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Rest Well Cicely Tyson

Highly esteemed actress Cicely Tyson dies at the age of 96, leaving a long-standing legacy and beaten pathway for future Black actors. Former First Lady Michelle OBama recalls Tyson’s humanity, amid the star power of the late actress. Tyson has taught us that you’re never too late to shine, bagging her first of TWO Tony Awards at the young age of 88 years old.



Celebrities, politicians and a slew of notable figures have paid tribute to Cicely Tyson after her family announced that the esteemed actor had died on Thursday at age 96.

“Michelle [Obama] and I were honored when Cicely came to the White House to accept the Medal of Freedom,” Barack Obama wrote, recalling her 2016 recognition in an Instagram post honoring the actor.

The president noted Tyson was “ a trailblazer whose legacy couldn’t be measured by her Emmys and Tony and Oscar alone, but by the barriers she broke and the dreams she made possible”.

Born in 1924, Tyson enjoyed a career spanned more than 70 years, was nominated for an Oscar for her role as a sharecropper’s wife in the 1972 film Sounder at a time when Black women were rarely hired in starring roles. In 2013, she won a Tony Award at age 88.

Besides her Oscar nomination, she won two Emmys for playing a 110-year-old former slave in the 1974 television drama The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.

Tyson had recently released a memoir, titled Just As I Am, which which published this week.

Known for playing strong Black leads, Tyson refused to play roles that were demeaning to Black women. The actor has long been considered a force in the entertainment industry, opening doors for many Black professionals to follow.

“You made me feel loved and seen and valued in a world where there is still a cloak of invisibility for us dark chocolate girls,” actor Viola Davis posted in tribute to the woman who played her mother in the television saga How to Get Away With Murder.

“You gave me permission to dream,” Davis added, noting she was “devastated” and “not ready for [Tyson] to be [her] angel yet”.

Also an activist, Tyson appeared in several films chronicling eras in US history, including The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, which depicted the life of a former enslaved woman, and appearing in The Rosa Parks Story in 2002.

She often spoke out against injustice plaguing Black women in American society, occasionally being photographed alongside other prominent women in the civil rights movement including Coretta Scott King and Parks.

In an interview with the CBS This Morning anchor Gayle King, released just days before her death, Tyson revealed racism from a white interviewer uncomfortable with Black family dynamics in Sounder led to her decision to use her career as her platform.

“This man [was] thinking that we’re not human beings and I made up my mind that I could not afford the luxury of just being an actress,” she said at the time.

King asked how “Ms Legend” wanted to be remembered, to which Tyson simply replied “that I did my best”.

“It is impossible to comprehend what it is like to be a Black [woman] who lived 96 yrs in this land,” the writer Nikole Hannah Jones tweeted. “To have seen a country of apartheid cede to one [with] a Black president and then a white nationalist [one].

“To be born Black in 1924, a girl, and yet refuse to sell yourself out for success. There is a lesson for all of us who, because of women like her, never had to fight the battles she fought.”

This article is a repost from The Guardian‘s original post.

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‘Black-Owned Business’ signs show solidarity in communities hit hard by looting



After large-scale protests in response to the death of George Floyd devolved into violence and looting downtown and in surrounding neighborhoods, many small businesses in Chicago have been hurt by property damage and inventory loss.

Keeana Barber, owner and CEO of WDB Marketing Group, said she was distressed to see businesses damaged, especially knowing that many black-owned businesses were among those affected. After a conversation with a friend about what could be done to help protect local businesses, Barber realized she could use her unique skill set and resources to help.

The Roseland native enlisted her company’s printing services to produce signs that read “Black-Owned Business” and “Don’t Destroy Our Black Business,” and set to work distributing them to stores, particularly on the hard-hit South and West sides.

Trez V. Pugh, III, owner of Sip and Savor coffee house puts up businesswoman Keeana Barber’s “Black Owned Business” sign at his Bronzeville location.  Amber Marie Green/Provided

“I was heartbroken to see so many black-owned businesses get looted,” Barber said. “I don’t know how much [the signs] will protect some people. … I think, more than anything, it gives people pride, unifying them in something they can stand for.”

