Saturday, February 4, 2023
Black Inspirations of 2017 
By Staff Report 
Published December 28, 2017

In a year of confusion, doubt and uncertainty, a light shined through giving pure inspiration. This is a list consisting of people who made a difference through education, entrepreneurship, healthcare, philanthropy and love for their community. These Black men and women, through their passions, gave the community inspiration.

Ali Abdullah

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Ali Abdullah created the Claim It! phone application, which gives away all types of free items, from cleaning supplies to drinks at trendy restaurants. While the app was still in the early developing phase, Abdullah thought it would be great to have a Claim It! truck that people could come to and get free stuff. While the Claim It! truck is still active, the application has broadened itself to the entire country. Now people can get deals that are posted on the Claim It! app from the comfort of their home. Another unique addition is the ability for app users to promote their own business. Not only can the app users claim free items, but they can give out free items to promote their brand with just a few clicks.

Carline Smothers

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Carline Smothers created and self-published two books: “Fanmi Mwen (My Family),” written in Haitian Creole and English, and “Mmmmm! Soup Joumou,” a children’s book series that highlights their Haitian heritage. Smothers started Zoe Beautee in 2011, offering a line of t-shirts that sport the Creole phrase Bèl Fanm (Beautiful Woman) in order to celebrate the beauty of the Haitian language. “My goal is to help build confidence and self-love,” says Carline. All products are available for purchase at


Dr. Carliss McGhee

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Dr. Carliss McGhee is president of the Inglewood School Board and is dedicated to see students succeed and “be a voice for transparency, oversight and accountability for Inglewood Unified School district.” She discovered her dual passions for helping children and raising money after graduating from college and landing a teaching position with the Urban League Head Start Pre-school in East L.A. Now serving her second term as president, McGhee chalked up a number of successes in the past four years.  Under her leadership, the district’s budget was balanced, two dual language immersion programs were established, pathway partnerships were instituted with local community colleges, tender-care programs for 4-year-olds were implemented at the elementary school level, and the Parent Teacher Association became energized and actively involved.

Dr. La Tanya R. Hines

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Dr. La Tanya R. Hines is an M.D., OB/GYN at Kaiser Permanente (KP) Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw Medical, the new facility in the heart of South L.A. She is dedicated to building a good healthcare system where all parts are working together in unison. Hines knows that taking care of one’s health depends, not just on good health insurance but the surrounding environment as well. At KP Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw Medical, Hines believes she and the medical community there can make well-rounded health something achievable in the community.

Elizabeth Laine

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Fashion designer, Elizabeth Laine is brings fashion and philanthropy together with her Elizabeth Laine handbag line, which also come with care packages that are given out to those in need on Skid Row. For every handbag that is sold, Laine creates care packages for the homeless on Skid Row. Three years ago, she spent her birthday giving back and feeding the homeless. It became a tradition and last year Laine added to it by creating care packages that she personally hands out on Skid Row. The care packages contain a toothbrush, toothpaste, lotion, lip-balm, soap, deodorant, socks, razors, hand sanitizer and sanitary napkins.

Glenna Wilson

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Glenna Wilson is a Taste of Soul (TOS) vendor, who brings Bibles and hope to every festival. She is a retired registered nurse having worked for the Department of Public Health for the county of Los Angeles. She worked for the county for 16 years as an investigator and health facility evaluator. Wilson was drawn to set up a booth at TOS 2013 because she wanted to make a difference on a personal and human level. Wilson wanted to share the good news of Jesus Christ with attendees at the festival. Wilson funds the items she gives away and has given away up to 2,000 Bibles at every TOS.

Harry Grammer

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Harry Grammer has been named a CNN hero for his efforts with incarcerated youth. His organization, New Earth, is providing youth and young adults – ages 13-25 with arts, meditation, jobs and more. New Earth started with only three students and is now serving over 2,500. The organization started in a coffee shop with open-mic sessions and has since grown to two reentry centers that show students a new way of life. The centers provide an accredited high school diploma, counseling, art, yoga, and job training. There is an 83 percent success rate in keeping the students who Grammer works with out of the juvenile probation system once they are released.

