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Business profile: deputy district attorney Shondeana Crews-Morris

Shondeana Crews-Morris

Photo: Courtesy of Shondeana Crews-Morris

Atlanta Free Speech would like to highlight community advocate Attorney Shondeana Crews-Morris. Shondeana is currently the Deputy District Attorney, which is second in command to the elected District Attorney for Fulton County, Georgia.  Shondeana is a graduate of Mercer University’s Walter F. George School of Law. She also holds a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Albany State University, as well as an undergraduate degree in Journalism from the University of Georgia.

Shondeana began her quest for law school after witnessing what her family endured over a battle to keep their property. After many years of working as a housekeeper, Shondeana’s great-grandmother earned enough money to purchase her own home, which was a momentous moment for her family. Unfortunately, she lost her house because she was not able to speak for herself, since she was undereducated and could not understand the terminology of the law. Shondeana saw how this situation devastated a woman she loved and the rest of her family, so from that moment she decided that she wanted to help people and give a voice to those who would otherwise be silent.

Since earning a license to practice law, Shondeana has been a voice and advocate for many Fulton County families. She became a prosecutor in 1998 when she was hired as an Assistant Solicitor and later joined the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office in 1999 as an Assistant District Attorney. Her hard work and dedication to the community led to her promotion as Deputy District Attorney in 2008. Shondeana has had the opportunity to protect families and children through her role as supervisor of the Crimes Against Women and Children’s Unit, which is the largest special unit in District Attorney’s office, as well as supervisor of the Public Integrity Unit. This fierce prosecutor has ensured that anyone who has committed a crime in Fulton County was held accountable, regardless of his or her position, which has earned the public’s trust in Shondeana. She has prosecuted every type of horrific crime including, but not limited to, child murder and human trafficking cases, which is on the rise in Atlanta. Known as being tough but fair, Shondeana has earned forty-eight convictions in the fifty murder cases she has prosecuted during her tenure.

Shondeana’s commitment to her community goes beyond her work in the courtroom. “I have a four-year-old and I have a passion for protecting our women and children. I want to ensure that our communities are safe. I want to make sure that Fulton County is a safer place—that’s why I keep fighting,” said Shondeana.

In her spare time, this Georgia native is an active volunteer and a proud member of the Atlanta Bar Association, Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys (GABWA), Lawyers Club of Atlanta, Gate City Bar Association, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and the Junior League of DeKalb.  In addition, she is a board member of the International House of Women and an advisory board member for the criminal justice program at Atlanta Technical College.

In 2009, Shondeana was selected by the Board of Directors of the Association of Government Attorneys in Capital Litigation to receive the Trial Award for Outstanding Advocacy in Capital Cases. She earned this recognition by being one of the top criminal prosecutors in the United States.

Shondeana Crews-Morris has been a voice and protector to many Fulton County families and the community for over a decade. It is no surprise that this fearless prosecutor is now running to become one of the Fulton County Superior Court Judges. Having over 17 years of legal experience Shondeana believes that “Fulton County families’ and community needs a Superior Court Judge who has experience, integrity, and commitment—someone who is fair, but firm and is focused on protecting our families.”

Atlanta Free Speech salutes Deputy District Attorney, Shondeana Crews-Morris.

Connect with Shondeana: Facebook Twitter 

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Business profile: artist Kerry Thomas

Kerry ThomasAtlanta Free Speech would like to highlight artist Kerry Thomas. Kerry is a singer, songwriter, producer, and acoustic guitarist that began his professional music career only a short time ago. Like many musical artists, Kerry has been singing since a very young age, but it was not until college that he began to express himself musically.

“I began singing some hooks for friends of mine that were into hip-hop in college. After a break-up, I began to play guitar and write songs about it, which went on to become my EP, Eye of the Storm,” said Kerry. “Translating my feelings at the time into song was very therapeutic and helped me get through a tough time.”

Kerry, who was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, moved around frequently during his childhood. As an introverted person, it was tough for him to constantly be the ‘new kid.’ However, it was during college that he seemed to find his way and easily adapt to changes in his life. Kerry is a graduate of Tougaloo College where he obtained a degree in Economics.  He also earned an MBA from Jackson State University.

Not only is Kerry passionate about music, but the well-being of his community holds a special place in his heart as well. Kerry states that “art is definitely at the top of the list, but I also want to mentor. There are so many people that want to profit from their art but don’t know how to start or how to do it successfully without becoming a ‘starving artist.’ I’ve had the opportunity to give back in that way and it feels great.”

Having a support system has enabled Kerry to become the man he is today. His parents have given him values and morals and have also helped him to stay focused along the way. Kerry’s musical creativity and morality has also inspired him to produce meaningful compositions. “My mission is to create honest music. Music that reflects what R&B/Soul music is today and relate it to things we all go through. Whether its relationships, hanging out, social change, etc I think it’s important to create your song. Let your voice be heard, said Kerry. I love music, plain and simple. It’s what I look forward to everyday. I love to create. It’s therapeutic.”

Musically, Kerry has been influenced by many artists including, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross, Eric Roberson and John Legend; their musical influences can be heard through Kerry’s diverse mix of Pop, R&B, and Neo-soul.

