Majora Carter (born October 27, 1966) is an economic consultant, public radio host, and environmental justice advocate from the South Bronx area of New York City. Carter founded the non-profit environmental justice solutions corporation Sustainable South Bronx before entering the private sector.
Carter attended primary schools in the South Bronx. After graduating from the Bronx High School of Science, she entered Wesleyan University in 1984 to study acting and film and obtain a Bachelor of Arts. In 1997, she received a Master of Fine Arts from New York University (NYU). While at NYU, she returned to her family’s home in Hunts Point, and later worked for The Point Community Development Corporation. As associate director of the community development corporation, Carter advocated for the development of Hunts Point Riverside Park. Carter was “pulled by her dog into a weedy vacant lot strewn with trash at the dead end of Lafayette Avenue. As the pair plowed through the site they ended up, much to Carter’s surprise, on the banks of the Bronx River.”
From there, Carter helped secure a $10,000 grant from a USDA Forest Service program to provide seed money for river access restoration projects. Working with other community groups and the Parks Department, over a five-year period she helped leverage that seed money into more than $3 million from the mayor’s budget to build the park.
In August 2001, after an unsuccessful campaign for City Council, Carter founded Sustainable South Bronx (SSBx), where she served as executive director until July 2008. During that time, SSBx advocated the development of the Hunt’s Point Riverside Park which had been an illegal garbage dump. SSBx has also been involved in other restoration projects on the Bronx River waterfront. In 2003, Sustainable South Bronx started the Bronx Environmental Stewardship Training program. This was one of the nation’s first urban green collar training and placement systems. Other SSBx projects have centered around fitness, food choices (including the creation of a community market), and air quality.
A December 2008 New York Times profile called Carter “The Green Power Broker” and “one of the city’s best-known advocates for environmental justice” but reported that some South Bronx activists (who would not go on record) stated that Carter has taken credit for accomplishments when others should share the credit as well as taking credit for uncompleted projects. Other Bronx activists (who did agree to be named) stated that her recognition was well deserved.
Carter was a torch-bearer for a portion of the San Francisco leg of the torch relay of the 2008 Summer Olympics. Many portions of the torch relay, including the San Francisco leg, were met with protests concerning the policies of the Chinese government toward Tibet. Although Carter had signed a contract pledging not to use an Olympic venue for political or religious causes, when she and John Caldera were passed the torch during their part of the relay, she pulled out a small Tibetan flag that she had concealed in her shirt sleeve.
Members of the Chinese torch security escort team pulled her out of the relay and San Francisco police officers pushed her into the crowd on the side of the street. Fellow torch-bearer, retired NYFD firefighter Richard Doran, who was honoring the firefighters who died in the September 11 attacks, called Carter’s actions “disgusting and appalling” and said that he thought “she dishonored herself and her family”. Another torch-bearer, retired NYPD police officer Jim Dolan, agreed with Doran.
Majora Carter’s TED talk was one of the first 6 publicly released talks to launch the TED.com website in 2006. Carter has made appearances in, and/or written, and produced television and radio programs, including HBO‘s The Black List volume 2, American Public Media‘s Market Place, and PRX‘s This I Believe series and has hosted several pieces on urban sustainability with Discovery Communications‘ Science Channel. From 2007 – 2010, Carter has appeared on The Green, a television segment dedicated to the environment, shown on the Sundance Channel. The first season consisted of a series of 90 second op-eds shot in studio. The second season consisted of a series of short interview pieces with people who are taking uncommon approaches to environmental problems.
In 2008, Carter and Marge Ostroushko co-produced the pilot episode of the public radio show, The Promised Land (radio), which won a 3-way competition for a Corporation for Public Broadcasting Talent Quest grant. The one-hour programs debuted on over 150 public radio stations across the US on January 19, 2009, have been renewed for the 2010/2011 season, and has since earned a 2010 Peabody Award
She has also participated in corporate promotional video and advertisements for companies such as Cisco Systems, Frito-Lay, Intel, and Honda.
Carter has co-authored a white paper on Urban Heat Island Mitigation and a peer-reviewed article, Elemental carbon and PM(2.5) levels in an urban community heavily impacted by truck traffic.
