Joe Adams was born on April 11, 1924 in Los Angeles, California; he spent his childhood in Watts, a suburban area of Los Angeles. He realized at a young age that he wanted to go into radio as an announcer during a time when it was unheard of for African Americans to succeed in the industry. Determined to overcome racial barriers, he taught himself the art of public speaking by practicing aloud in vacant lots. His hard work paid off in the 1940s, when Art Grogan, owner of the Santa Monica Station KOWL, gave him the opportunity to go on the air.
Two years later his daily radio show was the #1 rated deejay show in Los Angeles. He accrued 56 sponsors for his airtime on KOWL, marking the beginning of an auspicious radio career that eventually spanned twenty years. Meanwhile, he taped shows for KWBR in San Francisco and deejayed his own show for KDAY, making him the number one radio personality in both L.A. and San Francisco.
During the late 1940s, he branched out into television with two shows of his own, “Adams Alley” for KLAC with a cast of twenty-eight people, and “Joe Adams Presents.” Joe Adams was one of the pioneers of that era, using top-name stars and musical greats.
Joe Adams also enjoyed success as a film actor, appearing in more than 26 motion pictures. Among his most notable roles is Husky Miller in Carmen Jones and as Frank Sinatra’s psychiatrist in The Manchurian Candidate. His talent as an actor earned him the Foreign Correspondence Award as the Outstanding New Actor Award in 1958. He was the first African American man to win this award.
In the late 1950s, Ray Charles, a friend from his radio days, asked him to join him for a month-long tour. This relationship spanned for more than 4 decades, the longest artist/management in history, until Ray Charles’ death in 2004. As Vice President/CEO in charge of RPM International, Joe Adams supervised the many activities of the parent company, including its business holdings and publishing companies, Tangerine and Racer Music; as well as Ray Charles Enterprises, which covers the activities of the Ray Charles Orchestra and the Raelettes. In addition, Joe Adams serves as producer of the Ray Charles Show, overseeing everything from lights to wardrobe, which he personally designs for both Ray Charles and the Raelettes.
Joe Adams was at the helm of the Ray Charles Corporation until his retirement in 2008, he now serves as Chairman of the board appointed by Ray Charles.
REV. CECIL L. MURRAY
Reverend Cecil L. Murray was born on September 26, 1929 in Lakeland, Florida to Janie Belle Williams Murray and Edward Wilder Murray, Sr. His mother passed away when Murray was only four years old. He, his brother, Edward, and sister, Louise, would be raised by his father and stepmother, Minnie Murray, whom his father married three years later. Growing up in the segregated South, he and the family experienced profound racism firsthand.
Murray earned his undergraduate degree from Florida A&M University, but joined the United States Air Force after graduation where he served during the Korean War as a jet radar intercept officer in the Air Defense Command and as a navigator in the Air Transport Command. Murray retired as a reserve major in 1961 after ten years and was decorated with a Soldier's Medal of Valor. After he left the U.S. Air Force, Murray attended the School of Theology at Claremont in California, where he earned his Rel.D in religion.
Murray's first church was in Pomona, California, where he helped grow a congregation of just twelve members to a group of 150. He then served at Trinity A.M.E. in Kansas City from 1966 to 1971, then at the First African Methodist Episcopal (FAME) Church in Seattle, and Los Angeles' FAME Church in 1977 after Bishop H.H. Brookins recruited him to join.
Under Murray, the congregation grew from several hundred members in 1977 to roughly 18,000. Murray became a nationally known figure in the wake of the 1992 Los Angeles riots. He became actively involved in the issues of job-training, homeowner loans, affordable housing, condom distribution and HIV/AIDS awareness. He also started FAME Renaissance, a non-profit organization that focuses on economic development.
Murray retired as Senior Pastor from the FAME church on September 25, 2004. In 2005, Murray became a senior fellow at the Center for Religion and Civic Culture (CRCC) and has since worked as a liaison to the Los Angeles area, as well as to African American and Latino constituents. He has also worked on the "Passing the Mantle" project, which aims to train clergy from African American churches across California in effective community development and organizing skills. In addition, the Center for Religion heads up The Institute for Gang Prevention and Intervention (IVP), which works with the African American/Hispanic American communities on the issue of gang violence. Secondly, plans are fermented for the Cecil Murray Center for Community Endowment (CMCCE), a business incubator and support program for at-risk persons seeking all kinds of assistance.