The Jackson Free Press voted Kerry as the Best R&B Artist in 2012. You can catch Kerry performing at various venues throughout the state of Mississippi.

Atlanta Free Speech salutes Kerry Thomas.

Be sure to check out Kerry’s new single, ‘Tonight’, which is available on iTunes and Amazon.

Connect with Kerry: Facebook  Twitter 

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Business profile: actress Erica Page

Atlanta Free Speech would like to highlight model and actress Erica Page.  Erica, who is a native of Dunwoody, Georgia, began working in the entertainment industry four years ago.  In this short time, this talented actress has booked various projects including, Osiris (web series), BET’s The Game, Sleepy Hollow, The Cure, The Killing Secret, Love N Success, and First Impression. As a woman of color, she has proved that she can definitely survive in this industry.

Erica page headshotErica knew at an early age that she wanted to be an actress. However, it wasn’t until a few years ago that she decided to chase her dream. Before the passing of Erica’s grandfather, he gave her a few words of encouragement; he said, “always do what makes you happy,” and told her she could do anything she puts her mind to—she was his super-star. This was the motivation that Erica needed to pursue her dream of acting. She began participating in beauty pageants and freelance photo shoots in an effort to gain experience.  Shortly thereafter, she landed a role as an extra on the movie, ‘Fast Five’, which made her realize that she wanted to become an actress on the big screen, so she immediately began to take acting classes. Erica had finally recognized that acting was her “calling.”

Even though Erica has a love for acting, she is most passionate about her loved ones. “I love my family and closest friends. They support me and keep me going. All of the most special moments in life are with the ones we love. Without them, nothing is worth it,” says Erica.

The life of a working actor is not always glitz and glamour. When Erica is not on set for a project, she is working out to maintain her physic, prepping for auditions and shoots. She also meets with her acting coach, Vince Pisani, on a regular basis, as well as attends acting classes. In addition to all she does, Erica also has a part-time job in the evenings that gives her the flexibility she needs to pursue her dream of acting full time.

Naturally, the ultimate goal for most actors is to win an Academy Award, but Erica has other plans. “If I don’t win an Oscar, I’m okay with that. I just want to make movies and television shows that capture people’s attention and hearts and moves them in a way they’ve never been moved before,” said Erica.

In the near future, Erica plans to start an organization that focuses on helping battered women and children, as she has always been an advocate for underprivileged children. Erica embodies the essence of what hard work, dedication and commitment can do in the pursuit of ones life’s goals.

Atlanta Free Speech salutes Erica Page.

Be sure to check out Erica’s latest film, Greed, which is scheduled to be released later this year.

Connect with Erica: Twitter Facebook

Erica Page 2

Photo: pSm Photography

Erica Page

Photo: Clark Photography

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Black economics—the destruction of the black business

bad-customer-serviceRecently, members of the Atlanta Free Speech staff, along with their relatives and friends, experienced poor, and quite frankly, disturbing customer service.  The most upsetting truth about these experiences is that they took place at Black establishments, with the exception of one.  Unfortunately, it is this type of treatment that Black patrons of these establishments receive that leads to the destruction of Black businesses.

Before integration, Black communities thrived with the support of its own neighborhoods.  The Black dollar stayed within the Black community.  Blacks bought from Black suppliers and utilized resources within their respective districts.  Segregation meant blacks had to sustain their own areas and they did so exceedingly well. Neighborhoods like Harlem, Auburn Avenue in Atlanta, Greenwood in Oklahoma (the Negro Wall Street), and others were prestigious centers of black enterprise and culture.  Ironically, this changed after integration.  Today, black people spend 95% of their money at white businesses. Sadly, white enterprises and/or corporations own many Black businesses.

These white companies do not care about the longstanding survival of Black businesses. They only care about the money Black businesses can make for them.  Nothing much has changed; Blacks are still working to make white’s richer! Moreover, the difference in how whites are treated compared to Blacks at these establishments is sickening. Black business owners or managers, treat Black customers as if their money is of less value than their white customers. Why would someone continue to patron your business when your customer service is poor, especially to those who look like you and live in the same community?

Blacks need to realize that in order to thrive within the service industry, we must take care of our own first. This means that over charging “your” people and maintaining an unpolished staff is unacceptable. If I can go somewhere for half the price and receive better service, that is where I will continue to patron, rather than “helping-a-brother-out.” But when we do this, you want to call us a sell out or a hypocrite. Well, we are neither. We are simply fed up with the unequal treatment that was designed, and still mastered, by our oppressors who have passed this oppression to our own race.

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Business Profile: Mildred Baldwin

Hand bagThe art of a woman is deeper than the first layer of her epidermis. It illuminates and resonates on her canvas through beautiful bold radiant colors capturing the most incredible momentums.  Surprisingly, the art of a woman can also be found alongside the stiches and fabrics of a one-of-a-kind handbag.

The art of Mildred Baldwin is timeless creativity crafted with care.  Ms. Baldwin grew up in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, which had a major influence on her life.  The ocean’s warm climate and the southern style of living and growing up a preacher’s daughter were strong elements in the shaping of her visual perception and expressions.

