Simone Biles Wins Five Gold Medals At U.S. Gymnastics National Championship

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Simone Biles continues to make history as she scored a major win during the U.S. National Championship for women’s gymnastics. After her outstanding performance, Simone becomes the first American woman to win five all-around national titles. She also became the first woman since Dominique Dawes in 1994 to post the top score in every event before winning the national title, according to Vogue.

Simone Biles reportedly took first place in the vault, uneven bars, balance beam, floor exercise, and the all-around. But it wasn’t just Simone’s performance that stole the show.

The Olympic gymnast wore a teal leotard for the survivors of sexual abuse, a group that includes Biles, who revealed in January that she is among the victims of former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar. “It is for the survivors, and I stand with all of them,” she said.

Biles made history in 2016 after becoming the first woman to win four consecutive national championships in 42 years as well as the first American gymnast to earn 14 World Championships medals.

Tamron Hall In Development Deal With Disney ABC

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Tamron Hall is in a development deal with Disney ABC to bring us a new daytime television show.

Although the show details aren’t set in stone, in an interview with The Huff Post, Hall says, she aims to make the show “unconventional, fun, intimate, and sometimes even raw.”

Hall also says she feels valued at her new home and that everything feel in place because she believed it would.

My new partners appreciate and respect the relationship I’ve built with my audience and know that if we create television worth watching, they’ll join us for the ride,” she said. “I’m so grateful and excited for this next chapter. The landing makes the leap of faith so worth it!”

Last February, Hall and Al- Roker who hosted the 9am hour of the Today show was let go in order to introduce a new program led by former Fox News host Megyn Kelly. Even though Hall’s “feelings were hurt” by the networks decision she did not let that slow her down. Later that year Hall signed a deal with The Weinstein Company to develop and host a syndicated and other non-scripted programming. Shortly after sexual harassment allegations came out about TWC co-founder Harvey Weinstein Hall changed her mind. While Hall has been an esteemed journalist for years (and one of my sheros) the lessons we can take from her deal with Disney is to always bet on ourselves and keep pushing no matter what!

Congrats Tamron!

12-Year-Old Sidney Keys III Joins Fashion Company’s Kids Board of Directors

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It was in November 2017 that 12-year-old Sidney Keys III launched a book club for young black boys called Books N’ Bros. The organization was created to help evolve the literacy rate amongst Sidney’s peers and to underline making reading a fun activity. It appears that his passion for change and entrepreneurial mindset is paying off because the St. Louis native has his hands in yet another major project.

Sidney Keys III has been selected to join the Kids Board of Directors for New York City-based fashion company KIDBOX. He will join 12 other young entrepreneurs in providing feedback on back-to-school fall and winter kids’ fashion using their expertise and experience.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BlbtcfRl26k/?taken-by=kidbox

“What excites me most is being able to make an even bigger change in my community with KIDBOX,” Sidney told Blavity. “I am excited to bring awareness of KIDBOX to boys who look like me and for kids in general in my community that can hopefully benefit from KIDBOX and have access to quality clothing.”

Sidney is able to maintain his book club and his position on KIDBOX’s Kids Board of Directors with help and inspiration from his mother, Winnie Elizabeth. “I wouldn’t have been able to make it this far without her,” Keys said.

Congratulations Sidney from us here at Live Civil!

All-Black Atlanta Debate Team Nails A Victory At Harvard

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At the age of 17, Jordan Thomas seems too young to carry the burden of his race on his broad shoulders. But when he traded football for the debate team and made his way to Harvard University, he tackled a long-standing stigma.

Earlier this month, the Grady High School senior won the university’s prestigious summer debate tournament hosted by the Harvard Debate Council, beating close to 400 other debaters from around the world.

Thomas was one of 25 Atlanta students – all black — to make up a local team of Atlanta high school students put together by Harvard’s assistant debate coach, Brandon Fleming.

“Just to go on to Harvard’s campus and beat everyone who doubted me was amazing,” said Thomas, a senior at Grady High School in Atlanta. “There was stigma because there was an assumption that we were only there because we were black or just because this program was created. The stigma of being young, black kids from the South. It seems like we were being written off by a lot of people.”Not Fleming, who recruited from Atlanta high schools like a football coach plucking out talent to participate in his Atlanta-based Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project. He uses the project as a pipeline to recruit, training and feed students of color into the Ivy League school’s summer program on full scholarships.