David Brokaw plays a historic trendsetting role in American popular culture in several genres. His philosophy is to imagine and implement far reaching strategies that enhance clients’ goals and that are consistent with their philosophy.
A major catalyst for the global spread of Country Music has its origins in Brokaw’s campaign for Loretta Lynn beginning in 1972. He noticed that she was a widely admired woman, transformative in her music and ideas. Brokaw developed extensive awareness for Lynn, that led to COAL MINER’S DAUGHTER, a NEW YORK TIMES best seller and COAL MINER’S DAUGHTER, which became a major motion picture of the same name in 1980. Sissy Spacek won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Lynn.
That same year, Brokaw helped to package URBAN COWBOY, starring John Travolta, creating a cultural phenomenon, introducing southern and agrarian regional appeal to a worldwide audience. These events were the basis for the exponential growth in country music, which is stronger than ever.
In the 80s the Christian music industry was modest. Amy Grant, the number one Gospel artist, had a large following, but was barely known in the secular world. Brokaw presented Grant to mainstream media and she immediately expanded her audience, playing 22,000 seat venues, up from 7500 facilities.
The Ray Charles Foundation provides grants to individuals and non-profit organizations to further education and take care of people in need. It also develops high end events for Ray Charles’ legacy such as a PBS Tribute, taped at the White House with the President and Mrs. Obama. When Ray Charles was honored with a US Postage Stamp, the Foundation President Valerie Ervin converted the unveiling into a national celebration like no other, including a Charles record compilation that went to the top of the Billboard Charts. Brokaw maximized the publicity value. He has been honored to work closely with Ms. Ervin on all her initiatives the past decade.
Brokaw was instrumental in getting programming on the air that the entire family can watch and also benefit from the values and lessons presented. Through the 80’s and 90s these included THE COSBY SHOW, ROSEANNE AND A DIFFERENT WORLD. These programs always were top rated.
LITTLE BILL is a children’s show designed to entertain while addressing a wide range of topics that are of concern to youngsters. Brokaw immediately saw the value and sold the idea to Nickelodeon in one call. As Executive Producer, Brokaw won an Emmy Award, a Peabody Award and a Humanitas Award.
Lou Rawls, was a Grammy Award winning artist who sang Gospel, Jazz, R&B, Soul and Pop. Brokaw represented him for thirty-three years. Rawls had a strong sense of community and education. They raised $250,000,000 over twenty-five years in conjunction with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) to fund black students in college. Their slogan is, “A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste.”
The Brokaw Company conceptualized and created The Black Family Reunion Celebration for the civil rights organization, The National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), which ran over twenty- five years and attracted 25 million participants.
The Fraternal Order of Eagles (FOE) is a non-profit fund raising organization focused on helping people in large and small ways. FOE recently raised $25 million for a diabetic research center at the University of Iowa. FOE is 118 years old with 700,000 members.
Brokaw is spearheading a drive to establish a worldwide Children’s Day and a Children’s Bill of Rights. He has implemented initiatives to remind the public of FOE’s legacy such as a bill to make Mother’s Day a national holiday and playing a crucial role in passage of the Social Security Act and Medicare.
Daniel G. Amen, M.D. is a world renown psychiatrist and brain imaging specialist, who employs a more comprehensive diagnosis and helping people build better brains and better lives.
Brokaw noticed how effective Dr. Amen’s diagnostic process is and how comfortable he is in front of a camera. He made a deal with PBS to air Dr. Amen's pledge drive specials, which have raised $100 million. airs programs designed to inform, sell product and as a fund raising.
A partnership of three brothers—David, Sandy and Joel, The Brokaw Company is the fourth generation of their family to work in the entertainment industry, originating with a Russian acrobatic troop that came to America in the 1890s. Their grand-uncle, legendary talent agent Johnny Hyde discovered Marilyn Monroe. Their late father Norman Brokaw rose from the mailroom to become the Chairman and CEO of the William Morris Agency.
ROBERT C. DAVIDSON, JR.
Robert C. Davidson, Jr. has a passion for business that is only matched by his passion for community involvement. He is the retired Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Surface Protection Industries (SPI), Davidson’s company, which he started in 1978, and which became the largest African American-owned manufacturing company in California. His community involvement includes sitting on the boards of a number of organizations, including Morehouse College, where he is Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Trustees; Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc. (NYSE); Broadway Federal Bank (NASDAQ); Cedars-Sinai Medical Group; The Smithsonian American Art Museum; Art Center College of Design, where he serves as Board Chairman. In addition, he also serves as a member of the University Of Chicago Graduate School Of Business Advisory Council.
