Steeped In History by Toyota | A Tour of San Francisco African American History

William Leidesdorff

On March 26, 2017, Toyota hosted a very unique and unforgettable driving tour of the rich African American history in San Francisco, CA.  More than 10 Toyota vehicles caravanned a group of approximately 20 people through the streets of San Francisco. I am a native San Franciscan and it was shocking to hear, for the first time, the impact and pathways that Black people played in what is now a very different San Francisco.  In a city that I have called home for many many years, my very own history was never taught in a public school system that I attended from kindergarten to high school.  I recall taking an African American Studies class in high school and this information was never a part of the syllabus.

Well, here it is. Toyota comes to save the day and it's a breath of fresh air to meet the tour historian Mr. John William Templeton.  Here is just a snippet of what I learned on that tour.  And go!

Toyota
  • William Leidesdorff is only one of two people buried in San Francisco, California.  When Mr. Leidesdorff died in 1854, he was worth $1.4M.
     
  • Langston Hughes lived at 2335 Hyde Street, San Francisco
     
  • Mary Ellen Pleasant was the first African American female millionaire.  The oak tress she planted in front of her mansion which was located on the corner of Octavia & Bush Streets in San Francisco are still standing today.
     
  • Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church is 165 years old and the oldest African American church in San Francisco. Located at 916 Laguna Street.

 

60th San Francisco Int'l. Film Festival | April 5 - 19 | My Picks

The 60th Annual San Francisco International Film Festival returns with yet another epic film line-up showing throughout San Francisco April 5 – 19, 2017.  I am particularly thrilled to see many screenings are scheduled at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.  While I enjoy the ‘taste of cinema’ in various venues throughout San Francisco, YBCA is an amazing space so it’s great to see SFIFF’s partnership with them this year.

Okay, here are my SFIFF 2017 film picks and I hope to see you there as well:

April 8th
11:00 am | State of Cinema, Edwin Catmull at Dolby Cinema
3:30 pm | Tribute to Ethan Hawke at YBCA
7:30 PM | 3-Day Pass at YBCA

April 10th @ 3:00 pm | Lady McBeth at Victoria Theater

April 12th @ 6:00 pm | Tribute to John Ridley - Guerilla at Alamo Drafthouse New Mission

April 15th @ 3:00 pm | Defender at Castro Theater

See a full schedule HERE.

 

Black Violin's UNITY Tour - Stanford University Bing Concert Hall

Kevin Sylvester and Wil Baptist have been hidden gems for a while and that will definitely change overnight.  From playing on tracks by super star artist Jay Z to performing at the White House for President Barak Obama's Inauguration, it goes without saying that the Violin and Viola will quickly become the most sought after instrument of choice to learn among children, youth and young adults.  Why?  Because these gentlemen have mastered the art of blending their trained classical music skills with their love of hip hop music to break society's stereotype, and it's only the beginning.

Black Violin at Bing Conert Hall

Enjoy these clips from their performance on January 28, 2017 at Stanford University's Bing Concert Hall.  It's an enjoyable ride so hold on to your seats.  And go!

How the party started at Bing Concert Hall at Stanford University - https://youtu.be/0kLYhrceGjI

An original never rehearsed piece by Black Violin - https://youtu.be/K7RpS6TfmJA

Do you recognize this familiar piece? A Black Violin Moment - https://youtu.be/ggZGXXsLxGA

The Style Room Workshop by Kesha McLeod and Calyann Barnett | National Tour | First Stop in San Francisco, CA

(December 26, 2016) On Saturday, January 14, 2017, The Style Room Workshop (SRW) makes its first national tour stop at the epic center of tourism and style - San Francisco.  The workshop takes place at The Archery, 470 Alabama Street, San Francisco and it will be, by far, a stylists and burgeoning stylists' playground of education of next-level fashion curation.  The Style Room Workshop (SRW) is a comprehensive learning curriculum geared toward budding stylists looking to further hone their craft.

The ladies leading this 'style room education movement' are two of the industry's most dynamic and sought after celebrity stylists among athletes and entertainers.  They know the importance of what it means to pay-it-forward when it comes to sharing the knowledge and expertise of their craft, which will ultimately continue to lend creed and high level credit to the industry overall.

Kesha McLeod founder of KMCME, INC. and Calyann Barnett, founder of WWB Lifestyle Agency know what it takes to make it in one of the most competitive industries in the world.  In this workshop, students will learn firsthand the tricks and trades that are required to become a successful celebrity stylist.  The multifaceted class will focus on fields such as entertainment, music videos, film and television. movies, sports, photo shoots, ad campaigns, commercials and more. Kesha and Calyann will answer all of your styling questions and enlighten you on questions you have never thought about when it comes to the styling industry..  The more knowledge the better, so the SRW will also have guest speakers and other experts in the field of fashion including agents, buyers and publicists who will give career advice, real life challenges and wins and above all how you can be a sought after stylists who is known for a nitch that you can design and own.

