Viola Desmond as face of $10 bill a priceless honour for N.S.
National recognition for civil rights pioneer who left a powerful legacy in her home province
CBC News Posted: Dec 08, 2016 11:58 AM AT Last Updated: Dec 08, 2016 7:35 PM AT


Viola Desmond’s legacy remembered in Nova Scotia 5:50
News that Viola Desmond will become the face of Canada’s $10 bill is being met with elation from members of the black community in Nova Scotia whose rights she boldly fought for 70 years ago.

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz announced Thursday in Ottawa that the black rights pioneer from Nova Scotia will be the first Canadian woman featured on the front of a Canadian banknote.

“The history of the black people is hidden,” said Aleta Williams, who was a longtime friend of Desmond’s. “We are starting to get a few things out there.

“They will know that we weren’t always able to go into a store, or go into a restaurant, a movie, and sit where we wanted. I want young people to realize that the way has been paved by many people, including Viola Desmond.”

Jailed for sitting in wrong seat
Desmond, a businesswoman and beautician, was jailed in 1946 for sitting in the whites-only section of a New Glasgow, N.S., movie theatre. The theatre’s policy forced black people to sit upstairs in a balcony.

While other women have graced Canadian currency in the past, no woman besides the Queen has appeared on the front.

Viola Desmond in her studio, circa 1938. (Wanda Robson Collection, Beaton Institute, Cape Breton University/Bank of Canada/Flickr)

Williams, 93, recalled the time she spent with Desmond, who died in 1965.

“When Vi opened her beauty parlour, she was my beautician. I had my hair done every weekend with her,” she said.

Desmond styled Williams’s hair for her wedding day in 1949; Williams played music for the graduates of Desmond’s beauty school.

A history of prejudice
Williams doesn’t remember much talk of political activism in the salon, but she said African-Nova Scotians knew they’d face barriers due to racial prejudice — and that they could overcome them.

“There was so many racial problems in Halifax,” she said. “I was fortunate in that my dad taught us that we were as important as anybody else. Our family believed that what you want, you can get.”

Williams’s uncle on her father’s side was James Robinson Johnston, who was the first African-Nova Scotian lawyer in 1898.

Williams went to business college and later worked for the New Glasgow Evening News for 20 years, starting out in the front office before being recruited to the editorial side of the newspaper. She worked full time while raising her seven children with her family.

‘Shocked but elated’
Sunday Miller, executive director of the Africville Heritage Trust in Halifax, said the decision to honour Desmond shows that Canada is being more open about its history — the good and the bad.

“History, you can’t change,” said Miller. “But sometimes you have to recognize that the things that were done weren’t right, and then you have to try and right them.”

The president of the Black Cultural Society of Nova Scotia said he feels personally connected to Desmond, as his grandmother and Desmond’s mother were best friends.

“I was shocked but elated at the same time,” said Craig Smith of the banknote honour. “Growing up in Halifax, in the same community where she was born … it gives that personal touch as well.”

Viola Desmond was a beautician and businesswoman in Halifax in the mid-1940s. (Submitted by Wanda Robson)

Achievements recognized
Smith added the milestone shows how much progress has been made in recognizing the achievements of Nova Scotia’s black community.

“Every time somebody — whether they be in B.C. or Iqaluit or Fogo Island — goes to the store and pulls out a $10 bill, there will be an African-Nova Scotian gracing the face of that bill.

“That’s amazing. That’s almost unbelievable.”

Viola Desmond, right, and her sister Wanda, at the Hi-Hat Club, Boston, circa 1950. (Wanda and Joe Robson Collection)

Sylvia Parris, CEO of the Delmore “Buddy” Daye Learning Institute in Halifax, said she is “thrilled beyond expression” to know that Desmond’s achievements will be on display whenever Canadians reach into their wallets.

“All the time she’ll be present for us,” said Parris.

A national reminder
Nova Scotia’s minister of communities, culture and heritage said the honour will raise Desmond’s profile across the rest of the country.

“It’s important because there are many African-Canadians who have contributed to this country, right across the country, and have done some significant things [and their] stories were not told,” said Tony Ince.

“It gives me a huge sense of pride because it tells a story that’s connected to my community.”

Viola Desmond speaking at graduation, circa 1945. Desmond set up the Desmond School of Beauty Culture. Each year, as many as 15 women graduated from the school, all of whom had been denied admission to whites-only training schools. (Wanda Robson Collection, Beaton Institute, Cape Breton University/Bank of Canada/Flickr)

Other women who have appeared on Canadian currency are also considered civil rights heroes.

