Prince Rogers Nelson

Prince Rogers Nelson

African-American Prince Rogers Nelson, better known simply as Prince, was a music icon who could play 12 different instruments.

Prince Rogers Nelson
Prince Rogers Nelson

Prince released his debut album, ‘For You‘, at the age of 19.  His second album, ‘Prince’, went platinum and was followed by ‘Dirty Mind’, ‘Controversy’ and ‘1999‘.  In he released ‘Purple Rain’, which served as the soundtrack to his film debut of the same name.  It was immensely popular and sealed him as one of the most unique and gifted musicians of this age.  He played all the instruments on his first five albums and did a majority of the vocals on them. His musical range and style were popular and “Little Red Corvette” was also among the first videos by a black performer to be played regularly on MTV.

Prince penned 15 albums in all; sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling artists of all time; on seven Grammy Awards; won a Golden Globe Award; won an Academy Award; was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004;  in 2006 Prince received a Webby Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his “visionary” use of the Internet; and was ranked number 27 on Rolling Stones’ list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. The ‘Purple Rain’ album is ranked 72nd in Rolling Stones’ 500 Greatest Albums of All Time and is also included on the list of Time magazine’s All-Time 100 Albums. The ‘Purple Rain’ album sold more than 13 million copies in the US and spent 24 consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. The film won Prince an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score.

Fiercely independent, and determined to own his brand and control its direction, he held tight rein over his music, not allowing it on regular social media outlets or streaming outlets. This meant that the only real way to own a Prince song or record, was to buy it. Prince formed the band The Time and they released four albums.  His backup band was called the Revolution whose members later went on to solo music careers.  Prince penned songs for other artists including Madonna and Terence Campbell.

But perhaps the best part of Prince was the one he shared with people behind the scenes.  He helped so many people who were less fortunate than he, was compassionate and caring to many around him, and inspired many to make a difference in the situations around him.  When Trayvon Martin was killed, he donated money to the family. He helped many communities in times of need and poured money into disadvantaged youth. Prince was the inspiration behind Yes We Code, his current project helping bring tech education to communities of color. “We started Yes We Code because of Trayvon Martin,” Jones explained. “Prince said, ‘No, listen. A black kid wearing a hoodie might be seen as a thug; a white kid wearing a hoodie might be seen as a Silicon Valley genius. Let’s teach the black kids how to be like Mark Zuckerberg.’ Out of that observation, we built a whole organization.” (Source: http://www.cnn.com/video/api/embed.html#/video/tv/2016/04/21/van-jones-remembers-music-legend-prince.cnn

Tristan Walker

Tristan Walker

African-American Tristan Walker is the Founder & CEO of Walker & Company Brands.

Bevel by Walker & Company
Bevel by Walker & Company

Prior to that he was the Director of Business Development for Foursquare, where he oversaw strategic partnerships and monetization. In this role, Tristan managed intergrations with large brands and media entities including American Express, The New York Times, CNN, MTV, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, and Starbucks.

He was named the USA Today Person of the Year in 2014, Ebony Magazine’s 100 Most Powerful People list, Vanity Fair’s “Next Establishment,” Fortune Magazine’s 40 Under 40, AdAge Creative 50, The Hollywood Reporter’s Digital Power 50, and Black Enterprise’s 40 Next. He is also the Founder and Chairman of CODE2040, a program that matches high performing black and latino undergraduate and graduate coders and software engineering students with Silicon Valley start-ups for summer internships.

In 2015, Walker & Company Brands inked a deal with Target to sell its flagship product, Bevel, in select Target stores in the United States and on Target.com. Bevel is a single-blade razor system for men and women with coarse, curly hair which addresses the problem of razor bumps and skin irritation that affects up to 80% of African Americans and up to 30% of people of other races.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Stony Brook University, where he graduated as valedictorian, and an MBA from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

Sterling Ashby

Sterling Ashby

African-American Sterling Ashby is an attorney who created the toy company, History In Action Toys.

History In Action Toys
History In Action Toys

Ashby graduated from Columbia Law School in 1999 and practiced for a number of years at one of the nation’s premier law firms. Inspired to create a series of action figures using African-American heroes from history, whose stories would awaken the imagination and inspire children to dream their own superhero adventures, he formed History In Action Toys, offering the likes of Benjamin Banneker, Bessie Coleman, and Matthew P. Henson to children everywhere.

The toys are available at about 25 museums around the country, as well as online, and Ashby has plans to diversify his inventory in the future. He has already had multiple requests to mold various historical innovators, like the first Russian cosmonaut, into pliable action figures.

