All Articles Tagged "african american leaders"
(CBS News) — Say “Al Sharpton” and most people probably think loud mouth activist and provocateur. That certainly was his image in the 1980s and 90s. Well, the Reverend Al has gone through something of a metamorphosis: today he’s down right tame. So much so, that he has made his way into the establishment. It’s been quite a trajectory: from street-protest agitator, to candidate for president in 2004, to now a trusted White House adviser who has become the president’s go-to black leader campaigning around the country for President Obama and his agenda. Today, Sharpton looks and sounds like a totally different person. But 20 years ago in New York, Sharpton, hot-headed in his jogging suits and larger than life in every way, was spreading hate and dividing the city. “No justice, no peace!” he shouted at one protest. But today, Sharpton – 83 pounds slimmer and looking stately in his tailored suits – is commanding a national stage. Not only does Sharpton travel to see the president, the president travels to see him. In April, President Obama was a keynote speaker at Sharpton’s civil rights organization, the National Action Network’s 20th anniversary fundraiser in New York. This presidential endorsement — this validation — is acknowledgement of Sharpton’s influence with the president’s African American base.
(New York Daily News) — A pastor with Harlem and Bronx roots who calmed religious tensions after 9/11 was sworn in yesterday as President Obama’s ambassador for religious freedom. The Rev. Suzan Johnson Cook is the first woman and first African-American to hold the post. Critics questioned whether she was too much Oprah – with a website and nearly a dozen spiritual books – and not enough ambassador. She said doubters should read her résumé more carefully. ”I have certainly learned to navigate political waters,” Johnson Cook said with a laugh. She was the first woman to serve as a chaplain for the NYPD, a position she has held since 1990. After 9/11, she helped traumatized police officers and worked with the city’s Muslim leaders.
By Steven Barboza
In the 109 years since the first Nobel Prizes were awarded, 813 individuals, including 40 women and 20 organizations, have won the award. Six laureates have won more than one award. Only 12 awards have gone to black people. They are:
Ralph Bunche, Nobel Peace Prize, 1950
Country: United States
Ralph Bunche (1904-1971) was the first black Nobel laureate. He won the Peace Prize in 1950 for negotiating an armistice agreement between Arabs and Jews after nearly a year of negotiating terms in Palestine. Bunche was born in Detroit to a barber and an amateur musician. His grandmother, who was born a slave, lived with the family. Bunche moved to Los Angeles and excelled in school. He sold newspapers, served as house boy to a movie actor and supported his college education with scholarships and janitorial work. He taught at Howard University while earning a doctorate at Harvard University. He eventually became a member of FDR’s Black Cabinet of minority advisors, and in the late 1940s worked on loan from the US State Department to the UN. Upon securing peace in the Middle East, he was greeted in New York with a ticker tape parade.
(The Root) — Less than two months after his last sit-down with the National Policy Alliance, on Tuesday President Obama met again with the group of African-American advisers. A coalition of 10 — nine of which represent black public officials, including the National Conference of Black Mayors and the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, plus the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies think tank — NPA also met with Cabinet members and senior administration officials. Countering the perception that the White House steers clear of such organizations, lest the president appear “too black,” NPA additionally holds weekly phone conferences with White House advisers. So what did they discuss with Obama on Tuesday? According to its members, roughly: “Keep on doin’ what you’re doin’.” ”The president has established priorities, and we’re here to support what he’s doing,” said Mayor Robert Bowser of East Orange, N.J., and head of the National Conference of Black Mayors. He was one of several NPA representatives who participated in a post-meeting media roundtable that mostly applauded Obama’s efforts. Certainly, the body acknowledged that many African-American communities are struggling, with 15.7 percent unemployment, drastic foreclosures and a crumbling infrastructure. And their overall response was to tout existing dollars from Obama-led initiatives that are designed to address such concerns — things like green-job training, prisoner re-entry programs, and increased funding for community colleges and trade schools. “We found out about a lot of programs today that we didn’t know about,” Bowser said.
How I Made It: Stephanie Y. Drake on Her Fateful Journey To Heading Her Own Construction and Real Estate Services Firm
by Tarice L.S. Gray
In March of 2002, Stephanie Drake had an epiphany. The long time commercial real estate finance professional would take the leap of faith into construction. She launched Drake Inc., headquartered in Washington D.C. and hasn’t regretted it since. The company has been a standout in the arena of construction, not only for having an African-American female at the helm, but for carving out a niche market embraced by clients including the Smithsonian Institution and the federal government. Drake told The Atlanta Post that she credits her faith and her business sense for her success.
Where did your professional journey begin?
I had an abundant corporate career in commercial real estate finance. I started that back in 1995 and through 2001 that’s what I did. And when I did it, I did it with excellence. I built a reputation as an expert in the District. I started out at First Union National Bank in their commercial real estate group, as their first African-American woman officer in its history. You have to have a lot of confidence in that kind of business atmosphere.
Where did that come from?
