Black Beard Love: Gabe & Witne

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Love is stronger than pride, word to Sade. Love is something we appreciate more from the actions of those we love and those that love us. If you let society tell it, the black family is struggling for existence, becoming a thing of the past and no one wants to be in a committed monogamous relationship (insert side eye emoji right here).

We're here to not only tell you but show you just how much stronger and thriving the notion of black love is with positive imagery of the resurgence of the black family.

Meet Gabe and Witne, a Chef and a Sales Manager living in the charming city of New Orleans. The love these two have for each other not only poured out of the beautiful pictures of their engagement session (they've been together since high school and are getting married on January 20, 2018), but can also be felt in the words they expressed for one another in their interview. When asked to describe each other using only verbs (words like grow, love, care, see, focus and motivate), it's clear that their love is genuine.

Black love is when two people jointly understand, acknowledge and appreciate the uniqueness of and greatness in each other. Black love is the essence of self love. When our little black babies grow up confident and proud of who they are because we've been the shining example to them - that is black love. It embodies the strength, beauty and power in one another as well as together. Our relationships have been illegitimately demeaned for so long, the truth is, we are the strongest when we are together. - Gabe & Witne

Black love is when two people jointly understand, acknowledge and appreciate the uniqueness of and greatness in each other. Black love is the essence of self love. When our little black babies grow up confident and proud of who they are because we've been the shining example to them - that is black love. It embodies the strength, beauty and power in one another as well as together. Our relationships have been illegitimately demeaned for so long, the truth is, we are the strongest when we are together. - Gabe & Witne

Love is one of those things that has to be worked at and nurtured in order for it to continue to grow. When you're in a relationship, you have to commit to doing those things that got you to love even after the sparks simmer down. Gabe and Witne keep the romance alive by having dinner together every night, making sure to give one another their undivided attention at the dinner table by banning the use of cellphones. Witne mentions that her friends would attest that she hardly ever answers the phone once she is home with Gabe.

"We're able to keep the romance by listening to each others needs. We eat dinner together almost every night. It's just the two of us, no cellphones or other distractions. Dinner time is our peace. This is the time we talk about what's to come in the future like where we'll travel together or how many children we'll have."

"We're able to keep the romance by listening to each others needs. We eat dinner together almost every night. It's just the two of us, no cellphones or other distractions. Dinner time is our peace. This is the time we talk about what's to come in the future like where we'll travel together or how many children we'll have."

Keeping active, doing those things that makes your partner happy and smiling, things that let them know they are not only thought of and cared for, they are demonstrating that love is a verb and not just a word. So how do Gabe an Witne accomplish this and enjoy each other as a couple? With food! Being in a city like New Orleans where food is made with love, the two are always on the hunt for the latest food festival or newest and hottest eatery. Even when they are traveling they make the exploration for good food part of their couple routine.

One thing that Gabe appreciates about Witne is her acceptance of him. For Witne, the thing she loves most about Gabe is his eageneress to make her happy.

"His answers are always catered to my liking. I can hear him saying 'I am always going to like what makes you the most happy'".

Their devotion to one another is the epitome of black love.

Keep up with Gabe and Witne on IG to see how their love unfolds!

"What I love most about Witne is that she accepts me for who I am and she brings our the best in me." - Gabe

"What I love most about Witne is that she accepts me for who I am and she brings our the best in me." - Gabe

Keep up with Gabe and Witne on IG to see how their love unfolds!

Photography provided by Jeremy Tauriac

Louis York

Claude Kelly be sanging! And Chuck Harmony know he be playing! Put these two musical geniuses together and you have the recipe and responsible parties for the hits we love across the music spectrum for the last 15 years. It's an honor to feature the creatively expressive group known as Louis York.

The amount of accolades among the mulit-Grammy nomiated prodcution/songwriting duo rolls like a never ending playlist to our lives. It would take more than a hour long conversation to hash it all out, but to familiarize you all with two of the most talented amazingly artistic men of our time, allow Black Men With Beards to enhance your musical knowledge and taste. 

Louis York makes feel good socially conscious music. No matter what the subject matter, heavy or light, it just feels good.
— Black Men With Beards

As successful songwriters and the embodiment of HITMAKER penning hit after hit for others, the formation was their response to the missing pieces they knew to be true and had been feeling in their hearts. The cross over into artist putting out your own music still gives them those "what if" jitters.

"Its like life or death every time you put out a song." Ultimately breaking from behind the scenes to main stage, it wasn't just a choice, it was a necessity. As Claude would put it: Music is art and there really is no other choice but to create. Louis York was something they had to do for the love and life of one thing, GREAT music. If you were to listen to either of the LPs you would find it very hard to pinpoint the type of album Louis York created. They did an amazing job creating music while remaining confident in their artistry.  

During our interview, I put the men in a fast break situation by calling out words and asking them to say without thought the first thing that came to mind. Their answers are just a better peek into the mindsets of these black creatives. These men are focused on breaking barriers and creating new normals for other black men in the world. Black man please know that what you want to be however you want to be it, do that. In speaking with the gentlemen more in depth we learned their look and approach is strategic to the messages they want to send out to other black men globally, that being colorful is OK, being smart is OK. There is no hyper masculinity code that is indicative to the black man. 