On Monday, after printing about 500 signs, Barber posted photos of them Facebook and urged business owners to come pick one up if they wanted to display it. She was flooded with offers from volunteers to help hand them out, and inquiries about donating to help cover her printing costs.

Businesswoman Keeana Barber, the owner of WDB Marketing Group, printed “Black Owned Business” and “Don’t Destroy Business” signs to be distributed in areas with black-owned businesses.

As of Tuesday, hundreds of storefronts on the South and West Sides — along with businesses in the south suburbs — were displaying her signs in their windows.

“I didn’t expect it to be that popular,” Barber said Tuesday, adding that she had since printed another 250 signs to keep up with demand.

“What I love about it is that it’s not just us; we’re a vehicle for people who are saying, ‘Hey, I just want to give these out in my community. I want to give [black-owned businesses] something special to have, and to be proud to identify themselves.’”

Vanetta Roy, owner of Surf’s Up South Shore, a restaurant that specializes in seafood, noticed someone had placed a sign in her window when she came in Tuesday morning.

“I saw it and I said, ‘Thank God,’” Roy said. “We had no idea this was happening.”

Barber says her goal isn’t to drive would-be looters to other businesses, but to send a broader message to the community about solidarity.

“I support all small businesses,” she said. “But at the same time, I am going to give my businesses the support to identify themselves. There’s nothing wrong with identifying ourselves to protect ourselves.”

Article Sourced from Chicago Sun Times – 

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Voice of the Chi Salutes Community Hero Diane Latiker!



A quick google search will tell you quite a bit about Diane Latiker and how in 2003 she started Kids off the Block with the encouragement of her mother, as a way to keep connected to her youngest daughter Aisha and her friends. Diane started with no plan to become an official business or organization, she was just trying to do something with the kids in her neighborhood. She spent an afternoon talking to them, listening to them, and discussing the issues that they were enduring such as: gangs, abuse, absentee fathers, poor grades, and fears of violence. After that first afternoon, she knew what she had been called to do. That day, she vowed to give the kids all that she had to show them a better way.

As time went on she would have the kids in her house as she helped with homework, others were writing raps, and doing various things to stay productive and off the street.. On occasion she would even invite the parents over to see what the children were working on. What started with her daughter and her friends began to grow and before she knew it she had kids sleeping on her floor and she became a surrogate mother to many. That’s the short and sweet story of how Kids off the Block was born.

On this May morning in 2020, I had the chance to catch up with Diane and I chatted with her about the current work that she is doing. We had a brief but impactful conversation.

When Diane answered my call she was on the go. You see we are currently in the middle of a pandemic and she has work to do. Diane and her team, which consists of her husband James, sister Tammy, and Dawn Valenti are busy preparing to serve the residents of Chicago. For the last month or so they have been providing meals, hand sanitizer, masks, and gloves to those in need. With the help of the community and organizations such as Rainbow Push, they have been able to deliver necessities to nursing homes, hospitals, community centers, and even to those on the streets.

The Kids off the Block team is delivering over 500 meals a day to the residents in Chicago. They are truly a blessing to many. Talking to her for just a short period of time will make you want to do your part or do more. When I asked her how she came up with this plan her reply was so authentic, she said “There is nothing major or magical about helping people, you decide what you are going to do and you roll.”  

I went on to ask her how she determines where the help is needed. She said that the need is great and organizations have been reaching out to them with requests. Diane and her team do their best to fulfill the requests that they receive, however there are never enough supplies. Their days begin early as they prepare to make and or assemble the items to be delivered for the day. On an average day, they are in the van as early as 9:30 am until as late as 6:00 pm traveling from the far south suburbs all the way across town to the west side of Chicago, making stops in several communities in between.

Diane is leading by example. She sees a need and develops a course of action. We want to thank her for her continued commitment to people. Diane Latiker is a community hero that you should know.

