Written by Harvard graduate Redd and illustrated by TV animation character designer Nneka Myers, Bedtime Bonnet, published by Random House Kids, is the first-ever children’s picture book that honors the time-honored practice of Black women protecting their hair with satin bonnets.
The idea for Bedtime Bonnet came from her daughter’s reaction to being told she needed to wear one at 3 years old.
“She was like, ‘I don’t want to wear a bonnet, bonnets are for old people,’” Redd recalled to Essence.
“Because when you’re 3 or 4, you are not going to sleepovers, you know what I mean? And we moved far away from our extended family. So it’s not like I was hanging out with the cousins and she was able to see other people her age,” said Redd. “She only saw me and grandma in a bonnet.”
She continued, “I just didn’t know how to explain it to her because of the cartoon characters she would watch. Even the Black ones, they don’t wear anything to bed on their head, which now is a huge plot hole that causes me stress. Like when little children are going to bed, they are just laying their head on top of that cotton pillowcase and it stresses me out.”
Redd merged her annoyance with her talents to write Bedtime Bonnet. The quick read features the full lips, brown skin, glorious locs, buoyant curls, and soft caresses that have made up the nightly routine of Black families for generations. Du-rags, silk scarves, wave caps, and doobie wraps are all represented in its pages. Redd wanted to transfer her love of the self-care ritual onto her little girl and children around the world.
In this 100th year anniversary of its completion, the historic Villa Lewaro estate of the nation’s first self-made female millionaire and beauty pioneer, Madam C.J. Walker, has been purchased.
The New Voices Foundation, which helps women of color entrepreneurs achieve their vision through innovative leadership initiatives, will spearhead the stabilization of the structure and planning for future uses. The acquisition was facilitated by the Dennis Family, including entrepreneur, investor, and social impact innovator Richelieu Dennis, who once owned Shea Moisture and currently owns Essence Magazine.
The 28,000 square foot property is a historic residence that embodies the optimism and perseverance of the American entrepreneurial spirit.
“In the one hundred years since Madam Walker built her majestic home, Villa Lewaro, it has served as a landmark both to her own success and to her endeavor to create a space dedicated to the achievement and empowerment of African Americans,” said Brent Leggs, director of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund.
Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976 for its architectural significance, Madam Walker’s Villa Lewaro estate, named after her daughter (A’LElia WAlker RObinson), was once a social and cultural gathering place for notable leaders of the Harlem Renaissance, such as James Weldon Johnson, Zora Neale Hurston, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Langston Hughes.
The home, which Madam Walker called her “dream of dreams,” was designed and completed 100-years ago by the first licensed Black architect in the state of New York and a founder of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, Vertner Tandy.
Walker was the first person of color to own property in Irvington, close to Lyndhurst, a National Trust Historic Site. During the time it was built, Villa Lewaro was located on what was referred to as Millionaire’s Row and in an area that was also home to Rockefellers and Astors. Purchased in 1993, for the last 25 years Villa Lewaro served as the family home of AmbassadorHarold E. Doley, Jr. and his wife Helena.
With a long admiration of Madam C.J. Walker, the Dennis family first reignited her cultural, entrepreneurial and hair care legacy through the acquisition of the Madam C.J. Walker brand in 2013 – when conversations to acquire Villa Lewaro also first began – and the brand’s subsequent relaunch on retail shelves in 2016 at Sephora.
“To be able to steward something so rich in our culture, history, legacy and achievement through the New Voices Foundation and guide it into its next phase of impact and inspiration is an incredible honor that my family and I welcome with tremendous responsibility and humility,” said Dennis. “When we relaunched the Madam C.J. Walker brand two and half years ago, our goal was to give the brand back to our community and elevate it in the iconic way deserving of such a phenomenal woman. Today, we have a similar focus with Villa Lewaro as its significance is much greater than just a house or property or historic landmark. It is a place where – against all odds – dreams were formed, visions were realized and entrepreneurs were born, and we look forward to returning its use to support that mission.”
