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Tag: Black History

A Man of Many Talents: The Steve Harvey Story

(THE KIMBERLY JOY SHOW: Black History Month Tribute to Steve Harvey)

A MAN OF MANY TALENTS
Steve Harvey, a man of many talents, is a comedian, actor, author, talk show host, game show host, radio personality…..just to name a few! Born Broderick Steven Harvey on January 17, 1957, in Welch, West Virginia, he is the youngest of five children to Jesse and Eloise Harvey. When Harvey was young, his family moved to Cleveland, Ohio. In 1974, he graduated from Glenville High School and enrolled in college where he became a lifetime member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, a historically black fraternity founded in 1911 at Howard University.

HIS TRUE PASSION
After leaving college, Harvey worked a number of jobs, mainly as a salesman. As a matter of fact, he was selling insurance when he finally decided to pursue his true passion of being a stand up comedian after winning an amateur night contest at a local comedy club in 1985. For the next several years, Harvey performed in small clubs to hone his craft as a comedian. This time in his life was going to either make him or break him. Harvey told People Magazine, that after splitting from his wife and sending the majority of his paychecks home to his children, “one or two gigs fell through, and suddenly I was homeless.”

While working a gig, he had the luxury of staying in a hotel, but once that particular gig was over, he was back to sleeping in his 1976 Ford Tempo. He kept an Igloo cooler in the backseat to use as his refrigerator and washed up in hotel bathrooms, gas stations or swimming pool showers. This went on for three years! Some probably wondered, “Why would he go through all that for a dream?!” He was finally doing something he loved and believed he was created by God to do.

Because Harvey persevered, even when he sometimes felt like giving up, he received the break he had been waiting for. He was invited to perform at the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York. Fortunately, that wasn’t the last time he was going to hit the Apollo stage. In 1993, he took over as host of Showtime at the Apollo.

That was the first time I remember laying eyes on Steve Harvey. My first thought was, “That man looks like Richard Pryor!” As a stand-up comic, Harvey also made television appearances on the Johnnie Walker National Comedy Search and on HBO’s Def Comedy Jam.

OTHER VENTURES
Harvey soon ventured into acting. He starred in his first sitcom entitled Me and the Boys, in which he played a widower and father of three sons. Though the show won high ratings, it only lasted one season. However, being the fighter and hustler he is, Harvey didn’t let that discourage him. In 1996, he was given another opportunity to star in a TV series The Steve Harvey Show which attracted a large audience.

When I discovered the show, I immediately fell in love with the characters. Even now I enjoy watching the reruns. On the show, Harvey portrayed a former professional musician who becomes a music teacher at a Chicago high school. The series also starred Cedric the Entertainer who is one of Harvey’s real life close friends.

Harvey has also performed on the big screen in movies like The Fighting Temptations, You Got Served, and Johnson Family Vacation. His most popular movie is Spike Lee’s documentary, The Original Kings of Comedy, which captured the highlights of a two-night comedy show in North Carolina. The documentary, which included Harvey as the emcee, Cedric the Entertainer, D.L. Hughley, and Bernie Mac, earned more than $38 million at the box office. In fact, The Kings of Comedy Tour, which inspired Lee’s documentary, became the highest-grossing comedy tour ever to date in the United States.

Today, Harvey is host of such shows as Family Feud, Celebrity Family Feud, Steve, which is his own TV talk-show based in Los Angeles, and The Steve Harvey Morning Show, which is his nationally syndicated daily talk radio show. Harvey is also a best-selling author of the books Act like a Lady, Think like a Man; Straight Talk, No Chaser; Act like a Success, Think like a Success and his most recent book entitled Jump.

THE FOUNDATION
In 2010, Harvey and his wife Marjorie founded the Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation. Through the foundation, they have developed mentoring camps for boys and girls. The Steve Harvey Mentoring Camp for Young Men is “an interactive program that includes a host of workshops which focus on manhood, personal responsibility, dream building and the importance of nutrition and physical fitness.

In addition, the participants are introduced to positive male role models who are leaders in various areas, including business, their communities, entertainment and the military.”

The Girls Who Rule the World Mentoring Camp is “an interactive program that includes leadership comprised of trusted business women and community leaders who provide wisdom & resources that will help guide girls through the importance of financial literacy, balanced nutrition, proper etiquette, positive self-esteem and professional and educational development.”

