schools are full time online schools of choice options that deliver all curriculum and instruction via the internet. Online charter enrollment has more than quadrupled since the Michigan law went into effect, demonstrating the allure of cyber schools for some Michigan students. According to the National Education Policy Center, in 2011 there were approximately 320 virtual school s in the United States.

Today, Dr. Watkins is CEO of The Cyber Education Academy located in Redford, MI., making her the first African American female and founder of a Virtual Education institution in the United States. “Our goals are to improve the graduation rates of urban, suburban and rural children and we have recognized that in order for us to improve these statistics educators have to look at intervention strategies. The Cyber Education Center provides an option for students. We are graduating students.”

The Cyber Education Center is a K-12 school that reaches a segment of students who need solutions to their unique education challenges. Whether they are disabled, gifted, or normal students, Cyber Education is committed to providing support services and maintaining high levels of achievement among their students. In 2016, CEC will expand and serve domestic and international students seeking a postsecondary education.

For more details about the Cyber Education Center, visit www.cyberedcenter.org

 

PRESS CONTACT:
Gwen Thomas
gwen@gwenthomaspr.com
248-739-2054 cell
609-474-4877 office

The Vietnam War From the Perspective of Black Soldiers — New Novel Tells a Familiar Story in a Different Way

Nationwide — J. Everett Prewitt, an award winning author, presents his newest novel, A Long Way Back, an intriguing glimpse into the Vietnam War from the perspective of black soldiers.

When a reporter for the Washington Post sees a group of wounded, half-starved, black troops disembark from a helicopter in Cu Chi during the height of the Vietnam War, he senses a story, but receives no cooperation from the army or the soldiers.

The men, mostly noncombat soldiers, are the remnant of a squad sent on an illegal mission to Cambodia as punishment for their participation in a race riot at Cu Chi base camp. Led by a battle-fatigued sergeant, they fall under enemy fire. Their leader inexplicably disappears, leaving the ill-prepared soldiers to fight the jungle and enemy on their own.

Although forced to confront the shock of combat and a deteriorating family life, the reporter pursues the story hoping to uncover the truth about what happened to the soldiers.

A Long Way Back is a tense journey merging the lives of the soldiers and the reporter as they struggle to overcome their fear, and face the battles they must fight to survive.

 

What others are saying:

“…this is an intelligently crafted tale, brimming with both suspense and social commentary.” — Kirkus Reviews

“(A) fine novel. This novel takes an important place on the small shelf of African-American Vietnam War novels… the book is well worth reading.” — Vietnam Veterans of America.

“This is an awesome story. As a retired Army officer and veteran of two tours in Vietnam and having personally been under enemy fire, I can attest to how well you captured that experience within the events of the story.” — Norman Mays, Major, USA, (ret)

“I found your novel A Long Way Back to be a compelling recounting of the war from the perspective of black soldiers.” — Anita Bunkley, author

“A Long Way Back is a riveting story set in Vietnam in the 1960s. It captures the ugliness of war and racism, but is much more a page-turning story of brotherhood, determination, and survival.” — Barbara Hacha, author of Line by Line and Sidetracks

 

About the Author:

J. Everett Prewitt is a Vietnam veteran and a former Army officer. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, and a Master of Science degree in urban studies from Cleveland State University. Prewitt was awarded the title of distinguished alumni at both schools.

Prewitt’s debut novel, Snake Walkers, placed first for fiction in four different literary contests, won the bronze award for general fiction in the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year contest, and was also honored by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.

Single and living in Shaker Heights, Ohio, Prewitt is the proud father of Lia and Eric. Learn more at his website at www.eprewitt.com

 

PRESS CONTACT:
Sondra George
north-land@mindspring.com
216-707-1300

Janice L. Mathis Named Executive Director of the National Council of Negro Women

Washington, DC — The National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) today announced the appointment of Janice L. Mathis as the Executive Director of the 80-year old non-profit organization. Before relocating to Washington, D.C., Ms. Mathis will serve out the year as Vice President of the Citizenship Education Fund (CEF), a position she has held since 2000.