If you would like to help to provide supplies for the community, there is a constant need for hand sanitizer, gloves, masks, and face shields. Monetary donations are helpful as well. To connect with Diane or to learn more:

Call: 773-941-6864

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Top COVID19 Resources for Black-Owned Businesses



Due to the initial round of the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP) dollars being disproportionately given to those with the right connection rather than the businesses with the greatest need, Our Fair Share was created. This initiative will help minority-owned companies learn about the PPP and help get them connected to approved Small Business Administration (SBA) lenders that can process applications for these potentially business-saving loans.

Apply for funding:

Thanks to a $1 million grant from Sam’s Club, LISC will provide the emergency assistance that small businesses desperately need to stay afloat. We will deploy grants to help them bridge the financial gap, and deliver technical assistance to help them navigate the intricate web of public and private resources now available. LISC will focus these efforts on historically underserved communities—especially those enterprises owned or led by women, minorities and veterans, which often lack access to affordable capital.

Grants of up to $10,000 each to small business owners to help meet their most immediate needs. Eligible expenses include: Paying rent and utilities, meeting payroll, paying outstanding debt to vendors, upgrading technology infrastructure, and other immediate operational costs

Apply for funding:

Tory Burch is a fashion label in the United States founded by female business owners. This foundation has been helpful to women in a multitude of ways. It offers resource libraries, virtual information sessions, and many tips and tricks to decipher different government relief programs. This foundation also helps female entrepreneurs with finding funding through CommunityDevelopmental Financial Institutions. These institutions are local lenders that offer Women entrepreneurs affordable loans. As an added bonus they offer personal tips for self-care and various work-at-home techniques to be more efficient. To qualify the business needs to be sustainable, have a satisfactory credit rating, it must be at least two years in business and generating revenue, and it must have a passion for growth.

Additional resources:

Apply for funding:

This relief fund, known as IFW COVID-19 provides female-owned businesses small grants during this crisis, otherwise known as microgrants. IFundWomenalways places women at the forefront and their number one goal is to support these women before, during, and after the Pandemic. IFundWomen allows donors to make their contributions directly making the giving process easy and straightforward. Additionally, they are cultivating the sense of community by allowing Women-led businesses to apply for grants and their community to rally around them by donating to their campaigns. Therefore, qualifying is as easy as starting a campaign. As if that wasn’t extraordinarily helpful already, IFundWomen also offers words of encouragement daily on their slack channel as well as wonderful workshops free of charge. 

Apply for funding:

Free workshops:

Red Backpack Fund

Sara Blakely is the founder of Spanx Inc. as well as the co-owner of the Atlanta Hawks. She is incredibly inspiring and says, “Human beings can be quarantined, but the human spirit can not be contained”. She is donating five million dollars to female entrepreneurs that are needing assistance during this pandemic. The goal is that 1,000 different small businesses that are female-owned will receive $5,000 each in order to offset the economic disruption they have faced and pay their employees. To qualify businesses must be majority women-owned, annual revenues need to be less than five million, there must be at least one additional employee but fewer than fifty, businesses must be in good standing, and be identified as a legal entity. Most importantly, the business needs to provide evidence that COVID-19 is causing financial depravity. Sole proprietors are ineligible for applying. Applications are currently closed, but you can be notified when the next round opens up as they are being taken monthly basis.

Get notified here:

Council of Fashion Designers of America Grants

The Council of Fashion Designers of America is awarding anyone in the fashion industry that has been in business for two years or more to $100,000 through their Common Thread Initiative. The major goal of this initiative led by Vogue is to raise funds but also to raise awareness regarding trials and tribulations many in the fashion industry have faced due to this pandemic. This initiative also spotlights different designers and tells their stories of tragedy and triumph. 

