The Living Legacy of Dr. Olivia J. Hooker

LinkedIn

Dr. Olivia J. Hooker is the kind of person who’ll credit everyone else for her lifetime of achievements before she credits herself. 

And her list of accomplishments is seemingly endless. She has two Coast Guard buildings named after her for being the first black woman to enlist. She advanced psychology for people with disabilities as one of the few black women in the field. She took the fight for reparations for fellow survivors of the Tulsa race riot in Oklahoma to Capitol Hill. She’s been called “fearless” and “an inspiration” by President Obama.

But rather than give herself any sort of credit this, Hooker has her doctors to thank, her roommates in basic training, the teachers who helped her along the way — and her mom.

“She was the person that wanted to see you doing something that was a higher aim,” Hooker says. “We knew as children, don’t let mama catch you idle. You better have a book in your hand, a pen to write.”

Because of this, Hooker has spent the majority of her 103 years learning, teaching, and living out the belief that if you want to see change in the world, you better do it yourself. She’s dedicated her life to serving others with a humility and generosity of spirit that seems, in 2018, almost of a bygone era — an era that she saw and survived firsthand.

When she was 6 years old, Hooker’s family — mother, father, three sisters, and one brother — was attacked in the 1921 Tulsa race riot. The “catastrophe,” as Hooker calls it, began when a black man named Dick Rowland came in contact with a white woman named Sarah Page in an elevator. It’s likely that he tripped and grabbed her as he fell, but the truth didn’t matter. Rowland was arrested, the story escalated, and the city’s white residents, emboldened by the Tulsa police, terrorized Greenwood. They burned homes and businesses, including Hooker’s father’s clothing store, and killed roughly 300 residents. Greenwood, known as “Black Wall Street” for its collection of black businesses and wealth, was decimated.

“It was devastating,” Hooker says, “I did not know about people discriminating because of color. I didn’t know that there were people who hated other people for no reason. It was a distinct shock.”

Hooker’s family survived and moved to Topeka, Kansas. They lived near a brick factory, where the sounds of dynamite blowing up the earth for clay reignited Hooker’s memories of the massacre. She says it was years before she could sleep without screaming or having nightmares.

In spite of — or perhaps because of — what she witnessed in Tulsa, Hooker decided to devote herself to making the world a better place. She studied psychology and education at Ohio State University and taught third grade until it was announced that the Navy would allow black women to serve. Hooker had fought for this right along with her sisters in the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, but after a while, she noticed no one seemed to be signing up.

“I thought, if you have fought for a right, as we had campaigned for the Navy to take in black women, then somebody ought to take advantage of it,” Hooker says. “So I thought, alright, if nobody else comes up, I’ll try.”

Hooker tried to enlist and was rejected twice due to an unexplained “complication.” Her third letter, she says, was answered by Navy secretary James Forrestal, who told her she could start at the bottom and work her way up. She claims her sister’s boss at the Government Accountability Office then told her to try the Coast Guard — where she would be one step removed from those in the Navy who viewed her as a “complication.”

“The Coast Guard recruiter was very welcoming,” she says. “She really wanted to be able to do something for her country by integrating.” Hooker knew nothing about the military: She showed up for basic training with her steamer trunk alongside seven white women and their duffel bags. Nevertheless, she would become the first black woman on active duty.

Continue onto Shonaland to read the complete story.

Sphinx Organization Secures Exclusive Corporate Support of All-Black and –Latino Orchestra

LinkedIn

Mercedes-Benz Financial Services to present the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra in 2018

Detroit – Mercedes-Benz Financial Services has enhanced its long-standing partnership with the Sphinx Organization, a national nonprofit dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts, as the presenting sponsor of the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra for the 2018 season. This new support of the symphony complements Mercedes-Benz Financial Services’ long-standing sponsorship of the Sphinx Competition Audience Choice Award.

“We are thrilled to expand our existing partnership with Mercedes-Benz Financial Services,” stated Afa Dworkin, president and artistic director of the Sphinx Organization. “Their continuing support allows us to highlight the importance of inclusion in the field of classical music, both in our communities and the around the globe.”

The Sphinx Symphony Orchestra is the world’s first orchestra comprised of America’s top Black and Latino classical musicians. The ensemble includes past and present members of nearly a dozen of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious orchestras, as well as faculty members of leading music institutions in the country. Some of the organizations represented include:

  • Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
  • Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
  • Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
  • The Cleveland Orchestra
  • Detroit Symphony Orchestra
  • Los Angeles Philharmonic
  • Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra
  • New York Philharmonic
  • Orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera House
  • Louis Symphony Orchestra
  • Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra

In addition to performing, the musicians of this ensemble fulfill a unique role. The orchestra members serve as mentors to young musicians and teachers through master classes and lectures. Plus, the group promotes works by Black and Latino composers.