For more information on History in Action Toys, visit the official website.

Jani Toivola

Jani Toivola

In 2011, Jani Toivola was voted a Member of the Finnish Parliament making him the first black, gay member.

Jani Toivola
Jani Toivola

The son of a Finnish mother and Kenyan father, he studied in HB Acting Studio, New York in 1999–2002. He was also the first black actor of note.

He’s been the host of ‘Idol’, Finland’s version of American Idol, a contestant on Finland’s version of Dancing With the Stars, and he’s been a spokesman for the Finnish Tourist Board, explaining what’s cool about Finland. He starred in ‘Heart Of A Lion’, a story about a local skinhead honcho, Teppo (Peter Franzén), who falls fast and hard for the beautiful, blond Sari (Laura Birn). The problem — she has a biracial young son named Rahmu (Yusufa Sidibeh) and an ex (Jani Toivola) who stops by often to see his son.

You can learn more about him on his official website and learn more about his story in this interview with PRI.

Tom Morello

Tom Morello

Kenyan-American Thomas Baptist Morello, better known as Tom Morello, is a Grammy Award-winning American guitarist best known for his tenure with the bands Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave, and as the acoustic artist, The Nightwatchman.

Tom Morello (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA – SEPTEMBER 06: Guitarist Tom Morello performs onstage during ‘Rock Out!’ at Ford Theatre on September 6, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images)

He was featured as one of 20 guitarists in Rolling Stone magazine’s “The Top 20 New Guitarists” article.

An outspoken political activist, he is also ranked #40 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” and is featured in the video game ‘Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock’ as a “guitar boss”. Morello played on a number of soundtracks, including Spawn (1997), Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006), Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Spider-Man (2002), The A-Team, Battleship and  Pacific Rim in 2013. He was credited as “Additional Electric Guitar” in the 2008 superhero movie Iron Man and played a terrorist. He also appears in the movie Berkeley (2005). He also collaborated with John Debney for the score of Iron Man 2.

Interestingly, Tom Morello is the son of Ngethe Njoroge  who was a Mau Mau guerrilla and revolutionary. Morello’s great-uncle, Jomo Kenyatta, was the first elected president in Kenya. His mother, Mary Morello, who is part Irish and part Italian, is a founder of Parents for Rock and Rap, an anti-censorship group.

The man has a discography list that reads like a book sowe will let you read all about him on Wikipedia.

Edi Gathegi

Edi Gathegi

Kenyan-American Edi Gathegi, a graduate of New York University’s acting program, is making a name for himself in movie circles. He has been featured in ‘House, M.D.’ and, from what we’ve seen, this brother is going to have a great career.

Edi Gathegi
Edi Gathegi

Gathegi is a film, stage and television actor. He appeared as recurring character Dr. Jeffrey Cole (aka “Big Love“) in the television series House, as Cheese in the 2007 film Gone Baby Gone and as Laurent in the films Twilight, its sequel The Twilight Saga: New Moon and Darwin in X-Men: First Class. He portrays Eddie Willers in Atlas Shrugged (2011), based on Ayn Rand’s novel of the same name.

He had a recurring role as Cole in House and has been a guest star in Lincoln Heights as Boa. These are pretty heavyweight roles and he does a great job.  In addition to these, he has also been in CSI: Miami, Justified, Red Widow, Family Tools, Beauty and the Beast, Into The Badlands, Proof, and Red Widow.

More recently, he plays the part of Mr. Solomon, a twisted, diabolical clean-up man for the Cabal in ‘Blacklist‘.  He is described as an unassuming and soft-spoken man, on the surface, with a hidden (and terrifying) capacity for violence, Mr. Solomon is a monster in gentleman’s clothing.  Executive producer John Elisendrath told TV Guide that Mr. Solomon will put someone close to Red in a position that would compromise the safety of others. He is definitely a dangerous enemy of Red and Liz. Gathegi is a recurring character on the show.

He also stars opposite John Travolta in the recently released movie, ‘Criminal Activities‘.

Keep up with his busy schedule on Twitter.

Gregory Lowe II

Gregory Lowe II

African-American Gregory Lowe II is the CEO of Lowekey Media, a mobile technology agency that uses digital thinking to reach a multicultural audience.