BLACK WOMAN:
”I think of creation”
— Chuck Harmony
BLACK MEN IN AMERICA
”A dangerous good, the most feared and the most valued”
— Louis York

This is by far one of our favorites from the duo thus far.  "Nerds" is from their debut album Masterpiece Theater- Act 1 release in 2015.  This is by far one of our favorites from the duo thus far. The song is not only musically arranged impeccably, the visuals are an eye treat creatively displaying the woes and perils from a place we personally can relate to. I recall my own awkward little black girl moment: my awkwardness was also coupled with color-ism and body consciousness. 

“Nerds isn't just a song, it's a call to action. We had to make sure the visual was equally as powerful. We all feel a little nerdy at times and it helps to have a song that reminds you that you are okay being who you are,” states New York Native Claude Kelly. “Standing up for what you believe in can be scary and this video let's all the weirdos know that we are right there with them, wondering if we're making our heroes proud and trying to figure out how to be better for ourselves and the world.”

With their follow up release Masterpiece Theater: Act II they revved up the musical creativity and left the genre niche at the door. From pop and R&B to gospel and rock, Louis York has given their listeners a real ear treat whatever your taste maybe. Our favorite joints from this project is Good Drinks, Dumb Jokes. The 90s r&b jazzy hip hoppie melodic  jam is something you can ride to, get dress to or just throw on to get the party vibes started.  Definitely check that one out. We look forward to more music and amazing videos coming from Louis York and I'm sure some of our favorites have some fall/winter releases these guys have laid their magic pens and chords to. 

Do things you believe in, only. Do things with excellence in mind. Do things to help people where help wasn’t given to you.
— Louis York

Beard Foods: Kale

Although there aren't any magic potions to ingest to magically make your beard flourish, there is what we call Beard Food, those nutrients that aid in making your hair grow. Just like it's important what you put on your beard, it's equally important what you consume that promotes healthy hair growth. Take for instance Kale. Rich in Vitamin A, Kale is considered a super food. All cells in the human body need Vitamin A in order to grow, and this includes the fastest growing tissue in the human body, the hair.

Vitamin A also helps your skin glands make #Sebum, the oily substance your skin produces to keep your hair moisturized and also prevents split ends. Sautéed in avocado oil or eaten raw as a salad, incorporating this Beard Food into your diet will get you on the right path to a healthier beard!

Let us know in the comments what your favorite thing is to do with kale!

The Essence of Essence Festival

If you’ve ever been to New Orleans during Essence Festival weekend, you can’t deny the enormous surge of black pride and honor the flows through you as one walks around town. From the Convention Center to the Superdome, all the corners bent in between, the energy around you is Black Excellence.  Over the years, Essence Festival has expanded from music and entertainment to everything black people are, what we do, everything we create, all the things that make us in the eyes of others “magic.” What we loved more than anything this time around was the expansion of events as well as the networking and collaborations outside of the normal dwellings of the festival itself. We knew people would be all over the city. Black Men With Beards had a mission, and that was to receive and tell the experience of Essence Fest 2017 from the people moving about the streets and get genuine collective accounts from others. We launched a full on street campaign with crew beating the pavement. We randomly approached as many bearded brothers we could find and got their take not only on the festival, their enjoyment, and of course the beard; but we really wanted to know from the men - What that beard do? Let’s just say we made a lot of new friends, no one was shy and all were #BMWBApproved.

In addition to our street campaign, BMWB were invited guests and presenters at the 2nd Annual Nola Nobles Dandy Affair. Our VP had the prestigious honor of co-hosting with famed comedian Michael Colyar during The Beard and Barber showcase. Seeing all the dapper clad gentleman and their glorious beards coupled with all the brotherhood flowing through the Ace Hotel was refreshing. It was an honor to highlight some of the best barbers New Orleans has to offer.

We wrapped our weekend by engaging in all the glory that goes down in the Convention Center and ended the night attending the Essence Festival concert, where we witnessed some historical moments in music, like the reunion of Xscape. Thousands upon thousands of people shut down the 3rd floor of the Superdome in hopes to see Kandi, Tiny, Tamika and LaTocha, but the capacity of the super lounge was reached within minutes of the ladies taking the stage. We were lucky enough to catch them right after the performance in the press room - and we can't forget about some of the others we met, like June's Dairy, Shaggy, Chante Moore, Tweet, and the list goes on.  

Sunday night was like a breather to a whirlwind of non-stop engagement over those last few days. As we enjoyed views from the floor with the who's who and what's what in everything major, it hit me -  this is the true "essence" of Essence, the people. Not just those who are famous or recognizable, each and every single person partaking in the entire experience of Essence and the spirit of New Orleans. We witnessed girl gang bonding, black love, brotherly camaraderie and the pure enjoyment of dope bonds and friendship. We can't wait for next year! 

BIKE NIGHT BIKE LIFE

How dope would it be to dress in all white and ride glowing bikes in and around New Orleans during one of the biggest festival weekends celebrating black excellence. Its exactly what Black Men With Beards and a gang of our supporters who were in town for Essence Fest 2017 did Saturday evening. Guided by none other than the bike life ambassadors, Getup N Ride NOLA, we took to the streets looking like angels and bent a few corners pedaling across those cobble stone streets of the French Quarters. Get Up N Ride NOLA, a company specializing in social bike rides, bike rentals, and tours of New Orleans is owned and operated by to young black bearded entrepreneurs Blake Owens and Nick Reed.  These guys have cultivated and opened the eyes of many to an elevated experience one likes to call- BIKE LIFE. 