Between 2004 and 2012, the $50 bill featured the Famous Five — Emily Murphy, Irene Marryat Parlby, Nellie Mooney McClung, Louise Crummy McKinney and Henrietta Muir Edwards — and feminist icon Thérèse Casgrain.




When Banking Black Was Not Enough, This Woman Took an Extraordinary Extra Step to Help Black-Owned Businesses

La Detra White center) with owners of MasterShine shoe shining shop at Hartsfield-Jackson Intl Airport. Image courtesy of La Detra White.
La Detra White (center) with owners of MasterShine shoe shining shop at Hartsfield-Jackson Int’l Airport. Image courtesy of La Detra White.

You could call it a hidden-camera show, but that’s not exactly what it is. It’s so much more than that.

When Atlanta entrepreneur La Detra White walks into a Black-owned business, the store owner can only guess the surprise she has up her sleeve. With her iPhone in hand, White broadcasts the moment she unveils a substantial monetary donation as a token of her unwavering support.

This isn’t a one-time event, however. White, who’s a corporate marketing professional and a business owner herself, has turned her dedication to supporting Black businesses into a movement she calls “Putting My Money Where My Heart Is.” For the past few months, she’s been staging and recording her “ambushes” live on Facebook in an effort to raise support and awareness for local businesses.

White said she started the movement because she felt too many people were focused on simply discussing issues within the Black community rather than actively doing something to solve them.

“What we need to show is us helping each other,” she said during an interview with Atlanta Black Star. “For me, it has always been about sowing in [to Black businesses.]”

To do her part, White said she started by opening an account at Citizen’s Trust Bank, a Black-owned financial institution with branches throughout Georgia and Alabama. She said she felt good after waiting over an hour to open an account at the bank, which has seen a huge surge in new patrons following recent pushes to bank Black.

But the glory was short-lived, as White said she still felt she hadn’t done enough to help the Black community. Roughly 8 percent of small Black-owned businesses fail within the first few months of operation simply because no one knows about them and no one is patronizing them. That’s what ultimately led White to stage her very first ambush — at a cupcake shop in Decatur.

Setting the tone for her future surprise “attacks,” White, along with with her daughter and best friend of over 10 years, filmed the emotional encounter as she awarded the cupcake shop owner with an undisclosed monetary donation. And she did the same for other local businesses, pouring thousands of dollars into a Black-owned barbecue and soul food restaurant; making a sizable contribution to a barbershop in Lawrenceville; paying one month’s rent for a local beauty supply store; and investing in a man’s shoe shine business to keep it from going under.

So where exactly does White get the money for her ambushes?

Earlier this year, she authored a book along with 31 other women titled “This Is My Story, But It Is Not My Life: Stories From Women Who Climbed Back.” The marketing executive then decided to take the profits from her successful book and sow it back into small, Black-owned businesses.

“I felt like the book really wasn’t mine, so I wanted to give the money away,” she said.

After the second ambush, White said her “Putting My Money Where My Heart Is” project went from a “me” movement to a “we” movement, as she starting bringing people with her to patronize the businesses she ambushed.

“What I love most and the reason I can go lay my head on my pillow and feel like I had done a good day’s work is [because] I know this isn’t about me,” she told ABS. “It’s bigger than me. I know it wasn’t orchestrated by me. I know that God’s hands were in it and He used me. And that gives me great satisfaction.”

“I love the idea that I’m being used as an instrument of change, as an instrument of inspiration,” White added. “Not just for my people, but a world of people, and that’s the most awesome part.”

La Detra White. Image courtesy of La Detra White.

Through her work, White is encouraging Black people to pay it forward and support one another in ways other than giving money, like loaning supplies or capital that businesses may need to thrive. She noted that other cultures have grasped the importance of giving back and keeping dollars circulated within their communities. In contrast, nearly 98 percent of Black money is spent outside the Black community.

White asserted that African-Americans have the power to change the trajectory of our culture and economic status by simply making the decision to support each other.

“In the places where there is a penetration of people of color, nearly all of our needs can be met if we’re willing to do a bit of research, talk to each other, refer a friend and share resources,” she said. “This way, [we] can begin to really understand the magnitude of the issue in terms of what the cost was of not supporting each other.”

White made it a point to note that in no way does she want her movement to come off as exclusionary because it focuses on patronizing and supporting Black-owned businesses. She said she wanted to start by helping her own people but eventually hopes to branch out by helping other businesses across the nation. Overall, White said she just wants to give businesses hope.

“I want them to know there’s a fighting chance,” she said. “In the next five years, I want this to truly be something we’ve duplicated all across the country. … I expect it to get bigger, I hope it never gets complicated, and I hope I’m always having fun.”