Since leaving Sustainable South Bronx, Carter has been president of a private, for-profit “green” economic consulting firm, The Majora Carter Group, LLC. The New York Times reported that her consulting firm charges $25,000 for some of her speaking appearances. In the June 2010 issue of Fast Company magazine, Majora Carter was listed as one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business
Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley (February 1818 – May 1907) (sometimes spelled Keckly)  was a former slave turned successful seamstress who is most notably known as being Mary Todd Lincoln‘s personal modiste and confidante, and the author of her autobiography, Behind the Scenes Or, Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House. Mrs. Keckley utilized her intelligence, keen business savvy, and sewing and design skills to arrange and ultimately buy her freedom (and that of her son George as well), and later enjoyed regular business with the wives of the government elite as her base clientele.
After several years in St. Louis, she moved to Washington, D.C. in the spring of 1860. Utilizing both perseverance and an ability to ingratiate herself with those of influence, she was able to distinguish herself among notable women of society in the nation’s capitol who sought out her dressmaking skills. Among her clients were Varnia Davis, wife of Jefferson Davis, and Mary Anne Randolph Custis Lee, wife of Robert E. Lee.
Keckly’s relationship with the President’s wife, Mary Todd Lincoln was the most noteworthy as it was distinguished not only by its endurance over time but the nature of the association. A mutual respect and trust was established between the two women and Keckly was not only dressmaker to the First Lady, but an invaluable confidante to Mrs. Lincoln in times of emotional crisis.
Elizabeth Keckly was born a slave in February 1818 in Dinwiddie County Court House, Dinwiddie, Virginia, just south of Petersburg. Her mother, Agnes, was a slave, owned by Armistead and Mary Burwell. ‘Aggy’ as she was called, was considered a ‘privileged slave’, learning to read and write despite the fact that it was illegal for slaves to do so. Her biological father, whose real identity was revealed to her later on in life, was Armistead Burwell. In fact, Keckley didn’t find out that Armistead Burwell was her father until her mother was on her death bed, and announced it to her.
The exact nature of the relationship between Agnes and Burwell is unknown. Agnes was later permitted to marry George Pleasant Hobbs. George Hobbs was also a literate slave, residing at the home of a neighbor during Elizabeth Keckley’s early childhood. Hobbs was eventually estranged from his wife and stepdaughter when his owner moved far away.
Keckley resided in the Burwell house with her mother, and began official duties at age five when it was decided that, because the Burwells had four other children under the age of ten, she would become the nursemaid for their infant daughter, Elizabeth Margaret. Taking on the responsibility as a young child, she also came to understand the dynamics of a slave’s existence early in her life. While looking after the baby one day, she accidentally tipped the cradle over too far, and the infant rolled onto the floor. This resulted in the beginning of many painful episodes of abuse that Keckley had to endure.
In 1832, at age fourteen, Keckley was sent to live “on generous loan” with the eldest Burwell son, Robert, and his wife, Margaret Anna Robertson, in Chesterfield County, Virginia, near Petersburg. Burwell’s wife demonstrated particular contempt for Elizabeth, and made home life for the next four years most uncomfortable for her. Keckley mentioned that Mrs. Burwell seemed ‘desirous to wreak vengeance’ upon her, and enlisted the help of their neighbor William J. Bingham to help subdue her “stubborn pride”. Despite the hardships she endured, Keckley wrote many letters during her time there.
When Keckley was eighteen, Bingham called her to his quarters for unexplained reasons and ordered her to undress so that he could beat her. Keckley immediately refused, citing that in addition to her being a fully developed woman, that he “shall not whip me unless you prove the stronger. Nobody has a right to whip me but my own master, and nobody shall do so if I can prevent it.” He proceeded to bind her hands and beat her, resulting in Elizabeth returning home with bleeding welts upon her back.
One week later, Mr. Bingham attacked her again and flogged her until he was exhausted. During these beatings, Elizabeth refused to show great emotion, and suppressed her tears and voice with all of her will. The following week, after yet another attempt to “break her”, Bingham had a change of heart, “burst[ing] into tears, and declar[ing] that it would be a sin” to beat her anymore. He stopped beating her, asked for her forgiveness. Unfortunately, Robert Burwell began to beat her. Keckley refused to show emotion and after a few furious beatings he also declared that he would beat her no longer. Keckley claims that he kept his word.