Going back to when I was in the sixth grade, I was always hesitant to raise my hand in class. I remember my heart would palpitate and how it really bothered me. Even though I knew the answer, early on I had the fear of expressing myself, so all of my life I’ve been diligently working through that, through excelling at whatever I do. That’s how I was built. I’ve always remembered that little girl that wanted to break through or be delivered from that insecurity. That’s what drives me. When I graduated from Georgia State, I was selected and went through First Union National Bank’s corporate training program. Upon graduation, I was supposed to go into the commercial bank, but because during my rotation I asked a lot of questions and showed a genuine interest in his group and was seen as a very hard worker, a gentleman named Nick Testoni extended me an unprecedented job offer.
He said ‘I’ve never brought someone in this young but it seems like you have a very strong interest in commercial real estate. I’m willing to take a chance on you and train you..’ I took on the opportunity without question, without thinking about my fears and thinking about my perfectionist ways, I just saw it for what it was – God’s favor. So honestly, the confidence really comes from the same place; feeling that I need to work very hard to master whatever I sign up to do. When you work at anything with commitment and determination, confidence becomes the byproduct of your efforts and your way of life.
When did you transition into construction?
I had become an experienced commercial real estate financier and while it was financially rewarding, I wasn’t being fulfilled on a spiritual level. As that little girl, I knew I wanted to have an impact on the world. So at that point I resolved that I learned all I needed to learn from that stint of my journey, and I “retired” from commercial real estate career as VP of Allied Capital in 2001.
I woke up one day and just decided it was time for me to go. I have always felt I had a calling and more and more I started to feel that my calling was connected to giving back and empowering communities where I live and ultimately on a global level. So I took my experience and my desire to get closer to the community development side. I didn’t have a business plan when I left, but I knew I had to step out on faith.
I actually took a sabbatical in 2001. I did a lot of praying, meditating, trying to figure out what my next step was going to be. I remember it was March 2002 when I woke up and realized it was going to be construction. The reason I took construction as an avenue is because of the knowledge I gained from commercial real estate development finance.
So being the A type that I am, I wanted to learn construction. Coupled with my prior experience, I saw that I would bring some unique skills and a competitive advantage that many in construction lacked. My goal was to go into construction for a little while, but I’ve been in it ever since. The end of 2001 to March of 2002 is quite a bit of time.
What did you do to stay professionally relevant?
I left corporate in July of 2001, right before 9-11. And to pass time until I decided what to do next, I was doing a little consulting here and there for a couple of CDCs around town that needed help packaging their real estate deals. Providing real estate outsourcing services was a reasonable and viable option for a person with my background, but I quickly realized that really wasn’t what I wanted to do. It took me nine months to put the pieces together. While development was where I was heading, I knew I wanted to start small, establishing a track record, and focusing on things like company infrastructure in order to effectively manage growth the way a bank would like to see it. So I started as a very small outfit doing residential construction. That Sunday when I woke up in March 2002, I called a guy that I trusted that had done some work at my house and said, ‘I’m thinking about starting a construction company.’ And quickly he said, ‘I’ll teach you everything you need to know.’ I went out that week and applied for my license. The word spread quickly amongst my DC professional network and before I knew it I had my first clients lined up before the actual license was in hand. I brought that colleague in as a partner and named the company Drake & Burgess Construction. Our first project was the interior build-out of a row house and even did a single-family addition. My partner wasn’t ready to leave his full time position to commit fully to D&B, and I was running the day-to-day with basically off-hours help. We agreeably parted ways in order for me continue my mission and vision for the company and became Drake, Incorporated.
Were you taken seriously as a construction company headed by an African American woman by those who didn’t know you? Or did your presence and your position raise eyebrows?
Were eyebrows raised? Probably. But did I notice? No. The reason I didn’t notice is because the one thing I’ve always been is a person who just focuses on the goal and objective at hand. So I’m sure eyebrows were raised, whether negative or positive, I never allowed that to be the center point of why I do what I do. I just do it because that’s where I’m supposed to be. Also I think I quickly dismiss any misperceptions, because once I open my mouth it’s “she knows her business.” I would say that I’m a grass-roots, hands-on type of owner. For example, when I started out in residential, I sanded floors; I assisted with the rough carpentry work, and even served as a laborer for some of our electricians and plumbers. I got involved in all of it. I’ve always been one who gets my hands dirty.
(The Root) — Each year we select 100 people who we believe represent the ideals of The Root. Move your mouse over the thumbnails or click on them to learn more. Click here to see who made the cut.
(Urban Mecca) — African-American civil rights, business and political leaders are opposing U.S. Department of Education regulations that would limit access to career colleges for many minorities by cutting off federal loans and grants at some of the for-profit learning institutions. Among those voicing concerns about the regulations are Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Founder/CEO of Rainbow PUSH Coalition; Willie Gary, one the nation’s leading trial lawyers; Harry Alford, President and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce; Randal Pinkett, Chairman and CEO of BCT Partners; and 12 of the 39 voting members of the Congressional Black Caucus.