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Black History Month: San Francisco

KQED Black Historee Month Honorees 2012

2012 Black History Month Heroes - KQED

Congratulations to our 2012 Local Heroes of the Year:

      Dr. Frank O. Brown, M.D.
      Executive Director
      The Hillcare Foundation for Health  

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Dr. Brown established the HillCare Foundation in 1992. The Foundation was an active contributor to the California Healthy Start Program whose mission was to reduce the prenatal mortality of African American women in Alameda County by 50 percent in five years. Many of these protocols are still used today throughout the State.

Dr. Brown has also served as Medical Director of the Healthy Start Asha House Project; Chairman, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Providence Hospital; Medical and Laboratory Director at the BayCare Women’s Health Services; and Obstetrics and Gynecology Physician and Consultant at the East Oakland Health Center.

Dr. Brown currently serves as the Executive and Medical Director of ReGynesis Health Services, an organization that provides full-scope obstetrics and gynecological services, birth control, pregnancy prevention, health education and case management, with a particular focus on indigent minority clients, teen pregnancy, and jail and prison re-entry women.

      Edna James
      OMI Community Action Organization 

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Edna James is the President of Commission on Aging and Adult Services and is a staunch advocate for senior and disabled services. James has been an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. for over 50 years and joined the San Francisco Chapter in 1961.

In addition to her active sorority involvement, James served as President and later Far West Regional Director of Jack & Jill of America, San Francisco Chapter; President of the Bench and Bar Spouses of Northern California; Member, San Francisco African American Outreach Committee, American Diabetes Association; President, Ocean View-Merced Heights-Ingleside Community Action Organization; Chair, San Francisco African-American Senior and Disabled Partnership; Board Member Southeast Health Center of San Francisco; Co-Chair Health Committee, San Francisco African American Community Health Equity Council, Chair-Health Policy, Bay Area Black Nurses Association.

James was raised in Houston, Texas and completed her Bachelor Science Nursing from Dillard University. She continued her education in San Francisco and earned a Master of Science Degree in Community Health Nursing from the University of California San Francisco, School of Nursing. Believing in the concept of lifelong learning, five years ago James continued her postgraduate studies and earned a Master’s Degree in Gerontology in 2006 at San Francisco State University

      Don Johnson
      Tennis Pro and Coach
      Los Paseos Lobsters  

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Don Johnson was the first African American tennis coach at Pratt Institute in New York. As Pratt’s Tennis Head Coach, Johnson successfully ran the National Junior Tennis League program on the Pratt campus providing free t-shirts, equipment, lunches and summer employment for teenage youth as recreation leaders. The individuals in this program not only had the chance to learn the game of tennis, but he taught them how to be leaders. Johnson was the first African American to win the Metropolitan Tennis Coaches Conference tournament in New York City.

Johnson moved to San Jose in the 1970’s and set up a program for 500 Hispanic and Black low- income youth on the East Side of San Jose in partnership with the City of San Jose. He went on to start his own programs in South San Jose: Los Paseos Lobsters Junior Tennis, Backesto Backhanders Junior Tennis and Bramhall Strings Junior Tennis offering tennis lessons to low income families at a nominal fee, offering free equipment, tennis clothing, t-shirts and tickets to tennis events from local country clubs, the City of San Jose, the USTA and other corporate sponsors and private individuals to keep his dream and program alive. His students have gone on to achieve tennis scholarships at four-year universities and are nationally ranked players.

BHM_Harlan_Kelly.jpg      Harlan L. Kelly, Jr.
      Assistant General Manager, Infrastructure
      San Francisco Public Utilities Commission 

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Harlan L. Kelly, Jr. is the Assistant General Manager, Infrastructure of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), and the driving force behind an innovative youth program he co-founded, Project Pull, sponsored by the City and County of San Francisco through the SFPUC and the Department of Public Works (DPW).

Now in its 17th year, Project Pull provides full-time summer job opportunities to highly motivated, promising high school students from the diverse communities of San Francisco. The students are paired with San Francisco City employee mentors from various departments, with particular emphasis on exposing the students to potential careers in engineering, architecture, the sciences, business, law and public service.

Kelly has served for 28 years as a civil engineer. In his present capacity at the SFPUC, he oversees the implementation of capital programs for water, sewer, and power, including the $4.6 billion rebuild of the Hetch Hetchy Water System. He was formerly the City Engineer of San Francisco. He has also held functional and project management positions at DPW, including Acting General Manager and Deputy Director of Engineering. He is a licensed professional engineer as well as a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley. He resides in San Francisco with his wife Naomi and their two young sons.