A family man, as well, Harvery is married to Marjorie Bridges Harvey. Together they have a blended family of seven children: daughters, Brandi, Karli, Morgan and Lori and sons Broderick Jr., Jason and Wynton.

WHAT IS PERSEVERANCE?
I share the story of Steve Harvey because it speaks to the importance of perseverance. What is perseverance? Perseverance is “steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.” When God gives you a dream, you don’t stop and give up just because things look bleak. Understand that in the process, God is preparing you for success. Habakkuk 2:3 (The Living Bible) says:

“But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient…..”

To learn more about Steve Harvey, you may go to:
biography.com
britannica.com
harveyfoundation.com.
people.com

THE PRAYER OF SALVATION
If you haven’t accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you can do so right now. I then encourage you to find a good Bible-believing church that will help you grow in your relationship with the Lord.

Romans 10:9 (NIV) says, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Please pray the following prayer:

Dear Jesus, I come to You confessing I am a sinner in need of a Savior. I believe You shed Your blood on the cross and died for my sins, were buried and rose again so I could be free! Please forgive me for my sins and the life I have lived. I confess You Jesus as Lord and accept You as my own personal Savior. According to the Word of God, I am now saved! Hallelujah! I AM FREE!

WELCOME TO THE FAMILY OF GOD!!!!!

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A Man of Purpose: The Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth Story

(THE KIMBERLY JOY SHOW: Black History Month Tribute to Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth)

A MAN OF PURPOSE
God wants us His children to live our dreams, to walk in our purpose. When you walk close to God and listen to His voice, He shows you your purpose. In honor of Black History Month, I want to recognize a few African-Americans who serve as great examples of what it means to walk in your purpose and live your dreams. In this article, I’m recognizing Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, a man of purpose, who was one of the pioneers of the Civil Rights Movement, later becoming a prominent pastor in Cincinnati.

GOD’S CALL
Rev. Shuttlesworth was born Freddie Lee Robinson to Vetta Green and Alberta Robinson on March 18, 1922, in Mount Meigs, Alabama. Growing up in Birmingham, he adopted the last name Shuttlesworth after his mother married William Shuttlesworth. Although Shuttlesworth was valedictorian of his senior class, he wasn’t financially able to go to college. So, he worked different jobs, including being a truck driver.

Subsequently, Shuttlesworth felt God’s call to the ministry. Thus, he earned a degree from Selma University, a private and historically black Bible college, and a second degree from another historically black college Alabama State College, which is now Alabama State University.

Shuttlesworth then began preaching at the First Baptist Church in Selma. In 1952, he became pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham.

THE MOVEMENT
Birmingham is where Shuttlesworth became involved with the Civil Rights Movement. He worked with organizations like the Civic League and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). When the NAACP was outlawed in the state of Alabama in 1956, Shuttlesworth founded the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. The organization’s focus was to overturn Birmingham’s segregation laws. He also helped establish the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) along with leaders like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

After the desegregation of the Montgomery, Alabama buses, Shuttlesworth began organizing efforts in his own city to implement bus desegregation. He also challenged the city’s segregated schools when his wife Ruby and he attempted to enroll their daughter in an all-white school. Shuttlesworth even participated in sit-ins. A sit-in is “a form of protest in which demonstrators occupy a place, refusing to leave until their demands are met.” During this era, sit-ins typically occurred at lunch counters where blacks were refused service. Furthermore, after the May 14, 1961 attacks on the Freedom Riders, Shuttlesworth provided refuge for the activists, even requesting assistance from Attorney General Robert Kennedy.

CONTINUING IN THE MOVEMENT
In 1961, Shuttlesworth moved to Cincinnati to pastor Revelation Baptist Church. Then in 1966, he founded the Greater New Light Baptist Church in the community of Avondale. Although he was now in Cincinnati, he still continued in the movement travelling back and forth to the South.

In 1965, he helped organize the Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March. The purpose of the march was to demonstrate just how serious they were about all Blacks having the right to vote. In fact, back in June, some members of our church Power and Faith Ministries, along with members of I Am Grace Faith Ministries of Pennsylvania, traveled to Alabama for a conference.

While we were there, we decided to walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma—-the same bridge the protesters marched across fifty years ago as they made their way to Montgomery. However, we only walked across the bridge.
We didn’t walk all the way to Montgomery like the protestors did, which was approximately 54 miles. Yes! 54 MILES!