“At Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, we aim to provide rewarding, life-changing opportunities in the communities where we live and work,” said Mary Beth Halprin, director of Corporate Communications for Mercedes-Benz Financial Services.

“In the 14 years we’ve been partners, the Sphinx Organization has impacted thousands of individuals across the nation. We are pleased to be able to continue to grow that impact globally through our sponsorship of the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra.”

Mercedes-Benz Financial Services has been a supporter of Sphinx and its mission since 2004 – previously providing support for Education and Access, Artist Development and Performing Artists programs. The company’s philanthropic efforts are rooted in long-term partnerships with organizations committed to creating positive social change in four focus areas: Education; Community Enhancement; Arts & Culture; and Diversity & Inclusion.

The 21st Annual Sphinx Competition, presented by DTE Energy Foundation and hosted by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, will be held from Jan. 31 to Feb. 4, 2018 at the Max M. Fisher Music Center. Details related to acquiring tickets to attend the Finals Concert on Sunday, Feb. 4, may be found at www.DSO.org.

###

About the Sphinx Organization

The Sphinx Organization is a Detroit-based, national organization dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts. Sphinx programs reach more than 100,000 students, as well as live and broadcast audiences of more than two million annually. Sphinx works to create positive change in the arts field and in communities across the country through a variety of programs organized into four main principles: Education and Access, Artist Development, Performing Artists and Arts Leadership. Read more about Sphinx’s programs at www.SphinxMusic.org.

About Mercedes-Benz Financial Services USA LLC

Mercedes‐Benz Financial Services USA LLC, headquartered in Farmington Hills, Michigan, with Business Center Operations in Fort Worth, Texas, provides brand‐specific financial products and services for Mercedes‐Benz and smart automotive dealers and their retail customers. In the U.S. trucking industry, it conducts business as Daimler Truck Financial and provides flexible financial products and services for Daimler Trucks North America commercial vehicles branded Freightliner, Western Star, Thomas Built Bus and Mitsubishi Fuso Truck of America, Inc.

Mercedes‐Benz Financial Services USA LLC serves as the headquarters for operations in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Argentina and Brazil, and has approximately 2,242 employees throughout the Americas. It is a company of the Daimler Financial Services Group, headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, which does business in 40 countries and has an employee base of approximately 12,062 people worldwide. Daimler Financial Services is one of the leading financial services organizations worldwide and was ranked fifth out of 25 on the list of the World’s Best Multinational Workplaces by the Great Place To Work Institute in 2016. Mercedes-Benz Financial Services USA LLC was also named one of the 100 Best Workplaces for Millennials in 2015 and 2016, and one of the 100 Best Workplaces for Women in 2016 by Great Place to Work and Fortune.com. For more information, please visit www.mbfs.com/corp or www.facebook.com/mymbfs. For more information about Daimler Truck Financial, log onto www.daimler-truckfinancial.com.

Let Me Tell You About Athalie Range…

LinkedIn
Mrs. Athalie Range and Santura Pegram

By Santura Pegram

It was once said that boxing great Muhammad Ali believed parents should be very careful when considering the name of their newborn child(ren), because that name will follow the child throughout their lifetime and often serve as an introduction to an unfairly judgmental world.

The late boxing-civil rights icon felt a name should serve as an ‘honorable title’ to be remembered by, as opposed to being a discriminatory reason to dismiss someone from a particular subject matter. Therefore, this belief should’ve served notice to those who initially questioned the name M. Athalie Range.

Unusually small in stature, yet awe-inspiring and captivating in presence, Mrs. Mary Athalie Range of Miami was a giant in a small body. A profoundly impactful political visionary, effective civil rights trailblazer, and successful black female entrepreneur, she had no choice but to be a person of significance with a unique name like Athalie.

Long considered the Political Matriarch of the State of Florida, a trusted advisor to President Jimmy Carter and several governors in Florida and from other states too, those who were blessed to know her understand why it was so easy for people of all generations and backgrounds to adore this sweet little woman. She had a magical presence about her that even melted the hearts of the most hardened politicians and business leaders, and won her favor among countless notable figures throughout the U.S. When she entered a room—whether it was a corporate board room full of high-powered executives or the political chambers of government buildings throughout the State of Florida—she characteristically had the E.F. Hutton effect upon most people: “when Mrs. Athalie Range talked, everyone listened.”

