1. Bryant Charles Gumble, television journalist and sportscaster. He is best known for his 15 years as co-host of NBC ‘s The Today Show. He is the younger brother of sportscaster Greg Gumbel.
2. Ken Norton Jr, a former American football linebacker in the National Football League, former USC Trojan football team Linebacker Coach and Assistant Head Coach for Defense, and is the current linebackers coach for the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. He was the first NFL player to win a Super Bowl ring in three consecutive years. He is the son of the former heavyweight champion Ken Norton.
3. Donald Earle DeGrate, Jr., better known by his stage name DeVante Swing, is a record producer, singer, rapper and songwriter. Swing rose to fame in the 1990s as the founding member of the trendsetting R&B group Jodeci, one of the more popular R&B acts of its time. Swing served as the main songwriter, producer, and leader of Jodeci which also featured his younger brother Dalvin DeGrate.
4. Gwendolyn L. “Gwen” Ifill, journalist, television newscaster and author. She is the managing editor and moderator for Washington Week and a senior correspondent for the PBS NewsHour, both of which air on PBS. She is a political analyst, and moderated the 2004 and 2008 Vice Presidential debates. She is the author of the book The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama.
1. Cora Calhoun (Lovie) Austin, Chicago bandleader, session musician, composer, and arranger during the 1920s classic blues era. She and Lil Hardin Armstrong are often ranked as two of the best female jazz blues piano players of the period.
2. Billy Ward, The second of three sons of Charles Williams and Cora Bates Williams, and was a child musical prodigy, winning an award for a piano composition at the age of 14. Following military service with the U.S. Army he studied music in Chicago, and at the Juilliard School of Music in New York. While working as a vocal coach and part-time arranger on Broadway, he met talent agent Rose Marks, who became his business and songwriting partner. Billy Ward and His Dominoes vocal group, one of the best-selling R&B groups of the 1950s began the careers of both Clyde McPhatter and Jackie Wilson.
3. Brook Benton, singer and songwriter who was popular with rock and roll, rhythm and blues, and pop music audiences during the late 1950s and early 1960s, when he scored hits such as “It’s Just A Matter Of Time” and “Endlessly”, many of which he co-wrote.
He made a comeback in 1970 with the ballad “Rainy Night in Georgia.” Benton scored over 50 Billboard chart hits as an artist, and also wrote hits for other performers.
4. Freda Charcilia Payne, singer and actress best known for her million selling, 1970hit single, “Band of Gold”. She was also an actress in musicals and film, as well as the host of a TV talk show. Freda is the older sister of former Supremes member, Scherrie Payne. Starred in Black Horror movie “Rag Doll”
5. Nile Gregory Rodgers, musician, composer, arranger, and guitarist. Rodgers began his career as a session guitarist in New York, touring with the Sesame Street band in his teens, and then working in the house band at Harlem’s world famous Apollo Theater, playing behind Screaming Jay Hawkins, Maxine Brown, Aretha Franklin, Ben E. King,Betty Wright, Earl Lewis and the Channels, Parliament Funkadelic, and many other legendary R&B artists.
Nile met bassist Bernard Edwards in 1970. Together they formed The Big Apple Band that backed R&B act New York City (“I’m Doing Fine Now”). The band’s one hit allowed them to tour extensively, even opening for The Jackson 5 on the American leg of their first world tour in 1973. The band dissolved after their second album failed to yield a hit, but Nile and Bernard joined forces with drummer Tony Thompson, and worked and recorded as a Funk Rock band called The Boys, which played numerous gigs up and down the East Coast. Despite major label interest in their demos, they could not get a record deal when the record companies discovered they were black; the excuse was that black rock artists would be too hard to promote. The band continued playing mostly local bars.
As The Big Apple Band, Rodgers and Edwards worked with Ashford & Simpson, Luther Vandross and many others. Since another New York artist, Walter Murphy, had a band also called The Big Apple Band, Rodgers and Edwards were forced to change their band’s name to avoid confusion. Thus, in 1977 the band was renamed as Chic. Between gigs they recorded their first album with then-boss Luther Vandross, who provided background vocals on the group’s early recordings. The band scored numerous top ten hits and helped propel disco to new levels of popularity. Chic’s chart-topping songs “Le Freak”, “I Want Your Love”, “Everybody Dance”, “Dance, Dance, Dance”, “My Forbidden Lover”, and “Good Times” have become club/pop/R&B standards. “Le Freak” is Atlantic Records’ only triple platinum selling single and “Good Times” shot to the #1 spot.