Keckley then became the victim of sexual abuse while living in Hillsborough, North Carolina. For four years, a man by the name of Alexander M. Kirkland forced a sexual relationship upon Keckley, which she said caused “suffering and deep mortification” She ended up bearing a son by Kirkland, naming the child George after her stepfather. George was later killed in action on August 10, 1861, while serving as a soldier with the Union forces. After many difficulties in establishing her son’s racial identity (George passed as white in order to serve in the Union Army), Keckley was able to procure a pension for an initial monthly amount of $8 (later raised to $12) for the remainder of her life.
Road to freedom
By early 1842, Armistead Burwell was deceased, and his mistress and her slaves went back to Virginia to live with her daughter, Anne, and son-in-law, Hugh A. Garland. Due to financial difficulties in the Garland family, several decisions were made in order to support the large family and slave inventory. Some of the slave children were sold, and some were hired out, but Keckley and her mother remained with their mistress. After many moves, in 1847 the Garlands moved to St. Louis. Anne relied heavily upon Agnes and Elizabeth to help with the care of her children, and to do all of the family sewing. Keckley would eventually create opportunities for herself in St. Louis. Working for nearly twelve years in St. Louis afforded her the opportunities to mingle with a rather large free black population as well as establish connections that she would use to become a dressmaker for the town’s white upperclass women.
Keckley met her future husband, James, but refused to marry him until she and her son were free. With marriage in mind, she began her campaign for freedom. She approached Hugh Garland and asked if she could manumit herself and her son. Garland flatly refused. Determined to not let the subject rest, she kept trying to get permission for two years. In 1852, Garland agreed to release them for $1,200.
Steadfast in her quest to raise the money needed, she began to entertain the idea of going to New York to “appeal to the benevolence of the people.” One of her patrons, Mrs. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Le Bourgeois, didn’t want Keckley to travel “to New York to beg for money” to buy her freedom, stating that she had given the matter some thought and that “it would be a shame to allow you to go North to beg for what we should give you.” With the help of her patrons, she was able to gather the money to buy her and her son’s freedom, and was emancipated in November 1855. Keckley kept her promise to repay her patrons, choosing to remain in St. Louis until this was accomplished.
During her final years in St. Louis, Keckley worked very hard at making progress in her business as well as personal life. Keckley began to look beyond life in St. Louis. She enrolled her son in the newly established Wilberforce University. She also proceeded to make formal plans to leave St. Louis, leaving her husband after almost eight years of marriage.
Her departure from St. Louis in early 1860 took her to Baltimore, Maryland, where she had hoped to form “classes of young colored women” to teach them her system of cutting and fitting dresses. She said that her “scheme was not successful, for after six weeks of labor and vexation, I left Baltimore with scarcely money enough to pay my fare to Washington.” At the time, Maryland was passing many strict and repressive laws in order to control the free blacks within the state. In her autobiography, she did not go into detail as to the reasons for her lack of success but a combination of racism, sexism, and class prejudices most likely played a role.
Journey to the Capital
In mid-1860, after finding herself unsuccessful in establishing her school in Baltimore, Keckley planned to go to Washington, D.C. to start a new life. She intended to work as a seamstress as she had done in St. Louis, yet, there was a troublesome obstacle in her way. Almost destitute from her time spent in Maryland, she lacked the money to be able to purchase a license for her to be able to remain in the city for more than thirty days. Always resourceful, Keckley found a way through one of her patrons. A Ms. Ringold used her connection to Mayor James G. Berret to petition for a license for Elizabeth; upon her request Berrett not only granted her the license, but granted it free of charge.
With her new license, she was able to concentrate more closely on networking and supporting herself. Commissions for dresses were steadily coming in, but the dress that she completed for Mrs. Robert E. Lee sparked her business’ rapid growth. Keckley found most of her work with the women of society by word-of-mouth recommendations; after completing several dresses, she came upon a commission that she almost let go.