Mrs. M. Athalie Range
Mrs. M. Athalie Range

Commanding such respect and admiration from people came natural for her, which explained why she had over 125 local, statewide and national awards and honors covering every space on one wall of her office. Additionally, it’s also why she was blessed to see the main branch of the U.S. Post Office in downtown Miami, and a public park and swimming pool named after her long before she died in 2006. Since her passing, a special group of local leaders, which includes her grandson N. Patrick Range II., are preparing to spearhead a multimillion-dollar capital investment campaign to build a state-of-the-art museum educating people about the Historic Virginia Key Beach Park, once the only public beach in Dade County, Florida open to African-Americans (virginiakeybeachpark.net).

In 1999, after years of being closed and virtually abandoned, it was Athalie Range’s final mission when she, Gene Tinnie, and a small group of progressive minds prodded the City of Miami to not only eventually re-open the park, but also agree to designate it to the National Register of Historic Places list. A few years later, the park officially re-opened to the public and is, undoubtedly, one of the most beautiful, serene beach locations in the entire U.S. today. Unfortunately, most tourists visiting South Florida don’t realize that a breathtaking pristine beach is available to them just a 15-minute drive from downtown Miami and is a far more relaxing option than the typical overly-congested beachfront, streets and sidewalks of South Beach.

Residents of South Florida and visitors alike should forever feel indebted to Athalie Range because without her selfless endeavors and tireless advocacy, one of the last remaining examples of paradise on Earth simply would not exist.

To see a woman of her caliber evolve from fighting for the rights of children as the PTA President of her son’s school, to becoming a political and civil rights legend known for advocating for fairness among people, one can not help but wonder what Mrs. Range would’ve voiced about the current dynamics surrounding the senseless killings of black people by black people and black males by police officers.

President Jimmy Carter & Athalie Range
President Jimmy Carter & Mrs. M. Athalie Range

Her grandson, N. Patrick Range II., recently expressed, “my grandmother would have been very disturbed by the violence and senseless killings taking place in our inner cities today. She always fought for blacks to have the same rights as others. During her lifetime, she dealt with issues like racial profiling and police violence in the inner cities. As an example, she was very vocal and extremely active during the killing of Arthur McDuffie. She was a loud and calming voice during the Miami riots, too. She urged blacks to stop the violence because we were only destroying our own community.”

He went on to say, without a doubt, Mrs. Range “would be unhappy with the lack of progress in community relations with police all over this country. She also would be equally concerned with the amount of black-on-black violence in every urban neighborhood and the proliferation of guns as well. She actually helped to start a program to encourage violent youth offenders to change their ways.

The program is called GATE and was designed to help minors avoid being convicted and carrying a record before they are adults. If the minor offender completes the coursework and program satisfactorily, then they have an opportunity to have their case dismissed. She was always proactive in doing things to resolve issues as opposed to sitting back and merely talking about the issue(s). She knew she could effect change with the right approach and that was always her goal.”

While many communities have never had the chance to learn from someone like M. Athalie Range, there’s always hope that the youth of today will grow into a modern day version of her. And, just maybe, help to make the world a far better place today and tomorrow than it has been for most disadvantaged people of color.

After all, we only live once. Why not make your life as meaningful as Athalie did?

• (Santura Pegram is a freelance writer and a business professional in South Florida. A former protégé – aide to M. Athalie Range – Santura often writes on topics ranging from socially relevant issues to international business to politics.)

1st African-American Female LAPD Captain Continues to Serve Community

LinkedIn
ann young lapd

There is no denying that African-Americans have had a complex relationship with the Los Angeles Police Department throughout its 149-year existence.

Retired captain Ann Young knows that history, which is why the LAPD pioneer now serves and connects with others after succeeding in the black and blue. Today, she connects with “future police” by teaching criminal justice at Cal State Dominguez Hills and two other colleges.

In April 2000, the New York native became the first African-American female captain of the LAPD. She said her career choice was inspired by her positive experiences with Brooklyn cops when she was a child.

“Foot beat officers in New York were so warm. They knew everything about us, ” she said. “I think it was true community policing. They would know if we had detention, why we were late from school, if we were working on our homework.”

Young served the LAPD for 19 years on the field, working in undercover narcotics, vice, internal affairs, robbery/homicide and more. But being the first female commanding officer at the department had its hardships.

