April Showers Bring Forth Impact And Influence In The White House, In Media And In Entrepreneurship

The following is an excerpt from this week’s For (bes) The Culture newsletter, dedicated to elevating and empowering Black and Brown professionals. Sign up for the newsletter here.

“I am the dream and the hope of the slave.” – Ketanji Brown Jackson, 116th 116th Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court

April is shaping up to be one for the history books.

On Friday, after the Senate confirmed her as the first Black woman to sit on the Supreme Court, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson said, “I am the dream and the hope of the slave,” a quote from Maya Angelou’s poem, Still I Rise. In the court’s 232 year history, every Black woman– including Amalya Kearse, the first Black woman to appear on a presidential shortlist for a high court vacancy – was passed over. Jackson addressed the significance of her nomination, saying, “It has taken 232 years and 115 prior appointments for a Black woman to be selected to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States,” Jackson said, “But we’ve made it. We’ve made it. All of us. “

Meanwhile, Tope Awotona, the 40-year old founder and chief executive of Calendly, is now one of America’s wealthiest people. Last week the tech founder from Nigeria made the Forbes Billionaire list for the first time. Awotona’s rise to wealth began nine years ago when he poured his life savings of $ 200,000 into his company, quitting his job selling software for EMC. Last year, Calendly spent $ 100 million, doubling revenue from the previous year. And Calendly’s software is now valued at $ 3 billion – giving Awotona a net worth of $ 1.4 billion.

Billionaire investor and founder of Vista Equity Partners, Robert F. Smith, made headlines last week for his efforts to raise awareness around the risks of prostate cancer for Black men. Following his multi-million dollar donation to the Milton and Carroll Petrie Department of Urology at Mount Sinai last February, Smith celebrated the launch of the Mount Sinai Robert F. Smith Mobile Prostate Cancer Screening Bus in Harlem on April 7.

Robert Smith has been vocal about how prostate cancer has led to his loss of family members. “We continue to lose far too many from within our community, needlessly, due to unequal access to proper medical care and testing, as well as a lack of awareness of the dire effects of diseases such as prostate cancer,” Smith says. “Education, access and representation are just the first steps in repairing the Black community’s relationship with the American healthcare system.”

Alongside Smith, celebrities Steve Harvey, Chris Tucker, Cedric the Entertainer and Charlamagne tha God attended the launch of this initiative. “Having these four men publicly standing beside me, bringing this awareness to the community, and advocating for proper testing not only makes this initiative accessible by appealing to their fans and those who follow their work, but more importantly, it destigmatizes the process.”

In addition, For (bes) The Culture covered actress and producer Taraji P. Henson joining President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’s White House HBCU Initiative as a board advisor. The effort seeks to address and alleviate educational disparities that affect Black Americans and provide more equity and educational opportunities to the Black community. Henson will work alongside 17 other community leaders and educators on the board.


Tope Awotona‘s Calendly “was built out of frustration. Now the scheduling app is worth $ 3 billion — and the subject of a heated Twitter spat among Silicon Valley elite. ”

Read more of this story here.


Nneka Ogwumike, president of the WNBA Players Association, called for Brittney Griner’s safe return from Russia on Good Morning America Tuesday, after commissioner Cathy Engelbert said Griner’s homecoming is the league’s “top priority.”

Read more of this story here.


Selena Quintanilla Pérez was a cultural force to be reckoned with in the 1990s.

The late Tejano music star had a radiant confidence and was all the rage during the peak of her career, says Maria Garcia, host of the popular ‘Anything for Selena’ podcast. With her big hoop earrings, crimson red lips and frizzy hair, the singer unapologetically embraced her Mexican-American heritage, Garcia says, a big reason she still resonates culturally today.

Read more of this story here.


President Joe Biden has appointed actress and producer Taraji P. Henson to his board of advisors on historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

“I am excited to announce that President Biden has appointed me to serve on his HBCU Board of Advisors,” said Henson, a graduate of HBCU Howard University. “Since taking office, President and Vice President Harris have invested $ 5.8 billion in HBCUs and I look forward to working with them to continue efforts to support these important institutions.”

Read more of this story here.


To see more, sign up for our newsletter here. This is a shared byline with Jair Hilburn, assistant editor, Forbes.

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