Mrs. Margaret McLean of Maryland, who was introduced by way of Mrs. Varina Davis, approached Keckley with a demand to have a dress made. Keckley attempted to politely decline the work, because of her already heavy order commitments. However, Mrs. McLean would not accept no for an answer. She also stressed she needed to complete the dress urgently, all the while reminding her that she had the means to introduce Keckley to ‘the people in the White House’. After working tirelessly, Keckley finished the dress for Mrs. McLean, and the following week Mrs. McLean called for Keckley and instructed her to go to the Lincolns’ suite, where her presence had been requested by Mrs. Lincoln.
The White House years
Elizabeth Keckley was introduced to Mary Todd Lincoln on March 4, 1861, the day of Abraham Lincoln‘s first inauguration. Mrs. Lincoln, in the midst of preparing for the day’s festivities, requested that Keckley return to the White House the following morning for an interview. Upon arrival, Keckley was dismayed to find other women assembled, all competing to win favor with the new First Lady. For Keckley the day was triumphant—Mrs. Lincoln had chosen her for the position of personal modiste. Leaving the White House that day, Keckley carried with her the first of many dresses for which Mrs. Lincoln would require the seamstress’s dress making expertise.
For the next six years, Keckley would become an intimate witness to the private life of the First Family. In addition to utilizing her inestimable dress making skills, Keckley’s other responsibility was to assist Mrs. Lincoln at the start of each day acting as her personal dresser. This function extended to aiding Mrs. Lincoln as she prepared for her appearance at official receptions and other social events. Mrs. Lincoln who was known for her love of fashion, kept Keckley busy maintaining and executing new creations for the First Lady’s increasingly extensive wardrobe. Within four months Keckley completed approximately sixteen dresses. Mrs. Lincoln, a woman plagued by anxieties, emotional problems, and subject to inconsistent moods, could be difficult to deal with. It was the opinion of Rosetta Wells that Keckley was “the only person in Washington who could get along with Mrs. Lincoln, when she became mad with anybody for talking about her and criticizing her husband.” The friendship that grew out of the intimacy that was shared between the two women is what fostered Keckley’s life-long loyalty to the First Lady.
During the Lincoln administration (and many years afterward), Keckley was the sole designer and creator of Mary Todd Lincoln’s event wardrobe. In January 1862, Mrs. Lincoln posed at Brady’s Washington Photography Studio, showing off two of Elizabeth Keckley’s gowns. For several years to come, Mary Lincoln would attend many affairs and continue to pose for more portraits showcasing Keckley’s talents.
During this time, Keckley herself would also enjoy semi-celebrity status within the black community, and used her various connections to establish the Contraband Relief Association, a group designed to help suffering and disadvantaged black people. Keckley petitioned and solicited for donations, receiving frequent contributions from both the President and the First Lady.
Contraband Relief Association
Keckley founded the Contraband Relief Association in August 1862. The organization changed its name in July 1864 to the Ladies’ Freedmen and Soldier’s Relief Association to “reflect its expanded mission.” The CRA provided food, shelter, clothing, and emotional support to recently freed slaves and/or sick and wounded soldiers. The organization was based in Washington D.C., but the funds distributed and the services provided surpassed county lines. Although the Contraband Relief Association has been disremembered, the organization set the standards and exposed the need for relief organizations in the realm of providing aid to the economically deprived and physically displaced black community. The Contraband Relief Association networked rigorously within the black community and this yielded black autonomy. Through intra-ethnic networking the Contraband Relief Association was able to achieve their mission of creating an organization by and for African Americans.
In Keckley’s autobiography, she verbalized the circumstance of contrabands within Washington D.C. Keckley wrote that ex-slaves were not going to find “flowery paths, days of perpetual sunshine, and bowers hanging with golden fruit” in Washington D.C. but that” the road was rugged and full of thorns.” With her own eyes she saw that “[their] appeal for help too often was answered by cold neglect.” Because Keckley had experienced slavery herself, she was empathetic towards former slaves and wanted to do something in order to relieve their suffering. One summer evening, Keckley witnessed “a festival given for the benefit of the sick and wounded soldiers in the city.” Consequently, she questioned that if “white people can give festivals to raise funds for the relief of the suffering soldiers, why should not the well-to-do colored people go to work to do something for the benefit of the suffering blacks?” Keckley suggested to her colored friends “a society of colored people be formed to labor for the benefit of the unfortunate freedmen.” Her idea generated support, and in August 1862 the Contraband Relief Association was founded.
