We are highlighting examples of Black excellence throughout the year! Feel free to send suggestions to Rachel at rstoler@frcog.org.

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Black Excellence: Omar Sy

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omar_Sy Omar Sy (French pronunciation: [ɔmaʁ si], Fula: 𞤌𞤥𞤢𞤪 𞤅𞤭, romanized: Omar Si; born 20 January 1978) is a French actor, best known in France for his sketches with Fred Testot on the Service après-vente des émissions television show on Canal+ (2005–2012). He gained wider recognition for his role in the…

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Black Excellence: Baloji

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baloji_(rapper) Baloji (born 12 September 1978) is a Belgian rapper, singer and film director of Congolese origin. Known as MC Balo in the hip hop group Starflam, he continued as solo artist starting 2006. The name Baloji in Swahili translates to “man of science”.[1] His film Omen was selected as…

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Black Excellence: Michel Martin

https://19thnews.org/2023/04/the-voices-of-npr Martin, 63, first joined NPR in 2006 to launch “Tell Me More,” an interview-focused show that aired on NPR member stations nationwide from 2007 to 2014. She then became host of “Weekend All Things Considered,” a position she held until joining “Morning Edition” as one of the hosts in…

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Black Excellence: Toussaint L’Ouverture

https://www.wgbh.org/news/local/2024-05-16/who-was-toussaint-louverture-the-namesake-behind-bostons-new-haitian-cultural-center Who was Toussaint L’Ouverture, the namesake behind Boston’s new Haitian cultural center? The Toussaint L’Ouverture Cultural Center of Massachusetts, set to celebrate its groundbreaking near TD Garden on May 20, will act as a gathering place and resource for local Haitians. And organizers hope it will also help the…

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Black Excellence: Ayodele Nzinga

https://www.ayodelenzinga.com Cultural Architect Ayodele Nzinga is an arts and culture theoretician/practitioner working at the intersections of cultural production, community development, and community well being to foster transformation in marginalized communities. Nzinga holds a Masters in Fine Arts in Writing and Consciousness and Doctorate of Philosophy in Transformative Education and Change;…

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Black Excellence: Ian Roberts

https://www.npr.org/2024/05/18/1252245744/iowa-superintendent-and-former-olympian-bested-in-footrace-by-5th-grader Iowa superintendent and former Olympian bested in footrace by 5th-grader It seemed like it should be an easy win for Des Moines Superintendent Ian Roberts to dust off his racing shoes and compete against a team of elementary schoolers.

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Black Excellence: Justin Haynes

https://canvasrebel.com/meet-justin-haynes The international designer and tailor, Justin Haynes of Jus10H, and the newly launched ONYX Inc., has blossomed into a must-see fashion sensation. His vibrant tones and colors, elegant patchwork, and classic vibe, have graced fashion runways, worldwide. Milan Fashion Week, Apsara Fashion Week, Dubai Fashion Week, and Asia Fashion…

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Black Excellence: Candace Parker

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Candace_Parker Candace Nicole Parker (born April 19, 1986) nicknamed “Ace” ,[1] is an American former professional basketball player. Widely regarded as one of the greatest WNBA players of all time,[2][3] she was selected as the first overall pick in the 2008 WNBA draft by the Los Angeles Sparks.[4] She spent 13 seasons on the Sparks, two seasons with the…

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Black Excellence: Shenarri Freeman

https://www.scoolinary.com/author/shenarri-freeman Chef Shenarri Freeman, aka “Shenarri Greens,” is the Executive Chef of Cadence, a plant-based restaurant with Southern soul in New York’s East Village. At Cadence, Chef Shenarri, a James Beard Award semifinalist in 2022 and 2023, taps into her Virginia upbringing and vegan ethos, and spotlights Southern foodways through…

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Black Excellence: Dr. Denis Mukwege

https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2024/05/10/1248112056/aurora-prize-nobel-denis-mukwege-sexual-violence Dr. Denis Mukwege fights sexual violence. He’s won a Nobel and now a $1 million honor. Is he hopeful? In 2018 Dr. Denis Mukwege won the Nobel peace prize for his unrelenting campaign against sexual violence. Last night he won the $1 million Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity.

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Black Excellence: Willie Mays

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willie_Mays Willie Howard Mays Jr. (born May 6, 1931), nicknamed “the Say Hey Kid”, is an American former center fielder in Major League Baseball (MLB). Regarded as one of the greatest players ever, Mays ranks second behind only Babe Ruth on most all-time lists, including those of The Sporting News…

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Black Excellence: Samantha Tweedy

The Black Economic Alliance Appoints Samantha Tweedy Chief Executive Officer Tweedy brings two decades of experience building and leading transformative racial and economic justice initiatives at the intersection of the public, private, and philanthropic sectors. While serving as inaugural President of the Black Economic Alliance Foundation, Tweedy raised tens of…

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Black Excellence: Sherri Chisholm

https://www.leadingonopportunity.org/our-team Sherri Chisholm Executive Director Sherri Chisholm joined Leading on Opportunity as its director in September 2020, bringing nearly a decade of experience as an educational and nonprofit strategist to the role. She has worked in senior leadership at national nonprofits and major school districts across the country, where she…

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Black Excellence: Summer Lee

https://www.wesa.fm/politics-government/2024-04-23/pa-election-results-congress-12th-district First-term U.S. Rep. Summer Lee held off a spirited primary challenge from Bhavini Patel in Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District on Tuesday after a race that drew national attention and was overshadowed by an international crisis.