Our culture did not really ride bikes after childhood, therefore most of us had forgotten how fun it was. This was the reason why almost everyone who comes out for bike night, leaves feeling like it was the most fun they had in a long time.   
— Blake Owens

What started out as a group of friends meeting up every Tuesday night bar hopping by pedal bike, has turned into a business, spawning rides as deep as 600 at one time, cycling all over the inner-city streets of New Orleans. The byproduct of their natural downtime is the cultivation of a vibe and the nurturing of a community of people from all walks of life who share a few things in common. Who knew bikes could bring people together like this? What these men have been able to accomplish over the last year is nothing short of historical. People from across the country who were already fascinated with the city now have a way to experience it like never before, on a bike! Building long lasting relationships with every bar and eatery the riders frequent and leaving life long memories in the hearts of those who ride - do yourself a favor and put this on your bucket list. 

Outside of how fun it is, there is also a sense of calm and community building within. These gentlemen have a system in place providing safety, guidance and security. The rides are still mysterious in nature as the routes are never disclosed, yet the city receives them. The energy of the riders ricochets off each glowing wheel lit, from the route to the stops along the way at some the best watering holes the city of New Orleans has to offer, Get Up N Ride NOLA is a black owned business we proudly endorse and are excited to be able to share with all of you. Of course we had to ask a few signature BMWB questions. 

BMWB: What are you most proud of?

Nick:  Being black and coming from where I do but using that as motivation to be successful in realms I never could have imagined is what I'm most proud of.

BMWB:  What do you feel about the social climate of black men in America?

Blake:  I feel we are making just as much progress as we are going backwards. Some things are the fault of other races or classes holding us down, and others are the fault of our own. We are the most interesting and diverse race on this planet, but our stereotype is too often basic and ignorant.

We salute these men on their historical journey. In addition to the Tuesday Night rides, Get Up N Ride NOLA also offers special edition tours and  are available for private group rides from birthdays to corporate events, click here to contact for more information. 

BMWB Celebrates Black Fatherhood

BMWB Black Fatherhood

 

Black men are often portrayed as deadbeat and absent. As women who grew up in homes with our fathers, we understand the importance of Black Fatherhood and how it helps navigate the lives of their children. We want to help dispel that perception. We are excited to bring to you some of the most adorable moments from our recent collaboration with Creative Soul Photography, honoring some amazing black fathers with beards this Father's Day!

 


Shaun Woodly, Ph. D.

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It would be to lead by example and never, ever take anything for granted. Also, know that fatherhood is a learning process in and of itself, and one must embrace new knowledge in order to grow, but trust yourself as well. Lastly, to understand that every moment is an opportunity to give love to your child, help him or her learn, and be great at the same time.


Leslie Lewis

Being a father has impacted my life, because my daughters have made me a better person. I've grown so much since having my them. It's my responsibility to lead them to Christ and model how a good man is supposed to treat them. I'm the first example of a good man they see, and I want them to know that daddy is a man of God, patient, generous and loving.


DeAngelo Ellison

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Becoming a father has taught me so many things beyond measure. It appears that my children look to me for guidance when in fact they are leading the way. As my children grow I've continued to grow.


Derrick Morton

Its impacted my life in so many ways, its help be smart about my time and how we spend it as a family. Its helped me to start planning ahead and being proactive about what to expect from my them. Its has also and most importantly inspired me to make an impact in his life being just being 'daddy'. It helped me to realize that the most important thing you can do as a father is to create experiences and memories with your kids such as spending more on vacations and trips to foreign lands and spending less on toys and objects.


Omar Kinnebrew

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I have been given a higher level of joy. Landon just makes everything better, brighter, more enjoyable. I also have a greater purpose as a father because I (along with my wife) am responsible to guiding him on a path to becoming the best man he can possibly be.

We Dat's Chicken and Shrimp

Greg Tillery, the New Orleans 7th ward native and Tuskegee graduate, is a shining example of hard work and perseverance. His story is truly remarkable as to all the adversity and hard times he has endured while making his dream a reality. Greg is the owner and operator of the now We Dat's Chicken and Shrimp Restaurant, the only black owned restaurant on the historically famous Canal St. in New Orleans that started out as a food truck. Currently, a second location is set to open its doors in just a couple of weeks during Essence Music Festival 2017 in the graceful neighborhood of Gentilly. If you've ever had the chance to patronize We Dat's, you've for sure encountered Greg's warming nature, infectious smile and that above and beyond customer service!

Wuzzam Wings

Wuzzam Wings

Before We Dat's Chicken and Shrimp became brick and mortar, they began as a food truck during a time when there weren't many black owned food trucks in NOLA. Chicken wings, shrimp/fish baskets and wraps (and what about those deliciously amazing "Wuzzam Wings", We Dat's signature flavor - a must have if the sounds of lemon pepper and buffalo sauced together makes your mouth water like ours), Greg was determined to feed his people while giving them hope they too could do and be whatever you set your mind to. We Dat's is more than just chicken and shrimp, or a cool spot to hang out and catch some of the celebrities that dip in and out of the restaurant. It is a beacon and sign of hope for the black man struggling to find his place and keep it in a country that doesn't revere him. It's also an establishment for the black community.