The CRA utilized black religious spaces such as the Twelfth Baptist Church, Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church, Israel African Methodist Episcopal Church, and the Siloam Presbyterian Church. The organization held fundraisers such as old folk’s concerts, speeches, dramatic readings, and festivals at these particular religious spaces. Some of the prominent black figures who spoke on behalf of the organization included Frederick Douglass, Henry Highland Garnet, J. Sella Martin,and Wendell Phillips.
The CRA’s receipts were “$838.68 the first year and $1,228.43 the second year. 5,150 articles of clothing had been received during that time.” According to the first annual report the organization did indeed establish an organization “by and for black people.” The CRA affirmed that “every effort made by us to obtain funds to alleviate in any way the distresses of our afflicted brethren has been crowned with success.” Out of the $838.68, approximately $600 was given by and raised by black ran and/or predominately black organizations such as the Freedmen’s Relief Association of District of Columbia, Fugitive Aid Society of Boston, Waiters of Metropolitan Hotel, and the Young Misses of Baltimore.
Keckley exclaimed that the CRA was formed “for the purpose, not only of relieving he wants of those destitute people, but also to sympathize with, and advise them,” and the CRA fulfilled their purpose. The CRA distributed clothes, food, and shelter amongst the freedmen. The CRA sent funds to many freedmen. Jean Fagan Yellin notes that the CRA sent $50 to the sick and wounded soldier’s at Alexandria. The CRA hosted Christmas dinners for sick and wounded soldiers. The organization distributed food to other organizations. In addition to the tangible items distributed by the CRA, the organization helped to place African American teachers in the newly built schools. The entire community had recognized, valued, and thanked “the officers and the members of the Association for their kindness and attentive duties to the sick and wounded;” yet the organization has escaped public history. The Contraband Relief Association was implemented and run by African Americans; however, the legacy of the organization did not survive to become a legacy for generations to follow.
Commonality through tragedy
Upon arrival at the White House, the Lincolns had two young children, William and Tad. Due to Keckley’s intimate involvement with the family, she was privy to many of the trials of the family. She also assumed domestic duties like looking after the children, including during periods of sickness. No stranger to loss, Keckley would serve as a steady and reliable source of strength and comfort for the family after the two boys died.
Keckley also comforted the First Lady after the President’s assassination. Consumed with grief and despair, Mrs. Lincoln opted to seclude herself from the world and invite a chosen few into her quarters. Finding Lincoln in a critically delicate and unstable state, Keckley would yet again provide the solace, comfort, and reliability that Mrs. Lincoln so desperately required.
Mrs. Lincoln proceeded to rid herself of reminders of her husband by giving many personal items away to people close to her, including Mrs. Keckley. During the disposal process, Keckley acquired the blood-spattered cloak and bonnet that Mary Lincoln wore the night of the assassination, as well as some of the President’s personal grooming items.
Mrs. Lincoln insisted that Keckley accompany her to Chicago to assist her in her new life and myriad affairs. Roughly one month after the assassination, Keckley boarded a train with Mrs. Lincoln and the family en route to Illinois. She would spend only about three weeks there with Mrs. Lincoln, as she had an increasingly promising business back in Washington, D.C., and needed to return to re-open her shop. All the while, Mary Lincoln grew even more dependent upon Keckley now that there were hundreds of miles separating them and wrote frequent letters to Keckley inquiring of her plans, making visitation requests, and lamenting on her new unfortunate state of living. This period in both of their lives and their activities together would later serve as a most critical point in shaping their latter years.
Behind The Scenes
In 1867, Mrs. Lincoln, who was deeply in debt due to extravagant spending, wrote to Keckley, asking her to help her dispose of her articles of value by accompanying her to New York to find a broker to handle the sales. In late September, they arrived in New York with Mrs. Lincoln using an alias for the duration of her visit. While in New York, Keckley attempted to help by giving interviews to newspapers sympathetic to Mrs. Lincoln’s plight and wrote letters to friends like Frederick Douglass and Henry Highland Garnet, a highly respected minister in the Black church community.
