Ashanti Douglas, Topping the Charts and Helping Frontline Workers

File: Ashanti 2012.jpg” by MoniqueTatum is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

| Written by Melony F. Carter | February 14, 2021|

Grammy award winner, actress, songwriter, and student of professional dance— Ashanti Douglas was born October 13, 1980 in the small city of Glen Cove, not far from Long Island, New York.

Ascending From Dance to Music

With a strong foundation in performance arts, she studied at the school of Bernice Johnson Cultural Arts Center. Ashanti’s mother, now “momager” Tina Douglas and father, Kincaid Douglas had allowed Ashanti to express herself as a talented dancer.

Soon her dedication would yield results, allowing her to perform at Carnegie Hall and the Apollo Theater. As a youth, Ashanti would go on to earn a spot in the Disney TV movie, “Polly” for director and choreographer Debbie Allen.

Cultivated to dance, at eleven, Ashanti’s mother was convinced her daughter was born to be a star. One day upon overhearing Ashanti singing an acapella version of Mary J Blige’s, song, “Reminisce” Tina believed she was meant to sing.

The Record Label’s Lead Vocalist  

An honor student in high school, Ashanti was offered athletic and academic scholarships for Princeton University and Hampton University. But it was her passion for a career in music that drove her to continue pursuing a record deal. For her, to nestle her R & B techniques with hip-hop and rap, would allow her to standout. Ashanti searched for the right record label. After leaving Def Jam she signed with gangster label, Murder Inc. becoming the first lead vocalist. With the chance to flex, Ashanti showcased her talent on the chorus “How We Roll” with artist Big Pun.

Topping the Billboard Charts

Confident, that Ashanti was ready for the mainstream, executive record producer Irv Gotti, decided it was time for the songstress to release her own album, “Ashanti”.

In April of 2002, with hits like “Always on Time” featuring Ja Rule, and so forth, Ashanti was the first artist since the Beatles, to have two songs, “Foolish” and “What’s Luv?” in the Hot 100 Billboard top ten— alongside, the third, that she wrote for singer, Jennifer Lopez, “Ain’t It Funny” in the first week of her album release.

Acting, Awards and Philanthropy

Holding over 73 acting credits and the recipient of many awards, Ashanti has appeared in role such as, the film Coach Carter (2005), Malcolm X (1992), John Tucker Must Die (2006) and Resident Evil: Extinction (2007). She has also appeared in the TV series Proud Family, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. 

Most recently, today, Ashanti Douglas, during the pandemic— has reached out in support of frontline workers in New York Hospitals by providing 30,000 N95 masks and 400 breakfasts from “Beyond Meat and Dunkin’ Donuts,” vegan breakfasts sandwiches. She has also released her new single, “I Want You” (2021) which is already streaming on most social media platforms.   

Cited Works:

Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Ashanti.” Encyclopedia Britannica, February 14, 2021

Staff Writer, Los Angeles, CA, Enjoli, Audrey of Live Kindly. “Ashanti Supports Frontline Workers With Free Vegan Meat.” MAY 1ST, 2020

An Original Influencer, Cicely Tyson

| Written by Melony F. Carter | February 7, 2021|

A Broadway performer, a multi-generational award-winning actress, a former Ebony magazine model, the dignified Cicely Tyson, (1924 – 2021) was a pathfinder.   

Since the early 1950’s— a prominent figure in the film community, Cicely Tyson, purposefully made it her true intention to represent a positive image of Black women in film and media. An early trendsetter and supporter of the natural hair movement, Cicely, was one of the first women to wear an afro on the TV series East Side West Side (1963). She would later go on to wear cornrows in the film Sounder (1972), which gained her a nomination for best actress for an Academy Award.  

As an actress, Cicely considered roles that displayed the progression of the Civil Rights movement to be necessary. In 1978, she went on to act in both TV mini-series King as Coretta Scott King, and as Harriet Tubman in A Woman Called Moses.

She was best known for roles like, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1994) which won her two Emmy Awards, Roots (1977), Harlem (1997), and the 1968 film version of Carson McCullers’s The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter and her Emmy winning TV movie Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All (1994).  