“The entire community is not going to always be accepting of you,” she said, “but you stay professional and do your job.”

Those experiences inform every lesson plan in her classroom. “Community policing is truly the key and the tool,” Young said. “We have to learn to listen to understand.”

Continue onto NBC News to read the complete article.

Why Carter G. Woodson Is the ‘Father of Black History’

LinkedIn

February is Black History Month, and Google is kicking it off by honoring Carter G. Woodson, frequently touted as the “Father of Black History,” with a Google Doodle.

Carter Godwin Woodson was born in 1875 to former slaves and, as the second African-American to earn a doctorate from Harvard, become one of the first scholars of African-American history. Woodson died in 1950.

Illustrator Shannon Wright designed the Google Doodle in conjunction with the Black Googlers network.

“Woodson was committed to bringing African-American history front and center and ensuring it was taught in schools and studied by other scholars,” Sherice Torres, Director of Brand Marketing at Google and member of the network, explained in a post about the Google Doodle. Torres explained that Woodson served as her inspiration when she said she wanted to attend Harvard and was discouraged by people around her.

Continue onto TIME to read more about Carter G. Woodson.

San Francisco Is Getting Its First Black Female Mayor

LinkedIn

Hours after officials announced the sudden death of San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Board of Supervisors President London Breed made history on Tuesday when she became the city’s first black female mayor.

Breed, the city’s District 5 supervisor, is serving as acting mayor, though her board colleagues may elect someone to replace her at any time. She will likely carry on in the role until a citywide mayoral election is held on June 5.

The only other woman to serve as the city’s mayor was Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who held the position from 1978 to 1988. Breed is also only the second black politician to take the job, following Mayor Willie Brown’s tenure from 1996 to 2004.

Like Feinstein did after Mayor George Moscone was assassinated, Breed is stepping into the role in the wake of an unexpected death that’s sent shockwaves around the city.

“I ask for your patience, and I ask for your support, and I ask for your prayers,” Breed said at a Tuesday press conference. “Our city’s values have never been more important, and in the months ahead, let’s carry on in Mayor Lee’s honor.”

City officials kept Tuesday’s press conference focused on commemorating Lee, so it’s unclear whether Breed’s ascent to the mayor’s office will prompt her to run in next year’s election. She has less than a month to decide, as the filing deadline to run is Jan. 9.

Breed was elected to the Board of Supervisors in 2012 and named its president in 2015. A native San Franciscan who grew up in public housing in the district she represents, she has long emphasized affordable housing as a city priority.

She worked on rehabilitating around one-third the Robert B. Pitts apartments in her district and proposed a district housing blueprint that suggests turning underutilized city spaces, such as parking lots, into housing complexes with hundreds of below-market dwellings.

Continue onto the Huffington Post to read the complete article.

Pioneering black journalist Simeon Booker dies at age 99

LinkedIn

Simeon Booker, a trail-blazing African-American journalist and the first full-time black reporter at The Washington Post, died Sunday at the age of 99.

Booker died at an assisted-living community in Solomons, Maryland, according to a Post obituary, citing his wife Carol. He had recently been hospitalized for pneumonia.

Booker served for decades as the Washington bureau chief for the iconic African-American publications Jet, a weekly, and Ebony, a monthly. He is credited with bringing to national prominence the 1955 death of Emmett Till, the 14-year old African-American boy whose brutal murder in Mississippi became a galvanizing point for the nascent civil rights movement. Booker’s article included an open-casket picture of Till’s mangled face that shocked the nation.

In a 2013 video tribute upon Booker’s induction into the National Association for Black Journalists Hall of Fame, former Jet reporter Roy Betts said that Booker’s coverage of the civil rights movement, “catapulted the movement onto the world stage.”

His reporting from the Deep South placed him in near-constant danger. Tributes to him mention that he sometimes dressed as a minister (complete with Bible) or a farmer to escape detection and one frequently-told tale had Booker escaping from an angry mob in the back of a hearse. He rode in one of the buses to cover the 1961 Freedom Rides, when black activists rode from Washington to New Orleans to challenge a ban on segregated interstate transportation facilities.

Continue onto the AP to read the complete article.

NGLCC Renamed “National LGBT Chamber of Commerce”, Reaffirms Mission as Business Voice of the LGBT Community

LinkedIn

The business voice of the LGBT community, formerly known as the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, has announced that the organization will formally shorten its name to its acronym “NGLCC” and be known as the, “National LGBT Chamber of Commerce.” This change, which is accompanied by an organizational visual rebranding, moves to better include the bisexual and transgender members of the LGBT business community for which NGLCC has fiercely advocated over the past 15 years.