View KQED Black History Month Honorees for 2011


Black History Month: Los Angeles

2012 KCET Black History Month Honorees

2012 Black History Month Heroes - KCET

Congratulations to our 2012 Local Heroes of the Year:

Samella Lewis   Dr. Samella Lewis
   Professor Emeritus
   Scripps College of the Claremont Colleges 

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Dr. Samella Lewis has touched the lives of artists, scholars, educators, students, and countless others through her dedication and perseverance in the field of African American art. Dr. Lewis became the first tenured African American professor in art history at Scripps College of the Claremont Colleges, and has served as a professor emeritus of art history since 1984; she’s also served as the school’s art history professor since 1969. As a celebration of Dr. Lewis’s insight into African American art, the Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery of Scripps College is currently displaying the Samella Lewis Contemporary Art Collection, which focuses on African American artists, women artists and women of color. Scripps College has also named a scholarship in Dr. Lewis’s honor.

Dr. Lewis’s work has been exhibited throughout Los Angeles, and nationally and internationally, at galleries and museums, including the Museum of African American Art, which she founded and served as curator from 1976 to 1986; the South Side Community Art Center in Chicago, Illinois; the Bill Hodges Gallery in New York City; the Zora Neale Hurston Museum in Eatonville, Florida; and the Stella Jones Gallery in her hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana.

As a voice of the African American art community, Dr. Lewis founded and edited “The International Review of African American Art.” The publication became a forum for educating artists and scholars about the many contributions African Americans have made to the visual arts. She created the first anthology of African American artists’ writings, “Black Artists on Art,” in 1969, and followed up with a second volume in 1971; she later wrote the first survey of African American art, “Art: African American,” in 1978. Dr. Lewis has authored 11 books, including the children’s book, “African American Art for Young People.”

Dr. Lewis has received countless awards, including the Alumni Association Award from Ohio State University, Special Day Recognition Award for Outstanding Contributions from the City of New Orleans and The History Maker Award. The Getty Center for the History of Art and Humanities also named her a Distinguished Scholar. Dr. Lewis received her bachelor’s degree from Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia, and her master’s degree from OSU. She also received doctorate degrees in art and art history from OSU in 1951, making her the first recipient of such a dual major.

Shirlee Smith   Shirlee Smith
   Founder and CEO
   Talk About Parenting with Shirlee Smith, Inc. 

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Shirlee Smith has taken her knowledge and experience of parenting to an unexpected level. Smith spent her teenage years helping her mother raise her younger siblings, working in homes as a mother’s helper, and later raising her own six children single-handedly. Smith was a student at UCLA when her youngest was in a stroller; she graduated with a bachelor’s degree as a departmental scholar in sociology. Smith fostered a dozen infants classified as “drug babies” and soon found her calling.

In 1997, Smith founded Talk About Parenting with Shirlee Smith, Inc. The Pasadena based non-profit organization specializes in parenting issues and takes a no-nonsense approach to raising happy, balanced children. Smith’s stance is that the parents, not the children, take charge of the household. This philosophy has created a spirited dialogue on her cable television show, Talk About Parenting “LIVE" with Shirlee Smith, which started in Pasadena, California in 1994.

Smith has developed a brand that includes workshops, such as working with incarcerated mothers at the California Institute for Women, public speaking engagements, a parenting newspaper column and a blog posted on her Web site at Smith is also author of “They’re Your Kids Not Your Friends,” and the Spanish version, “Son tus Hijos, no tus Amigos.”

Smith’s columns have earned her journalism awards for personal commentary from the Greater Los Angeles Press Club. Her work has also gained national recognition, including the 2006 Angel in Adoption Congressional Award and Women in Business Congressional Recognition. Smith was recently elected chair of the Pacific Clinics Family Programs Advisory Board.

View KCET Black History Month Honorees for 2011


Black History Month: San Diego

2012 KPBS Black History Month Honorees

2012 Black History Month Heroes - KPBS

Congratulations to our 2012 Local Heroes of the Year:

      Bishop Roy Dixon 

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Bishop Roy Dixon
is the church pastor at Faith Chapel, which he started in 1985 with only six members. Bishop Dixon understands that a congregation of faith must participate powerfully in community life, and he is committed to helping the poor. Under Bishop Dixon’s leadership and community activism, Faith Chapel has grown to influence not only San Diego, but all of California. He and the more than 1,000 members also partner with the San Diego Organizing Project (SDOP), a group aiming to grow the church membership and address social injustices in the community. Bishop Dixon has been recognized by the NAACP and former Governors Deukmejian and Wilson with Small Business Awards.

      JiAel Brownell

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JiAel Brownell
is a teacher at East Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility. Before becoming a teacher, he served in the U.S. Army as a translator in Korea and, with his background in linguistics and an appreciation for his country, he taught citizenship to recent immigrants. He then moved to Juvenile Hall to defend young people and help them succeed with the lessons he learned from his background in education, sports, and fitness. Mr. Brownell works within the Juvenile Hall system, including the East Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility, where he encourages youth to understand their choices and provides them with the information they need to be successful in the world.

View KPBS Black History Month Honorees for 2011

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