Growing up in Harlem, Cicely’s parents were immigrants from the Caribbean island of Nevis that helped to ground her in her religious roots.  

With a strong passion in gospel music, she eventually developed her very own Cicely Tyson Community School for Performing and Fine Arts located in East Orange, NJ. In 2015— Tyler Perry, opening his 330-acre lot production facility in the heart of Atlanta, named one of his sound stages after Cicely Tyson in her honor.  


Biography, Editors of Biography. “Cicely Tyson.” Biography, January 28, 2021.

Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Cicely Tyson.” Encyclopedia Britannica, January 28, 2021.

Millennials, are they the Source for Preventing the Spread of the Coronavirus?

| Written by, Melony F. Carter | March 29, 2020 | At 2:37 a.m. |


As the whole world tries to heal from a runny nose, some millennials are finding it difficult to believe that the Coronavirus (Covid-19) is a real infectious disease.

Unless, recently, you have decided to ignore current events or have purposefully hidden yourself away from all mankind underneath a rock for three months, than you should be pretty familiar with the common day phrases, “stay at home, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds and practice social distancing with six feet of spacing.”

Hidden Carriers  

As doctors continue to study Covid -19, some outcomes have shown the virus has three levels of exposure consisting of mild-moderate, severe and critical.

In most cases, exposure to the virus has proven more severe and critical on those older populations, 85 > with underlining illnesses and less of an impact on those aging 20-44 and younger.

In the article, If you have lost your sense of smell or taste you could be a ‘hidden carrier’ of the coronavirus, published by Yahoo News reporter Adam Bienkov, explains, “evidence compiled by leading Rhinologists in the UK, [those that] have sudden loss of smell could be a “hidden carrier”.

In another report, Severe Outcomes Among Patients with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) — United States, February 12–March 16, 2020, the CDC (Center of Disease and Prevent Center) shows out of 4,226, 29% of the cases reported were 20-44-year-old, 20% received hospitalization, and 2%-4% ICU.

Convincing Millennials

Though some millennials, still question this common day pandemic’s validity; and make reckless statements like, “I don’t care if I get the coronavirus,” as they proved it by planning spring break trips to the beach. There are many public health officials that are attempting to convince millennials to stop the spreading of the virus by staying home.

“Vanderbilt Beach in Florida” by Spencer-Scott is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0  

Ambassador of the State Department’s global AIDS director, Dr. Deborah L. Birx, had this to say during the March 16, 2020 Presidential briefing, “millennials are the key because they’re the ones that are out and about and most likely to be in social gatherings and most likely to be least symptomatic.”

According to the magazine, Forbes after conducting a Forbes Under 30 Poll, nationwide, “[they] found that an astounding 35% of Americans aged 18-29 believed that the COVID-19 crisis is overblown.”

Though some would be surprised by these percentages, some millennials agree, says a source that I spoke with yesterday. The gentleman was a millennial in his early thirties, who had just listened to an update on the radio about the number of covid-19 cases in his state. After hearing the report, he replied, “I wish they would talk about something else instead of coronavirus.” By his tone, he seemed almost annoyed.  As he continued, he mentioned, “There are other things going on. It’s really not that important.”

Social Gatherings   

No matter your surroundings, nowadays, avoiding large social gatherings is becoming a necessary norm. As world doctors and scientists continue to scramble for a new relief, in a vaccination, or cure, global leaders are trying to convince not only millennials, but everyone, to stop ignoring the presence of a pandemic and to start engaging in fun activities at home.  

As an alternative, many businesses, restaurants and entertainers are providing responsible options for dining-in, hosting social gatherings and parties, on social media platforms and entertainment— such as free concerts, ballets and other shows. Even churches are live streaming services and gyms are promoting “work-in’s”.

Other indoor activities like reading, board games, playing video games, streaming movies, puzzles or even gardening, depending on your location, could be other resourceful options for self-isolation.

Yes, be mindful, that covid-19 is a respiratory disease that is easily spread by an infected person who coughs or sneezes exposing others to droplets, so have an alternative plan to avoid social gatherings.  


