Celebrating Black History Month

Lisa D'Annunzio

B.B. King, musician

You know you’ve made it big in the music business when you’re asked to team up with the Gibson guitar company and create a signature model guitar. The Gibson B.B. King Lucille model is one such product. King’s big time hits, “When Love Comes To Town,” “Thrill is Gone” and “Sweet Little Angel” are just a few of the trademarks this legendary King of Blues has been thrilling audiences with since the 1940’s. He continues to perform on average 250 concerts a year.

Maya Angelou, educator, playwright, civil-rights activist, poet, actor, director, and producer

Step into any bookshop and you’re bound to come across one of Angelou’s works which include, “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings,” “Heart of A Woman” and “Even the Stars Look Lonesome.” But did you know that Angelou is not only a best-selling author but also a children’s author, speaker of languages including English, French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic, and West African Fanti, as well as the recipient of over 70 prestigious awards including the 1999 Lifetime Achievement Award for Literature, Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Los Angeles and Martin Luther King, Jr. Legacy Association National Award 1996, and Lifetime Membership, N.A.A.C.P., Honeywell Corporation, Minneapolis, MN 1996? Certainly Angelou is a woman of all trades.

The Reverend Jesse Louis Jackson Sr., civil rights, religious and political figure

Known as “The Great Unifier,” Jackson has a reputation of bringing people together on common ground and promoting the understanding and celebration of differences cultural, racial, gender, class and religion. His largest project, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, began in March of 2000 and provided civil rights leadership around HIV/AIDS in the African American and Latino communities. The Coalition’s mission, according to an official statement, is to “develop a One Voice/ One Agenda political platform that will promote the reduction of morbidity, mortality and health care cost for communities of color,” through HIV/AIDS education, disease screening, community outreach and care services for HIV infected persons and their families.

Oprah Winfrey, television personality, philanthropist, producer, and actress

Starting her broadcasting career at age 19, Winfrey has worked through a variety of mediums including radio, television, film, The Oprah Winfrey Foundation, Oprah’s Angel Network and O Magazine in order to promote education, leadership and a positive difference in the world. Winfrey has received a number of honors and awards including the 1999 National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Lifetime Achievement Award and the 2002 Bob Hope Humanitarian Award,and she has been named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.

Savion Glover, performer, choreographer, director, dance instructor, and producer

You may have spotted this amazing tap dancer on episodes of Sesame Street, but did you know that he began his career at age 11 when he performed “The Tap Dance Kid” on Broadway? And that in 1996 he won a Tony Award for his work as choreographer in “Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk” on Broadway? Glover has been bringing the art of dance to rehearsal halls, Broadway stages, and TV sets, showing the world how much fun it is to dance.

Condoleeza Rice, Secretary of State Sworn in last week as the Secretary of State, Rice, formally the assistant to the president for National Security Affairs, has not only worked for the country as a whole but has also served as chief budget and academic officer since 1999 and as professor of political science since 1981 at Stanford University. In addition, Dr. Rice is known for her good works for educational support overseas, membership in the Charles Schwab Cooperation, as well as her service on the Federal Advisory Committee on Gender-Integrated Training in the Military in 1997. At the conclusion of last week’s ceremony, Rice stated, “We will work in partnership with allies and reformers across the globe, putting the tools of diplomacy to work to unite, strengthen and widen the community of democracies. We fully recognize that the hard work of freedom is the task of generations.”

Brian Westbrook, #36, starting running back for the Philadelphia Eagles

This Villanova alum has a big weekend coming up. Westbrook, a third-season professional football player for the Philadelphia Eagles no doubt eagerly anticipates this Sunday’s Superbowl. When asked via his official website what advice he has for youngsters who dream of making it pro, Westbrook stated, “The best advice I can give to anyone that wants to be a professional athlete is to work hard both in school and on the field.” rk hard both in school and on th

Bill Cosby, actor, comedian, inspirational speaker

You’ve seen him on “The Cosby Show” and “Picture Pages,” heard his take on how chocolate cake has all the essential vitamins for a complete breakfast and his story of Noah’s Arc, as well as seen his Jell-O commercials, but did you know that Cosby once joined the Navy, earned a football scholarship to and graduated from Temple University and at one time wanted to be a phys. ed. teacher? Cosby certainly has found out who he was and what he does best: make people laugh, take life lightly and value education. His most recent productions include the Little Bill series on Nickelodeon Jr. and Fat Albert the movie.

Erykah Badu, singer, songwriter

With her recently produced album “Worldwide Underground” on shelves, Badu explains, “When I create music I think as a fan, as a soul lover, as a person who uses music as therapy.” Her music reflects these feelings. Her music, full of soul, soothing beats and meaning, is relaxing, original and therapeutic. Badu’s original music has been in the air since her first album, “Baduism,” in 1997, and the artist continues to enchant listeners, with her creativity with her most recently released album. Bet you didn’t know that before her first album, she worked as a teacher in her hometown of Dallas.

Venus and Serena Williams, Athletes

Venus and Serena Williams, who turned pro in 1994 and 1995 respectively, have captivated sports fans as they have played tennisindividually and as doubles. In addition to their phenomenal performance together at Wimbledon in 2004, the sisters have a wonderful philanthropic cause they have also worked toward. During their McDonalds Tour in Detroit, Atlanta, and Chicago, the Williams sisters drummed up over $90,000 for the Ronald McDonald House.