FORMER PRESIDENT OF LIBERIA
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (born 29 October 1938) is a Liberian politician who served as the 24th President of Liberia from 2006 to 2018. Sirleaf was the first elected female head of state in Africa.
Born in Monrovia to a Gola father and Kru-German mother, Sirleaf was educated at the College of West Africa before moving to the United States, where she studied at Madison Business College and Harvard University. She returned to Liberia to work in William Tolbert’s government as Deputy Minister of Finance from 1971 to 1974 and later went to work for the World Bank in the Caribbean and Latin America. She returned to work for the late president Tolbert’s government again as deputy minister of Finance before being promoted to the post of Minister of Finance from 1979 to 1980. After Samuel Doe seized power in a coup d’état and executed Tolbert, Sirleaf fled to the United States. She worked for Citibank and then the Equator Bank before returning to Liberia to contest a senatorial seat for Montserrado county in the disputed 1985 elections.
After returning to Liberia, Sirleaf ran for office, and finished in second place at the 1997 presidential election won by Charles Taylor. She won the 2005 presidential election and took office on 16 January 2006. She was re-elected in 2011. In June 2016, she was elected as the Chair of the Economic Community of West African States, making her the first woman to hold the position since it was created.
In 2011, Sirleaf was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and Tawakkol Karman of Yemen. The three women were recognized “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”
Sirleaf was conferred the Indira Gandhi Prize by Indian President Pranab Mukherjee on 12 September 2013. In 2016, she was listed as the 83rd-most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine.
Donna Brazile, Yolanda Caraway, Leah Daughtry, and Minyon Moore with Veronica Chambers
The four most powerful African American women in politics share the story of their friendship and how it has changed politics in America.
The lives of black women in American politics are remarkably absent from the shelves of bookstores and libraries. For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics is a sweeping view of American history from the vantage points of four women who have lived and worked behind the scenes in politics for over thirty years—Donna Brazile, Yolanda Caraway, Leah Daughtry, and Minyon Moore—a group of women who call themselves The Colored Girls. Like many people who have spent their careers in public service, they view their lives in four-year waves where presidential campaigns and elections have been common threads. For most of the Colored Girls, their story starts with Jesse Jackson’s first campaign for president. From there, they went on to work on the presidential campaigns of Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Over the years, they’ve filled many roles: in the corporate world, on campaigns, in unions, in churches, in their own businesses and in the White House. Through all of this, they’ve worked with those who have shaped our country’s history—US Presidents such as Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, well-known political figures such as Terry McAuliffe and Howard Dean, and legendary activists and historical figures such as Jesse Jackson, Coretta Scott King, and Betty Shabazz.
For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics is filled with personal stories that bring to life heroic figures we all know and introduce us to some of those who’ve worked behind the scenes but are still hidden. Whatever their perch, the Colored Girls are always focused on the larger goal of “hurrying history” so that every American — regardless of race, gender or religious background — can have a seat at the table. This is their story.
NIGERIAN NOVELIST, POET, PROFESSOR & CRITIC
Born in Nigeria in 1930, Chinua Achebe made a splash with the publication of his first novel, Things Fall Apart, in 1958. Renowned as one of the seminal works of African literature, it has since sold more than 20 million copies and been translated into more than 50 languages. Achebe followed with novels such as No Longer at Ease (1960), Arrow of God(1964) and Anthills of the Savannah (1987), and served as a faculty member at renowned universities in the U.S. and Nigeria. He died on March 21, 2013, at age 82, in Boston, Massachusetts.
THE MOTHER OF BLACK HOLLYWOOD, AUTHOR & ACTRESS
Jenifer Jeanette Lewis (born January 25, 1957) is an American actress, singer and activist. She began her career appearing in Broadway musicals and worked as a back-up singer for Bette Midler before appearing in films Beaches (1988) and Sister Act (1992).
Lewis is known for playing roles of mothers in the films What’s Love Got to Do With It (1993), Poetic Justice (1993), The Preacher’s Wife (1996), The Brothers (2001), Think Like a Manand in the sequel Think Like a Man Too (2014), Baggage Claim (2013), and The Wedding Ringer (2015), as well as in The Temptations TV miniseries (1998). As such, Lewis earned the title “Black Mother of Hollywood”. She also provided the voice for Mama Odie in Disney’s animated feature, The Princess and the Frog (2009). Additional film roles include Dead Presidents (1995), Cast Away (2000), and Hereafter (2010).
NYT BEST-SELLING AUTHOR & PROFESSIONAL TROUBLEMAKER.
Luvvie Ajayi is an award-winning author, speaker and digital strategist who thrives at the intersection of comedy, technology and activism.
Her debut book, I’M JUDGING YOU: The Do-Better Manual, was released to critical acclaim and became an instant New York Times best-seller. It’s a collection of essays that critiques our fame-obsessed, social media-centric lives, while encouraging us to do better. The book is the good, yet snarky, angel on your shoulder, in word form. Luvvie’s ability to create content that make people laugh heartily while thinking critically has been honed after 15 years of blogging. AwesomelyLuvvie.com is the site where she covers all things pop culture, from TV and movies to race, politics and life’s random adventures.
Luvvie recently launched Rants and Randomness, a podcast where she covers her most pressing rants, raves and faves from this crazy thing called life. Set in the same honest and funny perspective Luvvie is known for, the podcast also features interviews with some amazing guests. The podcast was chosen as “New & Noteworthy” by Apple Podcasts and is featured under their “Bold Women” banner.
NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLING AUTHOR, MUSICIAN & SONGWRITER
Charles Kent Wilson (born January 29, 1953), also known as Uncle Charlie, is an American musician, singer, songwriter, producer and the former lead vocalist of The Gap Band. As a solo artist he has been nominated for eleven Grammy awards and ten NAACP Image Awards (including two wins), received a 2009 Soul Train Icon Award, and was a recipient of a BMI Icon Award in 2005. In 2009, he was named Billboard magazine’s No. 1 Adult R&B Artist, and his song “There Goes My Baby” was named the No. 1 Urban Adult Song for 2009 in Billboard Magazine.
AMERICAN ACTOR, SINGER & BEST-SELLING AUTHOR
Scott Leo “Taye” Diggs is an American actor and singer. He is known for his roles in the Broadway musicals Rent and Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the TV series Private Practice, the films How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Brown Sugar, The Best Man and its sequel, The Best Man Holiday.
AWARD-WINNING ACTRESS AND NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLING AUTHOR
Taraji Penda Henson is an American actress, singer, and author. She studied acting at Howard University and began her Hollywood career in guest-roles on several television shows before making her breakthrough in Baby Boy.
Author, radio DJ as well as a television and movie personality
Donnie Simpson (born January 30, 1954) is a longtime American radio DJ as well as a television and movie personality. He hosted The Donnie Simpson Morning Show on Washington, D.C. radio station WPGC-FM from March 1993 to January 29, 2010. Currently, he hosts The Donnie Simpson Show on D.C.-based radio station WMMJ-FM (Majic 102.3 FM), which began airing on August 17, 2015. Simpson is the first urban-format radio personality to have an annual salary over $1 million without being syndicated.
In 2003, Simpson, through his agent and longtime friend, George Parker, inked a 6-year, 8-figure deal with WPGC-FM making Simpson the highest paid African-American radio personality ever without syndication. He was Billboard’s Radio Personality of the Year and Program Director of the Year. He has also been known by the nicknames, “Love Bug”, “The Green-eyed Bandit” and “Dr. Green Eyes” for his luminous, light green eyes.
FORMER NFL PLAYER, ASTRONAUT, SPEAKER AND AUTHOR
Leland Devon Melvin is an American engineer and a former NASA astronaut. He served on board the Space Shuttle Atlantis as a mission specialist on STS-122, and as mission specialist 1 on STS-129. Melvin was named the NASA Associate Administrator for Education in October 2010.
CIVIL RIGHTS ADVOCATE, BAPTIST MINISTER, MEDIA TALK SHOW HOST FORMER WHITE HOUSE ADVISER & AUTHOR
Alfred Charles Sharpton Jr. is an American civil rights activist, Baptist minister, television/radio talk show host and a former White House adviser for President Barack Obama. In 2004, he was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. presidential election.
NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLING AUTHOR & EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Terry McMillan was born and raised in Port Huron, Michigan, and discovered her love of literature while shelving books at the local library. She burst on to the literary scene in 1987 with her wildly acclaimed New York Times bestseller Mama, which won the Doubleday New Voices in Fiction award in 1986 and an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation in 1987. Terry’s signature humor, wisdom, and warmth made Waiting to Exhale, A Day Late and A Dollar Short, The Interruption of Everything, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Getting to Happy, Disappearing Acts and Who Asked You? all New York Times Best Sellers. Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back were made into award winning major motion pictures that proved huge at the box office, and Disappearing Acts and A Day Late and A Dollar Short were adapted into successful made-for-TV movies. Terry was awarded an Essence Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. Beloved by her fans, Terry’s books have sold millions of copies worldwide.
PROFESSIONAL BALLERINA & BEST- SELLING AUTHOR
Misty Danielle Copeland is an American ballet dancer for American Ballet Theatre, one of the three leading classical ballet companies in the United States. On June 30, 2015, Copeland became the first African American woman to be promoted to principal dancer in ABT’s 75-year history.
JAMAICAN PERFORMER, FASHION DESIGNER, ACTRESS & AUTHOR, DAUGHTER OF BOB MARLEY
Cedella Marley is a Jamaican singer, dancer, fashion designer, actress, and entrepreneur. She is the first-born daughter of reggae singers Bob Marley and Rita Marley and the mother of Skip Marley.
NEW YORK TIMES BEST- SELLING AUTHOR/ SPEAKER AND COACH
Lisa Nichols is a celebrated motivational speaker who has inspired millions through her seminars and her role as a featured teacher in The Secret. She is the founder of Motivating the Masses and CEO of Motivating the Teen Spirit, LLC.
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CEO OF THE ORACLE GROUP
Mocha Ochoa-Nana is the Founder and CEO of The Oracle Group International, Washington D.C., an internationally recognized public relations firm that specializes in connecting clients with opportunities that engage, uplift and empower local, national and global communities. She is an award-winning international strategist; sought after literary, public relations and integrated marketing professional; international diversity and multicultural program developer; a global visionary literary activist, world-renowned literary entrepreneur and a fervent pursuer of best-selling author status for her clients.
Through her Literary Lounge by Margo offering, Ms. Ochoa-Nana has developed large scale multiple day author festivals, pavilions and panel discussions. These events which host several hundred authors in panels discussions, book signings and meet and greet sessions. Literary Lounges have appeared at the NAACP National Convention, The Congressional Black Caucus, The National Press Club, The Soul of South Florida Book Festival and many more. Mocha has also served as Diversity Chair for the National Book Festival.
She is the founder of the Reading Across Continents initiative, an interactive cross-cultural literary exchange project connecting students, teachers and authors in international book clubs and book discussions around the world.
Her clientele list includes a cadre of notable and New York Times Best-Selling authors including, Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Luvvie Ajayi, Taye Diggs, Terry McMillan, the late Dr. Dorothy Height, and Professor Chinua Achebe.
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