Apply for funding here:

Texas Woman’s University AssistHer Emergency Relief Grant

This grant is in place to assist businesses sustainability during the financial adversity brought about by COVID-19. These funds are only to be used for technology upgrades, adaptations made by businesses, or operating expenses (excluding: sales tax, payroll, purchase of food, penalties and fees, and charitable donations). To qualify for this fund businesses must be majority women-owned, must be for-profit, the business must be suffering economic oppression due directly to COVID-19, all property taxes and other taxes must be current, businesses must be located/operated in Texas, the business and business owner may not be involved in any litigation, all required permits and licenses are conforming with required laws, the business owner must not have any felonies or convictions of crimes of dishonesty or breach of trust. 

Apply here:

Visa Foundation

The Visa Foundation has combined two funding programs to total $210 million. These funds have been created to aid small businesses along with aligningVisa’s views of inclusivity and women’s economic advancement. The first program totaling $10 million is directed towards emergency relief for organizations on the frontline like public health and food relief. Visa’s CEO Al Kelly realizes the direct impact that COVID-19 has had on the community and economy. The second program is a more strategic long-term plan. This plan is a $200 commitment to support small businesses and continually focus on the advancement of women economically. Small businesses comprise more than 90% of worldwide businesses making it essential to provide this vital support.

More info:

Hello Alice

Hello Alice is a digital platform that helps businesses that are run by a diverse group of individuals. It embraces people of color, members of the LGBTQ community and so much more promoting inclusivity. Hello Alice thrives by matching businesses with various opportunities online and locally. They are offering $10,000 emergency grants with the help of several other partners to small businesses. The money is available immediately to small businesses, and as of now, seventy emergency grants have been awarded. In order to qualify the small business needs to have fewer than fifty employees. Hello Alice is also offering non-monetary help as well in the form of mental health support. 

Apply for funding here:

Destined for Business Podcast

Destined for Business Podcast focuses on tools, tips, and real-life stories to help entrepreneurs scale and grow! This first edition features Professor Steven Rogers of Harvard Business School He breaks down EXACTLY How Black Entrepreneurs can take advantage of the $320 Billion in business funding. Tune in. Share. and ACT on this! He also shares gems on how to ensure you are PROFITABLE in business now. Great Business Discussion!

Subscribe to their channel on Youtube!

Verizon a well-established phone carrier is offering grants through the local Initiatives Support Corporation up to $10,000. These grants are available to businesses that are facing imminent financial hardship focusing on women-owned businesses, entrepreneurs of color, as well as enterprises in communities that have been rundown, underserved, and under-appreciated that can’t obtain necessary finances. The goal of this initiative is to fill the financial void so that businesses can operate at normal capacity.

Funding form:

More info on funding here:

SheaMoisture is offering businesses that are women-led and minority-owned the chance to receive funding from their one million dollar relief fund. Funds will be awarding businesses that are generating innovative solutions to lend a hand and support the community as a whole and their consumers. The Community Commerce fund is put in place to support is to aide the businesses that have been directly impacted by the coronavirus. It is one of their many community-building platforms that enhance community camaraderie and small business empowerment. Along with this fund, SheaMoistureis donating a portion of their proceeds towards the community commerce program. These funds will be allocated for education, funding, and coaching small business owners of color. 

Apply for funding here:

Digital Undivided prides itself on inclusive innovation and was founded in 2012. It is a social startup that curates economic growth in Latinx and Black women communities. This fund makes small investments in black women entrepreneurs and has already invested in over 211entrepreneurs since it was established. 

Apply for funds here:

Pyer Moss, a men’s and women’s fashion label has turned the New York City office into a donation center for latex gloves and N95 masks. Alongside this charitable act, a relief fund has been established for women and minority businesses that have been directly and negatively affected by COVID-19. This relief fund awards grants in varying amounts to many business owners in need. 

Apply here: 

Facebook is a popular social media and technology company that was established in 2004. Facebook has created a relief fund to aid businesses experiencing financial adversity due to COVID-19. Facebook is offering $100 million in cash grants and ad credits during this unprecedented time. To qualify for funding businesses must be a for-profit company, have between 2-50 employees, have been in business for over a year, have experienced challenges financially due to the virus, and be near or in a location that Facebook operates. 

Apply for funding here:

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