*Just do it? With few resources, self-doubt, and naysayers and haters? The BPRS/Black Public Relations Society-LA‘s 2018 award honorees did it. The emotion in the room was like a “Rocky” movie. But, in this scenario, the underdogs were black communicators.
“Can I actually do this,” said Pat Tobin award honoree, Ketchum Vice President Lindsay Wagner, named a trailblazer in communications. “Am I good enough, will they see through me,” was the chatter swarming her head.
The thoughts were like a blasting water hose obliterating the fire of acknowledgment, acceptance, and praise from her peers. But, breaking through – the I’m not worthy spell – was the work ahead.
“For black communicators to continue the work – we have to fight against that voice,” Wagner said.
She also said, it’s not just the systems that we are trying to change, and it’s not just the narratives, a lot of times what we are battling most is our self. “We have to get rid of self-doubt.”
The battle of self-defeat was a mantra, that night. Many of the 20 awardees, named trailblazers in communications & culture, spoke of snuffing out similar head talk.
After years of slaughtering obstacles and self-defeatism, the 2018 BPRS-LA trailblazers emerge and were bestowed honors at the California African American Museum, last week.
Honorees one after the other spoke of speckled journeys and of any former association with the late Pat Tobin, for which their awards were named.
Tobin known as the queen of networking and master-of-public relations was fondly remembered that night and credited for her support in many careers.
Of trailblazers, a TV One video played introducing Tosha Whitten-Griggs, the senior vice president of public relations at TV One. The video answered the question: what does it mean to [trailblaze]?
“It means embracing your history, knowing your culture, inspiring others,” the video voice said. “It means telling your story, making a difference, and staying woke.” It also means being proud of where you came from, to encourage, to empower, and it means speaking your truth, and expressing your rhythm.”
After congratulating the evening’s honorees, Whitten-Griggs spoke of Pat Tobin, who played a role in her success.
“It’s times like this when I remember the pillars of media and communications who came before us – who literally carved out a path for us to follow, she said.
“Pat was truly one of a kind and a giant in our industry. Her spirit and legacy will continue to be a beacon.” Whitten-Griggs said.
Regarding black journalist and communicators nationwide – Whitten-Griggs mentioned the army of front-line champions who make it clear that black media and black communications professionals are here to stay.
Like South Los Angeles’ Brandon I. Brooks who started out as a rookie journalist in classifieds and is now the managing editor with the Los Angeles Sentinel Newspaper and the L.A. Watts Times. Brandon is holding the torch — like family members before him.
“No matter whether we are mandated to the Rosa Parks section of the red carpet, whether we are pigeonholed into urban-niche projects, or whether the current president attacks what we stand for, Whitten-Griggs said.”
That was a nod to reports that say President Trump recently demeaned three black female journalists for asking questions.
Of her peers and assistants, “The journey [has been] filled with roadblocks, setbacks, and many disappointments. But like all of these distinguished people here tonight – [we] refused to be stopped by racism, misogyny, or at times our own self-doubt. Even though tonight we celebrate. We must press on,” Whitten-Griggs said.
In the end, BPRS-LA Co-President, Shawn Smith declared BPRS-LA’s 20th anniversary a milestone, a memorable night, and a success. Deputy Albert Lord, a representative of the L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson’s office presented BPRS-LA with a certificate, saying that until recently he and his office had never heard of the group. He acknowledged the milestones and successes — that he’s since learned of and announced that the 2018 BPRS-LA Trailblazers are each recognized with certificates for their achievements.
BPRS-LA’s Pat Tobin award honorees were Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Ellen V. Miles, and Erika Bennett; Lindsay Wagner, and Michael Lewellen; honorably Tosha Whitten-Griggs, and Shawn Smith.
Power Pro honorees were Kenya Friend-Daniel, Kristen Robinson, and Leshelle V. Sargent; PR Power Player Honorees are Imani Greene, Melissa Mills, and Kevin Stuckey. The BPRS 2018 Power Press honorees are Tre’vell Anderson, Nina Parker, Brandon I. Brooks, and Beverly White, and finally the Power of Influence honor went to Kiki Ayers, Everett Taylor, and to Karen Civil.
“I was blessed that she was very close with my family. When I first [started in the industry Pat Tobin] was one of those who was like boy you better jump in there,” Brooks said.
EURpr’s Photo Gallery: BPSRS-LA 20th Anniversary Awards Celebration
*Click left and right arrows on the slideshow to quickly advance through photos
For more photos and videos click here: EURpr videos added weekly.
The Virtual United Negro College Fund Tour Heads to NY, DC & NJ on Fri & Sat-Nov. 20 & 21 (EUR EXCLUSIVE!)
*African American students interested in going to college can attend the United Negro College Fund’s (UNCF) Fall 2020 virtual Empower Me Tour. Set for this Friday and Saturday (November 20 & 21, 2020), New York, District of Columbia, and New Jersey will be repped. (This year’s tour kicked off earlier this month in Wisconsin and Illinois). To register, go here.
