All Articles Tagged "We Salute You"

MN Daily Salute: Tanzania Alexander

March 8th, 2013 - By Marc Polite
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Tanzania Alexander is a former Marine recruiter who currently works as an Aviator Supply Specialist. During her time as a recruiter, Tanzania mentored high school students and kids in the foster care system. She is the mom of a 9-year-old, and will graduate in June from Ashford University with a degree in Business Management. This is her story.

Why did you join the Marine Corps?

I joined the Marine Corps because I wanted to travel and see the world. I also wanted to do something different, get an education, and have the opportunity to serve my country.

What did you enjoy most about being a recruiter?

In my time as a recruiter, I enjoyed talking to the youth about military service. Recruiters have to put the word out about what the military has to offer, often dispelling misinformation along the way. I regularly visited high schools, and spoke to parents as well about the Marine Corps.

What leadership skills have you gained?

I have to say that one of the greatest leadership skills I gained is the skill of listening. By this, I mean listening to the needs of people. People join the military for different reasons, be it financial,  going to college, or career-based pursuits. Everyone has needs, and a leader has to figure out how to fulfill those needs. Being a successful recruiter involves being attentive to the concerns of each individual, not just listening to respond.

Why is it important to you to mentor men and women in foster care?

I have always wanted to be a mentor. I see the need to expose the youth to a broader existence. There are so many young men and women out there who are not in the greatest environments. I reached out to them, taking them on museum trips, among other things. People have to see that there is more to their world than their immediate surroundings. Youth in a foster care predicament often are unaware of the other choices out there that they can make to have a different path in life.

How do you balance motherhood and Marine life?

I could not do it without the support of my family and friends. The time away from home required other people to step in and help. Marine life is demanding, and it requires a great deal of commitment. I have included my child in Marine life, and have done so for years.

What is the best thing about being a Marine?

The best thing about being a Marine is knowing that I am making a difference. By supporting the larger mission of the American armed forces, I am making a difference for the country. Not everybody can say that.

What advice do you have for Black women who are considering joining the Marines?

Do a lot of research, and ask a lot of questions. Make sure that you would be a good fit for the Marine Corps, and that the Marine Corps will be a good fit for you. Plan for the end, come in with a set goal, and set yourself up for success.

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We Salute You: LaKeya Benton

March 8th, 2013 - By Blair Bedford
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LaKeya Benton is a fitness instructor, softball coach, and volunteer who served in the Marine Corps for 4 years. This is her story.

How did you determine the service was the best place to for you to build your career?

The determination was not on which branch would best serve my career; I would say it was more on which branch I felt would teach me how to do what I needed to do to in order to survive in a combative, hostile, foreign unprepared situation.

What other skills have you developed since joining the Marines?

I have a strong sense of pride. The Marine Corps has a way of instilling its core values. Our motto is Semper Fidelis (Always Faithful). Our core values  are honor, courage, and commitment. I know that is not really a skill; however pride affects everything I do. Meaning it makes me work hard, it shows that I care about what I’m doing or trying to accomplish, and that I try to complete tasks with all that I have in me.

There’s also multitasking . In the United States Marine Corps (USMC) there are many objectives of the day that must must be completed. I don’t know how much one could accomplish within 24 hrs! Understanding how to talk to someone or a group is a skill I learned while in the USMC also. When I’m excited about something I talk very loud and I have to catch myself. I think it’s a skill to give clear information while still making sure the recipient is comfortable and receptive.

Why is community service/volunteering at the Y and with a daycare center so important to you personally and professionally as a Marine?

While in the USMC, my job and my duty as a Marine was to protect and serve the United States of America, i.e. the community in a sense. I guess it’s my way of continuing that service.  Volunteering is a good way of saying, “I’m here to help; and no you do not have to pay me!” I think that shows character, honor, courage, and commitment.

Kids are the future –“teach well and let them lead the way”– as Whitney Houston would say. I believe we need to instill good values in children while they are young; not just as parents or grandparents, but as caregivers, teachers, childcare workers etc., and we all need to be in one accord, meaning not everyone will let anyone discipline their child but we can all encourage them.