While continuing his activism in Birmingham, Shuttlesworth also fought for human rights in Cincinnati. For instance, he advocated for more minorities to be hired as police officers and to serve as members of city council. Later in the 1980s, Shuttlesworth established the Shuttlesworth Housing Foundation in Cincinnati in an effort to provide a source of low-income housing and to provide grants for home ownership.

IN HIS HONOR
Some of Shuttlesworth’s honors include receiving the Presidential Citizens Medal from President Bill Clinton in 2001.

In 2008, the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport was named in his honor. Around that same time, Shuttlesworth moved back to Birmingham due to failing health. On October 5, 2011, he died at the age of 89.

A FAMILY MAN
Besides being a pastor and an activist, Shuttlesworth was also a family man. He was married to Ruby Keeler Shuttlesworth, and together they had four children: Patricia, Ruby, Fred Jr., and Carolyn. His other daughters included Maria and Audrey. Years later, Shuttlesworth married Sephira Bailey.

Although I never had the opportunity to meet Rev. Shuttlesworth, I had the pleasure of knowing his daughter Ruby when she and I worked at Princeton Junior High School in the late ’90s.

A BRAVE SOUL
I share the story of Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth because, like so many activists during his time, he was truly a brave soul. Because of his many efforts to help improve life for Blacks in America, he was physically attacked on numerous occasions, arrested several times, and his home was blown up by the Ku Klux Klan on Christmas Day in 1956.

However, he didn’t let anything or anyone stop him from fighting for justice and equal rights. When asked how he did it, he stated that it was the power of his faith in God that sustained him, which is a lesson we can all learn. Joshua 1:9 (New Living Translation) says:

“…Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

As believers in Christ Jesus, we are called to be a light. We are to take a stand for righteousness, even if it means being persecuted. We can’t be afraid of what people may say or how they may treat us. Rev. Shuttlesworth understood his purpose and, therefore, didn’t allow fear to stop him. As a result, we are now reaping the fruits of his labor.
(Shuttlesworth with President Barack Obama)

Sources:
biography.com
britannica.com
equirer.com
library.cincymuseum.org
nytimes.com

THE PRAYER OF SALVATION
If you haven’t accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you can do so right now. I then encourage you to find a good Bible-believing church that will help you grow in your relationship with the Lord.

Romans 10:9 (NIV) says, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Please pray the following prayer:

Dear Jesus, I come to You confessing I am a sinner in need of a Savior. I believe You shed Your blood on the cross and died for my sins, were buried and rose again so I could be free! Please forgive me for my sins and the life I have lived. I confess You Jesus as Lord and accept You as my own personal Savior. According to the Word of God, I am now saved! Hallelujah! I AM FREE!

WELCOME TO THE FAMILY OF GOD!!!!!

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The Epitome of Greatness: The Story of The Three Doctors

THE EPITOME OF GREATNESS

To conclude my Black History Month tribute, I want to recognize three men who are the epitome of greatness. I first heard their powerful story while watching the Essence Awards on television back in 2000. Their names are Sampson Davis, Rameck Hunt and George Jenkins. Together they are known as The Three Doctors.

When I first heard the story of The Three Doctors, I was blown away! Once upon a time, life was hard for the three of them. They grew up in the inner city of Newark, New Jersey, where they were surrounded by crime and drugs every day.

Let me tell you their story.

DR. SAMPSON DAVIS


Dr. Davis was born on January 19, 1973, in Newark, New Jersey, into a family of six children. Although he was surrounded by negativity, he didn’t let that stop him from excelling in school. Dr. Davis says that education “saved my life”. After graduating from University High in Newark, he enrolled at Seton Hall University. Later, Dr. Davis was accepted into the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and received his medical degree in 1999 at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. He then went on to complete his residency in emergency medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. Today, Dr. Davis is a Board Certified Emergency Medicine Physician at several emergency departments in New Jersey.

DR. RAMECK HUNT


Dr. Hunt was born on May 1, 1973, in Orange, New Jersey. His mother was only a teenager when she had him, so he often had to live with his grandmother. When he was fourteen years old, he went to Newark to live with his uncle. He started attending University High, where he met Sampson Davis and George Jenkins. Becoming friends with the two of them was a blessing in disguise for Dr. Hunt. Growing up, Dr. Hunt had some anger issues and sometimes got into trouble. Because he was hanging with the wrong crowd, he wound up in juvenile detention at the age of sixteen. Fortunately, that was the wake up call he needed. That experience made him realize that a good education was his ticket to a better life.