If you've ever had the pleasure of sitting down with Greg and asking his story, he'll tell you how corporate America's disloyalty indirectly affected his life, and he took it upon himself to make the biggest leap of faith. Greg used to be a district sales manager, and the company he worked for did a mass lay off of over 2,000 people. Although the layoff did not affect Greg's position as he remained employed, it forever altered his life both mentally and spiritually.  The road to success has no where near been easy for Greg. We Dat's has broken him down to nothing and rebuilt him in the same space. He prides himself and his business on customer service, the #1 thing on the menu. Everyone that walks through those doors are family. It is truly a New Orleans gem.

Black Men With Beards All White Affair 

Black Men With Beards All White Affair 

If you are you headed to the city for Essence Music Festival 2017, make sure We Dat's Chicken and Shrimp is on your list of things to do! We had the chance to go and kick it at the restaurant to get a first hand feel of just how much Greg and We Dat's mean to the community. So much love and pride in the atmosphere, check out the footage of our visit below!

Big Beard, Better Health

As a bearded man, I should say big bearded man because size matters right? I have been told how unsanitary beards can be and the germs they can carry. That line is enough to deter some from embracing their beard and allowing it to grow freely. Among the many reasons men such as myself choose to ignore the talk of why it's beneficial to shave, there is finally scientific evidence that those that are considering shaving their mane should put down the razor immediately.

Photo of @lord_jamaal

Photo of @lord_jamaal

Early last year there was a study published in the Journal of Hospital Infection in regards to men with facial hair and cleanliness. The Journal of Hospital Infection prides itself on publishing high quality research relating to Infection and Prevention from various infections. This particular study took 408 Hospital staff members and swabbed their faces, those with and without facial hair. The results were surprising.

The results showed that clean shaven men are actually three times more likely to to carry methicillin resistant staph aureus (MRSA) compared to their bearded counterparts. The study also showed that clean shaven men are also about ten percent more likely to carry colonies of staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria that causes skin & respiratory infections and food poisoning. MRSA was first discovered in 1961 and is now reported to be resistant to methicillin, amoxicillin, penicillin, and oxacillin.

Pre-Order our Motto T-shirt and receive free shipping on all domestic orders!

Pre-Order our Motto T-shirt and receive free shipping on all domestic orders!

Dr. Adam Roberts, a microbiologist at University of College London tested his own hypothesis where he grew over 100 bacteria in Petri dishes that were taken from beards. In a few samples he discover that a certain microbe was killing off the other bacteria.

Health is something to be taken seriously and with this new study bearded men have more reason than ever to put down the razor and shaving cream. Ladies, feel free to pass this information along to any barefaced gentlemen you come across.

 

 

Article written by Lacy D. Colson III, a financial retirement plan specialist in Greensboro, N.C. and a mentor for the African American male initiative program through United Way. Colson is a bearded loving husband and father.

April is National Autism Month

Did you know according to the CDC, white children were 30% more likely to receive an ASD diagnosis than black children?

In order to bring awareness to anything, one must first understand what it is and what its not. So what exactly is autism? According to the site Autism Speaks, Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) refers to conditions characterized by things such as challenges with social skills, speech and Non-Verbal Communication and Repetitive Behaviors. Autism, Asperger Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Rett's Disorder and Pervasive Developmental Disorder are all housed under the umbrella or complex puzzle we have come to know as Autism. The Autism Awareness ribbon puzzle pattern represents the complexity of the autism spectrum. The colors and shapes represent the diversity of those living with and affected by the condition.

 We feel it's important to bring more awareness to this developmental disorder because of the disproportionate rates it affects the black community. Lets be clear, Autism effects every, race gender and creed, but it's our black boys and girls who receive less then adequate care and miss or late diagnosis. We find that organizations tailored specifically for us such as The Color of Autism Foundation, who's mission is to provide support and resources for those individuals and families affected by autism and are particularly devoted to empowering African American families in the process. The earlier the intervention and access to health services and resources, the better the quality of life can and will be for those who suffer from the disorder. 

Raise Awareness

Take Action

Create Inclusion

 Normalize Acceptance

Show Appreciation

Being aware and raising awareness is just part of providing a solution to the problem. People with autism are unique, special and require us as humans to reach deep inside ourselves to show compassion, empathy and acceptance. We polled our Instagram followers recently and were blown away by some of the responses.

“I am in the field of early detection/intervention/evaluation for children with autism and other related disabilities. It’s a gift.  Children on the spectrum navigate the earth on a different frequency. Their sensitivities are beyond our understanding. They touch your soul and make you appreciate the smallest victories in life. 
— @kokopuffs77
“Having a brother thats autistic allows me to be more understanding of families that have children like him, and I am now more sensitive to people who struggle having an autistic family member, cause my brother could have not been able to talk or feed himself so because of him I have become a better person.”
— @glamorous_luv
“I have become less judgemental, more understanding and appreciative of parents with autistic kids. My baby cousins are within the spectrum.”
— @tequila.sunset

Bearded In Corporate America

Many young black men deal with scrutiny daily, but to be bearded, black, and in corporate America is a different ball game. Some men of color struggle with wearing their beard in the workplace for the same reasons some African American women struggle with their natural hair in the workplace; the fear of appearing too ethnic or too black. Looking at the history of beards and how it has always symbolized masculinity, aggression, and strength and considering that black men have always been perceived as aggressive and a threat; having a beard in corporate America doesn't help.