Do you bring basic training influences into your fitness classes?

Yes, sometimes when I count out loud, I’m told I sound like a Drill Instructor. Sometimes I get down and dirty with some exercises and I push them boot camp style. If they are doing push-ups and their arms are shaking, I get down next to them and calmly exclaim they can do it!

MN Daily Salute: Pariah Director Dee Rees

February 27th, 2013 - By Brande Victorian
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Source: WENN

Source: WENN

Dee Rees

CALLING: Screenwriter and director


Screenwriter and director Dee Rees is the mastermind behind several short films, as well as the critically acclaimed feature film Pariah, which was the first major movie to showcase homosexual black women in a non-stereotypical way on the big screen.

Rees, who was born in Nashville, TN,  didn’t begin her career in the entertainment industry. In fact, after she received an MBA in Business Administration from Florida A&M University, she moved to Cincinnati to work for Proctor & Gamble where she marketed panty liners. When she was was laid off from that job, she moved to New York City to work for marketing firm Schering Plough, and during one of the commercial shoots for Dr. Scholls, Rees realized she was interested in film and enrolled in New York University’s graduate film program.

While at NYU, Rees met Spike Lee, who became her personal mentor, and she also worked as a script supervisor intern for two of his films, Inside Man and When the Levees Broke. Rees began working on the Pariah script while she was working on Inside Man in 2005 and shortened the full-length script into a short for her graduate thesis. In 2007, the short played at 40 festivals worldwide, winning 25 shorts awards including the Audience Award at the Los Angeles Film Festival.

In 2008, Spike Lee agreed to formalize his role with Pariah, serving as executive producer, but Rees had trouble pitching the film because investors believed it was too small and too specific. As Rees translated the rejection, “It was just code for too black and too gay.” So, realizing that she had to invest in her film in order for others to do so, Rees sold her own apartment and eventually found some investors. Pariah, which Rees said, “kind of transposed my own experience of coming out onto a 17-year-old girl,” was shot in 18 days and all interiors were shot at a single Brooklyn brownstone. At Sundance, it was acquired by Focus Features, and when the flick made it’s big screen debut in 2011, there was much talk about Oscar and Golden Globe nominations. Although such honors were never realized, Pariah was widely regarded with several award nominations and wins from the African-American Film Critics Association, Black Reel Awards, and the Black Film Critics Circle.

For having the courage to tell her own story and shine light on the African American lesbian community, we salute Dee Rees.

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MN Daily Salute: Tyra Banks

February 26th, 2013 - By Brande Victorian
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Source: WENN

Source: WENN

Tyra Banks

CALLING: Model and mogul


Tyra Banks ushered in a new type of model when she hung up her angel wings and showed the world you can have a nice body and an even more stellar brain in the modeling industry.

Tyra began pursuing a career in modeling when she was just 15 years old. She was rejected by six modeling agencies before eventually being signed by Elite Model Management at age 16.  Not long after, Tyra  got the opportunity to model in Europe so she put college on hold and moved to Milan. In her very first runway season, she was booked for 25 shows during the 1991 Paris fashion week, walking the runways for Chanel,Valentino, and Fendi. Tyra was also featured in advertising campaigns for Dolce & Gabbana, Yves Saint Laurent, Ralph Lauren, and Nike, and covered several magazines. She was the  first African American woman to cover GQ and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, and in 1997 she became the first-ever African American chosen for the cover of the Victoria’s Secret catalog.

Tyra modeled as a Victoria’s Secret Angel from 1997 to 2005 before hanging up her angel wings and focusing more on television and film. Tyra started her own production company, Bankable Productions, which produced The Tyra Banks ShowAmerica’s Next Top Model (ANTM) and the 2008 movie The Clique. ANTM is now in it’s 19th season and airs in 170 different countries and regions internationally. From 2005-2010, Tyra also hosted the daytime talk show, The Tyra Banks Show, which won a Daytime Emmy Award in 2008 for her work and production, and a second one in 2009 for outstanding, informative talk show.