Overall, whether you are a presumptive positive patient, hidden carrier or just someone whose self-isolating at home; regardless, millennial or not, let’s all do our best to encourage each other to help heal this sick world and try to prevent spreading the coronavirus.

For those who may need medical assistance, the company Apple Inc. has partnered with the White House, CDC and FEMA to create a Covid- 19 Screening Tool for online screening. For more information visit Apple Inc.’s website at:

Don’t Panic! Make Way for the Elderly Shoppers

|Written by, Melony F. Carter|March 21, 2020|At 5:30 a.m.|

“My feet hurt…,” is all I could say last Saturday after spending countless hours walking through dozens of area supermarkets in search of, as of late, America’s three most highly sought-after commodities water, meat and toilet paper.

An early riser, and full of energy and vigor, that day; I attempted to grocery shop as usual. Met by large crowds of busy shoppers, I soon realized that my normal weekend routine was no longer a normal routine.

Something had changed…

The shelves were bare, the lines were longer, and the other shoppers seemed anxious.

Photo “Sandy empties the bread shelves” by Rick Payette is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 COPY RICH TEXT

Walking about the aisles, on the hunt for products, I spoke with several of my neighbors, other shoppers, store managers and cashiers. With no medical face mask, rubber gloves, hand sanitizer or cleaning products in sight, the atmosphere was different.

After purchasing food, some items at inflated prices; it was clear to me that there had been a cultural shift. My every day buying experience was different, and I had recognized that during the face of this global pandemic, the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) had sparked the American consumer to enact the booming trend to panic buying, making a simple trip to the supermarket a daunting hassle, and even more so for the most vulnerable customers, the elderly shoppers.

Watching the elderly shoppers, I noticed many of them staring at empty shelves and struggling to keep up with the fluttering crowds.

Many of them, who didn’t mind a smile were very friendly, and wanted to find something to eat just like the rest of us.

Eger to engage in conversation, one source that I spoke with, a male in his mid-70’s, had attempted to find a case of distilled water, “well there is no more water, what the h*…, I’ll buy lemon aid” he stated.

Sarcastically, he continued to ask, “There is water in lemon aid, right?”

As he placed a jug of lemon aid into his cart, I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d have to settle for lemon aid too.

Continuing our conversation, we walked to a nearby  meat freezer where I pulled a few bags of chicken and he shook his head gazing at the nearly empty shelves, “my grandparents told me about the food shortages, but I never imagined seeing them in my lifetime,” he said.

Photo “Trump Victory Greeted With Global Financial Panic” by Mike Licht, is licensed under CC BY 2.0 COPY RICH TEXT

Standing there, a bit taken back by his comments, I nodded recognizing his reference was about the Great Depression in the late 1920’s – an early 1930’s (during the fall of the stock market, high unemployment rates and soup kitchens). On a mission, by the end of the day, I had only crossed a few items off my list.

As the week progressed, many Americans continued impulsively panic buying while the CDC (Center of Disease Control and Prevention) continued reporting new cases of infected Coronavirus patients. According to their numbers, the older adult over 65, who had heart disease, lung disease or diabetes showed a higher risk in, “8 out of 10 deaths reported in the U.S.”

To-date, in America alone there are over 15,000 presumptive positive cases and over 200 deaths have been recorded as of, January 12, 2020. Leaving many spectators to wonder, “Should senior citizens have special shopping hours because they are the most vulnerable to the virus?”

With nearly 40,000 grocery store chains in the United States, the answer was clear, when larger retailers like Albertsons, Walmart, Kroger, Wholefoods, Smiths, and Dollar General, decided to care for the elder population and responsibly change their operational hours by making “elderly hours” available to senior citizens.

Able to avoid panicky crowds, now elderly shoppers have the opportunities to apply social distancing practices from the Coronavirus with more options to buy distilled water instead of having to settle for a jug of lemon aid.