The success of Chic’s first singles led Atlantic to offer Rodgers and Edwards the opportunity to produce any act on its roster. They chose Sister Sledge, whose 1978 album, We Are Family, peaked at #3 and remained on the charts well into 1979. The first two singles, “He’s the Greatest Dancer” and the title cut “We Are Family” both reached #1 on the R&B chart, and #6 and #2, respectively on the Pop chart. “He’s the Greatest Dancer” was sampled in 1998 to create Will Smith’s “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It”.
6. Kevin Hooks, actor, and a television and film director; he is notable from his roles in Aaron Loves Angela & Sounder, but may be best-known as Morris Thorpe from TV’s The White Shadow.
In 1986, he starred in the short-lived ABC sitcom He’s the Mayor. He directed Wesley Snipes in Passenger 57 and also Laurence Fishburneand Stephen Baldwin in Fled. Hooks worked as a director and producer on the series Prison Break. He also directed two episodes from the first season of Lost, “White Rabbit” and “Homecoming”.
In 2003, Hooks revisited Sounder. He directed ABC’s Wonderful World of Disney’s TV remake of the film, with Paul Winfield, his co-star from the original, playing a different role.
Hooks was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Yvonne, a state employee, and Robert Hooks, a director and actor who starred in many films in the 1970s. Kevin’s nickname amongst his friends is “King Royal”.
7. Sanaa McCoy Lathan, Actress and voice actress. She has starred in numerous movies, including the box-office hits Love & Basketball, Alien vs. Predator, Something New, and The Family That Preys. Lathan was nominated for aTony Award for her performance on Broadway in A Raisin in the Sun. In 2010 she starred in the all-black performance of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Novello Theatre in London.
8. María de la Soledad Teresa O’Brien, television personality. She is currently the host of the “In America” documentary unit on CNN, and is best known for anchoring the CNN marquee morning newscast American Morning from July 2003 to April 2007, with Miles O’Brien. Their common surname is coincidental.
1. Louis Myers, Co-Founder along with his brother Dave Myers, The Aces was one of the earliest and most influential of the electric Chicago blues band in the 1950s.
2. Benjamin Solomon Carson, Pediatric Neurosurgeon, Neurosurgeon and the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States by President George W. Bush in 2008.
Carson has received numerous honors and many awards over the years, including over 61 honorary doctorate degrees. He was also a member of the American Academy of Achievement, the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society, the Yale Corporation (the governing body of Yale University), and many other prestigious organizations. He sits on many boards including the Board of Directors of Kellogg Company, Costco Wholesale Corporation, and America’s Promise. He was also the president and co-founder of the Carson Scholars Fund, which recognizes young people of all backgrounds for exceptional academic and humanitarian accomplishments. In 2007, Carson was inducted into the Indiana Wesleyan University Society of World Changers and received an honorary doctorate while speaking at the university. He returned to IWU the following year when his friend, Tony Dungy, was also inducted into the society. On June 19, 2008, Carson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush. He is a recipient of the Ford’s Theatre Lincoln Medal, the William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership, and is a 2010 appointee to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the United States National Academy of Sciences.
3. Holly Elizabeth Robinson Peete, is an actress and singer. She is perhaps best known for her roles as Judy Hoffs on the Fox TV police drama 21 Jump Street, Vanessa Russell on the ABC sitcom Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper, and Dr. Malena Ellis on the NBC/WB sitcom For Your Love. After graduating from high school, Peete entered Sarah Lawrence College in New York. She majored in psychology and French, and could speak four languages. During her time as an undergraduate, she spent a year abroad at the Sorbonne in Paris, France. After she graduated in 1986, she considered attending graduate school and perhaps working in languages for the U.S. State Department. However, her love of acting contributed to her decision to give an acting career a chance for a few months first. Within a short time, Peete found roles on a television series and in two films, and thoughts of graduate school were left behind. Peete is one of the original five co-hosts of the CBS daytime talk show The Talk.
4. Ricky Bell, nicknamed “Slick” is an R&B singer and Rapp artist best known as one of the founding members of New Edition and the lead singer of Bell Biv DeVoe.
5. Aisha N. Tyler, an actress, stand-up comedian, and author, known for her regular role as Andrea Marino in the first season of Ghost Whisperer and voicing Lana Kane in Archer, as well as her recurring roles in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Talk Soup, and on Friends as Charlie Wheeler.
6. Jada Pinkett, actress, producer, director, author, singer-songwriter and businesswoman. She began her career in 1990, when she made a guest appearance in the short-lived sitcom True Colors. She starred in A Different World, The Nutty Professor (1996). Menace II Society (1993) and Set It Off (1996), Ali, The Matrix Reloaded, and The Matrix Revolutions.