There are many employers that enforce a no facial hair policy and no beard. This rule that many employers enforce can be considered discriminatory towards black men because most black men suffer from a medical condition called pseudofolliculitis barbae better known as PFB. This is a skin condition that causes inflammation and bumps to develop on the skin due to shaving. In the early 1990’s one specific employer was Domino’s pizza. A man named Langston J. Bradley was hired as a delivery driver for Domino’s and was told after a few weeks to either shave his beard or lose his job. Bradley, who was also an investigator for the Nebraska Equal Employment opportunity office, thought this was discriminatory against himself and other black men.

 What’s odd is that the year prior Domino’s put out a survey to their customers and a clear majority had a negative view towards delivery guys with beards. Nevertheless, judges Pasco M. Bowman, Roger L. Wollman, and Frank J. Magill stated that “We hold that reasonable accommodation must be made for members of the protected class who suffers from PFB. We note that the burden of a narrow medical exception for African-American males who cannot shave because of PFB appears minimal. ”They went on to say , “the existence of a beard on the face of a delivery man does not affect in any manner Domino’s ability or deliver pizzas to their customers.”

There have been other incidents where a “beard ban” has caused a man to lose his job. In 2015 officer D. Jemes filed an EEOC complaint against his boss siting racial discrimination as the cause. Officer Jemes was diagnosed by three different dermatologists with folliculitis and suffers from severe razor bumps. Eventually, the Atlanta police department did say that facial hair would be permitted only to those officers with medical documentation of a skin condition.

Present day, the bearded movement has grown and black men are wearing beards of all sizes and styles while excelling in the corporate world. The are many barriers to overcome in the journey of being a bearded black man in corporate America; it is beginning to look like being bearded is one less thing to worry about. Let us know in the comments if you've been discriminated against because of your beard.

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Article written by Lacy D. Colson III. Colson is a student at N.C. A&T State University, studying African American studies. Lacy is also a mentor for the African American male initiative program through United Way and is a loving husband and father living in Greensboro, N.C." 

Beard History Month - Dr. Sebi

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Dr. Sebi was a pathologist, herbalist, biochemist, and naturalist. He studied and personally observed herbs in North America, Central and South America, Africa, and the Caribbean, and developed a unique approach and methodology to healing the human body with herbs that is firmly rooted in over 30 years of experience.

Dr. Sebi, born Alfredo Bowman on November 26, 1933, in the village of Ilanga in Spanish Honduras. Dr. Sebi is a self-educated man. He took cues on being obedient to the procession of life from his beloved grandmother, "Mama Hay." His early days of play and observation by the river and in the forest, coupled with guidance from his grandmother, afforded Sebi the foundation to be obedient to the Truth in his later life.

Donate to the NOLA Relief Fund

Donate to the NOLA Relief Fund


Sebi came to the United States as a self-educated man who was diagnosed with asthma, diabetes, impotency, and obesity. After unsuccessful treatments with conventional doctors and traditional western medicine, Sebi was lead to an herbalist in Mexico. Finding great healing success from all his ailments, he began creating natural vegetation cell food compounds geared for inter-cellular cleansing and the revitalization of all the cells that make up the human body. Dr. Sebi dedicated over 30 years of his life to develop a unique methodology that he could only obtain through years of empirical knowledge.

Inspired by the personal healing experience and knowledge he gained, he began sharing the compounds with others, which gave birth to Dr. Sebi's Cell Food.

There are many who believe that Dr. Sebi, who was not a licensed physician, became a threat to a multibillion-dollar medical industry that not only relies on continued sickness but also needs it; it profits from it.

On May 28, 2016, Dr. Sebi was arrested at Juan Manuel Gálvez International Airport in Honduras for carrying some $37,000 in cash. He was released pending a court hearing, only to be rearrested June 3 by the Ministerio Público, Honduras' version of the FBI, and charged with money laundering. Dr. Sebi remained in custody until Aug. 6, when he was rushed to a local hospital reportedly suffering from complications of pneumonia. Dr. Sebi died en route. He was 82.

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Beard History Month - Brandan "BMike" Odums

Brandan “Bmike” Odums is a highly sought after visual artist and filmmaker who uses these chosen mediums to tell stories and make statements that transform the minds of viewers as well as the spaces in which his work appears.

In 2016 Brandan debuted his first solo show in New Orleans in a 35,000 sq ft warehouse named #StudioBe. Welcoming hundreds of visitors a week as well as school tours from around the region.

In 2013, Brandan completed a series of graffiti murals depicting iconic African American civil rights leaders at the Hurricane Katrina damaged Florida Avenue public housing complex in New Orleans’ 9th Ward. Given the name #ProjectBe, the space unexpectedly received national attention bringing spectators from all over to see the art before the deserted complex’s set demolition date.

Following the success of #ProjectBe, Brandan came across another abandoned five-story apartment building on the West Bank in New Orleans in 2014 and began working on #ExhibitBe. The completed space was the largest street art gathering in the South gaining national attention and welcoming over 30,000 visitors during its three month opening.

Brandan’s other passions lie in the New Orleans community. He is the founder and director of 2-Cent Entertainment LLC – a New Orleans based youth education social enterprise that produces mixed media content and workshops in the overlap between pop culture and social awareness. Partnering with organizations like Scholastic and Better World Books to give away tens of thousands of books to local youth, 2-Cent services countless youth in New Orleans. 2-Cent Summer Session – media arts camp, in New Orleans I currently entering it’s 4th year.