The First Lady of Song, Ella Fitzgerald


Written by, Melony F. Carter

Picture: Creative Commons
Date: February 27, 2019
Elegant, harmonious, jazz legend; this tribute is for, “The First Lady of Song” Ella Fitzgerald!With a singing career that lasted nearly 50 years, it is no wonder her artistic talent helped her overcome hard times to become an uncompromising, renowned award-winning jazz, swing and scatting musician.

Her Courage

Born in 1918 in Newport News, Virginia Ella Fitzgerald was privy to the jazz era that began in the 1920’s. As this new genre blossomed into a new musical concept its style was established with roots in “Spirituals, blues, field hollers, African rhythms, folk songs, and marches.” As the new form of music developed popularity, Ella would soon become a part of its impact.

In 1934, at the age of 16, ready to showcase her talents; originally Ella had agreed to dance for the first-time during amateur night at Harlem’s own Apollo Theater. But once it was time to entertain the crowd due to a bad case of stage fright Ella had become so nervous that she could not perform her routine. Overwhelmed by the pressure, unrehearsed she had courageously decided to sing instead. Recalling her mother’s tunes by the Boswell Sisters, “Believe it, Beloved” and “Judy”— she sang. Her last-minute decision was brilliant enough to actually win $25 that night gaining her the reputation as a singer.

Afterwards, she continued to enter talent shows singing around town. She eventually landed herself jobs performing in 1934 with saxophonist Benny Carter, and in 1935 she would professionally sing with the Tiny Bradshaw band making $50.

Overcoming Tragedy

Orphaned at the age of 17, by the passing of her mother in 1935, bandleader Chick Webb and his wife Sallye Webb adopted Ella. Overcoming the lost, Ella would soon go on to record her first song with the Chick Webb Orchestra entitled, “Love and Kisses” which opened up doors for various songs like, 1935 and her first hit, “A-Tisket, A-Tasket, Porgy and Bess (1957), and many others. She also toured with the Philharmonic and in 1958 Fitzgerald won a Grammy for her work, The Irving Berlin Songbook.
Today in Honor Of 
Said by Bing Crosby, “Man, women or child, Ella is the greatest singer of them all” today she is still acknowledged as one of the best vocalists in history. To honor her remarkable deeds an excellence, on December 2, 1979 in Washington, D.C., Mrs. Fitzgerald was honored by President Jimmy Carters wife, Rosalynn Carter at the Kennedy Center. In 1987 she was also awarded the National Medal of Arts by Ronald Reagan.

Before she passed away in 1996, she also had the opportunity of working with other jazz musicians such-as Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington and Dizzy Gillespie who is seen here in this infamous photograph gazing at Ella as he is captivated by her singing the song, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.

Works Cited:
Kliment, Bud. Ella Fitzgerrald. Grolier Incorporated, 1990.


Rosa Parks

Rosa ParksRosa Parks

Written by, Melony F. Carter
Picture: Creative Commons
Date: February 11, 2019

Selfless, in my opinion, this word honestly depicts Rosa Parks in this image. Undergoing fingerprinting on December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama for her stance against racial inequality practices in the United States, as an African American activist Mrs. Rosa Parks is a global hero.

Early Years

Born in Tuskegee, Alabama on February 4, 1913 Rosa Louise McCauley was married to Mr. Raymond Parks in 1933. Working by trade as a seamstress, Rosa had a second job as a secretary for the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). One afternoon, December 1, 1955; after getting off work from the department store Mrs. Parks who took the Montgomery Cleveland Avenue bus had refused to give up her seat in the front row, when the driver had demanded she do so and move to the back row. During that time, noncompliance was considered a criminal act in the state of Alabama.

Her Charge

Arrested, for her act, she was fined $10, which was paid for by E.D. Nixon. Reports of her charge caused a domino effect that ratified the entire system. Being a member of the NAACP (1943 – 1956) and The Women’s Political Council (WPC) news spread quickly about the arrest. And discussion of a boycott to end segregation begun.