This Googler works more than 100 hours a week at her ‘dream job’
Jillian D’Onfro
Feb. 19, 2016

Jewel Burks
Jewel Burks. Jewel Burks
Jewel Burks has the kind of schedule that will tire you out just thinking about it.

For the last two years she’s held the title “entrepreneur in residence for diversity markets” at Google, which means that she technically holds two jobs.

She educates business owners on how to use Google’s ads and enterprise products while doubling as a startup founder.

“I work a lot,” Burks tells Business Insider. “Nights, weekends. It’s tough, but I’m really passionate about helping other entrepreneurs, so it doesn’t really feel like work. It’s something I love doing.”

All told, she spends 40 hours per week on her Google responsibilities and 60 hours — or more — a week running her startup, Partpic, a visual-search app that lets users take pictures of screws, bolts, or any other parts they need to replace and then reorders those parts for them.

Why the crazy schedule is worth it
Even though Burks has a pretty exhausting routine, she describes the situation as her “dream job” because it gives her the flexibility required to hustle on her company while still working full-time for Google in an area she cares about.

Her team respects that she’s also running a business and understands when she completes her work at odd hours. Plus, a big part of her Google role is meeting other entrepreneurs in person — speaking at conferences and hosting events — which she says also keeps her motivated and inspired, especially because she specifically works with black, Hispanic, and female founders.

A lot of people she works with are just getting their businesses online for the first time, and she encourages them to get started with Google products and ads.

“I’ll meet people at an event who had never heard of AdWords before,” she says. “And then I’ll see them attending another program nine months later and they’ll be completely set up and have seen their business grow because of one of the events that I held. It’s really rewarding.”

AdWords is Google’s online-advertising service.

Not a typical Google job
“Entrepreneur in residence” isn’t a standard Google position. It was created specifically for Burks given her history with the company.

Jewel Burks Jewel Burks
In 2009, Burks had a summer-marketing internship at Google after her junior year in college, and she came back to school in the fall with a mission.

Sick of the legacy systems her school used, she wanted to convince the administration to try out Google Apps for its email and collaboration tools — think Gmail, Drive, and Docs.

So she wrote a proposal and presented it to the provost and the president. When Google got wind of her efforts — and ultimate success in getting her school to make the switch — the company offered her a full-time position on its enterprise-sales team.

Burks attended Howard University, one of the historically black schools where Google has started embedding engineers as professors to help fix Silicon Valley’s lack of diversity. This program, which started at Howard after Burks graduated, has seen slow success, as detailed in a Bloomberg feature.

After nearly two years at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, Burks decided that she wasn’t loving the state and wanted to move home to Atlanta. She got a job at a parts-distribution company.

Her inspiration for founding her own startup came after trying to help her grandfather find a replacement part to fix his tractor. The frustration of being completely unable to figure out what part was needed led her to found Partpic. She has raised $1.5 million and put together a team of nine employees.

Partpic Partpic

Throughout that process, she kept in touch with coworkers at Google. In 2013, the company decided that it wanted more targeted outreach for its services to minority business owners, and Burks came on board. She works out of Atlanta, but puts a lot of her educational content online as instructional videos.

The content is easy for her to create because she’s basically just demoing techniques she’s already using for Partpic: “I get to help other entrepreneurs use Google for their businesses in the same way I use it for mine.”



#52Women52Weeks: CEO & Founder of Uncharted Play, Jessica O. Matthews, helps the developing world power their homes—by playing soccer

Jessica O. Matthews is the CEO and Founder of Uncharted Play, Called the “Elon Musk of kinetic energy” by the United States Chief Technology Officer, Jessica Matthews has been named one of Forbes’ 2016 ‘30 Under 30’ and serves as an Ambassador of Entrepreneurship for Nigeria.   

1. How did your interest in science and curiosity in magic lead you to work in kinetic energy?

Growing up I always had an interest in invention and human behavior, and doing things that combine these two together.  As the Founder and CEO of Uncharted Play, I run a company that makes systems that can harness energy from motion. We design low-cost micro-generator systems and partner with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to integrate these systems into the final products. Everything from a soccer ball to a stroller can be used to generate power for mobile devices and the IoT with our technology, giving us all ‘more’ from the actions and movements we already take.

2. How can Uncharted Play help democratize on-demand power for all?

Our core product is called MORE (Motion-based, Off-grid, Renewable Energy), a proprietary technology for micro-generator system design. These custom micro-generator systems can be fully integrated into almost anything that moves, transforming that product into a source of off-grid power. We partner with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to integrate our MORE technology into their products.

We also integrate our MORE technology into our flagship products the SOCCKET, an energy-generating soccer ball, and the PULSE, an energy-generating jump rope. Both products are designed to provide light and teach STEM around the world.