After graduating from high school, Dr. Hunt attended Seton Hall. From there he went on to Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and graduated in 1999. He then completed a residency in internal medicine at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. Today, Dr. Hunt is a Board certified internist at University Medical Center at Princeton University and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

DR. GEORGE JENKINS

Dr. Jenkins was born on February 6, 1973, in Newark, New Jersey. When he was thirteen years old, he became fascinated with the dental profession after visiting a dental clinic. He knew then that he wanted to become a dentist. So, like Davis and Hunt, he too went on to attend Seton Hall. Afterwards, he completed his D.M.D. at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Today, Dr. Jenkins is an Assistant Professor of clinical dentistry at Columbia University.

THE PACT
I share the story of The Three Doctors because it speaks to the power of togetherness, unity, and brotherhood! While they were still in high school, they made a pact with each other that they would become doctors. They agreed to study together, encourage each other, and support each other every step of the way. At a young age, these men learned how to be each other’s support system.

I first read their inspiring book The Pact about eight years ago. In the book, they are very transparent about the ups and downs they faced while pursuing their dreams. It wasn’t an easy road for the three of them. They ran into obstacles along the way, including financial obstacles. Anyone who has been to college knows it is not cheap. Many have dropped out of college because of the financial pressures. The Three Doctors even felt like giving up. Nevertheless, they stayed true to their pact and didn’t deviate from the plan. Their constant support of one another is one of the main reasons they chose to attend the same college and medical school. They chose Seton Hall University, in particular, because it offered a program for minority students, who were interested in careers in the medical field.

THE IMPACT
The Three Doctors have made such an impact in the lives of others. In addition to their careers, together they have written three books. The first one is called The Pact. The second one is a children’s book called We Beat the Streets. The third book is entitled The Bond, which focuses on fatherhood relationships.

The Three Doctors also have a non-profit organization called The Three Doctors Foundation. The foundation provides free health, education and mentoring programs for youth and families in the New York and New Jersey areas.

Drs. Davis, Hunt and Jenkins have received many awards, including the Essence Award and the BET Honors Award. They have even served as featured medical experts for The Tom Joyner Morning Show and for CNN News. They were also guests on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

UNIQUE GREATNESS
After reading their book, I am most amazed that, even as youth, The Three Doctors were able to recognize the unique greatness God had placed inside of them. If no one else saw it, they did! Moreover, they understood that if they were going to achieve greatness, they would need each other! They are true role models, not just for black youth, but for all youth, especially for those who don’t have positive role models in their neighborhoods and homes.

Just like Drs. Davis, Hunt and Jenkins, God has placed a unique greatness inside of YOU! What do you desire to do that you’re afraid to do because no one in your neighborhood or family has ever done it before? What do you desire to do that people have told you you can’t do? You don’t have to settle for achieving less to make those around you feel comfortable. It’s not about them anyway—–including family! It’s about YOU and what God has enabled YOU to do! As children of God, we’re not called to be ordinary, but EXTRAordinary. 1 Peter 2:9 says:

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

Children of God, believers in Christ Jesus, YOU ARE SPECIAL! Don’t limit yourself based on other people’s opinions, but see yourself through the eyes of God. Pray that God will surround you with like-minded people who will support you.

Furthermore, as you pursue your dreams, keep this final thought in mind. I recently heard a friend say, “If your dreams don’t scare you, then they’re not big enough!” Therefore, don’t settle for mediocrity, but follow the example of The Three Doctors and be the BEST God has created you to be!

(“The Kimberly Joy Show: Honoring The Three Doctors for Black History Month”)

Sources:
threedoctors.com
thehistorymakers.com

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Hill Harper: A Man of Perseverance

A MAN OF PERSEVERANCE
In honor of Black History Month, I want to recognize acclaimed actor Hill Harper, a man of perseverance. As an actress who uses her gift to inspire others, I truly admire his acting ability. I especially admire his dedication, determination and diligence. Because of his solid work ethic, he is not only an actor, but an author and motivational speaker, who has impacted many lives, particularly those of young African-American men.

Hill Harper was born Frank Harper on May 17, 1966, in Iowa City, Iowa. His father Harry Harper was a psychiatrist. His mother Marilyn Hill was one of the first black anesthesiologists in the country.

Harper began acting when he was only seven years old. Although he didn’t pursue a college degree in drama or theater, he still continued acting while he was in college. As a college student, he became a member of the Boston’s Black Folks Theater Company.