Elizabeth Keckley then attempted to help her son’s university rebuild after a building fire by donating her Lincoln memorabilia to Wilberforce. The anger that Mrs. Lincoln expressed over this prevented Keckley from allowing the items to be exhibited in Europe as originally intended. This incident strained their relationship a great deal, but they still remained in contact, although at greater distance.
In an attempt to defend Mrs. Lincoln (and herself), Elizabeth Keckley published Behind the Scenes in 1868 to “attempt to place Mrs. Lincoln in a better light before the world” and to “explain the motives” that guided Mrs. Lincoln’s decisions regarding the “old clothes” scandal. Elizabeth enlisted the help of a man named James Redpath, an editor from New York and friend of Frederick Douglass, to help Keckley edit and publish the book. Contrary to Mrs. Keckley’s serious intentions, advertisements labeled the forthcoming book as a ‘literary thunderbolt’ and the publisher, Carleton & Company, joined in by declaring it as a ‘great sensational disclosure’.
Dr. Fleischner writes in her book that “Lizzy’s intentions, like the spelling of her name, would thereafter be lost in history. At the age of fifty, she had violated Victorian codes not only of friendship and privacy, but of race, gender, and class. Not surprisingly, the newspapers that attacked Mary Lincoln in the fall, in the spring now leapt to her defense… The social threat represented by this black woman’s agency also provoked other readers, and someone produced an ugly and viciously racist parody called “Behind the Seams; by a Nigger Woman who took work in from Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Davis and signed with an “X,” the mark of “Betsey Kickley (nigger),” denoting its supposed author’s illiteracy.”
Stunned and dismayed by the negative reaction, Keckley wrote letters and spoke out defiantly and stood her ground on the book’s intent. A few months after its publication, the uproar over the book subsided. The book did not sell well. It had been posited that Mrs. Lincoln’s son Robert, who was perpetually agitated and embarrassed by his mother’s behavior in private life (and would later have her committed in 1875), did not want the public to know such intimate details about his mother’s life. He may have been involved in suppressing the sale and distribution of the work.
With regard to Mrs. Lincoln’s reaction, Mrs. Lincoln felt betrayed and extremely disturbed by the work’s public disclosure of private conversations and letters that were written to Keckley. Keckley explained that she too had been betrayed; that James Redpath violated her trust by printing the letters he asked her to ‘lend’ him without her consent and which he promised not to disclose. Regardless of whether or not Keckley’s defense was received by Mrs. Lincoln, the now destitute former First Lady permanently severed contact with Keckley. In July 1869, during a European trip, Mrs. Lincoln was pleased to come across Sally Orne, a good friend from her Washington days. The two women spent every moment together reminiscing about the past and lamenting the present. Not since she had last seen Keckley had Mrs. Lincoln had the pleasant company and undivided attention of an old friend.
Elizabeth Keckley would continue to attempt to earn money by sewing and teaching young women her techniques, while much of her white clientele quietly stopped calling. Eventually Elizabeth was in great need of money, and in 1890 at age seventy-two, she made a drastic decision: to sell the Lincoln articles that she kept for thirty-five years. Twenty-six articles were sold for $250, but it remains to be known how much Mrs. Keckley actually received. The years following Keckley would move a great deal, but in 1892 she was offered a faculty position at Wilberforce University as head of the Department of Sewing and Domestic Science Arts and moved to Ohio. Within a year, she would organize a dress exhibit at the Chicago World’s Fair, and by the late 1890s would return back to Washington to live in the National Home for Destitute Colored Women and Children (an institution established in part by funds contributed by the contraband association that she founded) due to presumed health reasons.
Toward the end of her life, Keckley suffered from headaches and crying spells, very much like her estranged friend Mrs. Lincoln had during many times in her life. She still had long term affection for the First Lady, evidenced by the photograph that hung on the wall in her room. Mrs. Keckley led a quiet and secluded life and, though never confirmed, told friends that Mrs. Lincoln had attempted to re-establish their connection and that she was forgiven.