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Black Excellence: Bernard Chiira of Innovate Now

https://atinnovatenow.com/founders Bernard is a renowned leader in the innovation, assistivetechnology, and entrepreneurship for disability inclusion in Africa. He is passionate about being a success catalyst and bridge for Startup teams and venture founders using the power of technology and entrepreneurship to change the world. https://atinnovatenow.com Africa’s first Assistive Technology Accelerator…

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Black Excellence: Dr. Shelly Harrell

https://gsep.pepperdine.edu/about/our-people/faculty/shelly-harrell Dr. Harrell is a licensed psychologist with areas of specialization in multicultural and community psychology. Her research interests include cultural dimensions of wellness and positive well-being, racism-related stress, resilience-oriented stress management interventions, culturally-diverse contemplative practices, humanistic-existential and integrative approaches to psychotherapy, and African American mental health.

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Black Excellence: Alua Arthur

https://www.npr.org/2024/04/17/1245264129/death-doula-alua-arthur-briefly-perfectly-human As a death doula, Alua Arthur helps people to plan for the end of life and, when the time comes, to let go. She says that while we’re conditioned to fear death, thinking and talking about it is instrumental to creating meaningful lives.

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Black Excellence: Kat Riggins

https://katriggins.com/bio Inspired by the variety and abundance of music in her parents’ collection, it makes sense that her own music is peppered with hints of it all. Make no mistake; however, Kat Riggins is undeniably a BLUES WOMAN! She travels the world with the sole mission of keeping the blues…

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Black Excellence: Percival Everett

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Percival_Everett Percival Everett (born December 22, 1956)[1] is an American writer[2] and Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Southern California. He is best known for his novels Erasure (2001), I Am Not Sidney Poitier (2009), and The Trees (2021), which was shortlisted for the 2022 Booker Prize. Erasure…

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Black Excellence: Dara Tucker

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dara_Tucker Dara Tucker (Dara Starr Tucker) is an American singer, songwriter, social commentator and satirist. Tucker has released four studio albums: All Right Now (2009), Soul Said Yes (2011)[1] The Sun Season (2014), and Oklahoma Rain (2017), as well as a limited-release, live album, Dara Tucker Live in 2013. She…

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Black Excellence: Melba Pattillo Beals

https://www.npr.org/2024/04/02/1242106502/beyonce-beatles-blackbird-little-rock-nine Beyoncé’s recent cover of The Beatles classic “Blackbird” was especially profound to listeners who know that the song pays homage to the Little Rock Nine — a group of Black students who were at the center of the fight to desegregate public schools in the United States. Her version,…

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Black Excellence: Thandiswa Mazwai

https://www.npr.org/2024/04/01/1241589647/thandiswa-mazwai-tiny-desk-meets-globalfest-2024 Thandiswa Mazwai is one of post-apartheid South Africa’s most influential musicians. For nearly 30 years, she has championed a kind of dance music called Kwaito. The South African genre mixes a variety of rhythms and influences, including hip-hop, reggae, jazz and house music.

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Black Excellence: Janel Diaz

https://www.npr.org/2024/03/31/1241386011/florida-trans-rights-activist-book-ban-rupaul A Florida activist creates safe spaces as laws and rhetoric turn against trans rights. Janel Diaz founded Capital Tea after she struggled during her own transition to find transgender support organizations in Florida’s capital city.

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Black Excellence: Corey Jones

https://www.prismwork.com/news-and-insights/prismwork-co-founder-corey-jones-succeeds-lisen-stromberg-as-ceo (Plano, Texas, January 20, 2024) PrismWork, a leadership and workplace transformation consultancy, announced today that co-founder Corey Jones will transition from the position of Chief Innovation Officer to Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately.

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Black Excellence: Melody Angel

https://www.melodyangelmusic.com/band Melody Angel (her real name) is the complete package: gifted guitarist and multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, vocalist, arranger, and producer. Along the way Angel found time to launch a successful theater and film acting career and received international acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival in France. The Chicago Reader newspaper called…

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Black Excellence: Jelani Cobb

https://journalism.columbia.edu/faculty/jelani-cobb Jelani Cobb joined the Journalism School faculty in 2016 and became Dean in 2022. He has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 2015. He received a Peabody Award for his 2020 PBS Frontline film Whose Vote Counts? and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in…

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Black Excellence: Gus and Emma Thompson

https://kevinashley.substack.com/p/gus-and-emma-thompson-1886-1958 https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/black-chinese-family-coronado-california-rcna140717 Black couple rented to a Chinese American family when nobody would. Now, they’re donating $5M to Black community.  The Dongs are selling the home their family rented and eventually bought from Gus Thompson, a former slave, and his wife, Emma. The Dongs will donate the proceeds to Black…

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Black Excellence: Linda Martell

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linda_Martell Linda Martell (born Thelma Bynem; June 4, 1941) is an American singer. She became the first commercially successful black female artist in the country music field and the first to play the Grand Ole Opry. As one of the first African-American country performers, Martell helped influence the careers of…

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