About the Founders of SRW

Kesha McLeod

Kesha McLeod

Kesha McLeod has made a name for herself by utilizing her creative ability to bring out the unique style and elegance of each of her clients. The St. Albans, Queens native found her true calling at the age of 19, when she left her job as a telemarketer and took a position working in a showroom at H&M. After earning a degree in fashion merchandising from Katherine Gibbs School in Manhattan, her big break came when she was recruited by Grammy Award-winning recording artist Ne-Yo to work with him overseas and was tasked with choosing the wardrobe for his entire tour.  Since then she has worked with numerous high-profile-clients in the entertainment and sports industries including Andre Iguodala, Serena Williams, Chris Bosh, Vernon Davis, La La Vasquez-Anthony, Young Jeezy, Veronica Webb, Serge Ibaka, Victor Cruz, Charles Godfrey, Caroline Wozniacki and more.  Kesha’s work can be seen in television commercials, music videos, advertising campaigns, editorials, on the red carpets and at The Espy Awards, The Grammy awards, The Oscars and The Emmy Awards.

Calyann Barnett

Caylann Barnett's fervent imprint on the fashion industry is unlike anyone who has come before her.  More than just a trendsetter, her creative spirit and business-minded drive has conceived visual identities for her clients, Dwayne Wade, Nicki Minaj, Rajon Rondo, Tyrese Gibson, Usain Bolt and Spike Lee have all called upon her distinctive flair.  As have brands like Hublot, Puma, Hennessy, Reebok, Gatorade and T-Mobile. Barnett's fearlessartistic insight and immersive loyalty has helped mold her client's into style icons.  Creating daring looks lithat have graced the pages of Vogue, GH, Sports Illustrated, Forbes and The New York Times.  She is more than just a sartorial ingenuity; she's a businesswoman.

The Style Room Workshop (SRW) takes place on Saturday, January 14, 2017 at The Archery, 470 Alabama Street, San Francisco.  For tickets and more information visit www.styleroomworkshop.com.  For media relations contact: Y'And Burrell, Glass House Communications - yanad@glasshousepr.com

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Marshawn Lynch - From Star NFL Athlete to Fashion Designer

From an NFL star athlete to now fashion designer, Marshawn Lynch showcased his Beast Mode collection for the first time on the runway at Fashion On The Square on November 13, 2016 in San Francisco.  Marshawn Lynch, who recently retired from the NFL, is a leading example of how to take a decorated athletic career to the next level and invest in an industry, fashion, that speaks to every ethnicity, age, culture, ethnicity both nationally and internationally.

 

During the Best Mode segment at Fashion On The Square, there were looks for men, women and even for the 'fluffy girl' as I affectionately call our 'plus size' models. When the 'fluffy girl' came down the runway, it was a standing moment for Marshawn as he was video recording the entire segment.  To see him raise to his feet in excitement about seeing this model rip the runway excited the crowd beyond measure. Also, one of several crowd favorite looks was a women's black sweatshirt with the words 'BLESSED' written in all white very large print on the back.  From the crowd applause it was certainly a show stopper.  Many of the women's wear pieces were worn with heels which gave the overall look something very sophisticated and beyond just athletic wear.

Marshawn opened his flagship store, Best Mode, in October 2015, at 811 Broadway St., in Oakland, CA.  He visits the store often and on any given day or time of day you will see traffic in the store because the collection is just that outstanding.  From the logo to the line, Marshawn Lynch's landing into the fashion industry has many paying close attention to his growth and from millennials to baby-boomers, they all want a piece of his collection in their wardrobe.

Marshawn doesn't just talk the talk when it comes to giving back to his hometown community, but he walks it and it's seen in the charitable activities he hosts where he is giving back to at-risk children and teens throughout Oakland through his Fam 1st Foundation.  It's been one of the best feelings ever to see a native of Oakland give back and do it continuously.

For more information about the Beast Mode Collection visit www.beastmodeonline.com.  To see photos from the fashion show visit www.fashiononthesquare.com.

Press Release: 11th Annual Fashion On The Square Featuring Michael Costello & Radmila Lolly

FOTS 2013 Designer Colleen Quen

(October 15, 2016 - San Francisco, CA)  On Sunday, November 13, 2016 at 7:00 pm at the InterContinental Hotel, 888 Howard Street in San Francisco, Fashion On The Square (FOTS) will celebrate its 11th Anniversary in style and as always showing the best in fashion.  This year FOTS features couture designerMICHAEL COSTELLO and opera singer/couture fashion designer RADMILA LOLLY.

Michael Costello is nationally recognized and known for his impeccable design of dresses and gowns.  His signature look has been worn by many celebrities including Beyonce, Angela Bassett, Jennifer Lopez, Queen Latifah,  Tracee Ellis Ross, Christina Aguilera and many others.  Mr. Costello's recognition grew by leaps and bounds after he appeared on Project Runway several years ago and has since been a designer favorite by the stars and those who set fashion trends.  Mr. Costello will be showing his most recent New York Fashion Week collection on the runway at FOTS this year on November 13th and it will be show stopper indeed.