It is our hope that this technology will change not only the way people generate energy, but the way they consume it. With the expansion of our MORE technology, we are poised to disrupt the energy space by changing not only how energy is generated but also how it is consumed.

3. What do you wish you knew when you started Uncharted Play that you didn’t? How long did it take you to learn?

I wish I had a better understanding around the idea of Supply Chain when we first started Uncharted Play.  In general, you need to understand the process of how to make products in order to effectively scale any business.  In the beginning my lack of knowledge in this area made production hard for the SOCCKET.  We ran into manufacturing issues that affected the quality of earlier versions of the product.  However, through investment in this area of knowledge, I am now able to understand the full life cycle for any product my company makes, giving me the right angle to make crucial decisions for my business.

4. When did you realize you had found your life’s mission—or have you yet?

I never aspired to be a businesswoman or run a major company. I always wanted to (1) make really cool meaningful things, and (2) generally help people self-actualize and get more value out of whatever time they have left on this planet. As it turns out, to do that sustainably and at scale you have to build a business. You have to understand what it means to organize people and ideas and push them forward in a structured manner. So for me, the goal of business is understanding how to make a difference in a sustainable, scalable way.

5. How can women better embrace their differences to see them as a competitive advantage in business?

People like doing business with people that are like them. That’s how people work, I don’t have a problem with that. However, the problem with this is in the long-term when we get used to a singular way of doing things.  I personally don’t believe that any one company or person can solve the world’s problems. Instead, we should make systems that recruit different types of people, including women, to give different perspectives that can benefit the growth strategy of any business.  A lot of people talk about diversity almost like a charity. To me, diversity is the key to maintaining your business. It is internally disrupting your business so that its not externally disrupted by other businesses.  Women should embrace this advantage of being able to look at situations in a new way, because smart business means having the ability to do just that.  


14 Teenage Girls Build First Ever Private African Satellite – They Just Set The Bar Quite High For The Average Teenager


Africa will be launching its first ever private satellite into space in May next year. This satellite is specially designed to monitor and report the shifting weather conditions of the continent. The interesting thing about this satellite is that unlike other private satellites, this one was designed by 14 South African teenage girls as part of a High School STEM (science, Technology, engineering and math) boot camp. Kids are setting the bar really high for each other these days right?

Payload design
These young girls managed to design the payload for the satellite which will be able to successfully orbit the Earth’s poles and will scan the surface of the African continent. Once the scanning is done, the payload will send back thorough thermal imaging data twice a day. This data is supposedly going to help in disaster management and improve the food security situation in the continent. Brittany Bull, student at Pelican Park High School in South Africa who also worked on this project told the CNN, “We can try to determine and predict the problems Africa will be facing in the future. Where our food is growing, where we can plant more trees and vegetation and also how we can monitor remote areas … We have a lot of forest fires and floods but we don’t always get out there in time.” The satellite was bought by the South African organization MEDO (Meta Economic Development Organization) and the students were being trained by satellite engineers from Cape Peninsula University of Technology to make the satellites’ payload.

Why does Africa need this satellite?
Initially the girls only programmed and launched small CricketSat satellites with the aid of high altitude weather balloons. After that they moved on to designing satellite payloads which will collect thermal imaging data and point out where draught and floods are to be expected. This may seem very pointless to some of us but for Africa this is extremely important. Earlier this year in April, an El Niño induced drought led to South Africa producing millions of tons less corn than the usual amount produced and as a result to make up for the shortfall the maize will have to be imported. Those of us who have studied economics and even those who haven’t can understand what a lot of imports can do to a country. One team member from Philippi High School Sesam Mngqengqiswa told CNN, “In South Africa we have experienced some of the worst floods and droughts and it has really affected the farmers very badly. We expect to receive a good signal, which will allow us to receive reliable data … It’s a new field for us [in Africa] but I think with it we would be able to make positive changes to our economy.”


Go girls!
If everything goes according to plan then in May 2017, the first satellite designed by an African private company will be launched. Things don’t end here. The team wants to involve more girls from Namibia, Malawi, Kenya, and Rwanda to the project as a way of inspiring and encouraging young African talent to come forward. The girls currently on the project are very ambitious and have much bigger plans for the future. Some of them want to make it into space even. Mngqengqiswa told CNN, “Discovering space and seeing Earth’s atmosphere, it’s not something many black Africans have been able to do, or do not get the opportunity to look at. I want to be able to experience these things.” “I want to show to fellow girls that we don’t need to sit around or limit ourselves,” added Bull. “Any career is possible – even aerospace.”

Well all we can say to these young girls and their hopes and dreams is “You go girls!”.


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