“Janice Mathis, with her broad-based experience as a lawyer, negotiator, advocate, administrator and team builder, will serve NCNW well as we build on our legacy and pursue our forward-looking vision in the coming years,” said Ingrid Saunders Jones, NCNW chair. “We’re pleased to have Janice onboard to lead this organization in our continuing efforts of advocating for African Americans, increasing civic participation, strengthening public policies and developing new programs and partnerships.”

Ms. Mathis is noted for her decades of work with Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. She served as General Counsel and Chief of Staff to the Rainbow PUSH coalition. She helped negotiate numerous diversity and inclusion pacts with Fortune 100 firms, served on the Coca-Cola and Georgia Power diversity advisory councils, orchestrated legislative-related efforts in Georgia and shareholder activism nationally. She campaigned for media decency and reform of the criminal justice system and led CEF’s financial literacy partnership with Wells Fargo. She also was managing partner of Thurmond, Mathis and Pickett, a general practice law firm in Athens, Georgia.

“We will miss Janice’s insight and strategic thinking, but we wish her and NCNW every success,” commented Rev. Jackson. “They have made a wise choice.”

Mathis earned a B.A. in Public Policy Studies from Duke University and is a graduate of the Lumpkin School of Law at the University of Georgia. The National Council of Negro Women is a Washington, D.C.-based international non-profit organization making a difference in the lives of women, children and families throughout the world through research, advocacy, and community-based services and programs. The organization was founded on December 5, 1935 by Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune. Dr. Dorothy Irene Height, President Emerita, led the organization for more than fifty years before passing in 2010. For more information, please visitwww.ncnw.org.

 

PRESS CONTACT:
Flo McAfee, Summerland Studio, Flo@summerlandstudio.com, 202-486-3673
Will Thompson, Will@summerlandstudio.com, 803-546-3892

More Than 50 Years of Promoting Fast Food and Cigarettes to Black People

Nationwide — In addition to drugs and alcohol, fast food and cigarettes are some of the most harmful elements to minority communities. Because of this, African American families in particular, end up with the most health-related problems including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease/ failure, mental illnesses, and more.

Sadly, none of this is new. It’s been going on for decades. Need proof? Below are some advertisements from the 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s that were specifically designed for Black consumers:

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African American History Museum to Host Artifacts from Wrecked Slave Ship

This marks the first time in history that archeologists have documented a wrecked vessel that had been carrying slaves, researchers say

Thousands of artifacts will be on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture when it opens next year, yet few will have the historical significance of those that were recognized in a ceremony in Cape Town on Tuesday.

The African American history museum officially announced during the ceremony that it will host wreckage from a centuries-old slave ship that sank off the coast of South Africa with slaves on board. This marks the first time in history that archaeologists have been able to positively document a wrecked vessel that was carrying slaves, according to Lonnie Bunch, the museum’s director.

“Perhaps the single greatest symbol of the trans-Atlantic slave trade is the ships that carried millions of captive Africans across the Atlantic never to return,” Bunch said in a statement. About 400,000 East Africans were taken from their homeland between 1800 and 1865, according to the Smithsonian, to make the perilous months-long trip into bondage across the sea.

The Portuguese slave ship São José set sail in 1794, traveling from Lisbon to Mozambique to buy slaves to take to Brazil. The ship, which made its ill-fated journey relatively early in the history of the slave trade between East Africa and the Americas, was carrying over 400 enslaved East Africans when it hit a rock off the coast of South Africa. Some of those on board were able to make it to shore—but the ship sank and about half of the slaves it carried perished at sea. The Slave Wrecks Project, a collaborative group of six research and historical institutions, had been working to uncover the wreckage since 2008, and recently began bringing up artifacts from the successful project.

The Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture will display copper fastenings and sheathing that was used to hold the ship together, as well as iron ballast used for weight. The objects will be on long-term loan from the Iziko Museums of South Africa and that nation’s government. They’ll be displayed at an exhibit titled “Slavery and Freedom” that is scheduled to open with the museum next fall.

