February is dedicated to remembering black women and men, who have defined history by innovating and excelling in their respective fields. Though there are countless extraordinary black people across the globe, the following 28 represent each day of Black History Month. Some of them continue to inspire our hearts and minds to this day. Some have passed, but their legacies live on through their art form, their entrepreneurial ventures, their contribution to the sciences, their sportsmanship, their research, their social activism, and their ceaseless perseverance against all odds. Each day for the final week of this month, we will highlight a few influential black people, and show gratitude for their originality and brilliance. Take a moment to regard these honorable people, and share their greatness with a friend.
Dancer, teacher, model and cook, Akua Noni Parker began her ballet training at the age of three and moved to Wilmington, DE at age twelve to continue her professional training at the Academy of the Dance. She later joined the Dance Theatre of Harlem, where she danced lead roles in Agon, Giselle, and The Four Temperaments. Thereafter, she danced with Cincinnati Ballet and Ballet San Jose. Ms. Parker has had the opportunity to perform around the world, and has had the pleasure of working with legendary icons Fredric Franklin and Geoffrey Holder.
Graduating from Parsons in 2008, London born Carly Cushnie Co-founded Cushnie et Ochs, a demure clothing line that was published on the cover of WWD magazine in the same year. Her garments have draped celebrities such as Michelle Obama, Khloe Kardashian and Blake Lively. Aside from being one of the youngest and most successful black fashion designers, Cushnie is also a member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, whose mission is to strengthen the influence and success of American designers in the global economy. Did we mention she's a complete knock out?!
Over the last thirty years, Martin Puryear has created a body of work that defies categorization. He is a mixed media sculptor whose work is informed by identity, culture and history. As a student, the artist studied ornithology, falconry, and archery. Always intrigued by the more primitive ways of living, he joined the Peace Corps in West Africa, where he schooled himself in the region’s indigenous crafts. Some of his most monumental and profound undertakings include a sculpture entitled "Big Bling," a social commentary traveling piece pertaining to rap culture, which took over a year to create and involved the help of over 50 men to execute at such a behemoth scale.
A self described "Visual Storyteller," Haitian born Handel Eugene is a multidisciplinary artist & animator residing in Los Angeles, California. He started his professional career in 2012 at We Are Royale, working on jobs for brands like Nike, Google, Toyota, and Starbucks. He has since transitioned to a freelanceer and has had the opportunity to work on location with Facebook and Apple. His most recent contributions to Marvel’s latest Black Panther film have garnered tremendous critical acclaim. Handel also serves in the education sector, currently teaching at Otis College of Art & Design, as well as, mentoring students online at Mograph Mentor.