Harper has always been very intelligent, driven and hard working. He graduated magna cum laude from Brown University. Later, he graduated cum laude from Harvard University. He also received a master’s degree in public administration from Kennedy School of Government, which is a part of Harvard University. In fact, while he was at Harvard, he met Barack Obama, who was also a college student at the time.

After Harper graduated from college, he decided to pursue acting as a career. He was fortunate to have his television debut on the hit TV sitcom Married…With Children.

When Harper was featured on Unsung Hollywood on TVOne, he admitted that he walked away from Married With Children to audition for a movie role he really wanted. Unfortunately, he didn’t get the role. So, at that point, he was out of a job.

Harper shared how horrible he felt when he found himself out of work. However, as I mentioned in the blog post “Young and Fearless: The Mae Faggs-Starr Story,” sometimes you have to take risks while pursuing your dreams. Harper really believed in that particular movie and wanted to be a part of it. So, he took a risk. Even though he found himself without an acting job, he dried his eyes and continued PERSEVERING. Harper understood that getting turned down for that particular role didn’t mean he wasn’t a good actor or that acting wasn’t his calling. It just wasn’t the role for him.

THE PROMISES OF GOD

As children of God, we have to have that same mindset. We must realize that sometimes people are going to say no. Nevertheless, being rejected by some people is no excuse to give up on the promises of God. II Corinthians 1:20 lets us know that all the promises of God are yes and amen. Moreover, because Harper continued PERSEVERING, he eventually landed a movie role that left a lasting impression. He was privileged to be in Spike Lee’s movie Get on the Bus.

In the movie, he portrays Xavier, a film student who does a documentary on the Million Man March.

One of THEE best films I have ever seen Hill Harper in is called The Visit. It stars Marla Gibbs, Phylicia Rashad and Billy Dee Williams.
When I saw this particular movie, I knew then that Harper was an actor to be admired. I had never seen him in a role like this before. He truly transformed into that character. In the movie, Harper portrays a prisoner who may have been convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. During the movie, we find out that he has AIDS and that he wants to reconnect with his family, especially his father, before he dies.

Harper did such an excellent job that he won the Audience Award at the Urbanworld Film Festival. He says that he chose that particular role because it was a RISK.

Being a risk-taker is one of the things I admire about Hill Harper. He likes to challenge himself. He doesn’t restrict himself to the same type of characters. And as far as I’m concerned, he is an underrated actor. After seeing several of his projects, I personally believe he can play any role he’s given.

In 2004, Harper joined the cast of CSI:NY. This television drama focuses on a group of forensic detectives and staff who work in a crime laboratory in New York. Harper portrays Dr. Sheldon Hawkes, a chief medical examiner.

Some of Hill Harper’s other projects include: Steel, The Nephew, Park Day, He Got Game, For Colored Girls and 1982. In addition to the Audience Award, Harper has also received the Emerging Artist Award from the Chicago International Film Festival and three Image Awards from the NAACP.

MANIFEST YOUR DESTINY
Besides being a successful actor, Hill Harper is a writer and motivational speaker. In 2006, he published a book entitled Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny. He wrote the book to inspire young African-American men. The book is a collection of inspirational messages on various topics. In addition to writing the book, Harper founded the MANifest Your Destiny Foundation. It is a nonprofit organization which helps fund programs for under-served youth. The foundation’s mission is “to provide under-served youth a path to empowerment and educational excellence through mentoring, academic enrichment programming, college access skills obtainment and the facilitation of psycho-social and physical development strategies.”

I share the story of Hill Harper because, for one, I admire his acting skills. Although I haven’t acted professionally, whenever I perform in a skit or community play, I want whatever character I portray to be real to the audience. So, I’m always gleaning from other actors, like Harper. I also admire his hard work, determination and willingness to take chances and try something new. As I mentioned previously, when Harper found himself without an acting gig, he didn’t give up on his dreams. He didn’t resort to doing something he didn’t really want to do when things got hard. I’m sure he felt discouraged—-he’s human! BUT, he didn’t yield to those negative emotions. He kept his eyes on the prize and kept pushing.

MOVE FORWARD
I want to encourage you to do the same! Just because you’ve been rejected and told no, doesn’t mean you should give up on the promises of God. It just means you have to work a little harder. You just have to be a little more patient. Philippians 3:13-14 are two scriptures that have encouraged me so many times.