As NGLCC marked its fifteenth anniversary at its 2017 National Dinner awards gala on Friday, November 17, NGLCC co-founders Justin Nelson and Chance Mitchell were joined on stage by transgender business leaders as they reiterated the organization’s pledge to advancing economic opportunities for all members of the LGBT community.

“The LGBT business community is stronger than ever and our organization must continue to evolve to be the best champion we can be for our businesses. That starts with ensuring every element of our brand demonstrates our commitment to all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender entrepreneurs, as our new moniker of ‘NGLCC: The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce’ shows,” said NGLCC Co-Founder & President Justin Nelson. “As we continue to assert our community’s presence and importance in the American and global economies, it is essential that NGLCC lead boldly with a vision for the future of LGBT business that is not only inclusive of all members the LGBT community but also celebrates diversity in all of its forms.”

Under its new name, NGLCC will continue to advance the interests of LGBT business owners, which now number at an estimated 1.4 million in the United States and boast a combined estimated economic impact of over $1.7 trillion, per NGLCC’s groundbreaking America’s LGBT Economy report.  Additionally, the NGLCC Global program will continue expanding the important connection between LGBTI human rights and economic opportunity around the world.

“In the fifteen years NGLCC has been increasing opportunities by certifying and networking LGBT business owners we have witnessed countless shifts toward greater inclusion and recognition of the diversity that makes our community so dynamic and vital.  While our name may change, our mission remains constant: ensuring economic opportunity and prosperity for the LGBT business community in the United States, and around the world,” said NGLCC Co-Founder & CEO Chance Mitchell.

NGLCC expects to see support for the LGBT business community continue to grow, particularly with the recent inclusion of LGBT-owned businesses as an application criterion for the Billion Dollar Roundtable and to a company’s survey on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index. NGLCC recently certified its 1000th LGBTBE and plans to double that number by 2020.

Read more here

62 years ago, Rosa Parks stood up for civil rights by sitting down

LinkedIn

It was on this day in 1955 when a simple act of defiance elevated a seamstress in Montgomery, Alabama, into a pivotal symbol in America’s civil rights movement.

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of a city bus. Little did the 42-year-old know that her act would help end segregation laws in the South.

She was on her way home from work that evening and took a seat in the front of the black section of a city bus in Montgomery.

The bus filled up, and the bus driver demanded she move so a white male passenger could have her seat.

But Parks refused to give up her seat, and police arrested her. Four days later, Parks was convicted of disorderly conduct.

The events triggered a 381-day boycott of the bus system by blacks that was organized by a 26-year-old Baptist minister, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

The boycott led to a Supreme Court ruling that desegregated public transportation in Montgomery. But it wasn’t until the 1964 Civil Rights Act that all public accommodations nationwide were desegregated.

Continue onto CNN to read the complete article.

Leland Melvin: From NFL to Space Boots to the White House

LinkedIn

Former professional football player Leland Melvin is the only person drafted into the National Football League to have flown in space. Before becoming an astronaut, Melvin was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the 1986 College Draft to play professional football, but a hamstring injury thwarted his NFL career with Detroit and then later with the Dallas Cowboys.

Melvin has a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and a Master’s degree in Materials Science Engineering. He worked at NASA Langley Research Center in the area of nondestructive testing, creating optical fiber sensors for measuring damage in aerospace vehicles, with his work being published in numerous scientific journals. Melvin has traveled on two Space Shuttle missions to help build the International Space Station. After hanging up his space boots, as the head of NASA Education, he served as the co-chair on the White House’s Federal Coordination in STEM Education Task Force and was the United States representative and chair of the International Space Education Board (ISEB).

Melvin uses his life story as an athlete, astronaut, scientist, engineer, photographer, and musician to help inspire the next generation of explorers to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEM) careers.

Source: ABC

LaToya Cantrell elected first female mayor of New Orleans

LinkedIn

New Orleans voters elected LaToya Cantrell as mayor Saturday, making her the first woman to hold that position in the city’s 300-year history.

Cantrell, a city councilwoman, got 60% of the votes over her opponent, former municipal court Judge Desiree Charbonnet, according to the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office.

“We deserve better and together we truly will be better,” Cantrell told supporters Sunday morning.

“This victory is not about LaToya Cantrell, this campaign did not start about self. It only started with and has been rooted in the people of the city of New Orleans.”