“I noticed the lack of African-American representation at the summer residency and I wanted to do something about it,” said Fleming, a former Ron Clark Academy teacher who commutes back to Cambridge from Atlanta monthly. “The model of our organization is changing narrative. We want to show them what black excellence looks like when scholarship meets culture.”

Up to 400 students from around the world compete in the tournament, where students prepare on site with a daily 10-hour academic regimen, learning from highly accomplished debate professors and instructors who engage them through rigorous curricula centered on research, analysis, argumentation and political science.

“There was this feeling of pressure. Not only disproving the stigma around African-American children and their intelligence, but also this pressure of being the first,” said Payton Gunner, a 15-year-old junior at Drew Charter. “We had to make footprints that people could follow.”

In a nod to the past, the team calls themselves “The Great Debaters,” in honor of the great Wiley College debate teams that broke convention in the 1920s and 1930s to compete with and beat white debate teams as an HBCU.

 

“Our kids dominated the competition,” said Fleming, adding that more than 150 students tried out for the team with 25 making it from 16 different metro Atlanta high schools. “I was looking for leadership, high academic performance and passion. As you look around the country in leadership positions, many leaders participated in speech and debate. That is a trend we can’t ignore. We want to address this national trend of African-Americans not being recognized in positions of power.”

Limited access keeps black numbers down 

That might continue to be a challenge. Despite the success of the movie and the sudden emergence of the Atlanta students, the numbers of black kids in debate are still shockingly low.

Herman Felton, the president of Wiley College, points to a 2004 study published in the “Journal of the American Forensics Association,” showing that African-Americans participated in only seven percent of activities classified as debate. 

“Communications and debate are not things that are pushed nationwide in elementary schools, high schools and even college,” said Felton, adding that simple spaces like civic clubs are not readily available for minorities to hone the craft of debate and public speaking. 

For more than 70 years, Wiley College – whose debate team is still called “The Great Debaters” – has stressed the art of debate.

This past March, to address the lack of diversity issue, the school helped create the HBCU Debate League and hosted 24 HBCU debate clubs on campus for the first of its kind tournament. 

“Melvin Tolson started something that we have continued to improve on,” said Felton, of the legendary debate coach portrayed by Denzel Washington in the film. “But even more critically, America has evolved into its current state because lack of communications. Debate provides simple tools proving that we can be disagreeable and still agree, while respecting one’s value points.”

 

SheaMoisture’s Founder Launching $100 Million Fund To Support Women Entrepreneurs Of Color

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Good news for all those women creatives out there! On Thursday, SheaMoisture haircare and skincare products founder Richelieu Dennis announced a $100 million fund for women entrepreneurs of color at the 2018 Essence Festival. The announcement surrounds the New Voices Fund that he’s been prepping for the past year.

Through the New Voice Fund, Dennis says they have already invested or committed to over $30 million in black women entrepreneurs, Black Enterprise reports. When Dennis sold SheaMoisture back in 2017, he vowed as part of the deal that he would use the money to create an investment fund for minority entrepreneurs, specifically women of color.

In addition to creating the fund to provide investment opportunities, Dennis wants to equip entrepreneurs with other resources to help contribute to the success of their companies.

“We are going to leverage the businesses that we’ve built—many of you know, Shea Moisture, Nubian Heritage, Madame CJ Walker,” he said.

Dennis is going beyond providing investment opportunities with the fund by giving women access to resources to boost the success of their companies. Women entrepreneurs of color are an underserved group, receiving less than 3 percent of venture capital dollars in 2018, despite black female founders starting businesses at higher rates than any other group.

The New Voices Fund provides a way for women of color entrepreneurs to approach Dennis for capital infusion. Because of the parameters of the fund, he is likely looking at businesses that are looking to scale and not just an idea on a sheet of paper.

All of the information is located on the site. If you think you’re ready, log on and apply.

 

 

5 Rising Female Filmmakers Of Color You Need to Know in 2018

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With a call for diversity and the future is being female, we have several women of color who are doing there best to work behind the scenes to bring attention to the talent behind the scenes. We composed a list of women of color filmmakers you should keep a special eye out for.

