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It’s Women’s History Month: Meet Nathalie Joachim

It's Women's History Month: Meet Nathalie Joachim

“Nathalie Joachim is “an edgy multi- genre performance artist who has long been pushing boundaries with her flute”. (The Washington Post) Critics hail the Brooklyn born Haitian-American for creating “a unique blend of classical music, hip-hop, electronic programming and soulful vocals reminiscent of neo- R&B stars like Erykah Badu.” (The Wall Street Journal) Ms. Joachim regularly combines her exceptional performance skill as a flutist with her creative talents as a composer, producer and singer, navigating genres ranging from classical and jazz to indie-rock and electronic. She was recently appointed flutist of the four-time Grammy winning contemporary chamber ensemble, Eighth Blackbird. Joachim…
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It’s Women’s History Month: Meet Henrietta Lacks

It's Women's History Month: Meet Henrietta Lacks

Henrietta Lacks was born in 1920 in Roanoke, Virginia. On January 29, 1951, Lacks went to Johns Hopkins Hospital to diagnose abnormal pain and bleeding in her abdomen. Physician Howard Jones quickly diagnosed her with cervical cancer. During her subsequent radiation treatments, doctors removed two cervical samples from Lacks without her knowledge. She died at Johns Hopkins on October 4, 1951, at the age of 31. HeLa Cells The cells from Lacks’s tumor made their way to the laboratory of researcher Dr. George Otto Gey. Gey noticed an unusual quality in the cells. Unlike most cells, which survived only a few days,…
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It’s Women’s History Month: From slave to four years in the White House.

It's Women's History Month: From slave to four years in the White House.

Elizabeth Keckley was born a slave in Dinwiddie, Virginia, in February 1818. After purchasing her freedom in 1855, she became a dressmaker for the wives of the political elite in Washington. In addition to her sewing skills, Keckley was an excellent networker. By 1860, she had moved to Washington, D.C., and established her own dressmaking business. She was soon styling the Washington elite, including the wives of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and Stephen Douglas, Lincoln’s former political rival. She had a spare style in contrast to the Victorian norm and was an expert with fit. She also scored the…
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Its Women’s History Month: What did the first woman to present a case to the United States Supreme Court wear?

Its Women's History Month: What did the first woman to present a case to the United States Supreme Court wear?

Mrs. Jewel Stradford Lafontant was the first woman of any color to present a case before the United States Supreme Court. That occasion presented her with an unusual problem. Lawyers presenting cases before that august body have always, by tradition worn white tie, striped trousers, and tailcoats. Mrs. Lafontant consulted with various males in her profession, but none of them had the slightest idea of what a woman in that position might wear. One suggested that she appear before the Supreme Court in a long white evening gown. In the end, Mrs. Lafontant solved the problem herself by designing an…
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Please Meet Loretta Claiborne

Please Meet Loretta Claiborne

Loretta Claiborne was the middle of seven children in a poor, single-parent family. Born partially blind and intellectually challenged, she was unable to walk or talk until age 4. Eventually, though, she began to run. And before she knew it, she had crossed the finish line of 26 marathons, twice placing among the top 100 women in the Boston Marathon. She introduced President Bill Clinton at the 1995 Special Olympics World Summer Games has won medals in dozens of its events, and also holds the current women’s record in her age group for the 5000 meters at 17 minutes. Today, Claiborne is…
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Please Meet Charlotte E. Ray

Please Meet Charlotte E. Ray

It’s February again. I thought I would highlight some less obvious African Americans who have contributed to the tapestry of our American history. As the first woman admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia and the first African-American woman certified as a lawyer in the United States, civil and women’s rights activist and teacher Charlotte E. Ray truly earned her place in history. She was born in New York City on January 13, 1850, to Charles Bennett Ray and Charlotte Augusta Burroughs Ray.  Charles was a minister at New York’s Bethesda Congregational Church, and editor of the Colored American, an abolitionist…
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Let Me Introduce Garrett Morgan

Let Me Introduce Garrett Morgan

Born in Paris, Kentucky, on March 4, 1877, Garrett Morgan was the seventh of 11 children. When Morgan was in his mid-teens, he moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, to look for work. Jobs at several sewing-machine factories soon captured his imagination and determine his future. Learning the inner workings of the machines and how to fix them, Morgan obtained a patent for an improved sewing machine and opened his own repair business. Morgan experimented with and finally tested a hair straightener products for African Americans.  When that worked, he quickly established the G.A. Morgan Hair Refining Company and sold the cream…
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Saluting those in black history about whom we may say, “Who?”

Saluting those in black history about whom we may say, “Who?”

“Oh, Miss Scarlett, I don’t know nuthin’ ’bout birthin’ babies”, Gone with the Wind, 1939. Thelma McQueen attended public school in Augusta, Georgia and graduated from high school in Long Island, New York. She studied dance with Katherine Dunham, Geoffrey Holder, and Janet Collins. She danced with the Venezuela Jones Negro Youth Group. The “Butterfly” stage name, which does describe her constantly moving arms, actually derives from dancing the “Butterfly Ballet” in a 1935 production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Her stage debut was in “Brown Sugar,” directed by George Abbott for whom she did several other stage shows. In 1939 she appeared as the…
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Do more than just exist. We all exist. The question is: Are you living?

Do more than just exist. We all exist. The question is: Are you living?

A while ago, I realized the course my life had taken up had been the product of other people’s ideas, opinions, and decisions. I knew all too well that life was short, yet every day I was just going through the motions and doing what I was “supposed” to do, instead of what was right for ME. I was in line. I was comfortable. And I was utterly distracted from what matters most in life. But, fast forward to today, and as I awoke this morning I marveled at my life. Where once I awoke with inner resistance at the…
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Are you ready to adjust your focus?

Are you ready to adjust your focus?

“Ten years from now, it won’t really matter what shoes you wore today, how your hair looked, or what brand of clothes you wore.  What will matter is how you lived, how you loved, and what you learned along the way. Deep down you know this already, right? Yet today, just like the majority of us, you are easily distracted and derailed by the insignificant. You give too much of your time to meaningless time-wasters. You step through days, skeptically, with inner resistance. You take your important relationships for granted. You get caught up in hurtful drama. You give in…
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