7. Alvin Nathaniel Joiner, better known by his stage name Xzibit, is a Rapp Artist, actor, and television host. He is known as the host of the MTV show Pimp My Ride, which brought him mainstream success. Before hosting the show, he achieved fame in the West Coast hip-hop scene as a rapper, debuting with his acclaimed At the Speed of Life and gathering chart success with his follow-up albums Restless, Man vs. Machine and Weapons of Mass Destruction, working with high-profile artists such as Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Method Man, Game and 50 Cent. After his largely unsuccessful sixth studio album Full Circle, his rap career was put on hold. He also built himself a second leg as an actor, starring in Hollywood blockbusters such as 8 Mile, xXx: State of the Union, Hoodwinked, Gridiron Gang, The X-Files: I Want to Believe and Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.
1. Alain LeRoy Locke, writer, philosopher, educator, and patron of the arts. He is best known for his writings on and about the Harlem Renaissance. He is regarded as the “Father of the Harlem Renaissance”. His philosophy served as a strong motivating force in keeping the energy and passion of the Movement at the forefront.
2. Leon (Chu) Berry, Swing Jazz Saxophonist, Berry graduated from Lincoln High School, in Wheeling, then attended West Virginia State College, near Charleston, for three years. His sister played piano and Chu became interested in music at an early age, playing alto saxophone at first with local bands. He was inspired to take up the tenor sax after hearing Coleman Hawkins on tour. Although Berry based his style on Hawkins’ playing, the older man regarded Berry as his equal, saying “‘Chu’ was about the best.” was affiliated with Cab Calloway from 1937 to 1941
3. Charles Brown, blues singer and pianist whose soft-toned, slow-paced blues-club style influenced the development of blues performance during the 1940s and 1950s. He had several hit recordings, including “Driftin’ Blues” and “Merry Christmas Baby”.
4. Nell Carter, an American singer, and film, stage, and television actress. She won a Tony Award for her performance in the Broadway musical Ain’t Misbehavin’, as well as an Emmy Award for her reprisal of the role on television. She also received Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for her starring role in the long-running 1980s sitcom Gimme a Break!.
5. Joni Sledge, Member of Sister Sledge a musical group from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, formed in 1972 and consisting of four sisters
6. Tavis Smiley, Radio-TV personality, talk show host, author, political commentator, entrepreneur, advocate and philanthropist. He worked during the late 1980s as an aide to Tom Bradley, the mayor of Los Angeles. Smiley became a radio commentator in 1991, and starting in 1996 he hosted the talk show BET Talk (later renamed BET Tonight) on BET. Smiley began hosting The Tavis Smiley Show on NPR from 2002 to 2004 and currently hosts Tavis Smiley on PBS on the weekdays and “The Tavis Smiley Show” from PRI. Most recently, he and close friend Dr. Cornel West have joined forces for their own radio talk show, “Smiley & West”. They were featured together interviewing musician Bill Withers in the 2009 documentary film Still Bill.
7. Bernie Williams, Major League Baseball player. At a young age Williams played classical guitar as well as baseball. He was also active in track and field, winning medals at an international meet at the age of 15. He was one of the world’s best 400-meter runners for his age. break into the majors in 1991. become the regular Yankees center fielder by 1993. In 1995 He hit 18 home runs and led the team in runs, hits, total bases and stolen bases.
8. Tyler Perry, is an actor, director, playwright, screenwriter, producer, author,and songwriter. Perry wrote and produced many stage plays in the South during the 1990s and early 2000s. In 2005, he released his first film,Diary of a Mad Black Woman. In 2009, Perry was ranked by Forbes magazine as the sixth highest-paid man in Hollywood.
1. Albert L. Murray, literary and jazz critic, novelist and biographer. essayist whose writings assert the vitality and the powerful influence of Black people in forming American traditions.
2. Mervyn Dymally, California Democratic politician. He served in the California State Assembly (1963–1966) and the California State Senate (1967–1975), as the 41st Lieutenant Governor of California (1975–1979), and in the U.S. House of Representatives (1981–1993). After a 10-year retirement, he returned to politics to serve in the California State Assembly (2002–2008).
3. Kevin Bass, former outfielder in Major League Baseball who played for the Milwaukee Brewers, Houston Astros, San Francisco Giants, New York Mets, and Baltimore Orioles.
4. Ving Rhames, actor best known for his work in Pulp Fiction, Don King: Only in America, Baby Boy and the Mission: Impossible film series.