NIA DACOSTA

Nia DaCosta won the Nora Ephron Award at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year for her feature directorial debut “Little Woods,” starring Tessa Thompson and Lily James.

 
 
Zambian-Welsh director Rungano Nyoni has been a fixture on the film festival circuit for much of 2017 and 2018 thanks to her acclaimed directorial debut “I Am Not A Witch.” The drama first debuted at Cannes Directors’ Fortnight in 2017 and most recently won admirers at Sundance earlier this year. At the 2018 BAFTAs in February, the film won Nyoni the prize for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer.
 
VICTORIA MAHONEY
 
Victoria Mahoney’s debut feature “Yelling to the Sky” premiered in 2011, but her work over the last year on television series “Queen Sugar” and “Seven Seconds” has given her a bigger platform to show her skills. Fortunately, enough people are noticing. Mahoney was announced as the second unit director for “Star Wars: Episode IX” under J.J. Abrams, making her the franchise’s first African-American woman to hold a directing title. 
 
 
 
 

Aoki Lee Simmons Shares Her Struggle With Embracing Her Beauty & I Can Totally Relate

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Often times we forget that celebrities and children of celebrities are human. They suffer from depression, anxiety, stress, and insecurity just like we do and if you take away the luxurious lifestyle, million-dollar homes, and expensive cars, they are far more relatable than we think they are.

Aoki Lee Simmons recently took to social media to reveal that she struggled with embracing her beauty. Aoki, who is the youngest daughter of Kimora Lee and Russell Simmons, detailed how internet trolls would often compare her appearance to that of her older sister, Ming Lee Simmons, leaving her feeling as though she wasn’t as pretty.

“I used to be very picky about pictures and not really show my face,” she says. “And [I] would often not post pictures of cool events or important moments because I didn’t really like my smile or I was standing next to my beautiful sister.”

Aoki also revealed that it’s easy to become insecure when both your mother and sister are models.

In regards to how social media impacted her self-confidence, she said “I’ve dealt with a lot of negativity on Instagram; comments saying I’m not as pretty as my big sister. We all want to look nice in our photos, but I’ve tried to let all of that go and just post pictures where I look happy or was actually having a good time. I try not to worry [about] who I’m standing next to and just share good moments with you guys.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bkk8Wx8lQHe/?utm_source=ig_embed

As a woman, who also dealt with self-confidence issues growing up, Aoki’s story is one that I know all too well. Even though I’d never felt as though I was necessarily less pretty than my loved ones, I did know that I wasn’t society’s standard version of beauty. As a young girl, who wouldn’t want the world to see them as beautiful?

Throughout my life as a teenager, I dealt with a lot of humiliation from my peers and some family members surrounding the fact that I was of a darker skin tone. While it wasn’t the most pleasant experience, it definitely taught me the importance of self-love. Later in life, I realized that my dark skin was never the issue, it was everyone else’s lack of love for self.

Tamar Braxton Teaches A Lesson About Staying True To Ourselves By Opening Up About Her Struggle With Dysmorphia

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Most of us hate at least one thing about our bodies. It could be our nose, weight, butt, or boobs, but somewhere down the line, we have all struggled with body image. Especially in todays social media driven world where we are constantly being fed with images of what society feels we should look like. I’ve listened to plus size women complain and strategize on ways to loose weight and I’ve also witnessed slimmer women try different protein regiments in hopes of gaining weight. While it can be hard opening up about body image issues, during a trip to her parents house singer Tamar Braxton found a photo of herself from 1996 when her and her sisters Trina and Towanda Braxton shot the “ So Many Ways” video shoot she opens up about her struggles with her body because she was told she was too fat.

In an Instagram post she writes,

I still struggle with body dysmorphia to this day all because a record executive told me I was too fat at 11 to be more of a commercial artist only to end up having big R&B hits today. Which was fine with me cause that’s how I saw myself then in the first place. Tamar then goes on to say that she and her sister started to have problems because WeTV wanted “The Braxton’s Family Values” to have higher ratings than older episodes from the “Love & Hip Hop” Franchise. “The same thing goes for me and my sisters, we started having major over the top family issues because some network wanted to compete with old love and hip hop numbers and felt that our family was too perfect and unrelatable.

