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Black Inspirations of 2020
By Compiled by Brian W. Carter, Contributing Writer
Published December 31, 2020


Ernestine Johnson Morrison
Actress and entrepreneur, Ernestine Johnson Morrison founded several businesses including Green Lit ATL and The Legacy Center. Green Lit ATL is the premiere film industry event where creators are able to show off their work and network amongst the industry. The Legacy Center, also known as “The Blackhouse” is a co-working and educational center to help broaden the horizon for young Black entrepreneurs and elevate their businesses. She, along with her husband, Jay Morrison, also founded the Tulsa Real Estate Fund.

Jarrett Adams
Jarrett Adams spent ten years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Adams was wrongfully convicted of sexual assault at age 17. He was then sentenced to 28 years in prison at a maximum-security prison. After filing numerous appeals, Adams was exonerated with the assistance of the Wisconsin Innocence Project. After his ordeal, Adams became active in the movement to assist those who have no resources to have their cases challenged and closely reviewed. After his false conviction and imprisonment, Adams earned a Juris Doctorate degree from Loyola University Chicago School of Law in May 2015. On January 29, 2020, thirteen years after being exonerated, Adams was admitted to the Wisconsin State Bar. Adams was joined by Keith Findley, a co-founder of the Wisconsin Innocence Project at a ceremony celebrating his bar admission at the Wisconsin State Capitol.

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Charles Muse
Charles Muse serves on GM’s Program Engineering Management Team for Autonomous Vehicles. A graduate of Ohio State University Aerospace Engineering, Muse already has more than eight years of automotive industry experience. His professional background includes roles as a Lead Aerodynamicist, Chassis Senior Design Release Engineer, and Engineering Operations Supervisor.

Dawna Jones
Dawna Jones, Ph.D., is a first-generation winemaker and owner of Darjean Jones Wines. The fermentation science fascinated Jones who has been interested in agriculture since she was a teenager in public school. Since 2010, her wines have won 34 competition metals and debuted in Tyler Perry’s “Nobody’s Fool.” Darjean Jones Wines are served at top restaurants in Texas, sold at wine cellars in California, and have a national wine club following.

Crystal Windham
Crystal Windham is director of Design, Cadillac Interiors at GM’s Cadillac. She became the first African American female director in GM Design’s history in 2008 and spearheaded many award-winning interiors, including the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu and 2014 Chevrolet Impala. In 2016, Windham was appointed to head the division, and in the last four years, she’s led the team that designed all aspects inside of the brand’s CT5, CT4, XT6 and the 2021 Cadillac Escalade. Excelling at GM over the last 26 years, Windham reaches back to encourage younger African Americans to consider careers in the automotive industry. She is actively involved in GM Design’s You Make a Difference program that connects with youth interested in art and design.

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Nathan Thorton
Nathan Thornton started and runs SmarterKorean, a successful Korean language company that started in Los Angeles. SmarterKorean is the online Korean language school that Thornton created to help students of color learn how to speak Korean confidently. It serves as both an online Korean school, as well as a safe space for Korean language learners of color to come together and know that they are not alone.

There Brown Student Success 2020

Theora Brown
Earning a degree is the culmination of a 17-year journey for Theora Brown. She first started at Cal State LA right out of high school in 2003. She majored in sociology and wanted to help others, but she was unsure about the professional path she would take. Over the next decade, she got married, had two children and welcomed two stepchildren into her home. Then, unhappy and unfulfilled working at a credit union, Brown decided to quit her job and return to school, encouraged by her husband. She applied and was accepted again to Cal State LA. Brown, 34, graduated in May with a Bachelor of Arts in Communicative Disorders from Cal State LA’s Rongxiang Xu College of Health and Human Services. She hopes to work as a speech language pathologist to help children in schools across Los Angeles.

Harold R. Gray
Harold R. Gray is the founder and lead creative director and designer of Habits Reflect Greatness (HRG). The HRG Fashion brand is about the ability to accomplish goals and become successful in whatever one desires to achieve. HRG has journeyed into multiple sectors of businesses, reaching a pinnacle point of hustle in their new endeavor to include philanthropy and business mentorship. Gray is looking to bring out the “Triple A,” Awareness, Alternatives, and Action to work as navigation for those looking for the same life renovation.

Cara Johnson-Graves & Jenae Johnson-Car
Siblings Cara and Jenae created a lifestyle brand that positively represented themselves and others like them in a space where people of color are often overlooked and under-represented. Epic Everyday lifestyle brand depicts school and home products with designs featuring Black characters of all skin shades, hairstyles, and textures. The 2020 season designs included backpacks, fanny packs, and lunch bags featuring boys or girls representing multi-racial diversity. The Happy Hues collection also includes towels, bedding, totes, chest bags, and kids apparel.

Brandon Ahmad
Brandon Ahmad, an independent programmer and instructor, became the first software company to create an automated, mobile-friendly, software interface for Microsoft Dynamics 365 with a six-figure income developer training. Last June, Ahmad released the first version of the Dynamics 365 training product on their custom platform. The app is being offered on Google Play and according to GlassDoor, the average Dynamics 365 ERP developer makes over 100,000 USD a year.

Jacqueline Norvell
Jacqueline Norvell is the founder of Brown Bag Lady, a nonprofit organization that supplies food and essential items to the homeless in Los Angeles. Once a month, Norvell and a group of volunteers prepare meals to hand out on skid row on first Sundays. The food is delivered in a brown paper bag with an inspiring quote attached. Along with food, Brown Bag Lady provides clothing, shoes, tents, toiletries, and haircuts. The organization hosts an annual backpack giveaway, providing backpacks and school supplies to youth. She has worked even harder to support the homeless during the COVID-19 pandemic, supplying meals, clothes and supplies more frequently.

Sydney Barber
Midshipman Sydney Barber, will be the first Black Female Brigade Commander at the U.S. Naval Academy. A mechanical engineering major from Illinois, she was named brigade commander for the Spring semester at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. The brigade commander heads the Academy’s day-to-day activities and trains the class of approximately 4,500 midshipmen. Barber becomes the 16th woman to serve in that role.

Karim Webb
Karim Webb is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and city commissioner who has found the mold to shape success, and brought it back to the collective community. His company 4thMVMT focuses “on communities impacted by institutional racism.” 4thMVMT also partners with individuals from underserved communities to endure the process of business ownership. Webb is dedicated to encouraging business ownership in underrepresented groups.

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