Grammy-nominated Hip-Hop Artist and Activist
David Banner — Jackson, Mississippi native — is a Grammy Award winning music producer, recording artist, philanthropist, activist and actor who has appeared in films such as Lee Daniel’s The Butler and in Tim Story’s movie Ride Along.
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David is also the host of Aspire TV’s current ABFF Independent Film Series and currently in his second season as Pastor Green on Bounce TV’s Saints and Sinners. Mr. David Banner also is founder of A Banner Vision- ABV, a multimedia company that specializes in providing emotionally engaging music for iconic commercials, video games and films for brands like Pepsi, Gatorade, Paramount Pictures (Footloose film), Marvel, Capcom, Mercedes Benz and more!
Such mega success did not come without challenges. At one point, along the way, Banner was living in his rundown van that he built a make shift studio inside of making beats and recording most of his early works. One day on his way back to Mississippi, he stopped in Birmingham, AL to rest and a group of teenagers stole the van, the van that housed everything he owned in the world. Heartbroken and heated, Banner kept pushing toward his dream despite of the setback. And three months later, on another trip to Birmingham to sell his material, he caught the attention of a Universal label executive and was signed to a multi-million dollar, five album deal. Thus, introducing the world to multi-talented Rapper and Producer who pioneered the now very popular putting your tag at the beginning of a beat – David- David-David-David Banner.
Throughout his career, he has also been a prominent and passionate voice in the face of social injustices and activism, appearing on various media networks. In addition, he tours the country with his thought provoking “The God Box Lecture Series” and thanks to his followers, has been selling out at every stop.
Mr. Banner was invited this year to be the keynote speaker for one of the largest Martin Luther King unity marches in the country where over 200,000 people were in attendance. Banner has also been speaking at countless Universities, community panels, blogs, magazines, documentaries, and working with various school administrations in efforts to change the approach in which educators teach our children. Therefore, whenever and wherever you hear him he’s always guaranteed to leave all in the sound of his voice, thinking and searching for the true meaning of the GOD BOX.
Grammy-nominated Hip-Hop Artist
In the saturated market of music and entertainment, consumers live with a constant craving for outliers and one-of-ones. In the sphere of hip-hop, Rapsody is that outlier. The Jamla/Roc Nation artist has spent the better part of the present decade lapping peers and counterparts while mesmerizing fans whom still prefer their rhymes detailed and nutritious.
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The Snow Hill, North Carolina native has more than held her own alongside greats like Kendrick Lamar, Black Thought and the late Mac Miller (in 2011, she toured with Miller on his Incredibly Dope Tour). She has been broadcasted and hailed by media giants––from NPR to USA Today to TIME Magazine to BET (2013’s Hip Hop Cypher) to NBC (The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, 2015). In 2014, XXL named her one of the 20 Greatest Female Rappers of All Time. The following year, Dr. Dre crowned her his “favorite female emcee.” In 2018, The Netflix/Mass Appeal 8 part documentary series, RAPSURE Rapsody is featured as the only female artist and role model in Episode 6. She toured with Big K.R.I.T. in 2019 and hit the road in 2020 for a tour to support her latest album Eve. The North Carolina native called the tour “A Black Woman Created This” continuing the theme of her sophomore LP of Black women empowerment. All of her hard work paid off as BET recognized her as the “Lyricist of the Year” at the 2020 Hip Hop Awards. Later in 2020, she was featured in Stevie Wonder’s song “Can’t Put It In The Hands of Fate”. Rapsody is currently one the hosts for Revolt’s show “Off Top” alongside Tiger. This 4x Grammy Award winner is also active in philanthropy and plays an important role with social justice and social empowerment.
The one-of-one is Rapsody’s latest album EVE. Named after the Bible’s original woman, the summer release is dedicated to the celebration and empowerment of brown sistas worldwide. Each song is titled after a legendary black female. From the beautifully jazzy “MAYA” to the melanin-affirming “IMAN” to a summertime breezy “MICHELLE,” Rapsody’s latest–– produced primarily by 9th Wonder and Eric G of the Soul Council production team and featuring giant guests like J Cole, D’Angelo, Queen Latifah and GZA, to name a few––is a collector’s item in a current climate of disposable compositions.