The lesson we can take from Tamar’s story teaches us to stay true to yourself. Most times we try to confirm to others opinions of us not realizing that being ourselves is the key that would open up what doors are meant for us. Today The “Braxton Family Values” is the biggest show on WE Network and it also is the longest running black family reality show. Tamar’s “Love & War” album debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 and number one on the Top R&B Hip-Hop Albums chart, she and her husband landed their own spin off “Tamar &Vince” and her most recent album “Bluebird of Happiness” was released through her husbands record label, Logan Land Records and Entertainment One.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BkpnmvuleMg/?taken-by=tamarbraxton

Meet The Woman Who Is Creating Generational Wealth With 13 McDonald’s

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Over three decades ago Patricia Williams was strongly encouraged to leave her career as a Rehabilitation Therapist behind to become the boss of her own business. She and her then husband cashed out their 401K’s took out a small business loan to enter the world of fast food purchasing their first Mc Donald’s in Compton, Los Angeles. Today along with her two daughters, Nicole Enearu and Keri Harper- Howie, Williams is building generational wealth with a Mc Donald’s empire that includes 13 locations around the Los Angeles area. In an interview with Black Enterprise, Williams’s daughter Nicole Enearu spoke with Black Enterprise about the history, the legacy they have created and their business plan and why she and her sister decided to join the family business.

When opening up a franchise it all comes down to when and where you open up your business. In Williams’s case, things worked out perfectly. In addition to being in the right location, Williams’s first location was successful because the hamburger chain was growing quickly. “It was all about being in the right place at the right time,” says Enearu. “I talk with clients all the time about the pros and cons of purchasing an existing franchise, versus starting a new one.” While things were going great for Williams in her professional life, her personal life was taking a toll. After the purchasing of the second store, Williams’s first marriage came to an end. Williams really loved her business so she purchased her husbands share and in 1995, Williams was able to sell her two stores and purchase five more! Another thing that you need in order to be successful is a plan. Williams plan consisted of acquiring existing locations and building new locations. In 2016 her business  revenues reached $49M landing the Williams/Enearu Organization on the 2017 BE 100s list of largest black owned business.

One of Williams’s goals for working with the Mc Donald’s franchise was to “build a legacy for her children,” Enearu says. Williams was the type of mother who instilled education in her daughters. Enearu earned both a bachelors and masters in psychology. While Harper-Howie earned her bachelors and went on to received a law degree, working in law for 12 years. In 2003 Enearu entered the family business after feeling drained in her career. In 2012, Harper-Howie had a child, which triggered the desire to enter the business.

Click here for the full interview   

Kimora Lee Simmons Earns College Degree At Same Time Daughter Graduates High School

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It’s never too late to further your education and no matter how old you are, it is still a major accomplishment!

Kimora Lee Simmons recently celebrated earning her college degree from the University of Hartford in Connecticut. The 43-year-old former model and fashion designer attained her degree in Bachelor of Arts in Business and Entrepreneurial Affairs at the same time her oldest daughter, Ming Lee Simmons, graduated high school.

Kimora credits both of her daughters, Ming and Aoki, for helping her through some of her most challenging moments.

“My daughters would help me format my papers. They helped me with the formatting and laying it out,” she told Us Weekly. “I’ve had pure breakdowns on my Instagram Lives. They’ve helped me overcome that, and as a parent, I’m there to encourage them, to help push them and being there for when they stumble. I want that to be the message that in the last few months, I’ve dealt with school bullies, long nights, writing papers and everything else in our lives. I was doing this for me though. I was doing it for myself and it feels good.”

Kimora says going back to school had nothing to do with her business. In fact, she taught business and entrepreneurship classes while completing online courses. “The students in my class were so diverse, people from graphic design, business, music, fashion and teaching them helped me see my reach and influence,” she explained. “I think that’s the true measure of success is how many people’s lives you touch and how many people you can impact and I’m proud of how many people I’ve influenced and how I could change lives in that way.”