In 2011, Tyra became a New York Times Bestselling author after publishing her first novel, Modelland.  That same year, she enrolled in the nine-week Owner/President Manager Program at Harvard Business School’s open-enrollment extension school, where she earned a certificate after completing the Executive Education Training Program in February 2012.

Harvard Certificate under her belt, Tyra is now focusing on building up her TZONE program, which  she started in 1999. Aimed at leadership and life skills development, Tyra placed her office headquarters within the Lower Eastside Girls Club’s new Center for Community so that teens and adolescents could see the businesswoman hard at work. The television mogul is also working on a new sitcom, Fivehead, based on her life as an awkward teenager growing up in Inglewood. 

For never taking herself too seriously, but being serious about the business of uplifting young girls, we salute Tyra Banks.

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MN Daily Salute: Mae Jemison

February 25th, 2013 - By Brande Victorian
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Source: WENN

Source: WENN

Mae Jemison

CALLING: Physician and astronaut 


Mae Jemison is a physician and NASA astronaut who became the first black woman to travel in space when she went into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour on September 12, 1992.

Jemison, who was born in Decatur, GA,  grew up in Chicago, and even as a young girl knew that she would eventually travel into space.  Her inquisitive mind quickly became fascinated with science and nature, although interestingly, she proved to be both left- and right-brained, taking up all forms of dance from African, ballet, and jazz, to modern and even Japanese at age 11. After honing her skills for several years, Jemison was faced with the difficult decision of choosing to go to medical school in New York or become a professional dancer. That’s when her mother told her, “You can always dance if you’re a doctor, but you can’t be a doctor if you’re a dancer.”

Jemison listened to her mother and enrolled at Stanford University at just 16 years old. In 1977, she received a B.S. in chemical engineering and  a B.A. in African and Afro-American Studies. In 1981, she obtained her medical degree from Cornell Medical College and interned at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center before working as a general practitioner. During medical school, Jemison traveled to Cuba, Kenya, and Thailand to provide primary medical care to people living there, which led to her joining the Peace Corps and serving as a Peace Corps Medical Officer from 1983 to 1985, having responsibility for the health of Peace Corps Volunteers serving in Liberia and Sierra Leone. While at Cornell, Jemison also took lessons in modern dance at the Alvin Ailey school and later built a dance studio in her home and choreographed and produced several shows of modern jazz and African dance.

While in the Peace Corps, Jemison was selected by NASA to join the astronaut corps in 1987 and on September 12, 1992, she flew her first and only space mission as a Mission Specialist on STS-47.  Just a year later she resigned from NASA to form her own company, the Jemison Group, which researches the application of technology to daily life.

Since NASA, Jemison has had an illustrious career that includes several television appearances, awards, and honors, including nine honorary doctorates in science, engineering, letters, and the humanities. From 1995 to 2002, Jemison was a professor of Environmental Studies at Dartmouth College and is currently a Professor-at-Large at Cornell University. She even participated n a forum for promising girls in the Washington, DC, public schools with Michelle Obama just a few years ago. For being an extraordinary example of excellence for African American women in the STEM fields, we salute Mae Jemison.


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MN Daily Salute: Michelle Obama

February 22nd, 2013 - By Brande Victorian
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Source: WhiteHouse.Gov

Source: WhiteHouse.Gov

Michelle Obama

CALLING: Mother, wife, and First Lady of the United States


As the first African American First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama has reintroduced a new image of Black women to the people of America, while simultaneously inspiring women across the globe as an example that it’s not impossible to be a mother, have a career, and be unwaveringly supportive of your husband and his dreams.

Mrs. Obama’s own career began right at home at the Sidley Austin law firm in Chicago when she was Miss Robinson at the time. After majoring in sociology and minoring in African American studies, Mrs. Obama graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1985 from Princeton and went on to earn her Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School in 1988.

