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3 African-Americans Making History Today

Published on February 14, 2013 by Karen Newmeyer

It’s that time of year again. Temperatures are rising, mailboxes are overflowing with Valentine’s Day cards, and Black History Month (African American History Month) is in full swing. Ah yes, it’s February… the time of year when we’re reminded of the most influential African-Americans in our nation’s history, whose achievements have been permanently etched into American consciousness.
Here at the Broadview-Orem Library, we have on display several popular books and DVDs relating to—or written by—African-Americans in tribute to Black History Month. But instead of focusing on the past, let’s highlight some influential, contemporary African-Americans that are legends in the making.

Broadview University

Black History Month Library Display

LeBron James
Sports fans everywhere are watching in awe as this gold-winning Olympian and NBA star tears up the basketball court with pure, unadulterated athleticism. LeBron James is in an elite category with Michael Jordan as one of only two players to win an NBA championship, an NBA MVP Award, and an Olympic gold medal in the same season.
LeBron was born in 1984 in Akron, Ohio, to a young mother who raised him by herself. Childhood wasn’t easy for him, and he soon found basketball to be an outlet for his problems. He pursued his love for the sport during high school and worked his way up through increasingly competitive teams. When he landed on the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003, he distinguished himself as one of the NBA’s best players. But it wasn’t until he signed a six-year contract with the Miami Heat that he was finally recognized on a grand scale as one of the best players in the world.
Setting LeBron apart from other players is also his knack for business. In 2007, he teamed up with Nike to market LeBron X, a high-quality basketball shoe. His fame grew as he participated in a variety of marketing campaigns and made more public appearances. He has been so widely promoted in the past few years that it is rare for someone not to have heard the name LeBron James.

Ben Carson
This man has created a buzz in the news recently because of his speech at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast held on February 7. Speakers at the annual event are advised to steer clear of political topics, but Carson either didn’t get that memo or he disregarded it altogether. He proceeded to openly criticize the president on topics ranging from health care to taxation to the national debt.
Carson has since come under condemnation from news outlets and viewers for politicizing the event when it is traditionally a non-political gathering. Other spectators are praising him for his boldness and his ability to argue his points logically and unabashedly, even in the presence of President Obama. Some people were so moved by his arguments that they are encouraging Carson to run for political office in 2016.
So, who is this guy? People have been Googling his name ever since the National Prayer Breakfast. His résumé is nothing short of remarkable, especially taking into account his very humble upbringing. Born to a single mother in 1951 in Detroit, Michigan, Carson’s family struggled financially. His mother did not have the “victim” mindset, however, and simply impressed upon him the value of education at a very young age. Although Carson struggled through elementary school, he was soon reading up to two books a week (per his mother’s orders) and later was accepted to Yale University.
All of that reading his mother enforced paid off when Carson decided to further his education and study medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School. Upon graduating, he quickly became one of the top pediatric neurosurgeons in the country. He has written numerous books, won several awards, and is definitely on his way to leaving behind a very memorable legacy.
Shonda Rhimes
Creator, writer, and executive producer of television’s popular medical drama series “Grey’s Anatomy,” its spin-off “Private Practice,” and the more recent drama series “Scandal,” Shonda Rhimes is certainly a force to be reckoned with.
Born in 1970 in Chicago, Ill., Rhimes is the daughter of well-educated parents: a university administrator and a college professor. Rhimes is said to have displayed an interest and talent in storytelling at a very young age. She would later pursue her talent at the University of Southern California where she studied screenwriting. Ranked at the top of her class, Rhimes earned a Master of Fine Arts from USC’s School of Cinema-Television.
“Grey’s Anatomy” fans have Rhimes to thank for her unparalleled ability to create compelling storylines that leave fans coming back for more. While people love watching talented actors banter back and forth on-screen, it is the writing of any television series that makes or breaks it. The degree of talent it takes to keep viewers’ attention week after week is definitely a gift, and Rhimes keeps her audience so intrigued that they can’t wait to see how each series will unfold.
It is the strong, intelligent, and successful women of color like Shonda Rhimes who are changing the world and bringing new meaning to Black History Month.
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Whether on the basketball court, in the emergency room, or behind the scenes of a network drama, LeBron James, Ben Carson, and Shonda Rhimes are just three of millions of African-Americans who are making history with their own unique accomplishments.
Contributed by Ashtyn Creel

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