5. Kim Fields, Actress, actress and television director. She is known for her roles as Tootie Ramsey on the NBC sitcom The Facts of Life, and as Regine Hunter on the Fox sitcom Living Single. She is the daughter of actress/director Chip Fieldsand the older sister of actress Alexis Fields.
Before appearing on Facts of Life, Fields starred on a short-lived sitcom called Baby, I’m Back and appeared in a commercial for Mrs. Butterworth’s pancake syrup.
She later appeared on Good Times as a friend of Penny Gordon Woods. Her real life mother, Chip Fields, starred on Good Times as the mother of Janet Jackson’s character, Penny. Interestingly the two Fields women never starred in the same episodes. Kim’s episodes on Good Times were “The Snow Storm” and “The Physical”.
Fields’ most notable role was that of Tootie on the sitcom The Facts of Life. From 1979 to 1988, she played Tootie Ramsey on the program. Even decades later, many still recognize her catchphrase, “We are in trou-ble!” She was also known for the braces she wore on the series for five seasons. When the show began filming, Fields was so short that the producers put her in roller skates during the first season so that they could avoid difficult camera angles. Ironically, however, she lost a role as Arnold Jackson’s girlfriend on The Facts of Life’s parent show, Diff’rent Strokes, because she was taller than Gary Coleman, who played Arnold.
Her real life mother Chip Fields portrayed Diane Ramsey, Tootie’s mother, on Facts of Life as well as playing Regine’s mother on Living Single.
After taking time away from acting to attend Pepperdine University, she had a starring role in the hit Fox sitcom Living Single from 1993 to 1998 as Regine Hunter.
Fields guest-starred on television series such as One on One, The Golden Palace, and appeared as herself on HBO’s The Comeback.
6. Carla Hall, is a chef residing in Washington, D.C. She was a finalist in the fifth and eighth seasons of Top Chef, Bravo’s cooking competition show. On April 14, 2011, it was announced that Hall will be one of 5 cohosts on The Chew, a one-hour live show centered on food from all angles. The show premiered in September on ABC, replacing All My Children.
Hall was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee. She graduated from Howard University’s Business School with a degree in accounting in 1986. After working for two years at Price Waterhouse and obtaining a CPA certificate, she shifted focus and spent several years working as a model in the runways of Paris, Milan and London. It was in the first of these three cities that she quickly fell in love with the art of food.
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1. Henry Hugh Proctor, was an author, lecturer and a clergyman of the Congregational Church. Proctor was born on December 8, 1868 near Fayetteville, Tennessee to former slave parents Richard and Hannah (Murray) Proctor. Proctor attended local schools but was only able to take classes for three months out of the year, as he had to help his parents on their farm for the remaining months. After completing his schooling Proctor became a teacher at Pea Ridge, Tennessee and later at Fayetteville. Receiving his B.A. degree from Fisk University, Proctor dug ditches and preached sermons to pay for his degree.
2. Sammy Davis Jr., was an American entertainer. Primarily a dancer and singer, Davis started as a child vaudevillian who became known for his performances on Broadway and Las Vegas. He went on to become a world famous recording artist, television and film star. Davis was also a member of Frank Sinatra’s “Rat Pack”.
At the age of three Davis began his career in vaudeville with his father and “uncle” as the Will Mastin Trio, toured nationally, and after military service, returned to the trio. Davis became an overnight sensation following a nightclub performance at Ciro’s after the 1951 Academy Awards. With the trio, he became a recording artist. In 1954, he lost his left eye in an automobile accident.
Though his film career had begun as a child in 1933, in 1960, he appeared in the first Rat Pack movie, Ocean’s 11. After a starring role onBroadway in 1956’s Mr Wonderful, Davis returned to the stage in 1964’s Golden Boy, and in 1966 had his own TV variety show, The Sammy Davis Jr. Show. Davis’s career slowed in the late sixties, but he had a hit record with “The Candy Man”, in 1972, and became a star in Las Vegas.
Davis was awarded the Spingarn Medal by the NAACP, and was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Emmy Award for his television performances. He was the recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 1987, and in 2001, he was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
3. Jimmy Smith, Jazz Organist, jazz musician whose performances on the Hammond B-3 electric organ helped to popularize this instrument. In 2005, Smith was awarded the NEA Jazz Masters Award from the National Endowment for the Arts, the highest honors that the United States bestows upon jazz musicians.
4. Flip (Clerow) Wilson, Comedian/Actor (The Devil Made Me Do it)
5. Jerry Butler, Rhythm and Blues Vocalist
6. Wendell Pierce, is an actor, best known for his work in HBO dramas, including his portrayal of Detective Bunk Moreland in The Wire and trombonist Antoine Batiste in Treme.