Graduations can be one of those “happy-tears” moments and for Kimora, it was no different. “I didn’t know it was going to be as emotional as it was, but it was, and I was nervous! … It’s never too late to go back to school and get your degree,” she said. “My cap and gown was the best gown I’ve ever worn. And my favorite accessory to go with it, my National Honors Society tassel!”

As for how 18-year-old Ming Lee felt sharing the spotlight with her mother, Kimora admits, “Well, Ming Lee says I stole her light. She’s upset to have to share it with me, but it’s a great example of setting an example for yourself and your kids. When they say you’re never too old to go back, it’s true. No matter what situation you’re in, it’s possible.”

Kimora Lee Simmons is a mother of 4, who believes in continued education and credits motherhood as being one of the reasons graduating college has been a fulfilling journey. “I did this for myself and I did it for my kids. I believe in continued education and I think there are a lot of different ways you can go about it … I think it taking 20 years and having four kids made it even more fulfilling to me,” she noted. “Even though finishing up my classes was grueling at times, it makes me feel so good to have done it,” she said.

Congratulations to both Kimora and Ming!

Here Are Some Black Women Led Ted Talks To Help Inspire You

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Are you in need of some major life inspiration from some thought-provoking women of color? Maybe you can find some in Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee, who stresses the untapped potential of girls around the world; author Luvvie Ajayi, who encourages women of color to speak their mind; and Joy Buolamwini, the MIT grad student fighting bias in machine algorithms.

Joy Buolamwini, Coder, Founder, The Algorithmic Justice League – “How I’m Fighting Bias In Algorithms”

 

Luvvie Ajayi, Author – “Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable”

 

Leymah Gbowee, Peace Activist, Nobel Peace Prize Winner – “Unlock the Intelligence, Passion, Greatness of Girls”

 

T. Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison, CEO and COO, GirlTrek – “When Black Women Walk, Things Change”

 

SARAH LEWIS |TED2014
Embrace the near win. Art historian Sarah Lewis asks us to consider the role of the almost-failure, the near win, in our own lives. In our pursuit of success and mastery, is it actually our near wins that push us forward?

DR MAGGIE ADERIN-POCOCK | TEDxHousesofParliament
The dawn of a new space era. Space scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock discusses the power of dreams and her ideas to democratise space travel and exploration.

MAHLET AFEWORK | TEDxPlaceDesNations
Ancient tradition / modern fashion. Mahlet Afework is a fashion designer based in Addis Ababa. She discusses how the combination of ancient designs, traditional skills and a modern approach to fashion and entrepreneurship can lift women out of poverty and bring African fashion into the limelight.

24-Year-Old Tomi Adeyemi Signs Seven-Figure Book Deal For Nigerian Fantasy Series ‘Children Of Blood And Bone’

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24-year-old author Tomi Adeyemi sat down with Robin Roberts of Good Morning America to discuss her debut novel, The Children of Blood And Bone.

Adeyemi signed a seven-figure deal for her new book, which will be made into a movie. Tomi was accompanied by her mother, father, and brother on Good Morning America, and when her brother was asked what made him continue to believe in her, he said, “I think it was that she never lost that magic that I think that we’re all born with, but as we get older, we tend to lose that imagination – that thing that we can just think like anything is possible; anything can happen. But the world is so real and it gets to us that we start to lose it, but she never lost it.”

Tomi started working on the book series while teaching in Brazil and says her Nigerian heritage and love for Nigerian mythology played a huge role in shaping the novel.

The story’s protagonist Zélie, a fisherman’s daughter, is sent on a quest to restore magic to her culture. She is confronted by divine forces and teams up with unlikely allies. The story is reminiscent of other entries into the fantasy genre like “Harry Potter” and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, but this book is based off the real world too, according to Blavity.

Describing her book as “Black Panther but with magic,” the creative writing coach says that for all of the reasons people like Black Panther, they will love her book.

“That’s why the success of [the recent Marvel movie] Black Panther has been so significant – black and marginalized audiences have the chance to see themselves as heroes depicted in a beautiful and empowering way, and white audiences get to see new stories told, and it becomes easier for them to picture a black superhero,” she told The Guardian. “Imagination is a funny thing – we sometimes need to see something before we can truly picture it.”

“The Children of Blood And Bone” is available now!