The lead single “Ibtihaj” introduces the succeeding 16 tracks (including an interlude) and their historic theme. Rapsody’s pen accomplishes much as she weaves the story of the first black, Muslim woman to get an Olympic medal for fencing in the Rio 2016 games. The incomparable features of The GZA and D’Angelio make the track swing “it’s been a long time coming since we had someone swarming with the bees (Killah) the bird and the Killah bees.”
The follow-up track of “AFENI,” in the form of separate love letters to black men and women, smells award-winning. 9th Wonder’s sonic bed is made with the Deniece Williams classic “Free,” Tupac’s “Dear Mama” a capella and decorated by the golden vocals of New Orleans crooner PJ Morton. On “OPRAH,” Rapsody ensures that the girl party is as fun as it is inspiring. Over a stream of buoyant baselines, she and masked sparkler Leikeli47 spit with the freedom of ocean water. “It ain’t uncommon to borrow a dollar/Invite me over to eat with your mama/I like them checks with the commas on commas.”
EVE is Rapsody’s third studio album, succeeding her 2012 debut The Idea of Beautiful and 2017’s Laila’s Wisdom, named after her grandmother, which featured a constellation of guests (Kendrick Lamar, Anderson Paak, Busta Rhymes, Musiq Soulchild, etc) and launched the spitter into a rap star. It was nominated for both a Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song GRAMMY. The groundwork laid prior to Laila’s Wisdom included her outstanding verse on Paak’s 9th Wonder-produced “Without U” (off of his beloved major label debut, Malibu) and her first GRAMMY nomination for her exceptional performance on Kendrick’s sophomore standout To Pimp A Butterfly. Rapsody would later earn an invitation from President Barack Obama and Herbie Hancock to perform at the International Jazz Fest with Aretha Franklin, Robert Glasper, Terrace Martin and Terri Lyne Carrington in honor of the late great Prince. With her finest work ready for release, the Carolinian’s horizon forecasts more triumph, success, and, most importantly, little brown girls around the world who will love themselves more. They will have Rapsody to thank.
andré douglas pond cummings
Author & Distinguished Professor
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andré douglas pond cummings is Associate Dean for Faculty Development and the Charles C. Baum Professor of Law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law where he teaches Business Associations, Contracts I and II, Corporate Justice, Entertainment Law, Progressive Prosecution and Hip Hop & the American Constitution. He is also the Co-Director of Bowen Law’s Center for Racial Justice and Criminal Justice Reform. Prior to his appointment at UALR Bowen Law, Dean cummings was a Professor of Law at West Virginia University College of Law and has been a Visiting Professor at numerous law schools. Before embarking on his academic career, cummings worked as a judicial law clerk for Chief Judge Joseph W. Hatchett of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and for Chief Justice Christine M. Durham of the Utah Supreme Court. In addition, he practiced law at Kirkland & Ellis LLP in Chicago IL, focusing his practice on complex business transactions including mergers, acquisitions, divestitures and securities offerings of publicly traded companies. Simultaneously, cummings represented clients in the sports and entertainment industries, including athletes in the National Football League, record labels, motion picture production companies, and a variety of authors, including Hollywood screenwriters.
cummings has written extensively on issues regarding investor protection, racial and social justice, and sports and entertainment law, publishing in the Washington University Law Review, Indiana Law Journal, Utah Law Review, Tulane Law Review, Howard Law Journal, Marquette Sports Law Review, Iowa Journal of Gender, Race and Justice, Thurgood Marshall Law Review and Harvard Journal on Racial and Ethnic Justice, amongst many others. cummings has published three books including Corporate Justice (with Todd Clark) in 2016, Hip Hop and the Law (with Pamela Bridgewater and Donald Tibbs) in 2015, and Reversing Field: Examining Commercialization, Labor, Gender, and Race in 21st Century Sports Law (with Anne Marie Lofaso) in 2010. Noted public intellectual Cornel West has stated that cummings’ scholarly “reputation goes far beyond the nation, and is heard in every corner of the globe, wrestling with legacies of legal thinking on one hand and popular culture on the other.”
cummings has been recognized as Professor of the Year on numerous occasions including the University-wide Distinguished Professor Award by the West Virginia University Foundation. He has recently received the Faculty Excellence Award in Social Justice at Bowen Law. cummings has taught as a Visiting Professor of Law at the University of Iowa College of Law, University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, Syracuse University College of Law, The University of Illinois—Chicago Law School, Temple University Beasley School of Law (Tokyo Campus) and has taught as a Visiting Lecturer at the North Carolina Central University School of Law, St. Thomas University School of Law, Fundação Getulio Vargas, Direito Rio in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Universidade de Vila Velha in Vila Velha, Brazil, and Universidad de Guanajuato in Guanajuato, Mexico. cummings holds a J.D. from Howard University School of Law where he graduated cum laude.
