Who knew that something or even someone that started as a fictional comic book character in 1966 could have such a positive impact on an entire demographic? Black Panther is one of many prime examples of how powerful black people can be when we come together for a treasured cause. The Black community saw the impact of this positive influence coming from a mile away and the importance of showing up and supporting this film. This was the chance for us to show our children that there are superheroes that look and speak just like them. This film served as an opportunity to encourage and educate people about the glorious continent of Africa, and most importantly, the chance to showcase unquestionable proof to Hollywood that an all Black cast can bring in huge numbers at the box office.

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Fashion designer Collette Dinnigan is all about appealing to the femininity in women — her two most recent collections, despite being for the fall and winter seasons, were entirely comprised of skirts and dresses, save for a single pair of shorts. The colors she utilizes speak to the same type of woman, with remarkably soft pallets and, at times, careful hints of lace. Her choice to dedicate her line to this type of client makes sense when considering that the South African-born and New Zealand-raised blonde beauty got her start in the world of lingerie. And despite expanding her fashion repertoire, Dinnigan has continuously devoted her time to this particular style.

Dinnigan, now based out of Australia, is capable of dressing her clients at any point in their lives. From the bedroom, their wedding day, to more simple street wear, her collections have them covered. Her once dry-clean only lingerie collection now boasts playful yet classy pieces, sporting both soft colors with lace trim to more bold animal prints. The intricacy of lingerie is one of her favorite aspects of the design process, as she tells New Zealand online fashion magazine Fashionz, “…what I love is that it’s all so tiny and small, it’s almost like you want to frame pieces! Whereas when you tend to get big gowns, with a lot of fabric, there isn’t the same ‘smallness’ of it, you know, the attention to detail? And I think you can use some really beautiful print, and not necessarily have to be so traditional. And it’s just the femininity of it all, really, and the trimmings, those are the bits that I love.” Her bridal collection ranges in style as well, but ultimately goes for a classic look in cool whites. Some are decorated with a more delicate silk organza while others are fully embroidered in Swarovski crystals. Her ready-to-wear pieces also go for bright looks, flirtatious dresses, and occasionally sheer and bold trim. This ability to take on all types of design makes her a powerhouse in the fashion world.

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Paul Gauguin, a French Post-Impressionist artist, once said “I am a great artist and I know it. The reason I am great is because of all the suffering I have done.”

There is no truer case than Nathaniel Mary Quinn, raised in the projects of Chicago, Quinn is no stranger to suffering. However, through the pain and loss, he managed to find inspiration and create moving pieces of artwork that eventually found  its way to famous galleries in London and New York.

Many nights Quinn would wake up to the sounds of gunshots ringing through the streets. Peace was  pleasantry not readily available to Quinn in his childhood. He started creating at a young age, with a little bit of help from his mother, “As a child, my mother allowed me to draw on the walls of our apartment. She would just clean the walls and let me draw again, repeatedly,” he told the Huffington Post. It was these walls that sparked the creative genius inside Quinn, starting from copying comic books to creating masterpieces on canvas.

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Weeks before graduating with a masters in painting from Maryland Institute College of Art, Amy Sherald was told her heart was only functioning at 18%. But cardiomyopathy (a rare heart disease) didn’t stop her from painting. So she carried on, painting day and night while she waited tables five days a week to pay for treatment. That is, until a routine stop at Rite Aid for art supplies almost turned deadly. What seemed like an ordinary heart flutter caused Sherald to blackout in the aisle only to wake up in a pool of blood underneath her head. But even as she was rushed to John Hopkins Hospital in an ambulance, she held on to her dream. “I’m not going to be afraid, it’s all going to be okay,” she told herself. Even as her heart dropped to 5% functionality, she wanted to paint. But overcoming the heart transplant wasn’t so easy. Due to physical ailments and the depressing side-effects of the medication, she could not paint for a year. “I told my friends, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore.’ It felt stupid and selfish,” she explained in an interview with the Baltimore Sun. But as the effect of the anti-rejection heart transplant meds lessened, Sherald reconnected herself with her six-year old inner child that dreamed of becoming a painter.

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If this brilliant Detroit photographer never laid eyes on the exhibit of the legendary French photographer Henri Cartier- Bresson, photography as we know it would be much different. Bill Rauhauser is known for his classic black-and-white photographs that captured the significant beauty and simple elegance of Detroit throughout several decades. Prior to seeing Cartier-Bresson exhibit, Rauhauser had no idea that his hobby of taking photographs could turn into a full blown career.

His photographs over the decades depict the simple moments in Detroit life. Whether it is a photo of a woman gazing off to the side as she enjoys a cigarette on an outside Detroit plaza while wearing a lavish peacoat and string of pearls, or a photo of pedestrians walking across a street with their heads intently focused on what’s in front of them as a young boy accompanies them with a balloon in his hand, Rauhauser’s photographs show us that,  as a society, we often don’t notice simple moments the world presents to us.

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Cross your straight shooter best friend, a little wild and surreptitious in nature, although nurturing a keen sense of intuition, and someone who is usually spot on, with the outward appearance of a clunky, beardy beast of a man with a sense of humor and imagination. The result? You get out-of-the-box rapper/chef Action Bronson.

“I am a f**king fat white boy. I have to be able to rap. I don’t have the look. I don’t have the typical slim dude, fancy boy look. That’s not me. I have to be able to rap, there’s no other choice or I get eaten alive,” the outspoken artist said to online music source xxlmag.com.

Truthfully, when you glance over Action Bronson, you ask yourself which genre he fits into. The New Yorker from Flushing Queens is a bit of a misfit in the ultimate sense of the word. He’s unapologetic and stubborn with a sense of loyalty and fresh ideas. Born to an Albanian father and Jewish mother, he inspires a new avenue for rappers.

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Everyone knows that Paris is the fashion capital of the world. The pinnacle of fashion success lies in the heart of France. With that being said, making it to the top is anything but a walk in a beautiful Parisian park. Kenzo Takada is a prime example of the hard work that it takes to make it in the Paris fashion world.

Kenzo, born in Himeji, Japan in 1939, is the first Japanese designer to be recognized by French fashion professionals, while also being considered one of the most influential ready-to-wear designers. Kenzo first became interested in fashion after looking at his sister’s magazines. He knew that Japan was no place for a fashion designer, so it wasn’t long before Kenzo was on a boat to Paris intending to only stay for six months. However, as soon as he landed in Marseilles he knew this would become his new home.  

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Seeing is believing.

During the Atlanta premiere of the highly-anticipated film Black Panther, I observed two black nine-year old boys watching the film in awe. They sat on the edge of their seats, eyes wide with excitement, nearly the entire time. Instantly, they found a connection with the main character “T’Challa,” the king of Wakanda. The boys have never seen a superhero on the big screen who looks just like them, playing a leading role, serving as a prominent figure, and assuming the responsibility of watching over his family and an entire nation of brown people.

Some people say this is just another fictional superhero film, but it has become reality to these two nine-year olds, and so many others. From an image alone, suddenly a child carries hope in their heart, and a dream is ignited in their mind. It’s the equivalent to having faith as small as a mustard seed, just one spark (no matter the size), burning inside of an adolescent has the ability to light up the whole world.

James “Jay” Bailey, founder of the Phoenix Leadership Foundation, was inspired by “T’Challa’s” story and decided to localize the Black Panther experience. On Tuesday, February 20, Bailey and several others will make history by igniting hope inside of the hearts and minds of 700 metro Atlanta high school students when they visit #AtlantaWakanda.

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