After graduating from Morehouse in 1967 and the University of Chicago in 1969, where he earned his MBA, Davidson began his business career as a management consultant with Cresap, McCormick and Paget of New York. There he learned invaluable insights into the world of merger-acquisitions and long-range planning.
Davidson’s stint at the New York-based firm ignited his entrepreneurial spirit. He also wanted to be a catalyst for helping minority companies grow. After moving to Boston in 1972, he co-founded and served as Vice President of the Urban National Corporation, a private equity company that funneled mainstream companies funds into minority-controlled businesses. This private equity firm raised $10 million for investments into U.S. based minority-controlled businesses.
As a result of his role at the Urban National Corporation, in the mid- 1970’s Davidson went on to serve as Executive Vice President of Avant Garde Enterprises. Avant Garde Enterprises was a Los Angeles-based entertainment holding company and one of the Urban National Corporation portfolio companies.
His prior board affiliations include Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles; Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce; Rebuild L.A.; Fulcrum Venture Capital Corporation; Museum of Contemporary Art; Charles Drew University School of Medicine; Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, California; Shaare Zedek Medical Center Jerusalem; Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra; Falcon Cable Community Ventures; the African-American Museum of Art; the Black-Jewish Economic Development Committee of Los Angeles; Big Brothers of Greater Los Angeles; the Weingart Center for the Homeless; the Los Angeles Urban League; the Planning Commission for the City of Pasadena; and the South Coast Air Quality Management District Brain Tumor and Air Pollution Foundation.
While a student at Morehouse, Davidson never imagined that there would one day be a facility on his beloved campus that bears his name. In 1998, the President’s residence was named the Davidson House, A Center for Excellence, in his honor. He also is a recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Laws degree from Morehouse College, and the prestigious Bennie Award for Leadership from Morehouse College.
Morehouse has not been the only organization to recognize Davidson’s dynamic business leadership and community involvement. He was the 1997 recipient of the Ronald H. Brown Award, and the 1990 recipient of the Raoul Wallenberg Save the Children Award from the Shaare Zedek Medical Center Jerusalem. He also was named Black Businessman of the Year by the Los Angeles Chapter of the Black MBA Association and Outstanding Entrepreneur of the Year by the National Association of Investment Companies. In 2008, Mr. Davidson was the recipient of the Man of the Year Award by the March of Dimes and the Father of the Year Award by the American Diabetes Association.
Davidson lives in Pasadena with his wife, Faye, and their three sons, Robert III, John Roderick and Julian, all of whom are Morehouse graduates.
RAMSEY JAY, JR.
Ramsey Jay, Jr. is a widely recognized leading expert on leadership development and motivational speaking who has been featured on nationally-syndicated television and radio programs and has delivered moving messages to audiences of all types, both youth and corporate, domestically and internationally.
Named by EBONY Magazine as one of the top “30 Young Leaders Under 30,” Ramsey possesses a rare combination of accessibility, intellect, practical insights, inspirational messages, and engaging presentation skills. His professional Wall Street background and Ivy League education have enabled him to bridge the gaps between education, business and civic duty in a unique method. He is an advisor to prominent business leaders, a sought-after keynote speaker, author of Weekly Life Lessons in Leadership, and will be releasing his highly anticipated book this year. He was the recipient of UCLA’s Riordan’s Program inaugural “Excellence in Civil Engagement & Leadership Award” in April 2015. Ramsey is an exceptional financial executive who is well versed in the complexities of the dynamic 21st century capital markets.
The combination of his professional financial experience and active civic engagements have made him a leader comfortable in moving fluidly from “Wall Street to the Street”. He not only works in the financial industry but he is the Director of the National Association of Securities Professionals SoCal FAST Track program, and the founder of the “Dreamers 2 Achievers” Academy. He has created a teaching methodology called the 3P’s (Possible, Probable, Predictable) that has provided the functional platform that has enabled him to inspire others to achieve academic, professional and civic centered success.
Of his own life story, Ramsey says “My journey has been blessed and afforded me the opportunity to be a blessing to others”.
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