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: 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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Black Excellence: Kelela

https://www.npr.org/2024/02/23/1232446014/tiny-desk-concert-kelela Kelela took her opportunity at the Tiny Desk to create something new. She swapped key pieces from her recordings (hard drums and effects) for a harp and piano. She also presented us with a challenge or two as well.

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Black Excellence: Simbarashe Cha

https://www.nytco.com/press/simbarashe-cha-joins-the-times/ Simbarashe has been a contributor to The Times since 2020, when he began photographing for the Metro section. He went on to write about and capture street style and fashion in his Fashion Week Diaries and Style Outside columns. He has photographed and reported for The Times from New…

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Black Excellence: Hyacinth Burrows

https://publichealth.nyu.edu/podcast/iamgph/ep133-climate-change-and-disease-elimination-hyacinth-burrows Hyacinth is currently pursuing her masters at NYU GPH, specializing in environmental public health sciences, where she’s also a William N. Rom climate fellow, actively working on projects related to climate change and global health. Besides all her academic pursuit, Hyacinth volunteers for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action…

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Black Excellence: Raeghn Draper

https://www.raeghn.com/about-me I am a writer, community organizer, and hospitality worker based in Chicago. I am the oldest of eight siblings born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and grew up in a low-income household. My younger siblings are foundational to who I am and my values. Despite facing many challenges, I graduated college…

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Black Excellence: Hydeia Broadbent

https://www.npr.org/2024/02/21/1233022530/hydeia-broadbent-hiv-aids-activist-dies-age-39?ft=nprml&f=191676894 Hydeia Broadbent, known for raising awareness to lessen the stigma around HIV/AIDS from a young age, has died at 39 years old. She was one of the faces of children with AIDS in America, especially within the African American community.

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Black Excellence: Korva Coleman

https://www.witf.org/2022/11/10/nprs-newscaster-korva-coleman-shares-her-story-and-the-inner-workings-of-npr/ Korva Coleman, award winning newscaster for NPR, from Phoenix, Arizona is known for writing, producing, and delivering daily national newscasts airing during NPR’s news magazines, All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and Weekend Edition.

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Black Excellence: Kristen Welker

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kristen_Welker Kristen Welker (born July 1, 1976[1]) is an American television journalist working for NBC News. She serves as a White House correspondent based in Washington, D.C.,[2] and served as co-anchor of Weekend Today, the Saturday edition of Today, alongside Peter Alexander from 2020 to 2023. She took over hosting…

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Black Excellence: Arturo Schomburg

https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/arturo-schomburg-cookbook The story that Arturo Schomburg would often tell went something like this: When he was a child in late 19th-century Puerto Rico, his 5th-grade teacher told him that Black people had no history, no heroes, and no great moments. The remark filled him with fury. He’d been born to…

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Black Excellence: Marion Turner

https://www.therainbowtimesmass.com/stories-of-our-lgbtqi-ancestors-marion-turner-of-florence-massachusetts-1898-1903/ https://www.masslive.com/news/2012/10/sexual_minority_archives_uncov.html A century before same-sex marriage, the Gay Pride March and RuPaul’s Drag Race reality TV show, Marion Turner walked the streets of Northampton—dressed as a woman.

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Black Excellence: Pauline Black

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pauline_Black Belinda Magnus OBE DL (born 23 October 1953), better known as Pauline Black (Listenⓘ), is an English singer, actress and author. In a music career spanning over 40 years, Black came to prominence in the late 1970s as the lead singer of the 2 Tone ska revival band the…

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Black Excellence: Ebony Williams

https://www.broadwaydancecenter.com/faculty/ebony-williams Boradway Dance Center Teacher Bio Ebony Williams comes from Boston, Massachusetts, where she trained with the Boston Ballet from age eight through high school. She also attended the Roxbury Center for the Performing Arts. She is a May 2005 graduate of the Boston Conservatory with a Bachelor of Fine…

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Black Excellence: Chae Campbell

https://spectrumlocalnews.com/tx/dallas-fort-worth/news/2023/04/18/four-time-all-american-chae-campbell-reflects-on-her-journey-to-become-a-bruin Chae Campbell is a four-time All-American gymnast for the UCLA Bruins She is a Carrollton, Texas, native and grew up watching the 2010 UCLA national championship team, which inspired her to compete for the Bruins herselfCampbell was a main contributor to UCLA’s success this season, reaching the national stage…

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Black Excellence: Leyla McCalla

https://www.npr.org/2022/10/20/1128713485/leyla-mccalla-tiny-desk-concert?ft=nprml&f=1002 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leyla_McCalla Leyla Sarah McCalla[1] (born October 3,[2] 1985)[3] is an American classical and folk musician.[4] She was a cellist with the Grammy Award-winning[5] string band Carolina Chocolate Drops,[6] but left to focus on her solo career.[7]

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Black Excellence: Freddie Taylor

https://sankofaclub.com/bios/ Founder and CEO of Urban Intellectuals and Sankofa Club Visionary, entrepreneur and philanthropist; just a few words that describe, Freddie E. Taylor, founder and CEO of Urban Intellectuals(UI). Spurred by the lack of Black history instruction that his sons received in grammar school, Freddie knew the onus was on…

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Black Excellence: Kara Jackson

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kara_Jackson Kara Jackson is from Oak Park, Illinois and attended Oak Park River Forest High School, where she participated in spoken word.[1][2][3] Jackson also participated in a jazz ensemble at Merit School of Music, and was the Youth Poet Laureate of Chicago in 2018.[4][5][6] She performed at the Louder Than…

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Black Excellence: BLK ODYSSY

https://www.npr.org/2024/01/24/1226124818/tiny-desk-concert-blk-odyssy The BLK ODYSSY aesthetic ignites all of the human senses and it’s impossible to nail down exactly what type of music he makes after one, two or even three listens. When he arrived at NPR headquarters, Juwan Elcock, aka BLK ODYSSY, pulled out a lifelike severed human head made…

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