Queen of Civil Service: Aretha Franklin Was More Than an OD

Aretha Franklin was our Queen of Soul and the indisputable Original Diva(OD).

She used her four octave voice to not only make us ugly cry (I dare you not to do the same with her rendition of Precious Lord during MLK’s funeral) but remind the world we matter. Black lives matter. Long before a grassroots movement formed.

She was a key supporter of the Civil Rights movement by lending that powerhouse voice to SCLC events, like the org’s 10 year anniversary convention–Aretha Franklin sang for two hours.

So long the headline speaker (Sidney Poitier) didn’t go on until early the next morning.

Now if that’s not rallying for the message…

Aretha Franklin may not have been on the front lines of civil rights marches, but helped raise $250,000 for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and SCLC to go on tour spreading their nonviolent message.

Aretha Franklin sang from her soul and quietly poured her heart into causes and people that uplift African American community, like political activist Angela Davis.

When Davis was locked up and charged with murder in the ’70s, Aretha Franklin vowed to bail her out.

“I’m going to see her free if there is any justice in our courts, not because I believe in communism, but because she’s a black woman and she wants freedom for black people. I have the money; I got it from black people–they’ve made me financially able to have it–and I want to use it in ways that will help our people.” Aretha Franklin said at the time.

“As soon as the campaign for bail was created, Aretha came forward and said if bail was set she would pay whatever amount was needed, whether $100,000 or $200,000–which was a lot of money at the time, Davis told the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Davis was denied bail at the time, but never forgot Aretha Franklin’s commitment to helping her and thanked her publicly for years.

More recently, Aretha Franklin donated money and hotel rooms to her fellow Michigan natives affected by Flint water crises in 2016.

” She used her voice to deliver music for social justice,’ Rev Jesse Jackson told The Atlanta Journal Constitution. “She was a fighter who used her art as a platform.”

The voice may have been silenced today, but her spirit and legacy will always get R E S P E C T.

Taraji P. Henson Launches Foundation for Mental Health to Honor Her Father

Any Daddy’s girls out there? Y’all gonna love this one.

In between planning a wedding and portraying fierce Cookie Lyon on Empire, our girl Taraji created a foundation that will address mental health issues in the Black community.

The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation will provide scholarships to students majoring in mental health field; offer mental health counseling services in urban schools; and help to decrease prison recidivism rates.

The Foundation is named after her late Dad because of his complete devotion to her she told People

I named the organization after my father because of his complete and unconditional love for me; his unabashed ability to tell the truth, even if it hurt; and his strength to push through his own battles with mental health issues.

If you thumbed through Taraji’s 2016 memoir, Around the Way Girl, (I did!) you will remember she recounted her dad’s struggles to re-enter society after coming back from Vietnam. She says the Foundation is the best way to be a helping hand to those currently struggling.

My dad fought in the Vietnam War for our country, returned broken, and received little to no physical and emotional support. I stand now in his absence, committed to offering support to African Americans who face trauma daily, simply because they are black.

The Foundation will officially launch on September 22nd.

Let’s hope Taraji’s effort will create a big crack in mental health stigma in the Black community.

Comedian Lil Duval is Preparing Florida Kids for ‘Best Life’

MTV star Lil Duval made his way back home to Jacksonville, Florida for Boys and Girls Club back to school giveaway that was sure to make Sunshine state students ‘Smile’ today.

The Smile B***h artist handed out backpacks and took selfies with fans, before heading into the studio to (hopefully) serve us another hit song, in between shenanigans.

Cause if you breathing, you achieving… sorry can’t get the lyrics out my head.

Kevin Hart, Common and Chris Paul Give Epic Back- to-School Gifts

These fellas give back game is on fleek!

September is right around the corner, and they’re already helping secure the bag for students to pay that too damn high college bill.

How?

Kevin Hart set up a $600,000 scholarship fund for college kids through his newly unveiled Help From The Hart Charity. He joined forces with Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) and United Negro College Fund to surprise 18 attending HBCUs.

Kevin Hart flew to LA to surprise the award recipients in person on Tuesday.

The Jumanji star and KIPP each donated $300,000 each to the Fund. Making the path a lot smoother for students heading to Tuskegee University, Morehouse College, Xavier University, Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University.

Black excellence at it’s finest.

How Chris Paul Isn’t Shutting Up and Dribbling

Chris Paul made history this week by donating $2.5 million to his alma mater Wake Forest University on Tuesday.

The All Star baller’s hefty check (the biggest donor gift from alumna in the school’s history) will go towards the basketball program—to “transform the men’s and women’s basketball clubhouses with expanded and enhanced locker rooms, nutrition resources and treatment areas.”