Jasmyne Cannick

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Columnist, on-air and in-print pop culture critic, and political commentator, Jasmyne Cannick has been a champion across the board in 2017 for Black, LGBTQ and Women’s issues. She spoke at the #MeToo March in November drawing attention to the Black communities’ accountability in the treatment of Black women in popular media. She has raised her voice against thoughtless comments made by on-air personalities like KFI AM 640’s Bill Handel on his opinion of Rep. Frederica Wilson. Cannick is also front-and-center in keeping the community informed on the disparities and issues in the the Black LGBTQ community. She has been very vocal in-person and print in getting justice for Gemmel Moore, a young, Black gay man, who was found dead of a crystal meth overdose in democratic donor, Ed Buck’s, West Hollywood home on July 27.


Jeffery Wallace

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Jeffery Wallace is giving employment opportunities to young adults throughout Los Angeles through his program, LeadersUp. What started as just an idea through Starbucks has grown into a $3.8 million non-profit organization with locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago. LeadersUp works with youth, ages 18 to 24 to prepare them for employment with companies including FedEx, AT&T, Target and more. Not only does the organization connect the youth with employment, but it also works with the young adults for a year after being employed to help them stay employed and move up in the companies. For more information about LeadersUp, visit

John Moore & Kyra Young

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Kyra Young, CEO of “Kyra Shea Medley’s” (KSM) experienced firsthand the struggle of finding hair and skin products for Black women who live on campus and attend a predominantly white institution. As a result, she along with her longtime boyfriend and COO of KSM, John Moore and CFO Michael Moore, created a line of ten different butter creams and four baby butters. The entire line is composed of multipurpose, organic, vegan and cruelty free products for Black women. For more information on KSM please visit  Customers can also purchase KSM products at select beauty supplies and Target stores. For more information on, “The Spot” check out

Kara McCullough

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Kára McCullough is Miss USA 2017, a 26-year-old retired Navy veteran and STEM research scientist, who currently spends her days inspiring young girls and women around the world. She wants to use her podium to encourage women of color – and all women – to embrace what makes them whole and happy. McCullough states the most gratifying part about being a scientist is sharing her passion with students and seeing the growth and excitement that comes from STEM education. When it comes to the adversity women face in the workplace, she feels there is still so much more to accomplish but encourages others to counter adversity by confiding in mentors who may have experienced the same.

Kia Patterson

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Kia Patterson has been working in the grocery store industry for 17 years and this year became the owner of Grocery Outlet in the city of Compton. She started a training process with Grocery Outlet in June of 2016. After training, she gathered her investments and set up a business plan leading her to own the Compton Grocery Outlet on April 1, 2017. Patterson gives back through the Magic Johnson Foundation by helping with fundraisers for different schools in Compton. She has also partnered with El Camino Compton Center by helping them launch a low-cost food pantry to help college students.

Lola Omolola

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Lola Omolola has created a network of over a million Nigerian women through Facebook. Her group Female in Nigeria (FIN) has become the first place where Nigerian women can talk about their struggles with thousands of other women. When starting the Facebook group, Omolola just looked for quotes and inspiring stories. She read stories about women not being able to rent an apartment without a man. She even heard stories about women not being able to get a haircut without a man’s permission. FIN has become a place where Nigerian women can vent and gain support from other women.

Mitchell Lyons and Kayveon Munir

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Mitchell Lyons, a Dorsey High Alum and Kayveon Munir, a Crenshaw High Alum, held their first turkey giveaway event in 2017. The two friends decided they were going to do something they always wanted to do for their community and give back for the holiday. Munir currently is an independent, personal chef and Lyons is a UCLA graduate and business owner. They’ve known each other for 15 years through youth football and come from big families, which have integrated into one big family. Along with giving away turkeys, they also had side dishes needed to help make your holiday more enjoyable. They met their goal and gave away 120 turkeys in less than an hour.