Gregory Lowe (Photo: Gregory Lowe)
Gregory Lowe II (Photo: Gregory Lowe II)

In 2009 he developed the award-winning iPhone app iFLYPT, an app which allows you to personalize and remix music on your iPhone.  Lowe negotiated with Sony, Warner, Universal, and EMI record labels, and fellow music publishers, Sony/ATV, Warner-Chappell, Universal, and EMI, to obtain licensing deals that ensured that his app could offer millions of songs to its users.

In 2012 he released Songbooth, an app that allows users to follow, comment, like, and play music from other users. The app was downloaded over 8+ million times worldwide. He was included in Fast Company Magazine’s Most Creative People in Business list of 2014.

In the quest to provide a better user experience for users, he founded Fitbox, a subscription box and lifestyle brand that is “………Lululemon quality at a lower price point.” (Source: FastCompany).  He is using designers from DKNY and Fitbox items are all designed in house. The Fitbox activewear will fall into three categories: basic (for regular workouts), novelty (for lighter sweating), and athleisure, which could just as easily be worn to a light day at the gym or the farmer’s market.

Lowekey Media has also built Hoodcons (emojis from the streets), and Mumento, a mobile application and tool for users to embed video, music, pictures, and stop-motion graphics into a frame that they can then share with their entire social graph.

Lowe is a strong proponent for technology and is often a keynote speaker at technology events.

Mike Carey

Mike Carey (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

African-American Mike Carey is a retired American football official, who was one of two senior referees in the NFL, and became the first African American referee to be designated as referee of a Super Bowl (Super Bowl XLII). He is a respected official in the NFL for his thorough pre-game preparation, professional demeanor, and fair play.

Mike Carey
Mike Carey

On June 24, 2014, Carey resigned from the NFL and joined CBS Sports as an analyst for its Thursday night and Sunday broadcasts. He provides rules analysis, interpretation and rules explanations from the game site, as well as the NFL Network’s studios in Culver City, California on Thursdays and from The NFL Today set in New York on Sunday.

Carey is also the co-founder of Seirus Innovation, a privately held company that manufactures ski and snowboarding gloves, face protection, and other cold-weather accessories. He is an inventor who owns or shares eight ski apparel patents, including “Cat Tracks,” a device which he created at age 30 to slip over the sole of a ski boot to provide increased traction when walking.

Paul C. Brunson

Paul Carrick Brunson

Jamaican/American Paul C. Brunson is a matchmaker and relationship coach, co-host of OWN’s ‘Lovetown, USA’. 

Paul Carrick Brunson
Paul Carrick Brunson

His initial job was as a director of U.S. investments for Bahcesehir Ugur Educational Institutions until 2008. In 2009 he launched a matchmaking company (The Paul Carrick Brunson Agency), then joined the cast of ‘Lovetown, USA’ in August 2012.  That same year, in October, he wrote a book, It’s Complicated, (But it Doesn’t Have to Be), was nominated for an NAACP Image Award, iDate Matchmaker and Relationship Coach of the Year award, Impact Leader of the Year award, and was a Dell Inspire 100 Honoree.

The Paul Carrick Brunson Agency is considered in the top three matchmaking and coaching companies in the United States based on its growth, success and staff members. At any one time, they have between 40 and 45 clients. They also run workshops, and do one-off coaching with hundreds of persons. Clients come from all over the world, including India, Istanbul and Jamaica.

He was discovered by Oprah Winfrey who had been watching his videos on YouTube.  Thinking their messages were spam, he deleted several of them before finally answering and being offered a job on her OWN network.  He has also worked with millionaire, Enver Yucel whose work ethic he admires.

 

James Earl Jones

James Earl Jones

American James Earl Jones was a stutterer who overcame his stutter to become the memorable voice in the ‘Star Wars‘ series.  In a career of more than 60 years became known as “one of America’s most distinguished and versatile” actors and “one of the greatest actors in American history.”

James Earl Jones
James Earl Jones

Since his Broadway debut in 1957, Jones has won many awards, including a Tony Award and Golden Globe Award for his role in ‘The Great White Hope’. Jones has won three Emmy Awards, including two in the same year in 1991, and he also earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role in the film version of ‘The Great White Hope’. He is also known for his voice roles as Darth Vader in the ‘Star Wars’ film series, and Mufasa in Disney’s ‘The Lion King’ as well as many other film, stage, and television roles.

As a child Jones had a stutter. In his episode of ‘Biography’, he said he overcame the affliction through poetry, public speaking, and acting, although it lasted for several years. A pre-med major in college, he went on to serve in the United States Army during the Korean War, before pursuing a career in acting.

On November 12, 2011, he received an Honorary Academy Award.