So naturally, the men’s locker will be named in Chris’ honor.

The former Demon Deacons player was inspired to do the locker room revamp because of the importance of teamwork.

The locker room transportation project inspired me, because that’s where players build relationships and create a unifying camaraderie that is the foundation of success on the court.

The nine time NBA All Star and North Carolina native would know.

Common and his Mother Donating Money for Students and Teachers to Get School Supplies

Finally, Common and his mother teamed up with Burlington Stores and non profit org Adopt-a-Classroom, for the second year in a row, to get much needed school supplies to teachers and students.

The duo kicked off the campaign by donating $10,000 to the org and visiting a school in NYC on Monday.

Common writes on Instagram he was inspired to make the donation because teachers make a huge impact, like his mother who taught in his native Chicago.

My mother has been in the Chicago school system for, more than 35 years, and I am honored to do my part to help teachers get the materials they need to help their students succeed

Okay, class dismissed and have a great weekend.

How Ludacris Answered Atlanta Woman’s Prayers

Ludacris was an angel in disguise for A.T.L native Therra Jarramillo last week.

The Fast and Furious star was shopping at Atlanta Whole Foods on Monday, after checking out he noticed Jarramillo was struggling to pay for her items.

Jarramillo was on hard times; her husband recently died of brain cancer and was living off of rice and vegetables. A friend gave her a Whole Foods gift card, but it didn’t cover everything.

That’s when Luda stepped in.
“He turned to me and he said, ‘I said I got this.’ And I looked at him, and he said, ‘All of this, don’t put anything back.’”

The total was $375, btw.

Jarramillo didn’t know who the Good Samaritan was until the cashier tipped her off.
“I kept looking at him, and thinking, this man is an angel,” she said. “And [the cashier] goes, ‘you know that’s a famous rapper, you know, that’s Ludacris.’ And I went, ‘What! What!’ and I screamed.”

She went home and recounted the pay it forward tale to friends on Facebook.

What Ludacris had no way of knowing is that his quiet kindness and generous gesture came at a moment when my candle was out.He used his personal light to fire up my own.

Isn’t that what we should be doing for each other?I think it is.

Be like Ludacris y’all. I know I’m gonna do it. Pay it forward.

We can, every one of us, do SOMEthing for others. You never know a stranger’s full story when you reach out a hand and yank them into a better place.

Amen. Let’s all try to be kind to one another in this divisive time.

NBA All Star Derrick Rose Launches Scholarship Program

Derrick Rose is the latest baller to cheer for, and it has nothing to do with his jump shot.

The former Bulls point guard announced the Rose Scholars via Twitter on Wednesday.

The scholars program seeks three “civically-minded” high school students–must be a sophomore, junior or senior–to apply for funds for college.

One lucky student can win $200,000 to go towards their higher learning fund. Two other students can earn $20,000 each.

Rose reveals he got the idea to launch the scholarship when reflecting on his charitable works, in a letter posted to the Rose Scholars site.

As I started to reflect on my service to others, the idea of The Rose Scholars program started to form. An award that would reflect on my desire to find greatness, my dedication to perseverance and determination, my passion for self-empowerment, and my wish to elevate it in promising individuals applies.

The Chi-Town native continued by writing the scholarship could be a turning point in teens lives.

I know we can all identify a moment where our lives changed. A new path opened up to us that was not previously available. This new path allowed us to make different decisions and start to imagine new possibilities. This is exactly what the Rose Scholars program is meant to achieve in each and every one of you that applies.

It’s a path friend and fellow advocate for education LeBron James can get behind by tweeting his support.
You may have heard he opened a school in his hometown of Akron, Ohio last week.

The deadline to apply for Rose Scholars is Sept. 30 and winners will be announced around Oct. 15.

Why I Ghosted My Besties (You, Guys)

I know what y’all thinking–where has this bish been?

Let’s just say adjusting to moving from Brooklyn to Queen City, getting a new job, and a new puppy (Malchi!) didn’t leave much time for me to tickle the keyboards.

Hectic schedule aside, these past two months of grinding left me so overwhelmed and stressed I had to quit a job that became toxic.

It felt like it took such a huge piece of my energy that I didn’t have time to do what I love: this right here.

I can feel myself going through the motions every single day–go to work for eight hours, feed my pooch, feed myself and go to sleep.

There was no joy or anticipation of what was in store, just on auto pilot mode. Walking away from a position that didn’t bring fulfillment was the best decision I made.

I already feel so invigorated and motivated to continue chronicling amazing people enriching the world with their generosity.

Thank you, besties, for your patience and understanding. I missed you and love you.

I would love to hear your stories on walking away from toxic people, places or things. Please leave your comments below.