The Empower Me Tour is an extension of the goals of the UNCF. Founded in 1944, the UNCF, a non-profit, has raised more than $5 billion and helped more than 500,000 students attend 37 private historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
The EUR caught up with Stacey Lee, the tour’s director for four years, who discussed the importance of the event.
“The UNCF is the nation’s largest provider of education support to minority students,” said Lee. “The Empowerment Tour has been executed for the past 12 years and last year along we offered over $12 million dollars in scholarships.”
Lee continued, “I think the great thing is that during these times, even with COVID-19, is that a number of corporations (Wells Fargo/P&/FedEx/Disney/Goldman Sachs) and donors have really been providing opportunity and financial access to our schools and students.”
The tour is packed with information and resources so that students and parents have the right tools to make informed decisions.
“It’s a free event that provides educational support, scholarships, interviews with colleges, empowerment, and information on how to get to and through college. We also provide this information for parents as well. We have a parent section that focuses on financial aid and the things you need to get your students to college.”
Lee continued, “Sometimes we have students that don’t realize that they can attend college. They can receive scholarships. Some of them don’t even know what an HBCU is. So, it’s inspirational for me to see these students receive this information and the excitement that’s around this tour.”
In addition to college information, panel sessions on issues affecting the community will also take place. Legendary rapper Bun B will be part of a special My Black Is Beautiful panel. The panel will have discussions with girls and boys and the MC will lead the male portion.
“It’s about empowerment,” Bun B told the EUR. “It’s vital for us to lift each other up and amplify each other’s voices. We just talk about now what that role is in this COVID world. And with everything that we are seeing with young Black men on television, we want to keep them motivated and centered. We want to make sure that they are not discouraged in this moment.”
Ever since Kamala Harris threw her hat into the presidential race and elected vice president of the United States, a spotlight has shined on the fact that she’s an HBCU grad (Howard University) and member of the African American sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha. These facts are not lost on the UNCF.
“Kamala has really boosted people’s awareness about HBCUs and (African American sororities) and the type of people that come out of HBCUs. HBCUS have also provided so many people from science, mathematics, and engineering programs (STEM).”
Bun B added, “We have more than enough examples to show you how beneficial an education from an HBCU can be. So, there is no reason to not be a part of an HBCU because the world is just as available to you as it is for anyone else attending any other type of university.”
New Music Buzz: Jazzy Rita Shelby’s ‘Goodbye 2020’
*SB Music presents “Goodbye 2020” a new single for the times we are in.
“Goodbye 2020” is performed by Jazzy Rita Shelby and written by Miss Shelby (ASCAP) and Eddie Lawrence Miller (BMI).
It’s the perfect anthem to end a year that has impacted the globe.
EURweb’s Jazzy Rita is also a prolific lyricist who has teamed up with Eddie Miller for “Goodbye 2020” because it was timely and convenient for the birth of a song such as this.
Eddie Miller is a coveted keyboardist & vocalist who performs regularly with Brian Culbertson and he’s the Rhodes Festival musical director. Jazzy Rita rose to notoriety as host & performer at The Starlight Jazz Serenade, an annual benefit concert in North Hollywood with an A list of stars. As a teen Miss Shelby was inspired to write songs by the legendary David Porter.
This year has been a year like no other. “Goodbye 2020” is an ode to the world for the year that we have seen and the hope that lies ahead. Radio Programmers click here for adds.
“Goodbye 2020” is released on the SB Music label and was recorded at Wishing Wells Studio in Canoga Park, CA. Willie Daniels and Mildred Black perform background vocals along with Jazzy Rita. The video is produced & directed by Jazzy Rita (LaRita Shelby), filmed & edited by Reggie Simon of Simon Vision Media, with wardrobe styling by Jazzy Rita and Poet Roni Girl’s Army Couture. “Goodbye 2020” is available on most digital platforms. Click here to listen on Spotify.
Celebrate Halloween with ‘Spell’ Starring Omari Hardwick, Loretta Devine and John Beasley / WATCH
*Today/TONIGHT is Halloween and what could be a more perfect way to celebrate than with the release of SPELL? Enjoy the clips below to get you in the spooky spirit!
Omari Hardwick (“Power,” Sorry to Bother You), Loretta Devine (“Black-ish,” Crash) and John Beasley (The Sum of All Fears, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks) star in the terrifying thriller SPELL, coming to Premium Video-On-Demand and Digital today October 30 from Paramount Home Entertainment.
While flying to his father’s funeral in rural Appalachia, an intense storm causes Marquis (Omari Hardwick) to lose control of the plane carrying him and his family. He awakens wounded, alone and trapped in Ms. Eloise’s (Loretta Devine) attic, who claims she can nurse him back to health with the Boogity, a Hoodoo figure she has made from his blood and skin. Unable to call for help, Marquis desperately tries to outwit and break free from her dark magic and save his family from a sinister ritual before the rise of the blood moon.
DIRECTED BY | Mark Tonderai
SCREENPLAY BY | Kurt Wimmer
STARRING | Omari Hardwick, Loretta Devine, John Beasley
AVAILABLE ON DIGITAL PLATFORMS | Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, DirecTV, VUDU, Xfinity, FandangoNOW and more.
Rating | R – violence, disturbing/bloody images, and language
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