13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

As a child of God, as a believer in Christ Jesus, there is nothing you can’t do! You just have to forget the past, forget your past mistakes, forget past rejection, have faith in God and MOVE FORWARD!!!

Sources:
encyclopedia.com
imdb.com
mydf.org

(“The Kimberly Joy Show: Honoring Hill Harper for Black History Month”)

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Young and Fearless: The Mae Faggs-Starr Story

YOUNG AND FEARLESS
An accomplished track and field athlete during the 1940s and 1950s, young and fearless are the words I would use to describe Mrs. Mae Faggs-Starr.

(Mae Faggs-Starr in the starting blocks)

In my previous blog post “A Little Girl Who Believed: The Wilma Rudolph Story,” I was pleased to recognize three-time Olympic gold medalist Wilma Rudolph for Black History Month. Now, I want to recognize Mrs. Starr, the woman who mentored Wilma and made it possible for me to meet the legendary runner. I was fortunate to know Mrs. Starr, who was my health teacher and track coach at Princeton High School in Cincinnati.

Mrs. Starr was born Aeriwentha Mae Faggs on April 10, 1932, in Mays Landing, New Jersey, to William and Hepsi Faggs. She was the only girl in a family of five children. She began running track in elementary school and later became a member of the Police Athletic League. She ran for the league from 1947 till 1952.

In 1948, she competed in her very first Olympics when she was only 16 years old, making her the youngest member of the team. She ran in the 200 meter dash and 400 meter relay. Unfortunately, she didn’t qualify for the finals. She later graduated from Bayside High School in Queens, New York. After high school, Mrs. Starr continued competing. Then in 1952, she and her teammates won a gold medal in the 400 meter relay at the Olympics, setting a world record.

(1952 U.S. 400 Meter Relay Team)

A TENNESSEE STATE TIGERBELLE
In the fall of 1952, Mrs. Starr attended Tennessee State University on a track scholarship and proudly became a Tennessee State Tigerbelle. Since athletic scholarships were rarely offered to female athletes at the time, this was a true blessing! While Mrs. Starr was at Tennessee State, she met Wilma Rudolph, who was still in high school. Each summer, several high school girls, including Wilma, would attend the university’s track camp, which was run by Coach Ed Temple. According to Coach Temple, although Mrs. Starr was very small, she was a world-class sprinter. All the girls, including Wilma, looked up to her. She became their leader and mentor. They affectionately described her as the “mother of the team”.

Four years later, Mrs. Starr returned to the 1956 Olympics with three of her teammates from Tennessee State, including Wilma, who was sixteen years old by this point. Their relay team won a bronze medal for the 400 meter relay event. This particular Olympics was especially meaningful for Mrs. Starr because it marked her as the first American woman to compete in three Olympics.

(M. Faggs-Starr, Coach Temple, W. Rudolph and other members of the 1956 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team)

OTHER ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Mrs. Starr achieved so much during her lifetime. Some of her other accomplishments include being the U.S. 100 meter dash champion in 1955 and 1956. She won the 200 meter title in 1954, 1955 and 1956. She won a silver medal in the 100 meter dash at the 1955 Pan American Games. She also won 11 National Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) titles.

In 1958, Mrs. Starr married Eddie Starr, and they had two children: daughter Evelyn and son Eddie II.

In 1976, she was elected into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame.

After graduating from Tennessee State and retiring from track and field, Mrs. Starr and her family eventually relocated to Cincinnati. She received a master’s degree from the University of Cincinnati and taught physical education and health. After 32 years in education, she retired in 1989. Her final year as a teacher and coach turned out to be a very memorable year, not just because it was the year she retired, but because it was the year she led Princeton High School Girls’ Track Team to a State Championship!

As I mentioned before, I was fortunate to have Mrs. Starr as a health teacher and track coach. I didn’t run in that state championship meet, but I was there to witness my teammates win that title! It was such an exciting time! It was the first and only time the Princeton High School Girls’ Track Team won a state championship title. I believe it was all because of Mrs. Starr’s expertise as a world-class athlete. She didn’t just want the girls to have individual wins, but she wanted the team, as a whole, to win. She, therefore, knew what needed to be done in order to make that happen.

(Sitting in the first row on the far right, I was happy to be a part of the team.)

