Trae tha Truth


The heroes in comic books wear capes; legendary rapper Trae tha Truth prefers a grill and fitted cap. For more than 20 years, he’s been rapping about the realities of life growing up in Houston. The star has collaborated on songs with Nipsey Hussle, Slim Thug, Kevin Gates, and more. Even with a solid discography, he’s made a bigger name for himself through his philanthropic efforts in his hometown. Over the years, he’s partnered with the nonprofit education organization Bridging the Digital Divide to provide computer systems for computer centers in low-income apartments, rented out a gas station and donated gallons to hundreds of families, provided Christmas gifts for the holidays, and supported residents during an unprecedented deep freeze. This past summer, Trae opened up an ice cream shop in Texas to support adults with disabilities, giving them an outlet to work and make a living. It’s no wonder that H-Town gave the recording artist his own “Trae Day” in 2008 to honor his activism. The day has since expanded into a citywide festival for philanthropic good. Trae tha Truth’s nonprofit, Relief Gang, has been on the ground in Louisiana to help residents affected by Hurricane Ida, all while raising nearly $24,000 with the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) for more charitable projects and community events.

Regina Jackson


Regina Jackson is dedicated to helping at-risk youth in Oakland. She heads the East Oakland Youth Development Center (EOYDC), which offers programs that engage them in forming relationships with adults and mastering skills, contribute to their well-being, and foster community. “EOYDC’s biggest challenge is combating hopelessness,” she has said. Jackson nurtures a sense of possibility in her youth by holding them to high standards and exposing them to opportunities they may have never even dreamed of, including foreign travel. She has won numerous awards, including the Humanitarian Award from the City of Oakland. In 2017, she gave a TEDx talk, “Taking Risks to Transform.” 

Deon Jones


At just 19 years old, Deon Jones made headlines as the youngest elected official in Washington, D.C.’s history, winning enough votes to make it onto the D.C. Advisory Neighborhood Commission. Since then, he’s been all over the political world, interning for Congress and then Vice President Joe Biden’s office. Jones has also worked with New America, a think tank aiming to rewire the labor market in ways that encourage more upward mobility for lower- and middle-class workers. Last year, he took his political action to the streets and faced grave danger: In May 2020, during the Los Angeles protests of the killing of George Floyd, Jones was shot in the face with a rubber bullet by a police officer. Two bones were broken and another one fractured, and a facial laceration required seven stitches. He later found out from an optometrist that the bullet was less than an inch away from blinding him. Jones hasn’t let his life-changing experience deter him, however. He’s now taking the fight back to the LAPD and suing them to ban police projectiles across the department.

Brandon McEachern, Marcus Allen, Darryl Perkins & Jermon Williams


(Clockwise from top left) Brandon McEachern, Marcus Allen, Jermon Williams, and Darryl Perkins noticed there wasn’t a space for people who looked like them to learn about and share their interest in the environment, so they put together an Earth Day celebration. That’s when Broccoli City was born. With a name derived from the sustainable streetwear line owned by McEachern and Allen, Broccoli City began as a concert featuring popular music acts (Kendrick Lamar, Cardi B, Anderson .Paak, and Erykah Badu have appeared) and has since expanded to include a seminar with guest speakers discussing issues affecting the community. The social enterprise organization is committed to educating, equipping, and mobilizing youth to create thriving urban communities that can sustain future generations.

Missionary Ellen K. Clark


Evangelist Ellen K. Clark is the descendant of a long line of preachers, so it was only natural for her to follow in their footsteps. However, the native Mississippian is finding creative ways to spread the gospel. You can catch the highly sought-after teacher and speaker known as Missionary Ellen conducting Bible study, doing inspirational readings and monthly devotionals, and running a local food bank and clothing ministry. She is truly dedicated to serving others. What’s perhaps allowed her to cast a wider net to do so is her Missionary Prayer Call. People from all over the world can dial in for this conference, which involves worship, intercessory prayer, praise reports, and devotionals. Folks in need can call three times a day and twice on the weekend. The Mississippi Prayer Call has been a steady, reassuring presence for many, especially during this past year.

Dr. Kendell Jasper and Kainon Jasper


Kendell Jasper (left), Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, and his brother Kainon Jasper (far left), who together are known as Doc n’ da Dude, bring an honest, commonsense clinical approach to addressing the challenges faced by many young men of color entering adulthood. In 2004, the brothers co-founded Jasper Psychological Services, a group outpatient therapy practice. The organization provides services to those struggling with mental illness, developmental disabilities, and/or substance abuse. The Jaspers regularly appear on television news, radio, and social platforms to discuss topics affecting Black Americans through the lens of mental health.

Eunique Jones Gibson


Gibson is committed to educating and connecting a new generation to heroes who have paved the way for us. Her Because of Them We Can campaign—encouraging young African-Americans to honor the legacy of their ancestors through their individual pursuit of greatness—went viral. It features photographs and videos of children paying homage to successful Black leaders, activists, and celebrities of the past and present. Gibson’s ability to leverage social media for activism and awareness is something she has cultivated and evolved into a platform for Black excellence. Because of Them We Can offers a subscription box that inspires kids to achieve by teaching Black history monthly. She’s also launched Dream Village, a co-working space in Maryland that allows creators to build a supportive community in physical and virtual areas. And she is the maker of the hottest new game, #CultureTags, which tests just how well you know the culture.

Alice Marie Johnson


After serving more than 21 years in federal prison for her role in a nonviolent drug case—her first and only conviction—Alice Marie Johnson was granted clemency by former President Donald Trump on June 6, 2018, and, more recently, a full pardon on August 28, 2020. Johnson’s story received global attention when Kim Kardashian West met with Trump to advocate for her release from a mandatory life sentence without parole. Many have cited Johnson’s case as a critical catalyst for the successful passage of the First Step Act, the most significant criminal justice legislation in recent history. Johnson now advocates for others and fights for criminal justice reform for the women and men who are still incarcerated. She is a published author. Her memoir is After Life: My Journey From Incarceration to Freedom.

Emil Wilbekin


Four years ago, Emil Wilbekin decided to address a glaring need and founded his revolutionary organization, Native Son, to empower Black queer men. Not one to dream small, Wilbekin explains on the organization’s web page that it “embodies a global platform that illuminates Black gay/queer men and assures them of their worthiness and purpose in all communities in which they exist.” Out of silence, he has created a chorus of voices; from alienation, he has nurtured community. Native Son is a first of its kind.


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