Members of the Slave Wrecks Project have gathered in South Africa this week for a series of events marking the discovery and highlighting the history it represents.

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“Stand By Me” Singer Ben E. King Has Died

Ben E. King, best known for the sweet soulful anthem to fidelity, “Stand By Me,” died on Thursday at age 76, his publicist confirmed to the BBC. He is reported to have died of natural causes.

Born Benjamin Earl Nelson, King began his career with soul doo-wop group The Drifters in the 1950s, where he cowrote their hit single “There Goes My Baby,” and sung on their hit song “Save The Last Dance For Me.”

After a pay dispute, King decided to go solo and changed his moniker to the one we know today.

His first solo hit was “Spanish Harlem” in 1960 (covered flawlessly by Aretha Franklin in 1971), followed by “Stand By Me,” which hit the Top 5 on U.S. charts in 1961.

“Stand By Me” has been covered by everyone from musical legend John Lennon to Maurice White of Earth Wind and Fire, to Imagine Dragons. It is a seemingly eternal song that resurfaces each generation, whether via the 1986 movie of the same name or being liberally sampled in Sean Kingston’s 2007 number one hit, “Beautiful Girls.”

“Stand by Me,” “Spanish Harlem,” and “There Goes My Baby” were all honored by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as three of the Top 500 songs That Shaped Rock and Roll, as well as by the Grammy Foundation, reports the BBC.

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U.S. Postal Service To Honor the Late Dr. Maya Angelou With Forever Stamp

Nationwide — The U.S. Postal Service will honor Maya Angelou — the beloved author, poet, actress and champion of equality — with a Forever Stamp.

“Maya Angelou inspired our nation through a life of advocacy and through her many contributions to the written and spoken word,” said Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan. “Her wide-ranging achievements as a playwright, poet, memoirist, educator, and advocate for justice and equality enhanced our culture.”

The Postal Service will preview the stamp and provide details on the date and location of the first-day-of-issuance ceremony at a later date.

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

Follow USPS on twitter.com/USPS and like us at facebook.com/USPS. For more information about the Postal Service, go to www.usps.com andwww.usps.com/postalfacts.

Have Jay-Z, Common, and Russell Simmons become the leaders of the Black people?

With all the protests surrounding the killings of unarmed Black men, many people have been wondering where the Black celebrities were and why weren’t they using their power to promote change. On Wednesday three members of the hip hop elite—Jay-Z, Russell Simmons and Common—met with government officials and came away with an important promise from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Simmons and Jay-Z talked reform with Gov. Cuomo, with Common joining Simmons later at a City Hall news conference.

“We want to promote the end of police protecting police and not prosecuting police,” Simmons said.

Common said America “should be ashamed of itself. We’re going to do everything it takes to change this system,” according to AP.

During the meeting with Simmons, Cuomo pledged to order that special prosecutors will be appointed to deal with police brutality cases, according to AP. It is a measure that many activists in New York and around the country have been calling for—and something Cuomo refused to do in the Eric Garner case, which resulted in the Staten Island District Attorney failing to get an indictment.

“We’re going to hold him to it,” Simmons said of Cuomo’s pledge.

Cuomo’s spokeswoman Melissa DeRosa said that the conversation dealt with discussions of special prosecutors among a “range of options that could be included” and other policy changes that governor plans on working on over the next year.

Jay-Z’s spokeswoman confirmed that he and Cuomo met with each other and DeRosa expressed that they had “a productive conversation” about reviewing and reforming the criminal justice system.

The trio didn’t just stop with the New York governor.

Simmons also had conversations with Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Simmons and Common worked with activist group Justice League NYC on Wednesday to promote the firing of officers involved in the Garner case and the appointment of special prosecutors for all cases involving police brutality.

De Blasio’s spokeswoman Marti Adams confirmed that de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton “are serious about enacting smart reforms.”

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