While researching information about Mrs. Starr, I couldn’t help but notice how her coaches and teammates always acknowledged her as a true leader. She cared about helping others be successful. Although she was competitive, she wasn’t selfish. She took many young athletes, including Wilma Rudolph, under her wing. That kind of leadership and love carried over into her role as a teacher and coach.
(Wilma Rudolph and Mae Faggs-Starr racing to the finish line)

On January 27, 2000, Mrs. Mae Starr died from cancer at the age of 67 in Cincinnati.

(Coach Mae Faggs-Starr)

AN INSPIRATION
I share the story of Mrs. Starr because she was such an inspiration. When I think about all that she accomplished, she did it FEARLESSLY. If she was ever afraid, she didn’t let it show. For those who knew Mrs. Starr, she was very short. So, as an athlete, she was often smaller than her competitors. Nevertheless, she didn’t let that intimidate her. As I mentioned previously, in her very first Olympics in 1948, she was the youngest athlete on the team. However, she didn’t even let age intimidate her. She had a goal, and she went after it! Even though she didn’t win a medal at that particular Olympics, she was determined to compete at the next Olympics, and that is exactly what she did. Not only did she compete, but she took home the gold!

(Olympic Gold Medalist Mae Faggs-Starr)

When Mrs. Starr decided to go to college, she chose a school in the south. Here was a young black woman, born and raised in the north, who didn’t know much or anything about living in the South where segregation was still very much alive. And she didn’t let any fear of the unknown stop her from achieving her goals of earning a college degree.

BE FEARLESS
Just like Mrs. Starr, God is calling for us, His children, to be fearless. One of my favorite scriptures is II Timothy 1:7:

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

If you have a particular goal or dream you want to achieve, what’s stopping you? Who’s stopping you? Romans 8:37 let’s us know that “we are more than conquerors through Christ who loves us.” So, no one can really stop you….but you!

It doesn’t matter what others may think or say. What do YOU say? What does GOD say? Philippians 4:13 says that you can do all things through Christ because He gives you the strength. He enables you to. So, again, what or who is stopping you? Mrs. Starr didn’t let anything or anyone stop her! And neither should you!

I encourage you to step out on faith! Take some chances! Take some risks! Even if you are nervous or afraid, as long as you know that God has shown you the vision, then do it anyway! Move through the fear! As our pastor Apostle Ron Banks always says, “You’ll never conquer anything you refuse to confront.”

Sources:
nytimes.com
books.google.com

(“The Kimberly Joy Show: Honoring Mae Starr for Black History Month”)

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A Little Girl Who Believed: The Wilma Rudolph Story

A LITTLE GIRL WHO BELIEVED
In honor of Black History Month, this week I would like to recognize Wilma Rudolph, a woman who began her journey as a little girl who believed! What did she believe, you ask? She believed that she would overcome every obstacle life had thrown at her from the time she was born. Because of her undying faith, she made history becoming the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field in a single Olympics.

Wilma Rudolph was born on June 23, 1940, in St. Bethlehem, Tennessee, to Ed and Blanche Rudolph. Born prematurely, Wilma had a few serious health problems in her early years, including double pneumonia, scarlet fever and polio. The polio virus is “a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often causes developmental problems in children.” As a result of the virus, she suffered paralysis. When she was finally able to walk, she had to wear braces on her legs until she was about nine years old.

After enduring years of hospital visits and treatments, Wilma stunned her doctors when she began walking without the use of leg braces. Not only did Wilma start walking normally, but she began running and playing basketball with her brothers and sisters and other children her age. Considering all that Wilma had gone through as a child, she was living proof that God performs miracles! Wilma said, “My doctors told me I would never walk again. My mother told me I would. I believed my mother.” Talk about faith! One of the things I always admired about Wilma Rudolph was her faith that one day she would be able to run, jump and play like any other child.

Matthew 17:20 says:

“…If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”

A STAR ATHLETE
Later in high school, Wilma began proving herself as a star athlete when she set a new state record scoring 803 points in twenty-five games as a sophomore on the girls’ basketball team. During this time, she also began attending summer track camps at Tennessee State University with coach Ed Temple. In 1956, at the tender age of 16, she won a bronze medal at the Summer Olympics in the 400-meter relay event. In fact, she ran on that relay team with my high school freshman track coach Mae Starr.

At the 1960 Olympics, Wilma became the first American woman to win three gold medals in the track and field competition. She won the 100-meter dash, the 200-meter dash and the 400-meter relay. To add to her accomplishments, she tied the world record in the 100 meter dash and set a new Olympic record in the 200.