The two women earned spots for Saturday’s runoff election after the October general election. Cantrell, an activist-turned-politician, will succeed Mayor Mitch Landrieu in May as the city marks the 300th anniversary of its founding.

“Congratulations to our very own District “B” Councilmember LaToya Cantrell, our city’s first elected female mayor!” the New Orleans City Council tweeted.

Cantrell, 45, grew up in California and moved to New Orleans to attend the Xavier University of Louisiana. She rose to prominence as a neighborhood activist in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

After the historic flood, officials considered turning Cantrell’s neighborhood into parkland but it caused an uproar among residents. Cantrell, who was the president of the Broadmoor Improvement Association, organized protests and helped rebuild the neighborhood.

She won a seat in the New Orleans’ city council in 2012, and was re-elected in 2014. During her time in office, she has led the passage of an ordinance that prohibits smoking in bars, casinos and most public spaces in New Orleans, as well as taken part in an initiative to make the city more diverse.

Continue onto CNN to read the complete article.

FDNY veteran Tonya Boyd will become department’s first black female deputy chief

LinkedIn

An EMS captain with 21 years on the job will become the first African-American woman in the FDNY to achieve the rank of deputy chief on Thursday.

Capt. Tonya Boyd, who joined the FDNY’s Emergency Medical Services while in college as a way to make money, said she never dreamed her career would reach such heights.

“I’m so excited and I am so blessed,” the EMS officer told the Daily News.

“After hearing about the promotion, I couldn’t believe it. I feel like I’ve knocked down a door and opened it for a lot of EMTs just starting on this job,” said Boyd.

“African-American women will see someone who looks like them as a deputy chief and they will know more is possible — their careers won’t top out at paramedic or even lieutenant,” said the captain of Station 39 in Brooklyn.

Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said Boyd’s success was due to her efforts.

“Tonya is not only helping to raise the bar for our ability to provide pre-hospital care, she’s also demonstrating to young women of all backgrounds the incredible rewarding career they can achieve in the FDNY,” Nigro said.

As a young woman growing up in Brooklyn, Boyd, who described herself as “fortysomething,” planned to follow her grandmother into nursing.

But a need for cash while in nursing school sent her looking for work — and a cousin suggested she get an EMT license.

Thanks to classes offered at Brooklyn College, Boyd passed the state exam. On Jan. 27, 1997, she became an official employee of the FDNY.

It was just after then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani merged the city’s cash-strapped 911 EMS system with the Fire Department — a joining that not everyone in the FDNY embraced.

“We were very merger-oriented,” Boyd recalled. “We got through it.”

She quickly set her sights on the next challenge — becoming a paramedic.

“The FDNY offered a wonderful program that let us go to school from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.,” Boyd said. “I became a paramedic after about seven years.”

Boyd didn’t stop there, moving on to lieutenant and then captain.

But the path from rank-and-file to officer isn’t as clear-cut in EMS as it is on the FDNY’s firefighting side.

Continue onto NY Daily News to read the complete article.

Meet Andrea Jenkins, the first openly transgender black woman elected to public office in the U.S.

LinkedIn

The nation’s transgender community, after a year of tremendous opposition from state legislatures and the president, is rejoicing Tuesday over the election of Andrea Jenkins, who gender advocates say has made history as the first openly transgender black woman elected to public office in the United States.

Jenkins, who has been elected to the Minneapolis City Council, became the second openly transgender candidate to win a race Tuesday night. Democrat Danica Roem is poised to be the first openly transgender person elected and seated in a state legislature in the country, beating a 13-term Virginia incumbent who called himself the state’s “chief homophobe” and who introduced a “bathroom bill” earlier this year that would have restricted the bathrooms his opponent could use.

Jenkins, 56, said she believes her and Roem’s victories are proof many of the nation’s communities won’t succumb to hatred, bigotry or transphobia — and are willing to fight for social justice and equality for all minority groups.

“Transgender people have been here forever, and black transgender people have been here forever,” Jenkins told The Post after her election night win. “I’m really proud to have achieved that status, and I look forward to more trans people joining me in elected office, and all other kinds of leadership roles in our society.”

Roem echoed Jenkins’s sentiments Tuesday night as her margin of victory became clear.

“This is about the people of the 13th District disregarding fear tactics, disregarding phobias … where we celebrate you because of who you are, not despite it,” Roem said.

Continue onto the Washington Post to read the complete article.

America's Leading African American Business and Career Magazine