Dennis continued, “Squarely aligned with the mission of the New Voices Foundation, we are excited to announce that the vision for future use of the property includes utilizing Villa Lewaro as both a physical and virtual destination where women of color entrepreneurs will come for curriculum-based learning and other resources aimed at helping them build, grow and expand their businesses. When people think of entrepreneurship services for women of color, we want them to think of the New Voices Foundation and Villa Lewaro.”
Madam Walker’s great-great-granddaughter and biographer, as well as brand historian, A’Lelia Bundles, added, “No one at the time believed that a Black woman could afford such a place. So, I can think of no better way to celebrate Villa Lewaro’s 100th anniversary than the vision of the New Voices Foundation and the Dennis family for this historic treasure as a place to inspire today’s entrepreneurs, tomorrow’s leaders and our entire community. Richelieu’s own success story – from a humble family recipe to an international enterprise with an economic empowerment mission – very much mirrors Madam Walker’s journey of empowering and uplifting women. Just as Madam Walker aided in the preservation of abolitionist Frederick Douglass’s Washington, DC home, the Dennis family continues this tradition of preserving historic sites that raise awareness about the contributions people of color have made to the American narrative.”
The National Trust holds a perpetual preservation easement on Villa Lewaro that ensures the property’s historic character will be preserved. This easement was jointly supported by the Dennis and the Doley families. The home was named a National Treasure by the National Trust in 2014 and is part of a growing portfolio of African American historic sites protected through the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, an initiative designed to raise the profile of African American sites of achievement, activism, architecture, and community.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Applications are being accepted now through Oct. 31, 2018, for the Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and Essence magazine. This annual outside-the-classroom mentoring program is scheduled for March 21-24, 2019, at the Walt Disney Resort in Florida.
The program helps 100 select high school students, ages 13-19, from across the United States jump-start their life goals and pursue their dreams. Disney Dreamers Academy turns the entire magical setting of Walt Disney World into a vibrant classroom.
Students participate in a series of sessions and workshops designed to help them imagine bright futures, make exciting discoveries and learn how to put their goals into action. Disney Dreamers engage in a wide variety of experiences at Walt Disney World while working side by side with celebrities, community and industry leaders and Disney cast members.
Each year, students participate in hands-on, immersive career seminars in a wide range of disciplines found at Walt Disney World. Participants learn how to improve their communication skills, what it means to be a leader and networking strategies, among other skills. They are also inspired by celebrity speakers and other special guests who share their stories and provide insights on how to achieve their life goals.
The second decade of Disney Dreamers Academy is focused on challenging young people to relentlessly pursue their dreams through the “Be 100” campaign. This promotional push is inspired by the powerful impact Disney Dreamers Academy has made on graduates, who have gone on to become doctors, nurses, engineers, pilots, journalists and more. Some have started their own public relations firms, while others have worked with national political leaders.
Applicants must answer essay questions about their personal journeys and dreams for the future. Studentsare selected based on a combination of attributes, including strong character, positive attitude and determination to achieve their dreams. A parent or guardian accompanies each student on the trip.
This four-day, all-expenses-paid experience at Walt Disney World will continue to help change the lives of young people in 2019.
NEW YORK — “Girls Trip” changed the game for Tiffany Haddish, and now she’s being honored as one of Essence Magazine’s “game-changers” at its annual “Black Women in Hollywood” awards.
“Girls Trip” was one of last year’s big hits and made Haddish a breakout star. The comedian is one of four women being honored at the March 1 event in Beverly Hills, California.
“The Chi” creator and “Master of None” star Lena Waithe will also be celebrated; she became the first black woman to win an Emmy for comedy writing last year.
Danai Gurira of “The Walking Dead” stars in the upcoming “Black Panther.” Gurira also created the Tony-nominated “Eclipsed,” among other works. Tessa Thompson broke new ground in her role in last fall’s superhero hit “Thor.”
Essence magazine editor Vanessa De Luca says the honorees are “raising their voices to benefit all women.”