Professor of Music in Entrepreneurship & Leadership in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance (SMTD) at the University of Michigan
Antonio C. Cuyler, Ph.D. (he/him/his) is Professor of Music in Entrepreneurship & Leadership in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance (SMTD) at the University of Michigan. He is the author of Access, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Cultural Organizations: Insights from the Careers of Executive Opera Managers of Color in the U. S., editor of Arts Management, Cultural Policy, & the African Diaspora, and most recently co-author of the League of American Orchestras’ report Racial/Ethnic and Gender Diversity in the Orchestra Field in 2023. He also founded Cuyler Consulting, LLC, a Black-owned arts consultancy that partners with cultural organizations to maximize their performance and community relevance through access, diversity, equity, and inclusion (ADEI).
President of the University of Michigan
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Santa J. Ono, Ph.D., is the 15th president of the University of Michigan. He began a five-year term on Oct. 14, 2022.
A recognized leader in higher education in the United States and Canada, President Ono is an experienced vision researcher whose pioneering work in experimental medicine focuses on the immune system and eye disease. At U-M he is professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences, and microbiology and immunology in the Medical School, and molecular, cellular and developmental biology in the College of Literature, Sciences and the Arts.
President Ono currently serves as the chair of the U-M Health Board, the chair of Fulbright Canada, the chair of the University Climate Change Coalition (UC3), and is an honorary Chairperson of the Japan America Society of Michigan and Southwestern Ontario. He also serves on a range of other boards including the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors, the American Association of Colleges and Universities, the American Council on Education, the Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities, the U7+ Alliance, the Council on Competitiveness, the University Musical Society, Terramera, the Detroit Economic Club, Business Leaders of Michigan and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation Board of Trustees.
He has also been appointed by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer to serve on the Executive Committee of Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the Growing Michigan Together Council.
He joined U-M from the University of British Columbia, where he served as president and vice chancellor since 2016.
While at UBC, he chaired the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities and the Research Universities of British Columbia, and served on the board of Universities Canada. He also served on the steering committee of the Association of Pacific Rim Universities; Government of Canada’s Industry Advisory Ad Hoc Roundtable on COVID-19 Testing; and the boards of Fulbright Canada and Mitacs.
Prior to his appointment at UBC, he was president of the University of Cincinnati, where he also served as professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. While at the University of Cincinnati, he was appointed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich to lead the state’s Biopharmaceutical Task Force and to the Board of the Ohio Third Frontier, the state’s technology-based economic development program.
Dr. Ono has served as senior vice provost and deputy to the provost at Emory University. He also has taught at Johns Hopkins University, Harvard University and University College London.
He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, the National Academy of Inventors, USA and the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars. In 2022, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
He has advised national and regional governments on higher education and mental health. He also has advised companies such as GSK, Johnson & Johnson, Merck and Novartis, and served as director and chief scientific officer of iCo Therapeutics.
President Ono has served on the editorial boards for several peer-reviewed medical and scientific journals, including Immunology, The Journal of Biological Chemistry, The Journal of Immunology and The Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology.
He holds honorary doctorates from Chiba University and the Vancouver School of Theology and is a recipient of the Reginald Wilson Diversity Leadership Award from the American Council on Education, the Professional Achievement Award from University of Chicago, a Grand Challenges Hero Award from UCLA, and the NAAAP 100 Award from the National Association of Asian American Professionals.
He earned his B.A. in biological sciences from the University of Chicago in 1984, and a Ph.D. in experimental medicine from McGill University in 1991.
President Ono is married to Wendy Yip, an immunologist and lawyer. They are the parents of two daughters, Sarah Yip-Ono and Juliana Yip-Ono.