As a Filmmaker his directed music videos has appeared on MTV, VH1 and BET, Brandan has been honored as one of “20 Artist You Should Know” by Complex.com, Presidential volunteer award from the white house, and a Joan Mitchell Foundation Fellowship recipient.

 

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Beard History Month - Dick Gregory

Richard Claxton "DickGregory is an American civil rights activist, social critic, writer, entrepreneur, comedian, and actor whose social satire changed the way white Americans perceived African American comedians since he first performed in public. 

Born October 12, 1932 in St. Louis, Missouri, 

entered the national comedy scene in 1961 when Chicago's Playboy Club (as a direct request from publisher Hugh Hefner) booked him as a replacement for white comedian, "Professor" Irwin Corey. Until then Gregory had worked mostly at small clubs with predominantly black audiences (he met his wife, Lillian Smith, at one such club). Such clubs paid comedians an average of five dollars per night; thus Gregory also held a day job as a postal employee. His tenure as a replacement for Corey was so successful — at one performance he won over an audience that included southern white convention goers — that the Playboy Club offered him a contract extension from several weeks to three years. By 1962 Gregory had become a nationally known headline performer, selling out nightclubs, making numerous national television appearances, and recording popular comedy albums.

It's important to note that no biography of Gregory would be complete without mentioning that he and his beloved wife, Lil, had ten kids who have become highly respected members of the national community in a variety of fields. They are: Michele, Lynne, Pamela, Paula, Stephanie (aka Xenobia), Gregory, Christian, Miss, Ayanna and Yohance. The Gregory's had one child who died at birth but they have shared 49 years of historic moments, selfless dedication and tremendous personal love.

Gregory began performing comedy in the mid-1950s while serving in the army. Drafted in 1954 while attending Southern Illinois University at Carbondale on a track scholarship, Gregory briefly returned to the university after his discharge in 1956, but left without a degree because he felt that the university "didn't want me to study, they wanted me to run." In the hopes of performing comedy professionally, he moved to Chicago, where he became part of a new generation of black comedians that included Nipsey Russell, Bill Cosby, and Godfrey Cambridge. These comedians broke with the minstrel tradition, which presented stereotypical black characters. Gregory, whose style was detached, ironic, and satirical, came to be called the "Black Mort Sahl" after the popular white social satirist. Friends of Gregory have always referred to Mort Sahl as the "White Dick Gregory." Gregory drew on current events, especially the racial issues, for much of his material: "Segregation is not all bad. Have you ever heard of a collision where the people in the back of the bus got hurt?"

From an early age, Gregory demonstrated a strong sense of social justice. While a student at Sumner High School in St. Louis he led a March protesting Segregated schools. Later, inspired by the work of leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and organizations such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Gregory took part in the Civil Rights Movement and used his celebrity status to draw attention to such issues as segregation and disfranchisement. When local Mississippi governments stopped distributing Federal food surpluses to poor blacks in areas where SNCC was encouraging voter registration, Gregory chartered a plane to bring in several tons of food. He participated in SNCC's voter registration drives and in sit-ins to protest segregation, most notably at a restaurant franchise in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. Only later did Gregory disclose that he held stock in the chain.

Gregory's autobiography, Nigger, was published in 1963 prior to The assassination of President Kennedy, and became the number one best-selling book in America. Over the decades it has sold in excess of seven million copies. His choice for the title was explained in the forward, where Dick Gregory wrote a note to his mother. "Whenever you hear the word 'Nigger'," he said, "you'll know their advertising my book."

Through the 1960s, Gregory spent more time on social issues and less time on performing. He participated in marches and parades to support a range of causes, including opposition to the Vietnam War, world hunger, and drug abuse. In addition, Gregory fasted in protest more than 60 times, once in Iran, where he fasted and prayed in an effort to urge the Ayatollah Khomeini to release American embassy staff who had been taken hostage. The Iranian refusal to release the hostages did not decrease the depth of Gregory's commitment; he weighed only 97 lbs when he left Iran.

Gregory demonstrated his commitment to confronting the entrenched political powers by opposing Richard J. Daley in Chicago's 1966 mayoral election. He ran for president in 1968 as a write-in candidate for the Freedom and Peace Party, a splinter group of the Peace and Freedom Party and received 1.5 million votes. Democratic candidate Hubert Humphrey lost the election to Republican Richard Nixon by 510,000 votes, and many believe Humphrey would have won had Gregory not run. After the assassinations of King, President John F. Kennedy, and Robert Kennedy, Gregory became increasingly convinced of the existence of political conspiracies. Gregory wrote books such as Code Name Zorro: The Murder of Martin Luther King Jr. (1971) with Mark Lane, world famous author, attorney and documentary filmmaker, whose findings published in the best-selling 1966 book Rush To Judgment Gregory credited with reversing the nation’s opinion on who assassinated the president and the facts which contradicted the official government version contained in the Warren Report. Lane’s book contained answers and facts, which Gregory has espoused in Numerous lectures from then until now. Lane and Gregory have been best friends, co-authors and have lectured together for over 40 years and both livein Washington D.C. Gregory and Lane’s book on the assassination of Dr. King was recently released under another title, Murder In Memphis, as a trade paperback.