Walt Disney World Resorts, in conjunction with Essence Magazine and comedian Steve Harvey, recently hosted its 9th Annual Disney Dreamers Academy in Orlando, Florida. After selecting from thousands of applications, Disney rewarded 100 U.S. high school students and their chaperones with a four-day seminar (March 3-6) geared towards inspiring, exposing and guiding them on how to achieve their dreams.
After kicking off the long weekend leading a parade down Main Street in the Magic Kingdom and being welcomed by Walt Disney World President George Kalogridis, Walt Disney World Vice President and Executive Champion Tracey Powell, Essence Editor-At-Large Mikki Taylor, gospel singer Yolanda Adams and host Steve Harvey, the Dreamers are immersed in intensive sessions with motivational speakers such as Jonathan Sprinkles and Capital Prep School Founder and Principal Dr. Steve Perry to help them understand how to overcome obstacles, learn from failures and how to work hard to make their dreams become reality.
Additionally, the Walt Disney World theme parks become vibrant “classrooms,” where Dreamers participate in hands-on, intensive “Deep Dive” workshops led by industry experts. Covering a myriad of career paths ranging from animation to imagineering to marine biology, the Deep Dives do more than expose students to a career choice; they bring to life an opportunity that otherwise might seem distant or impossible.
Celebrities such as MC Lyte, Tamera Mowery, Loni Love, Lance Gross, Lamman Rucker, Silento and film producer Will Packer also gave their personal time and shared their knowledge with the Dreamers on what it takes to gain and maintain an unconventional career.
“It has literally been so amazing,” said Dreamer Deja Kirk from Oklahoma City, who is interested in becoming an elasmobranchologist (a marine biologist who specializes in sharks and rays). “I’m not one to be corny at all, I’m usually a very stoic person, so for me to be so excited about this is really huge. Even if you don’t know what you’re going to do, just getting the general exposure to everything I feel like not only am I prepared to pursue my career, if I were to change it in any way I still have a really good foundation for whatever I want to do.”
This week, Good Black News will be bringing you even more stories from this unique event, including spotlights on several Dreamers, perspectives from their parents, as well as interviews with some of the dedicated professionals who gave their time and wisdom to DDA this year.
Black-ish star Tracee Ellis Ross will take home the Fierce & Fearless award, iconic director, producer and actress Debbie Allen is being honored with the Legend award, and entertainment attorney Nina Shaw will be presented with the Lincoln Power award.
In a climate where the conversation surrounding the roles, contributions and recognition of African-Americans in Hollywood is heavily charged, ESSENCE Editor-in-Chief Vanessa K. De Luca points out the importance of the event.
“We are delighted to continue the tradition of honoring exceptionally talented women who are making significant contributions as creators and performers in Hollywood. At a time when the conversation about diversity in Hollywood remains prevalent, recognizing the indomitable power and presence of Tracee Ellis Ross, Debbie Allen and Nina Shaw at our annual Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon embraces an inclusive and diverse Hollywood community.”
The Black star power doesn’t end with the phenomenal honorees! The event will also feature appearances by Oprah Winfrey, Shonda Rhimes, Nick Cannon, Ryan Coogler and Zendaya to name a few.
Fans can get full access to the event by tuning into the live stream on ESSENCE.com starting at 12:15 p.m. PT/3:15 p.m ET on February 25.
Black Women in Hollywood be televised as an ESSENCE and OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network special airing Saturday, February 27 at 10 p.m ET/PT on OWN.
High school students nationwide can now apply at DisneyDreamersAcademy.comto be among 100 selected to participate in the 2016 Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE, the innovative, outside-the-classroom, educational mentoring program at Walt Disney World Resort.
Entering the search for its ninth class of Dreamers, Disney Dreamers Academy continues to hold true to its mission to inspire and fuel the dreams of teens, help them discover a world of possibilities and help them prepare for the future. Each year, students participate in hands-on, full-immersion workshops related to a variety of career paths, ranging from animation to zoology. Each participant learns important skills such as communication techniques, leadership values and networking strategies.