Overcoming the Pressure

The news was so prevalent that it was publicized on December 4, in the Montgomery Advertiser newspaper. Once the boycott arose it lasted from December 5, 1955, through December 20, 1956. The nonviolent boycott’s led by such members including, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ultimately ended the city’s racial segregation ordinances.
Today in Honor Of

Enduring, bomb threats, violence, and protests Rosa Parks is an example of the change that real determination can bring. Awarded with the Congressional Gold Medal from the U.S. Congress in 1999, Mrs. Rosa Parks, is a legendary civil rights activist. Her act of bravery, in the face of racial turbulence will always be remembered as a pivotal celebrated moment in American History.

Works Cited
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Rosa Parks
American civil-rights activist.” Encyclopaedia Britannica,
The Editors of “Montgomery Bus Boycott.”,

Number 42, Jackie Robinson!

Written by, Melony F. Carter
Picture: Creative Commons
Date: February 5, 2019

With 137 home runs, a batting average of .311 and a record of 29 bases stolen during his overall baseball career as a First, Second and Third base runner, Jackie Robinson (Number 42) played for the Brooklyn Dodgers, who could deny his prolific talent as an athlete.

Education and Career
First attending school at Pasadena Junior College in 1938, Jackie would soon be transferred to UCLA in 1939-1940. According to CMG Worldwide, “at UCLA, Jackie became the first athlete to win varsity letters in four sports: baseball, basketball, football and track. In 1941, he was, [selected for] …the All-American football team.”

Soon after he would go on to join the U.S. Army from 1942-1945 to become a second Lieutenant. Though facing racial discrimination, he received an honorable discharge.
Known for his good reputation and sportsmanship like demeanor Robinson according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, “he was” purposely chosen to help break the color barriers that where established during the 20th century. Mr. Robinson, was to play “as an infielder and outfielder for [the National League Brooklyn] Dodgers from 1947 through 1956.”

Overcoming the Pressure
As time progressed Mr. Robinson faced many challenges on the field like hateful name calling, bottles being tossed at him, ugly commentary, death threats, as-well-as strikes and the Jim Crow laws. But with the love and support of friends and family he was able to overcome his many trials to receive accolades making Rookie of the Year in 1947, during his first season.

Winning Season
Some of his accomplishments include, winning six league championships and one World Series. Also, in 1949 Jackie was named the league’s Most Valuable Player (MVP). He was recognized for having a .342 batting average. In 1962, as the first black male, Mr. Robinson was recognized in the Baseball Hall of Fame, in Cooperstown, New York.

Shining Talents
As his popularity became widespread, he became a published author of his autobiography entitled, “I Never Had It Made”, actor, starring in his own film in 1950, “The Jackie Robinson Story”, and fashion designer in 1952, introducing a line of men’s fashions in Harlem on 125th street.

Never forgetting his roots, Jackie went on to become an activist for the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) from 1957-1967.

Today in Honor Of
With so many talents, it is undeniable that Mr. Robinson is clearly a shining example of a person determined to make a good change by displaying what it means to persevere whilst contributing to his community, and culture. Today, as a tribute to his many successes we continue to celebrate Number 42, every April 15 on Jackie Robinson Day.

Works Cited
CMG Worldwide. “Jackie Robinson.” About,
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Jackie Robinson
AMERICAN ATHLETE.” Encyclopaedia Britannica

Camels, the Rich Man and Heaven

Mark 10:25

25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

Wow, what a verse!

Didn’t this scripture just make you think about how much heaven is worth to you? All I can say is, ‘if you desire God more than money then seek Him first…’

As a result of my seeking yesterday I decided to buy a new bible because my original bible which was a bit tattered–with pages falling out, weathered with glue and tape acting as binding, is on it’s finally stage. In other words it’s ready to retire.

Attempting to replace it was actually a bigger task then I anticipated. The trade-off for my new bible actually took a lot of money and serveal hours to replace it.

‘Well just go buy one in your local neighborhood store’ is something you might suggest, which would be a great idea except for the fact that I wanted a specialty bible with large print, an index and red lettering.

Yesterday’s drive took nearly three hours as I drove around town in search of a fancy Bible Bookstore. In my pursuits I had discovered that my hunt for a bargain priced bible was in vain. All options seemed faint; $50 dollars, driving 20 miles away, or buy one online…all this consumption seem like a little overboad but eventually I learned it was worth it.

