Benkos Bioho, Great Freedom Fighter Founder of Columbian Town, San Basilio de Palenque

Benkos Bioho, who descended from a royal West African family, was captured and enslaved by the Portuguese in the late 16th century. Yet, Bioho never accepted claims others made on his life and liberty. That is why after being sold to a Spanish enslaver and taken to South America, he escaped and ran away multiples times. During the last escape, Bioho made his way into a swampy area just southeast of modern-day Cartegena, Columbia. There, he established San Basilio de Palenque, a  liberated zone known as the “village of the maroons” where Black people found refuge, and lived freely. Descendants of those maroons proudly live in Palenque today.

A monument to African strength, courage, and persistence—San Basilio de Palenque was designated a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2005. Its residents are custodians of a rich lineage and enduring language that honors their African ancestry.

Click below to learn more about Benkos Bioho and the no-matter-what African legacy he sowed in Columbia. Be informed by an indomitable lineage.

2021 September Newsletter, History and Culture

BONUS: To watch present-day citizens of San Basilio de Palenque sing and profess their historical pride. click here. 

John C. Robinson, Father of Tuskegee Airmen Became Commander of Ethiopian Air Force

When Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935, motivated by racist yearnings for colonial dominance, African Americans took note. They recognized the common fight against racial oppression they shared with Ethiopians.

African Americans publicly denounced the invasion. When thousands sought to join the Ethiopian army, they were thwarted by travel restrictions. Among the few African Americans who managed to reached Ethiopia was John C. Robinson. The Mississippi native routinely faced racist barriers en route to becoming a brilliant aviator and aeronautical mechanic. Intimately familiar with the mental and material carnage racism produces, Robinson devoted himself to helping his African brethren avoid subjugation. Fully embraced by Ethiopians, Robinson eventually became Commander of the Ethiopian Air Force.

After Italy’s defeat, Robinson played a key role in developing the country’s first commercial airline, Ethiopian Airlines. His journey to acquire and use aviation knowledge for the benefit of Black people was epic. Perhaps most amazing was his demonstration of how power is borne from partnerships between Africans and citizens of the African diaspora.

Click below to learn more about John C. Robinson, exemplar of boundless Black self-love.

2021 September Newsletter, History and Culture

Acquisition By Black-Owned Liberty Bank Drives Assets To Nearly $1 Billion

Even in the worst of times, Black people find ways to not simply survive, but thrive. That is exactly what Alden McDonald Jr, CEO of Liberty Bank did when he led his institution’s recent acquisition of the Tri-State Bank of Memphis.This purchase bolstered Liberty’s total assets to $965 million, positioning it to become the first Black-owned bank to reach $1 billion value. Based in New Orleans, with offices in 12 cities and 10 states, Liberty expects to achieve that historic distinction by 2022. 

Click below to learn more about the progress Liberty leaders are making to expand the reach of Black Banking.

2021 September Newsletter, Business & Finance

Meet Valerie Thomas, NASA Physicist Who Invented 3D Visualization Technology

The next time you enjoy a three-dimensional movie, game, or other visual, know that you are experiencing technology invented by a Black woman. While a physicist at NASA, Dr. Valerie Thomas created the illusion transmitter mechanism that, when paired with concave mirrors, creates a multidimensional affect. She patented her invention in 1980 and the technology is still widely used by NASA and other industries throughout the world. 

Dr. Thomas retired from a long and extraordinary scientific career after serving as associate chief of NASA’s Space Science Data Operations Office, manager of the NASA Automated Systems Incident Response Capability, and chair of the Space Science Data Operations Office Education Committee.

Click below to learn more about the amazing Black woman whose genius is literally on full display across global platforms.

2021 September Newsletter, History and Culture, Present Day Achievements

15-Year-Old Nigerian Math Genius Wins International Competition

Facing a roster of students from Europe, the United States, Africa, Asia, and Australia, Faith Odunsi won the 2021 Global Open Mathematics competition, sponsored by Nigeria’s Mathematics for Life Foundation.

Since middle school, Odunsi has studied hard and competed to develop  exceptional computational prowess. Prior to winning the Global Mathematics competition, she participated in the South African Mathematics Olympiad, American Mathematics Competition, the Pan-African Mathematics Olympiad and other contests. Her pattern of tournament participation highlights how youth publicly celebrated and encouraged to develop academic skills can achieve highly when they—like youth developing athletic skills— are widely promoted and rewarded.

Click below to learn more about Faith Odunsi’s journey to cultivating a champion mind.

2021 September Newsletter, Youth & Community, Present Day Achievements

BONUS: To watch the stunning final round of the tournament, when Odunsi answered 19 math questions in 60 seconds, click here.

The Lynda Monroe Media Complex Exemplifies, We Cannot Forget Our Incarcerated

Lynda Monroe has a good memory. She has made it her business to never forget people facing tough circumstances, especially the incarcerated. Having overcome many life challenges, Monroe knows how easily smart, industrious, and wrongfully convicted people can find themselves in debilitating circumstances. That is why she built a multi-media enterprise that assists former inmates re-entering society. In fact, Monroe has mentored over 1,000 inmates and helped free 50.

The Monroe media platform includes books, coaching services, and a podcast that streams to over 2 million each month. Monroe’s activism underscores the importance of remembering people who are locked up— especially those from communities fraught with excessive sentencing and wrongful convictions. They cannot be forgotten.

Click below to learn more about Lynda Monroe’s sacred work that embodies the wise African maxim “I am, therefore, we are.”

2021 September Newsletter,  Present Day Achievement

Black Woman Develops App to Reduce Healthcare Racial Bias

Studies have confirmed Black patients tend to fair better when treated by Black doctors. After Kimberly Wilson personally experienced this phenomenon, she set her sights on helping Black patients find Black doctors. Wilson developed HUED, an app that allows people of color to search, review, and schedule appointments with physicians inclined to understand and meet their physical and cultural needs.

Wilson described the HUED app as a solution that “… not only reduces the economic toll of payers (resulting from racial disparities)… but also drastically improves health outcomes…”

To learn more about the journey of a woman who saw a problem in Black & Brown communities, and then worked to produce a solution, click below. Be inspired! 

2021 September Newsletter, Business & Finance, Present Day Achievements