It all takes place in the very magical and creative setting of Walt Disney World Resort. Dreamers are taken both on stage and behind the scenes, where Disney theme parks become vibrant ‘classrooms,’ leading to career discoveries, the pursuit of dreams and fun memories to cherish for a lifetime.
Disney Dreamers are exposed to motivational speakers and celebrities who share their stories and provide insight on how to achieve success and DREAM BIG. Dreamers have the opportunity to cultivate relationships with other students from across the nation while they gain first-hand knowledge from Disney experts and world-renowned entrepreneurs and executives.
“We’re excited to welcome back Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE for the ninth year,” said Tracey D. Powell, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts vice president of deluxe resorts and Disney Dreamers Academy executive champion. “This program stands out for its ability to motivate and inspire teens to think big and achieve their dreams. By applying for Disney Dreamers Academy, high school students from across the country are taking a step toward an experience that can change their lives.”
From March 5-8, Walt Disney World Resort hosted 100 high school students from across the nation at the 2015 Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine. The teens, who were chosen out of 10,000 applicants, along with a parent or guardian, received an all-expense-paid trip to Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, FL, where they took part in a once-in-a-lifetime educational and mentoring program designed to inspire them to dream big, discover a world of possibilities and prepare for their future.
During the 4-day event, participants – referred to as “Dreamers” – learned important skills such as communication techniques and networking strategies, how to build confidence and create fun memories to cherish for a lifetime.
The Academy was founded in 2007 when Disney and Steve Harvey collaborated to combine the ideas from Harvey’s annual mentoring camp for boys with Disney’s concept for a Dreamers Academy.
“Disney is magnificent at making dreams come true,” said Harvey in his welcome address to the Dreamers. “Dreams are previews of life’s coming attractions. A dream will propel you to get an education. Whatever you can imagine you can have.”
During the Dreamers Academy, the Walt Disney World theme parks became vibrant “classrooms,” where Dreamers participated in hands-on, full-immersion “Deep Dive” workshops led by industry experts. Covering a bevy of career paths, ranging from animation to zoology, the Deep Dives do more than expose students to a career choice; they bring to life an opportunity that otherwise might seem distant or impossible.
“I actually didn’t know there were other African-American women neurosurgeons. I mean, I knew… but I never met one in real life,” said Fairfield, CA 11th grader Morgan Buckner after her Deep Dive session led by Orlando-based neurosurgeon Dr. Keyne K. Johnson. “So actually meeting one and seeing the work that she does and how she cares for her patients really instilled in me and solidified how I want to be a neurosurgeon,” Buckner added.
Dreamers were also addressed by motivational speakers such as Capital Prep School founder and Principal Dr. Steve Perry, Bishop TD Jakes and Jonathan Sprinkles, celebrities such as E! host Terrence J, gospel great Yolanda Adams, actor Lamman Rucker, Chef Jeff Henderson, former Disney star Coco Jones, and movie producer Will Packer, entrepreneurs, executives and Disney Cast Members who shared their stories and provided insight on charting a positive course and achievement.
Additionally, the Academy also offered Dreamers instruction on how to present themselves positively via clothing and image in sessions called “Style 101; Young, Fit and Fly” for the young women with Brandi Harvey and Karli Harvey and “Tied to Greatness” for the young men with Dr. Alex Ellis.
“Year after year, Disney Dreamers Academy continues to help students dream big and achieve those dreams,” said Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Vice President of Deluxe Resorts and Disney Dreamers Academy Executive Champion Tracey D. Powell.
ESSENCE Communications President Michelle Ebanks added, “ This program transcends the normal classroom setting, taking learning to the next level. Our valued partnership with Disney Parks and Steve Harvey represents our commitment to the leaders of tomorrow.”
Chaka Khan, Brandy and Lianne La Havas have been added to the lineup for our annual ESSENCE Black Women in Music ceremony.