After travelimg to a few local shops and making some phone calls I had soon discovered that buying a brand new leather bond bible was going to be expensive…and trust me after contacting a few of the nearby hotels bookstore they explain, ‘that their bibles cost $1500, and $2250 dollars.’

“Wow,” I thought, “could this be possible?”

When I considered the alternative I contemplated, “after all perhaps $50 dollars wasn’t so bad.”

So, after hours of seaching I finally found an Authentic-One-Of-a-Kind Bible Bookstore in the center of the town and purchased my brand new bible.

That day I realized people will charge zero-thousands of dollars for something God made free but now I can see the beauty behind the message that day taught me which was that I shouldn’t ever try to emulate that Camel who was trying to squeeze through that needle in the way that I was trying to squeeze my budget to fit my desires. But to instead make God first remembering to never trade my spot in Heaven with a Carmel.

Learning that people will charge zero- thousands of dollars for a bible sure was an eye opening experience but Jesus Christ is always worthy.

Just incase you ever get stuck and need a reminder just think about it this way,

Everything x Infinity x Eternity = Forever (now that’s a long time).


Mr. Chestnut


Written by, Melony Carter

Morris L. Chestnut the husband, father, actor, and producer; was born January 1, 1969 in Cerritos, California. As a former college student –with aspirations of playing in the NFL—Morris attended California State University where he studied drama and finance.

Acting since the early 90’s, he first appeared in an episode of Freddy’s Nightmares in 1990. That following year in 1991 he was able to land his first big-time role, as Ricky; in the film ‘Boyz n the Hood’, which was directed by John Singleton. Later in 1993, Morris acquired the leading role in the Civil Rights movie, ‘The Ernest Green Story’.

Some of his other acting accomplishments include: his performances in the films The Best Man (1999) and its sequel (2013), The Brothers (2001), Two Can Play That Game, Under Siege 2: Dark Territory (1995), G.I. Jane (1997) and Half Past Dead (2002), Breakin’ All the Rules (2004) and the Bishop T.D. Jakes’s novel-based film Not Easily Broken (2009).

Married to Pam Byse in 1995, they have two children. Nominated for an NAACP Image Award in 2000 for The Best Man; he has also performed in the off-Broadway play Love in the Nick of Tyme (2007). Currently, Mr. Chestnut is hosting and the co-excutive producer of the BET show Vindicated.

Genius, Marsalis.


Written by, Melony Carter

Wynton Marsalis, enough said…

The musical; is one of today’s great trumpet players. Instructor, composer, author, bandleader, often acclaimed Grammy Winner, producer and philanthropist; Mr. Marsalis has achieved many strides within the jazz and classical communities alike.

With influences like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Charlie Parker no wonder why he has had a very successful career. Wynton was born in 1961 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Discovering his love for music as a youth; he played for the Fairview Baptist Church band at the age of eight. By fourteen, he played for the New Orleans Philharmonic. As he continued to develop his talent he would gained more musical knowledge and training as an instrumentalist for several institutions such as: the New Orleans Symphony Brass Quintet, the New Orleans Community Concert Band, the New Orleans Youth Orchestra, and the New Orleans Symphony; to name a few.

Over the course of the years he has also worked sided-by-side with many very popular jazz musicians such as: Sarah Vaughan, Dizzy Gillespie, Sweets Edison, Ron Carter, and Herbie Hancock and many others.

Finding a way to blend his styles with the classical – at twenty— Marsalis won the Grammy Award® for “Best Classical Soloist with an Orchestra.” As he continued to utilize his abilities more he won several Grammy’s for both jazz and classical arrangements and recorded 10 other classical records.

Writer of five books; this brilliantly talented musician has been awarded with thirty-one Honorary Degrees. He has also produced more than 70 records that have sold well over seven million copies worldwide and has won three Gold Records.
To add to his many accolades in 1997 Wynton’s became the first jazz musician for the oratorio; Blood On The Fields, to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music.

As a philanthropist, whether it’s Hurricane Katrina or My Sister’s Place; Mr. Wynton is always willing to give for an honorable cause.