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
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Dr. Laurie McCauley is provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of Michigan. Prior to her appointment as provost, she served as the dean of the School of Dentistry. Dr. McCauley is the William K. and Mary Anne Najjar Professor of Periodontics in the dental school and professor of pathology in the Medical School.
An active researcher supported by the National Institutes of Health for more than twenty-five years, Dr. McCauley’s work focuses on parathyroid hormone anabolic actions in bone, immune cell functions in bone, and prostate cancer skeletal metastasis. This mechanistic and translational research contributes to regenerative medicine and the development of treatments for inflammatory mediated bone loss.
Dr. McCauley has held visiting appointments at the Institut de Genetique et de Biologie Moleculaire et Cellulaire, the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon, and the Center for Experimental Therapeutics and Reperfusion Injury, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School. Among her many recognitions, she has been awarded a distinguished scientist award (International Association for Dental Research), a distinguished alumna award (The Ohio State University) and the Norton M. Ross Award for Excellence in Clinical Research (American Dental Association). She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the National Academy of Medicine where she serves as Section Chair.
At U-M, Dr. McCauley chaired the Department of Periodontics and Oral Medicine, led several campus efforts in campaign planning, professional standards, and pandemic planning. She has been a champion for diversity, equity, and inclusion receiving the Ida Gray award for her outstanding efforts in promoting multicultural ideals. As dean, she actively worked to reduce student debt, and oversaw a $142 million expansion and renovation of the dental school’s clinical and educational facilities.
Dr. McCauley joined U-M as an assistant professor of dentistry in 1992. She holds four degrees from The Ohio State University, Bachelor of Science in education, Doctor of Dental Surgery, Master of Science in dentistry, and Ph.D. in veterinary pathology.
Vice Provost for Equity & Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer
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Tabbye Chavous is the Vice Provost for Equity & Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer at the University of Michigan. She is also a professor of education and professor of psychology.
A native of Aiken, South Carolina, Dr. Chavous attended the University of Virginia where she received her bachelor’s degree and went on to earn a PhD in Community Psychology. Following her graduate work, Dr. Chavous entered the University of Michigan as an assistant professor and moved up the ranks to professor.
Dr. Chavous has held leadership roles at the department, college, and central administration levels during her almost 24 years at U-M. Most recently, she was the director of the National Center for Institutional Diversity and associate dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. Prior to that, Dr. Chavous served as an associate vice president for research, associate dean for academic programs and initiatives in the Rackham Graduate School, and chair of the Combined Program in Education and Psychology. Across all of her roles, the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion have been central to her leadership approaches and practices and infused throughout the initiatives, programs, and practices she helped develop and implement.
Dr. Chavous’ expertise and research activities center around (1) social identity development among Black adolescents and young adults; (2) achievement motivation processes among ethnic minority students; and (3) the measurement and impacts of diversity climates in secondary and higher education settings and implications for students’ academic, social, and psychological adjustment. In collaboration with a number of her graduate student and postdoctoral mentees, she has published extensively in these areas. Dr. Chavous’ work has been supported by grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, National Science Foundation, and Spencer Foundation. Dr. Chavous also served as co-director of the Center for the Study of Black Youth in Context, which she co-founded in 2008, which supports research and research training of students, postdocs, and early career scholars around the positive development of diverse Black youth and families.
Dr. Chavous’ undergraduate and graduate teaching contributions focus on developmental, psychological, cultural, and organizational processes relevant to education and youth development. Examples include: adolescent psychology, with a focus on the contexts of schools, communities, and other societal institutions; community psychology; educational psychology and human development; foundations of teaching and learning; schools as organizations; race, ethnicity, and culture in education; and using social science to address “achievement gaps,” or educational disparities across race, ethnicity, gender, and social class. Her research and teaching have allowed her to engage and collaborate with and mentor students from across disciplines and campus units, which is one of the things she has found most meaningful in her career.
Based on her academic and scholarly work and leadership impacts, Dr. Chavous has been called on locally, nationally, and internationally to consult and collaborate in efforts to broaden access, participation, and retention and thriving in higher education – more broadly and in fields such as science, technology, mathematics and engineering. These efforts focus on all levels of the academy–undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, and faculty.