The three performers join this year’s honoree, Jill Scott, in celebrating the best and brightest moments in Black music over ESSENCE’s 45-year history. The 6th annual event recognizes the achievements of the generations of Black women singers who have inspired and paved the way.
Past ESSENCE Black Women in Music honorees include Mary J. Blige, Kelly Rowland,Janelle Monáe, and Solange Knowles. This year’s event will feature an exclusive performance from Scott as well as several other performances from several classic eras of music. And for the first time, community fans will be able to join in the festivities of this invitation-only event.
Ten-time Grammy winner Chaka Khan has been on the scene for over three decades, racking up accolades and earning the praise of her peers, such as Aretha Franklin and Miles Davis. We’ve watched Grammy winner Brandy grow up right before our eyes since her 1995 debut. She helped shape a generation with songs like “I Wanna Be Down” and “The Boy Is Mine.” Newcomer Lianne La Havas burst on the scene in 2012 with her album, Is Your Love Big Enough? The London-based singer attracted the attention of Prince—the two collaborated for his song, “Clouds.”
The ESSENCE Black Women in Music event will kick-off our year-long commemoration of the 45th anniversary of ESSENCE Magazine, where Black women have always—and will continue to—come first.
Catch these women, along with other music trailblazers, during ESSENCE Black Women in Music on February 5 in Los Angeles.
Successful entrepreneurs understand that the way to success is to be a lifelong learner. From staying abreast on latest trends to reading up on tried-and-true strategy, leaders win by seeking knowledge. Here are five books that will help any entrepreneur do just that:
Written by Edward Lewis, co-founder of Essencemagazine, this book tells the story of how he started his company with three partners, eventually reaching and impacting millions of people with a landmark publication for women of color. He became the last man standing by the time it was sold to Time, Inc. Lewis details the motivation behind his drive to succeed, her personal triumphs and challenges and insights on management, startup strategy and perseverance through the ups and downs of the publishing world.
How to Succeed in Business Without Being White: Straight Talk on Making it in America by Earl G. Graves
In a society where white men dominate the top seats at major corporations, this book serves as motivation and mentorship for African-American innovators. Being one of the most prolific executives in business, Graves tells us his own story of how he became a multimillionaire, the director of several of America’s Fortune 500 corporations, a philanthropist and entrepreneur, how he built the legacy of Black Enterprise. The business icon touts: “Economic power is the key to success in a capitalistic society.”
Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun?: How Reginald Lewis Created a Billion-Dollar Business Empire By Reginald F. Lewis
Lewis’ first successful venture was his $22.5 million-leveraged buyout of McCall Pattern Co., where he sold it for $65 million in 1987, and made an astounding 90 to 1 return on his original investment. He re-branded the corporation as TLC Beatrice International Inc. As the CEO and chairman, Lewis increased the company’s worth in rapid time,an with revenues of $1.5 billion, TLC Beatrice made it to the Fortune 500. It was also the first company on the Black Enterprise List of Top 100 African-American owned businesses. This book details how all of this happened and will inspire many bosses for generations to come.
Success Never Smelled So Sweet: How I Followed My Nose and Found My Passion by Lisa Price
Lisa Price, founder of Carol’s Daughter, tells the story of her life, starting from the beginning with her childhood days in Brooklyn, N.Y., to the moment her business was created and how it bloomed. The innovator provides motivating and enticing stories and explains how she went from bankruptcy to grossing over $2 million yearly while working from home. Price believes that life will guide each and every one of us until we realize our own inner truth, regardless of the challenges we faced to reach to our destination. She also shares with us advice her mother gave her and recipes for her best-selling products.
Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of A Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins and Elizabeth Gardner Hines
A.G. Gaston was the grandson of slaves and was born penniless. At his death, he was worth more than $130 million and helmed several businesses. This is the story of his life through the eyes of his niece and grandniece. Gaston was determined to make a difference for African Americans during the time of slavery. When he passed away in 1996, he was one of the richest men in America. Black Titan is the story of a man who changed the future for all black businesspeople in our country.