While at Sidley Austin, Michelle was assigned to mentor a summer associate who just happened to be Barack Obama, and after the Harvard grad impressed the First Lady during a community organization meeting, she agreed to that infamous first date screening of Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing.” Four years later, they were married in 1992.

In 1993, Michelle became Executive Director for the Chicago office of Public Allies, which is a non-profit organization encouraging young people to work on social issues in nonprofit groups and government agencies. The  fundraising records she set for the organization during those four years still stood 12 years after she left and went on to become Associate Dean Dean of Student Services at the University of Chicago. There she developed the University’s Community Service Center, and in 2002, she began working for the University of Chicago Hospitals, first as executive director for community affairs, and then as Vice President for Community and External Affairs in 2005.

In May 2007, after Barack Obama, who then had become a Senator, announced his candidacy for President of the United States, Michelle cut back on her professional responsibilities by 80 percent, joining him on the campaign trail more frequently. Concerned about the negative effects campaigning could have on their family, Michelle negotiated an agreement with Barack, saying he had to give up smoking in exchange for her support of his decision to run. As we now know, the rest is history and President Obama has won not one, but two terms in office.

Since 2008, the POTUS has joked on numerous occasions that his wife is more popular than he is, and by most accounts, he’s right. The American people have become obsessed with everything Michelle Obama does, from what designer she’s wearing, to her hair cut, to her Let’s Move! campaign, aimed at lowering childhood obesity. The mother of two has been said to be the key to the President’s election and the humble way in which she supports her husband while at the same time not interfering with his policy decisions has proven to be a key element of their success as a couple and as leaders of our nation. For setting the greatest example of selflessness and integrity, and being the symbol of the type of Black woman we know exists but don’t see nearly enough on the national scale, we salute Michelle Obama.

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MN Daily Salute: Christina Silva

February 21st, 2013 - By Marc Polite
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Christina Silva is a Marine Corp veteran and entrepreneur. In addition to her accomplishments in the military, Christina is a real estate broker and consultant. Madame Noire had the opportunity to speak with her about her pursuits in business as well as her service in the community. This is her story.

Why did you join the Marine Corp?

After a year of college, I wanted to sign up. The things that Marines do really fit in with my personality type. It’s a daring adventurist kind of career, and it just meshes with who I am.

Did you always know you wanted to be in the service?

I knew that I would become a leader, and I became a leader by fate. The Marines gave me that opportunity to do so. It’s the right position.

What leadership skills have you  developed as a result of your service?

I am extremely organized and detail oriented. I have the ability to adapt  and overcome. The Marine Corp teaches you to multi-task and I have applied that to my pursuits outside of the military. I have a trained, sharpened ability and I was made to think outside of the box.

How were you able to blend multimedia production, motivational speaking, and real estate into one career?

Through multi-tasking I turned myself into a resource center. I became a consultant and used the information I have gathered to promote my expertise on the radio and elsewhere.

Why is community service so important to you?

Once a veteran leaves they have a sense of responsibility to give back. Community creates great relationships. You give not to get, but to build community in general.  It is called relationship brokering, and it is a big part of what it means to be involved in community partnership.


Why should more Black women consider joining the service?

We are already against the grain. That means that you can overcome, and as a result you have a high feeling of esteem. When you say you are a Marine, as a woman you get that respect.

What’s the best thing about being a Marine?

The best thing about it is that it means commitment to anything you are intent on doing. You have to get it done, and that is just the attitude going in.

For more on Christina Silva, watch her video here.



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[Video] We Salute You: Christina Silva, Marine Vet And Motivational Speaker

February 20th, 2013 - By Brande Victorian
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In honor of Black History Month, MadameNoire is sending a daily salute to the African American women who inspire us every day of the year. From the big screen to the forefront of the service lines, these are their stores of courage and integrity.  Today we are saluting Christina Silva, United States Marine Corps Veteran, federal contractor specializing in multimedia production, and motivational speaker. Watch her story here.