Gregory's activism continued into the 1990s. In response to published allegations that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had supplied cocaine to predominantly African American areas in Los Angeles, thus spurring the crack epidemic, Gregory protested at CIA headquarters and was arrested. In 1992 he began a program called "Campaign for Human Dignity" to fight crime in St. Louis neighborhoods.

In 1973, the year he released his comedy album Caught in the Act, Gregory moved with his family to Plymouth, Massachusetts, where he developed an interest in vegetarianism and became a nutritional consultant. In 1984 he founded Health Enterprises, Inc., a company that distributed weight loss products. In 1987 Gregory introduced the Slim-Safe Bahamian Diet, a powdered diet mix, which was immensely profitable. Economic losses caused in part by conflicts with his business partners led to his eviction from his home in 1992. Gregory remained active, however, and in 1996 returned to the stage in his critically acclaimed one-man show, Dick Gregory Live! The reviews of Gregory's show compared him to the greatest stand-ups in the history of Broadway.

In 1998 Gregory spoke at the celebration of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and President Clinton were in attendance. Not long after that, the President told Gregory's long-time friend and PR. Consultant, Steve Jaffe, "I love Dick Gregory, he is one of the funniest people on the planet." They spoke of how Gregory had made a comment on Dr. King's birthday that broke everyone into laughter, when he noted that the President made Speaker Newt Gingrich ride "in the back of the plane," on an Air Force One trip overseas. In 2001, Gregory announced to the world that he had been diagnosed with a rare form of Cancer. He refused traditional medical treatment – chemotherapy –and with the assistance of some of the finest minds in alternative medicine, put together a regimen of a variety of diet, vitamins, exercise, and modern devices not even known to the public, which ultimately resulted in his reversing the trend of the Cancer to the point where today he is 100% Cancer free.

Gregory's going public with his diagnosis has helped millions of his fans around the world to understand what Cancer specialists have been trying to explain for decades, which is that "Cancer is curable."

His most recent book, Callus On My Soul, (Longstreet Press, Atlanta, Ga.) which became a best-seller within weeks of publication, is an autobiography that updates his earlier autobiography (Nigger), because as Dick says, "I've lived long enough to need two autobiographies which is fine with me. I'm looking forward to writing the third and fourth volumes as well."

In 2001, Gregory escaped death once again when a massive tree fell on his car in a storm in Washington D.C. crushing it completely, causing him to have to be extricated from the car by emergency crews. One witness said, "I knew the driver and his passengers had died when I saw the tree fall." Gregory said, "I knew that God had more work for me to do when I saw the tree falling. " He saved his own life by driving into the oncoming lanes of traffic. The word of the accident circulated the globe immediately in the media, underscoring the power, influence, and support that Gregory has earned from people of all nations.


Doctor's at George Washington Hospital refused to release Gregory for a few days causing his first-ever "State of the Union Address" to African Americans to be delayed by a month. Gregory gave the first "State of The Union" address live on the Internet from Los Angeles on April 21st. 

 

Source

Beard Food: Mushrooms

Did you know there are many health benefits to eating mushrooms? Often used as a substitute for meat, #Mushrooms are excellent sources of antioxidants in general as they contain polyphenols and selenium.

Some mushrooms even have specific health benefits, like the Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum). This mushroom's heath benefits include:

• Antibacterial, antiviral (Herpes, Epstein-Barr), antifungal (including Candida) properties

• Anti-inflammatory, useful for reducing symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis

• Immune system up-regulation

• Normalization of blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure

• Reduction of prostate-related urinary symptoms in men

Mushrooms are a powerhouse of potent nutrition, and we highly recommend adding some to your diet. Mushroom Burgers are a personal fave, but also adding them to a salad or sautéing them up with some fresh veggies make for quick, delicious and nutritious meals! Here's a vegan recipe to make your own!

 

Beard History Month - Elijah McCoy

The son of former slaves from Kentucky who had escaped via the Underground Railroad to Canada, at 15 years of age Elijah McCoy traveled to Scotland seeking the educational opportunities from which blacks were excluded in the Americas. He trained in mechanical engineering and then moved to the United States, where he was denied engineering employment-again because he was of African descent. He instead took a job as a railroad fireman. At that time, locomotives needed to be shut down periodically to be lubricated to avoid overheating. The frequent stops prevented railroads from being profitable until McCoy developed the “lubricating cup” for steam engines, which kept locomotives constantly lubricated, preventing frequent stops and overheating. He patented the lubricating cup in 1872. It represented the most profitable of his more than 58 patents, which included a folding ironing board and an automatic sprinkler.

Beard History Month - Rolihlahla "Nelson" Mandela

Rolihlahla "Nelson" Mandela was born on July 18, 1918 in the village of Mvezo in Umtatu. Both his parents were devout Christians and sent him to a local Methodist school, where he came to be known as “ Nelson”, a name given to him by his schoolteacher, largely due to British educational system in Africa.


His father who was destined to be a chief lost his title and fortune over a dispute with local magistrate, forcing the family to move to Qunu. When Mandela was 9 years old, his father died of lung disease. He later said he inherited his father’s “proud rebelliousness” and “stubborn sense of fairness”. He was adopted by Chief Jongintaba Dalindyebo, an acting regent of the Thembu people. He left his carefree life in Qunu and quickly adapted to the new, more sophisticated surroundings of Mqhekezweni. Mandela took classes in a one room school, studying English Xhosa history and geography. It was during this time he developed his interest in South African History and the oppression by the British. Listening to the tales told by elderly visitors he became influenced by the anti-imperialist rhetoric of Chief Joyi.