At a very young age, Ms. Baldwin was taught to sew by her mother. As a result, she developed a love for designing, which eventually sparked an interest in art. Since arriving in Washington, D.C. in 1976 and attending the Corcoran School of Art, Mildred has continued to share her knowledge of painting. Some of her memory paintings can take at least 6 to 12 months to complete. However, she can also finish a small piece in just 24 hours.  Ms. Baldwin has had a passion for designing bags since 15 years of age.  Every handbag is a one-of-a-kind design, with various precious embellishments which vary in price depending on the type of materials being used.

Ms. Baldwin considers her paintings to be fine art which are created for memory. They are presented as a collection in gallery settings.  Her handbags are also inspired creations, which she calls “wearable or functional art.”  Ms. Baldwin will present her next collection of handbags this September 2014 for her Fall/Winter 2015 debut. She states, “I want to be remembered as an artist who was inspired by all that surrounded me, creating the visual and tangible influences and recreating from memory–my life experience.”

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John Esposito, Ports America corporate director, discusses the importance of business continuity, emergency response

John Wagley Top Priority Sector:  maritime_port_security As the largest terminal operator in the U. Read More….

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Miami Port Security Operations Conference & Expo to focus on topics including business continuity, technology management

John Wagley Top Priority Sector:  maritime_port_security The Port Security Operations Conference & Expo 2014 will include a wide range of speakers from the public and private sectors, covering numerous security topics. Read More….

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Business Profile: Desiree’ Thornton

Desiree ThortonAtlanta Free Speech would like to highlight Ms. Desiree’ Thornton, who is the owner and designer at A.M.E.E. (Amazing, Memorable, Extraordinary, Eloquent) Event Planning.  Desiree’, who is an Atlanta native, founded A.M.E.E. Event Planning in 2009 after continuous support and encouragement  from her loved ones. For many years, Desiree’ planned various events for her friends and family,  so she decided to turn her love for event planning into a business. After several referrals from her relatives, A.M.E.E. Event Planning became a success.

Desiree’ loves to interact with her clients and bring their visions to life.  By expanding the initial ideas of her clients, Desiree’ is able to produce an extraordinary event that surpasses any expectation. Not only can Desiree’ plan a memorable event, but she can do it on any budget.

Desiree’ is a graduate of  Kennesaw State University, where she obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing. She is an active member of the Atlanta community serving as a mentor for Pink Diamonds and a sponsor for March of Dimes and the Kidney Foundation. With a vision of providing unique events that result in lasting memories, Desiree’ has proven that it is possible to turn your passion into a profession.

Atlanta Free Speech salutes Desiree’ Thornton.

To learn more about A.M.E.E. Event Planning, click here.


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Federal business development veteran Kyle Scott joins Telos ID

Top Priority Sector:  access_control_identification Sixteen-year Federal market veteran Kyle Scott has joined Ashburn, VA-based Telos Identity Management Solutions as vice president for strategy and business development. Read More….

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The black family business: Ben’s Chili Bowl

black family photo

Photo: Mindy Jo

Back in 1958, August 22nd to be exact, the sweet melody and sound on the Saturn II juke box could have well been “I want to stop, and thank you baby,” as Ben and Virginia Ali opened the nations now famous Ben’s Chili Bowl.

More than just chili and cheese, Ben’s Chili Bowl served a very prominent and classy close net community.  Located in Washington, D.C. on U Street in the Northwest quadrant of the city, Ben’s Chili Bowl is surrounded by some of the most iconic theaters such as, the Lincoln Theater and Howard Theater, as well as The Republic and Booker T.  During the late 1920’s, U Street was known as the “Black Broadway,” because of the very progressive entertainment and dinning at sophisticated restaurants.

Blacks in business during the 1950’s were faced with challenges due to the racial inequality and lack of cultural understanding.  The overhead cost of operating a business comes with investing not only money, but more time, sacrifice, and dedication.  For the first twenty years, through all the social and economic changes happening, Mrs. Ali was working longer hours since she only had one other employee at the time.  Mrs. Ali says “it was very hard on me because there were no streets, no subways, and the property tax had increased.”

Although some businesses did not welcome people of color, other than to make a purchase, Ben’s Chili Bowl welcomed everyone from its opening day in 1958 until today. It is still the most diverse thriving business in the city racially, culturally, and economically.  In the 1960’s, some areas in the district were ravished by riots and engulfed in flames from the assignation of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  As a result, many businesses had curfews, however Ben’s Chili Bowl remained open and was the meeting place for city officials to develop a plan to end the riots and violence occurring in the district.

Because of its location, and one-of-a-kind chili half smoked, you would often find influential African Americans such as, Bill Cosby frequent Ben’s Chili Bowl.  Ben’s Chili Bowl is where Mr. Cosby would meet his love Camille when they were dating.

Family has always been at the forefront of Ben’s business plan, which contributes to its thriving business. Almost fifty-seven years later, Ben’s business hasn’t slowed down yet. Mrs. Ali says, “having two of my three daughter-in-laws running the business with me makes it very special.”

Source: Virginia Ali

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