MN Daily Salute: Viola Davis

February 20th, 2013 - By Raven Carter
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Source: WENN

Source: WENN

Viola Davis

CALLING: Actor and activist


Viola Davis has made us proud on and off screen through dedication to her craft and the ability to intertwine her passion for improving education into her movie roles, while simultaneously introducing a new aesthetic of beauty to be celebrated in Hollywood.

Though Davis’s name has only recently begun to be heard on the tongues of nearly every prominent figure in the movie business, she’s actually been a strong force in the entertainment industry for some time now. Davis majored in theatre at Rhode Island College, where she graduated from in 1988 — and later received an honorary doctorate in Fine Arts from in 2002 —  and a year later attended Julliard for four year as a member of the school’s Drama Division’s Group 22 from 1989–1993.

Only a few years later, the St. Matthews, SC, native won her first Tony and Drama Desk Award for her portrayal of a 35-year-old mother fighting for the right to abort a pregnancy in King Hedley II. A number of roles in major Hollywood productions followed that win, including parts in Antoine Fisher, Out of Sight, and Solaris. In 2008, Davis was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Doubt, and  a year later she was inducted into The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Just one other year after that, Davis won a second Tony Award for her role as Rose Maxson in a revival of Fences, becoming only the second African American woman to win the award after Phylicia Rashad.

It could be said that in 2011 Davis took on her biggest role yet as Abilene Clark in the movie adaptation of The Help. Despite criticism from some who weren’t interested in seeing Black woman portrayed in a servant role, Davis was lauded for her performance with nominations for Golden Globe, BAFTA, Screen Actors Guild, and Academy Awards.

It was during the recognition for her role in The Help, that Viola repped for naturalistas everywhere when she hit the red carpet at the 2012 Oscars without her characteristic straight wigs, but with a teeny weeny afro that she was encouraged to rock by her husband.  For staying true to herself while still giving her all to her roles on the big screen, we salute Viola Davis.

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MN Daily Salute: Sheila Moore

February 19th, 2013 - By Marc Polite
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Sheila Moore is a proud Marine and mother of two girls who has done two tours in Afghanistan, and is currently an Aviation Supply Specialist. Sheila talked with MadameNoire about her experience in the Marines, the strength she drew from her service, and how she balances military life and motherhood.

Why did you join the Marine Corp?

Recruiters reached out to me in high school when I had no military experience and it was hard, but I listened and paid attention.  It was a learning experience. I take with me everything I have learned and I can do anything now because I am a Marine.

What leadership skills have you developed as a result of your service?

Through the marines, I have learned how to always seek self-improvement, and the importance of learning something new everyday. I Learned to look out for others, instead of just myself. One must always set the example for others to follow.

How old are your daughters and how do you balance life as a Marine and mother?

My daughters are 10 and 11 now. I’ve received a great deal of help with family care from my unit. The support of my marine family, the family readiness officer, and me managing my time well has allowed me to both be a good mom and a good marine.

How long were you deployed in Afghanistan and how did you handle being away from your family during that time?

The first time I was gone for ten months, the second time my deployment was three months. At the time, my youngest had just turned one and it was hard. The first time was much harder because of the extended amount of time I had to spend away from my family. It was hard not seeing my kids everyday, as well as being in danger. I experienced rocket attacks during my tours but thankfully made it home safely.

How do you instill the importance of education and community service in your daughters?

I instill those qualities through leading by example. My daughters see me reading books for school, do my own  homework, and watch the news. I participate in toys for tots, and take the girls with me to basketball camp on weekends so they understand the importance of giving back.

What makes you most proud of being a Marine?

Just to say that I am one. Everyone didn’t go through that twelve weeks of training. Everyone cant say that and no one can take that away from me.I am blessed to have gone. I am much more decisive in how I proceed through life because of my experiences in the service. The friends I have gained throughout the years…I have friends all over the world. I could go to any state, and know a fellow marine. We take care of one another.

Why should more Black women consider joining the service?

Black women are strong in general. If they can get through what we have [as a people], they can get through boot camp. The sisterhood that one builds in the marine corp is a powerful thing. I have learned that I can do anything.

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