In Johannesburg, he became actively involved in the anti-apartheid movement, joining the African National Congress in 1942. For 20 years, Mandela directed peaceful, nonviolent acts of defiance against the South African government and its racist policies .He was arrested in 1962 for inciting the workers to go on strike. He was imprisoned for 27 years in prison. He was released in 1990 and petitions for his release were published in the Johannesburg Sunday post. A coordinated international campaign was also launched for his release which exemplifies the influence and support Mandela was beginning to gain the global political community. Nelson Mandela remains one of the world’s leading political authority. He was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 1993 for his work for world peace and his fight against Apartheid.

Beard History Month - Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass was born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey in 1818. Though Douglass was born a slave, he escaped in 1838 and eventually settled with his wife in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Douglass also founded “The North Star,” an abolitionist newspaper. Douglass consulted with President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War and helped influence the Emancipation Proclamation. After President Lincoln’s death, Mrs. Lincoln sent Douglass her late husband’s walking stick. Douglass was nominated for Vice President of the United States as a member of the Equal Rights Party in 1872.

Beard History Month - Dr. Yosef Ben Jochannan

"Show me how you treat your woman and I will show you the condition of your race." - Dr. Yosef Ben Jochannan

Dr. Yosef A. A. Ben-Jochannan, affectionately known as "Dr. Ben" was born December 31, 1918, to a Afro-Puerto Rican Jewish mother and an Ethiopian father in what is known as the "Falasha" Hebrew community in Gondar, Ethiopia.

He attended schools in Brazil, Spain, Puerto Rico, and Cuba and earned degrees in engineering and anthropology.

He has written and published over forty-nine books and papers, revealing much of the information unearthed while he was in Egypt. Two of his better known works include, Black Man of the Nile and His Family and Africa: Mother of Major Western Religions. Considered an Afrocentric historian whose work is focused mainly on black presence in ancient Egypt. He contends in his writings that the pharaohs came out of the heart of Africa and that the original Jews were from Ethiopia and were black Africans, and the white Jews adopted the faith and customs later.

Dr. Ben was an extraordinary man of many talents, but principally a man who held the African woman in the highest esteem. He honored the Black Woman who is the source of the Black Family.
He helped set the stage for a whole new approach in interpreting Africa’s contributions to civilization and its legacy. He lit the fire of intellectual and cultural consciousness in Africans worldwide. Establishing connections between Africans in America, Africa, Asia and Europe are all attributed to Dr. Ben-Jochannan, a man of vision, seer, and intellectual giant.

Many of his books challenged the distortions of Europeans in writing, publishing and disseminating knowledge about the arts, sciences, religion, etc., of the ancient people today called Egyptians. Dr. Ben has rightly included omissions and corrected distortions systematically implanted and perpetrated by racist Western, European and American historiography that has falsified the historical past with a prejudiced interpretation against African people. Many of his books challenged the distortions of Europeans in writing, publishing and disseminating knowledge about the arts, sciences, religion, regarding ancient Africa as representation and modern interpretation. Dr. Ben dared to expose the hypocrisy of western scholarship. He attacked the foundational pillars upon which a false legacy rests.

Beards of The Superbowl

Super Bowl Ll is today! The Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots will face off down south in Houston, TX at the NRG Stadium. One team will leave H-Town shinning in glory with the Lombardi Trophy. We must say, Houston rolled out the red carpet doing an amazing job for the 2017 NFL  Championship. Speaking of shining glory, we've noticed some nice beards gracing this years game. We apprecoate how more and more gentlemen are embracing the glorious-ness in their manes, making them more acceptable in society. Here's to a few good bearded black men out on the field tonight - kings we see you!

 

 

Colin Kaepernick is Black History

To kick of our ode to Black History, leading the way to our Beard History Month (and because it is Super Bowl Weekend), we couldn't think of a more fitting bearded black man than Colin Kaepernick. He won our hearts over when he took a very bold stance on racial inequality and the obscene number of  black men being killed at the hands of police across the country. An exemplary beacon of peaceful protesting, from sitting alone to kneeling on the sideline during the Star Spangled Banner at games, to putting his money ($1 Million to be exact) into various organizations that help promote social justice. Even at the risk of his career and even his life, Kaepernick continues to be the change our society desperately needs by leading by example.

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In 2016, Colin fully funded the Know Your Rights Camp, a free campaign for youth to raise awareness on higher education, self empowerment, and instructions on how to properly interact with law enforcement in various scenarios.

No stranger to giving back, Colin is also very active as the head of Camp Taylor, a free medically supervised camp for children with heart disease founded by his parents in 2002. 

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Upon receiving his first NFL paycheck, Colin asked his parents to find a charity that supports children with heart disease to gift a portion of his first check to. Thus, a friendship was born between Camp Taylor and the Kaepernick family and over the past five years the Camp Taylor family & the Kaepernick family have formed a tight friendship and bond. Colin often refers to heart campers as “His Kids” and the kids love him!
— Camp Taylor

Colin is paving the way to being not only a positive role model, but also creating a ripple effect that our people will feel years to come!