Opera singer and couture fashion designer RADMILA LOLLY, from New York, NY, will feature stellar gowns on the runway accompanied by a live performance by the designer herself.  When you're ready for the Met Ball or attending an opening nite at the opera, you will definitely want to wear a gown designed by Radmila Lolly.  Ms. Lolly is a classically trained soprano and who sings in Russian, German, Latin, English, Italian and Spanish. Her repertoire includes arias like “Porgi Amor” from Le nozze di Figaro, “Un bel di Vedromo” from Madame Butterfly, “Habanera” from Carmen, Tosca’s “Visse d’arte,” and “Brindisi” from La Traviata.  Radmila has performed in several concerts and in venues around the world – such as Carnegie Hall,  Formula -1 2014 in Abu Dhabi, London Fashion Week, New York Fashion Week, the NYC Winter Film festival and many others.

Other designers showing on the runway on November 13th are Beast Mode by Marshawn Lynch, Rickie Lee, Rebecca Cahua, Dark Garden, I Do Bridal Boutique and more.

About Fashion On The Square (FOTS)
FOTS is one of the largest and longest running charity fashion shows on the West Coast.  FOTS+TheArts, the non-profit arm of Fashion On The Square, raises funds for students who blend fashion and art in their collections and those who advocate for STEAM, putting the 'A' in STEM (i.e. Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math).  FOTS+The Arts was founded in 2009 when, for the first time, a performing arts segment was introduced to the FOTS runway and since that time the show has elevated beyond measure.  That performance was by ballerina Caroline Rocher, who at that time was with Alonzo King LINES Ballet. 

A partial list of designers who have graced the FOTS runway include B Michael, Colleen Quen, Joseph Domingo, Chris March, Cindy Quach and many others.

The 11th Annual Fashion On The Square takes place on Sunday, November 13, 2016 at the InterContinental Hotel, 888 Howard Street, San Francisco at 7:00 pm.  For  and more information visit the website at www.fashiononthesquare.com or send an email to Y'Anad Burrell, yanad@fashiononthesquare.com.  Media Contact: Glass House Communications at yanad@glasshousepr.com.

 

 

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Black Enterprise Tech ConneXt 2016 - The Business of Tech at its Best!

Samara Lynn

Now, how many people do you know own more than 3,000 comic books?  I was beyond thrilled to hear this when I interviewed Samara Lynn, Tech Editor for Black Enterprise Magazine.  Samara's adventure into collecting comic books started at the age of 13, while living in the suburbs of Long Island, New York.  The neighborhood kids, at that time, were into comic books and Samara took a liking right along with them growing up.  While she stopped collecting comic books around the age of 30, she is very clear that her favs were, at that time, The (Avengers), X-Men and Spider-Man.

This year BE's Tech ConneXt Summit takes place October 10 - 11, 2016 at the Marriott Hotel, Burlingame, CA (SF airport location).  Samara has had ample time to prepare for this year's summit, which is very different from last year when it was her third day on the job when she was given the assignment to travel to the West Coast to BE's first Tech ConneXt.  Diving right into the splash, while it was a surprise, it was certainly not unfamiliar territory for Samara.  She was able to hit the ground running and was pleased the conference went very well.  This year, Samara says, "There are a few things that will be different, one of them being that Black Enterprise wants to make the conference much more 'tech engagement' focused by way of expanding the exhibition space to more interactive technology opportunities.  Also, when it comes to the student engagement and their hackathon period, it will be around the clock, 24 hrs., which is far different from last year where there were stops and starts throughout the day with workshops, etc. for the students."  Samara also says that there will be a stronger relationship with partners where the students will have a connection year-round in addition to what they experience onsite during their tours.  The Toyota Research Institute is one major partner that will be further developed this year as will again have an opportunity to tour the facility during Tech ConneXtand Black Enterprise will build stronger bridges with Toyota to continue the student engagement for months beyond the conference.

I attended Tech ConneXt last year and was very impressed with the information shared by the panelists and the student presentations were very high level and engaging.  This conference is certainly the missing link that is hugely visible in the tech space in Silicon Valley, as it elevates the skills, talents and resources that people of color, particularly African Americans, have to contribute to the technology industry.  Also, and more importantly, this summit shows aspiring youth, first hand, who are interested in a STEM education and future, how they can make those dreams a reality.

Samara is excited about what the conference will bring this year and she is confident the outcomes will be favorable.  I would tend to agree that this year will be quiet the tech conference, especially when there is a line-up of confirmed speakers that include Ryan Leslie, CEO, MZRT; Tristan Walker, CEO Founder, Walker & Company; Ime Archibong, Director of Global Partnerships, Facebook and many others.

Samara Lynn has over 15 years experience in Information Technology and is the technology editor for Black Enterprise. She was a technology editor for the prestigious CRN Test Center and lead Networking and Business Analyst for PCMag.com (formerly PC Magazine).  Lynn has appeared as a technology commentator on Fox Business News, National Business Report (NBR), and Reuters TV. She is the author of "Windows Server 2012: Up and Running" and received the Small Business Influencer Top 100 Champion award in 2013 under the "Journalists" category.