A GREAT INFLUENCE
A couple of years later, Wilma chose to retire from track and field and focus on her new career as a teacher and raising her family. Although Wilma retired, she continued to be a great influence. She definitely influenced me! Her autobiography Wilma, which was also made into a television movie, was published in 1977. The movie starred Oscar winning actor Denzel Washington in his first movie role. He portrayed Robert Eldridge, the man Wilma later married. I can’t tell you how many times I watched my VHS tape of that movie throughout junior high and high school!

In addition, Wilma contributed to inner-city sports clinics and university track teams. She also founded the Wilma Rudolph Foundation which was dedicated to developing young athletes. Wilma was inducted into the National Black Sports and Entertainment Hall of Fame in 1973, the National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1974, the United States Olympic Hall of Fame in 1983 and the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1994.

On November 12, 1994, at the age of 54, Wilma Rudolph died of a brain tumor in Brentwood, Tennessee. I remember when I got the news that she had passed away. I was living on campus at Miami University (Oxford, Ohio). It was either a Saturday or Sunday morning when my dad called to tell me the sad news. After we hung up, I just lay on the bed and cried. You would have thought I had known her personally. Next, I looked up at the pictures of her I had on my dorm room wall. I then thanked God for allowing me the opportunity to meet Wilma face to face.

THE DAY I MET WILMA RUDOLPH
The day I met Wilma Rudolph was a day I will never forget! I was in the 10th grade, and our track team was at the district track meet at Fairfield High School in Fairfield, Ohio. While a few of my teammates and I were standing down by the track to support one of our runners, our former track coach Mrs. Starr surprised us. We were so excited to see her, but we were even more excited when she told us she had THEE WILMA RUDOLPH in the car. I didn’t realize until that moment that she and Wilma had remained friends all those years.

When Wilma walked into the stadium, I couldn’t believe my eyes! She was tall, slender and beautiful just like in all the pictures I had seen of her! Naturally, I asked for her autograph. She agreed to give it to me after the track meet. Well, since I was finished with my events for the day, you know what I did! I sat right next to her until the end of the meet. Then I followed her to the parking lot where she signed an autograph for me (and my brother BJ), which I STILL have in my photo album. It’s too bad we didn’t have camera phones back then because I would have definitely taken a picture of the two of us!

MY HERO
I share the story of Wilma Rudolph because she was my hero. Being a sprinter myself, I connected with her. I also admired her faith and perseverance. It amazed me that a young girl, who always seemed to be sick and could barely walk, later became an Olympic champion. Her story taught me that man doesn’t have the final say. Doctors don’t have the final say. But, GOD has the final say! God chose to heal a little black girl from a poor community in Tennessee simply because she BELIEVED! Young Wilma believed that she would one day walk. Think about that! All it took was her believing! And I believe that not only did she have faith that she would be healed, but she SAW herself healed! I believe she had visions of walking and playing with the other children.

I remember a scene from the movie, in which Wilma was at home with her mother and father while her siblings were off playing somewhere like children typically do. Instead of sitting in the house and feeling sorry for herself, Wilma grabbed the basketball and went outside to the homemade basketball hoop in the front yard. While she was shooting baskets, she removed her shoes and leg braces. When her parents noticed what she had done, they didn’t scold her for taking off her leg braces, but they watched with amazement. James 2:26 says:

“Faith without works is dead.”

Young Wilma understood that she had to put her faith into action!

Another thing I appreciate about Wilma’s story, is the support she received from her parents and siblings. Again, Wilma believed that she would walk because her mother said she would. That says a lot about parental influence. If you are a parent, it’s important that you speak LIFE into your children. You are their biggest influence, especially during their formative years. What you say to them, how you treat them, if you support them, whether or not you love on them, will influence them in a positive OR negative way.

HAVE FAITH
Just like Wilma Rudolph had faith that she would one day live the life of a normal child, I encourage you to have faith that your life is going to turn around for the better! If you need healing, believe God! If you want to go to college, believe God! If you want a better job, believe God! If you want to move into a better neighborhood, believe God! If you want to buy your own home, believe God! Wilma Rudolph was a sickly, physically disabled little black girl from a poor community who grew up to become a world-renowned Olympic champion. If God could do it for her, He can certainly do it for you! You just have to do as she did, remove those hindrances and step out on faith!!!!

Sources:
notablebiographies.com
biography.com

(“The Kimberly Joy Show: Honoring Wilma Rudolph for Black History Month”)

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