Natalyn Randle

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Founded in 2011 by Natalyn Randle, the Business Women Rock Conference & Expo (BBWR) has grown exponentially, boasting hundreds of attendees during last year’s expo and connecting thousands more. BBWR also has an online business directory that connects business owners in different industries. This year, Randle stated that adding a second day to the expo was essential to ensure women walked away with the tools needed to build their businesses. The Black Business Women Rock expo is scheduled to take place on Friday, November 17 and Saturday, November 18 at the Torrance Marriot in Torrance, CA. Get your tickets by visiting

Reginald, Kiana & Kyle Webb

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Reginald Webb is creating a generational legacy with two of his children. Between the three of them, the family owns 16 McDonald’s restaurant locations in the Inland Empire. After graduating college, Webb’s children worked for other companies initially. His daughter Kiana owned a clothing store while his son Kyle worked for ABC. The siblings came to the conclusion that the family business was what they would enjoy most.  They applied to and completed the McDonald’s Second Generation Program for certification. Kiana works as the chief operating officer while Kyle works as the chief financial officer. The family has other business ventures through their company Webb Family Investments. They also have an organization called the Cooperative Economic Empowerment Movement, geared towards turning the dollar back in to the Black community. This organization provides entrepreneurial workshops and support to Black business owners. Along with business ventures, the Webb family also gives back by providing scholarships and funding to high schools in the Inland Empire.

Shaun Robinson

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Emmy-award winning journalist, Shaun Robinson, started the S.H.A.U.N. Foundation for Girls, which makes grants for grassroot nonprofits that work in five areas of girls’ issues. The foundation promotes girls’ knowledge and exposure to STEM, Health, Arts, Unity and Neighborhoods. In August 2017, she hosted a free event raising awareness on human sex trafficking at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center. The event was free and open to the public. For more information on how to get involved with the S.H.A.U.N. Foundation for Girls, visit shaunfoundationforgirls

Tommy the Clown 

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What began as inner-city youth choosing the art of dance over drugs and gangs, blossomed into a dance crew who is now hired to travel and perform for crowds all over the world, including London, Japan, Germany, and Hong Kong. For over two decades, Krump legend and battle zone creator Thomas “Tommy the Clown” Johnson and his dance crew, the T-Squad, have entertained crazed fans and performed in front of sold-out crowds at the Inglewood Forum.

TyAnthony Davis

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TyAnthony Davis, 29, is starting his own charter school in Watts. After a recent LAUSD board meeting, Vox Collegiate was approved and will be open in the Fall of 2018. After graduating, Davis joined Teach for America and started teaching fourth graders in Las Vegas. He received his master’s degree in the process but had a yearning to go further. He went to Harvard to get his juris doctorate but still had a place in his heart for teaching. After two years of practicing law in Los Angeles, he decided that it was time for him to start his own school. Vox Collegiate will cover grade levels 6-12. The school will start with an enrollment of 105 sixth graders and continue to enroll new sixth graders each year. The school will focus not only on academic skills, but also skills that students will need to be successful in any career. Students will be given courses on communication and evaluation. There will be classes on speech, social advocacy, community engagement and more.

Wendy Raquel Robinson

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Multi-talented actress Wendy Raquel Robinson celebrated 20 years with Amazing Grace Conservatory (AGC). Through AGC, she is giving youth a vehicle to move towards finding and realizing their dreams. The NAACP award-winning program teaches acting, voice, dance, spoken word, media arts and yoga to help youth realize their potential. AGC engages students in socially relevant material, which helps them find their voice. Robinsons says that AGC is mostly about healing through the arts. Amazing Grace Conservatory is located at 2401 W. Washington Blvd in Los Angeles, CA 90018. For more information, please call (323) 732-4283​ or send inquiries to [email protected] Please visit the website at

Categories: Business | Education | Family | Health | National | News (Business) | News (Family)
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