Real Role Models: Successful African Americans beyond Pop Culture

Real Role Models: Successful African Americans beyond Pop Culture

Real Role Models: Successful African Americans beyond Pop Culture

Real Role Models: Successful African Americans beyond Pop Culture


All young people need good role models, and black youth especially need positive and real examples beyond the famous and wealthy people they see on SportsCenterhighlights and MTVCribs. While success as a celebrity athlete or entertainer may seem like an achievable dream, the reality is that young African Americans have a much greater chance of succeeding in the professions through education and hard work--and a mentor to show them the path. Real Role Modelsintroduces high school and college-age African Americans to twenty-three black professionals who have achieved a high level of success in their chosen fields and who tell their stories to inspire young people to pursue a professional career and do the work necessary to achieve their dreams.

Some of the individuals profiled by Joah Spearman and Louis Harrison, Jr., include Leonard Pitts, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Miami Herald; Melody Barnes, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council; Danyel Smith, editor-in-chief of Vibe; and Dr. Tim George, Chief of Pediatric Neuroscience at Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas. They and other interviewees describe their backgrounds, career paths, and desire to give back by helping others reach their goals. Representing a wide range of occupations, these real role models prove to African American youths that a whole world of successful, rewarding careers awaits them.

The Real Role Models

  • Rufus Cormier, JD, Partner at the Baker Botts Law Firm, Houston, Texas
  • Melody Barnes, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, Washington, D. C.
  • Eric Motley, PhD, Managing Director of the Aspen Institute's Henry Crown Fellowship Program, Aspen, Colorado
  • James McIntyre, Spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Washington, D. C.
  • Tracie Hall, Assistant Dean and Librarian at Dominican University, River Forest, Illinois
  • Kimberlydawn Wisdom, MD, Surgeon General of the State of Michigan, Lansing, Michigan
  • Timothy George, MD, Chief of Pediatric Neuroscience at Dell Children's Medical Center, Austin, Texas
  • Victoria Holloway Barbosa, MD, Ethnic Dermatologist and Former Executive for L'Oreal, Chicago, Illinois
  • Bill Douglas, White House Correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers, Washington, D. C.
  • Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist for the Miami Herald, Miami, Florida
  • Danyel Smith, Editor of Vibe Magazine, New York, New York
  • Ed Stewart, Managing Director of External Communications for Delta Airlines, Atlanta, Georgia
  • Lynn Tyson, Vice President of Investor Relations for Dell, Austin, Texas
  • Willie Miles, Jr., Founder and CEO of Miles Wealth Management, Houston, Texas
  • Horace Allen, Founder and CEO of TeamPact, Atlanta, Georgia
  • Deavra Daughtry, President and CEO of Excellent Care Management, Houston, Texas
  • Je'Caryous Johnson, Founder and CEO of I'm Ready Productions, Houston, Texas
  • Steve Jones, Cofounder of a graphic design company, Oakland, California
  • Isiah Warner, PhD, Chemistry Professor at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • Gloria Ladson-Billings, PhD, Professor of Education at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin
  • Bernard Muir, Athletic Director at Georgetown University, Washington, D. C.
  • Craig Littlepage, Athletic Director at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia
  • Beverly Kearney, Women's Track Coach at the University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas


While Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life was ended far too soon, no assassin could shoot down his legacy, his dream, or, most of all, his desire for a day when we all would be judged by the content of our character rather than the color of our skin. The election of Barack Obama as the nation’s first black president is a testament to that. Dr. King envisioned an America without racism and prejudice, but also without inequality. He often spoke of this ideal: a nation where every young black boy and girl, like their white counterparts, would grow up with ample opportunities to become successful people. We now know that holding even the world’s most powerful job is within our reach if we set our minds to it.

This book grabs ahold of Dr. King’s dream and channels that positive energy and boundless vision into a single concept: role models. It is not hard to believe that Dr. King would be pleased with some of today’s role models and the opportunities presented to today’s African American youth. And he would likely be displeased with others.

So in writing about black role models, we have tried to capture many of the experiences, perspectives, and thoughts of people who, like President Obama, are following in Dr. King’s footsteps. Though they are not civil rights leaders or politicians, these men and women are trying to make a difference by making something of themselves professionally, modeling . . .

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