His nationally-syndicated 'Tom Joyner Morning Show' is heard by over 10 million radio listeners, but this Tuskegee, Alabama native is so proud of his education at Tuskegee Institute that he's using that influence to positively impact the lives of students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) all over the country. Through his Tom Joyner Foundation, HBCU students who might otherwise drop out of school due to financial difficulties are awarded scholarships. To date, he's raised over $55 million, a great deal from his annual star-studded Fantastic Voyage cruise with Royal Caribbean. He recently launched a new scholarship program, the Full Ride Scholarship, will be awarded to a high school senior accepted into an HBCU in the fall of 2009.
Ron T. Ennis, MCT
Meet Dr. Benjamin Solomon Carson, Sr.
At just 33 years old, he became the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. In 1987, Carson made medical history with an operation to separate a pair of conjoined twins, becoming the first surgeon to successfully save both twins. He has done two additional operations since then, including one that lasted 28 hours. In 2008, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush for his work as a surgeon and for improving the lives of America's youth. Just like Carson, there are other Black people demonstrating true acts of heroism in their kind acts to others. Take a look.
John Hopkins University
Bill & Camille Cosby
Even on his hit sitcom, 'The Cosby Show,' iconic comedian/actor, Bill Cosby stressed the importance of education and stayed true to his beliefs by incorporating Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) into the series. Though he's been critical, as of late, of what he sees as misguided priorities where education in the African American community is concerned, both Bill and his wife Camille are avid supporters and financial backers of black colleges. Bill, an alum of Temple University, and Camille, an alum of Amherst College, have given back to their alma maters, as well as donating millions of dollars to Fisk, Central State University, Florida A&M, Shaw, Meharry Medical College and Bethune-Cookman College. The couple made history by donating $20 million to Spelman College, making it the largest gift in the history of black institutions. Those funds allowed for the creation of the Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby Academic Center, which houses the school's fine arts, social sciences and humanities departments, as well as a library and archival program of international African Women's Research & Resource Center.
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Alex O. Ellis
Through his book, 'Restoring the Male Image: A Look from the Inside Out,' and his Tied to Greatness non-profit organization, Ellis displays his hope to encourage men to return to the days of the Harlem Renaissance and dress with style and purpose. The goal is simple: to inspire inner-city high school students to improve their image through mentorship, which culminates in a tie-tying ceremony. By day, he runs Simply Ellis LLC, a custom clothing company specializing in suits, shirts, neckwear and cuff links. But the North Carolina A&T graduate, who also holds a master's degree in theology, spends a great deal of time giving back as a mentor with 100 Black Men of America and the Boys to Men program in his home state of New Jersey.
Tied to Greatness
The first African American to serve as U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell has been very outspoken about what he sees as significant problems within the Bush Administration since resigning from the position in 2004. The retired four-star Army general spoke out about not knowing everything about the alleged "WMDs" and criticized the late response in aiding American citizens after Hurricane Katrina. But it was in 2008 when Powell surprised so many people by going against the grain to upset his good friend John McCain and endorse Barack Obama as a presidential candidate. He cited vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's lack of readiness to be president and the Republican Party's approach to the campaign as the reasons for his choice.
Paul Sakuma, AP
He may have degrees from some of the top institutions in the world -- Stanford and Yale, to be exact -- but this Rhodes Scholar is best known as the man who has been reshaping the rough and tumble streets of Newark, New Jersey. His role as councilman for Newark's Central Ward couldn't have prepared him for the daunting task of becoming the city's mayor, but at 39 years old, he's steadily transforming New Jersey's metropolitan mecca one step at a time. During his first term, Booker decreased murders and shootings by 40 percent and has committed $40 million to the transformation of the Newark's parks and playgrounds. Being new media savvy, he now chronicles "Brick City's" new developments at his website, www.CoryBooker.com.
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South African cleric Desmond Tutu was the second South African to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his anti-apartheid efforts and for speaking out against the 1976 Soweto riots. He was the first black person appointed Bishop of Johannesburg, and in that position, led the Anglican Church in South Africa. He subsequently was Bishop of Lesotho and the first black general secretary of the South African Council of Churches. He vigorously defended human rights, laying out a four-point objective for equal civil rights for all, the abolition of South Africa's passport laws, a common system of education and the cessation of forced deportation from South Africa to the so-called "homelands."
Stephen Chernin, AP
The Somalia native was forcibly circumcised at the age of five. The traumatic experience stayed with her through her life and motivated Durie to dedicate her life to education on female circumcision. After Dirie ran away from her homeland famed photographer Terence Donovan discovered her in London, which led to her face appearing on the cover of the 1987 Pirelli calendar. She left the fashion industry after 10 years to work as a United Nations Ambassador for the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation. Waris, 44, who has since published a three-part series of autobiographies, 'Desert Flower,' 'Desert Dawn,' and 'Desert Children,' now is a citizen of Australia and lives in Vienna with her son, Sharmarke Abdullahi.
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Hailing from Arkansas, Elders followed President Bill Clinton to Washington, where he appointed her the first African American and the second woman to serve as United States Surgeon General. She was incredibly outspoken about the distribution of contraceptives in schools and ruffled feathers among conservatives by also advocating abortion. In 1994, she suggested promoting masturbation as a means of preventing young people from engaging in riskier forms of sexual activity and was fired by President Clinton shortly thereafter, after serving only 18 months on the job. At age 75, Elders continues to lecture on AIDS and teen pregnancy, in addition to holding a post as a professor of pediatrics at the University of Arkansas.
Mike Wintroath, AP
This two-time Academy Award-winning actor credits the Boys & Girls Club in Mount Vernon, New York with changing the direction of his life. So it was an easy decision for Washington to be a spokesperson for the organization to use his fame for the greater good of Club and the many children who need caring adult mentors. This marks the 15th year that he's been involved with the youth development institution, appearing in television and radio spots, as well as print advertisements. His best-selling book, 'A Hand to Guide Me,' was published in tandem with the Boys & Girls Club of America's centennial anniversary. For his service, the Club presented the Hollywood superstar with the Herbert Hoover Humanitarian Award, which is the highest honor given to its volunteers.
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