In May 1907, Mrs. Keckley died as a resident of the National Home for Destitute Colored Women and Children in Washington, DC. That home was located on Euclid St. NW. There is a plaque across the street from the location commemorating her life.
As written by Dr. Jennifer Fleischer: “Perhaps the most poignant illustration of the different fates of these two women is found in their final resting places. While Mary Lincoln lies buried in Springfield in a vault with her husband and sons, Elizabeth Keckley’s remains have disappeared. In the 1960s, a developer paved over the Harmony Cemetery in Washington where Lizzy was buried, and when the graves were moved to a new cemetery, her unclaimed remains were placed in an unmarked grave—like those of her mother, slave father, and son.”
The dress that Lincoln commissioned Keckley to design for her husband’s inauguration is housed in the Smithsonian’s American History Museum. Keckley also designed a quilt made from scraps of materials left over from dresses made for Mrs. Lincoln which is housed at the Kent State University Museum and pictured in the book, “The Threads of Time, The Fabric of History“, by R. E. Reed Miller, 2007.
Michael Baisden is undeniably one of the most influential and engaging personalities in radio history. His meteoric rise to #1 is redefining radio with the numbers to back it up. The show is syndicated by Cumulus Media and is heard in over 78 markets nationwide with over 8 million loyal listeners daily. His career began when he left his job driving trains in Chicago to self-publish his book and began touring the country selling books out of the trunk of his car. Through the power of his sheer determination Michael carved a unique niche as a speaker, radio personality, and social activist. He is always in the lead when it comes to helping those who don’t have a voice. “I’m not one for just talking, either do something or get out of the way!”
Baisden, who now has four best selling books to his credit, has hosted two national television shows, and has recently produced three feature films.
Nationally Syndicated Radio Personality Baisden Communications: His radio career began in 2003 when 98.7 KISS FM in New York City offered him a position as the afternoon drive-time host. Because of budget constraints the station was unable to offer him a salary. Michael’s response was, “Just give me the mic!” And sure enough, within six months, their afternoon drive ratings went from number 9 to number 1.
After eight months of consistent high ratings, Michael suggested taking his show national, but management was apprehensive, suggesting that New York wasn’t ready. A few months later, Michael threatened to quit if management did not pursue a syndication deal. “There was no doubt in my mind that I could have one of the hottest shows on radio! I knew the impact it would have on people all across the country and I wasn’t taking no, for an answer,” Michael rebutted.
Since his radio show debuted nationally in 2005, Michael has captured the hearts and minds of millions of Americans with his provocative mix of relationship talk, hot topics, politics and the best of old school with today’s R&B. When it comes to entertaining, enlightening and educating, no one in talk radio compares. His high energy and love for interacting with his listeners is just one reason for the popularity and success of The Michael Baisden Show. Michael ignites heated discussions with explosive episodic themes like: Infidelity In The Church, Deadbeat Parents, Talking To Your Children About Sex, and Do Women Know What They Want?
Best Selling Author
Baisden Publishing: According to Simon & Schuster, Michael Baisden is “probably the most successful self-published African American male author out there today.” With nearly 2 million books in print both hard and soft cover, his books blend the perfect combination of entertainment, humor, provocation and sexuality. Michael’s vibrant personality on and off the air has made him a people magnet.
He began attracting attention with primarily female followers as author and publisher of the highly successful best selling books: “Never Satisfied: How and Why Men Cheat”, “Men Cry in the Dark”, “The Maintenance Man”, “God’s Gift to Women” and most recently a hot new book “Never Satisfied: Do Men Know What They Want.” Baisden is currently writing his 6th book to be released in 2012. Two of his titles ultimately were adapted into stage plays playing to sold out crowds across the US.
Television Show Host
The author and relationship expert previously hosted a nationally syndicated talk show: “Talk or Walk”, which was a compelling and fast-paced reality series that combined the emotion of talk, the conflict of court shows and the fascination of a relationship series.
Another dream was to host a Late Night Talk show. He got that chance in the fall of 2007, when he partnered with TV One to host and co-executive produce “Baisden After Dark,” featuring comedian George Willborn and band leader Morris Day. The show was a smash hit, breaking records for viewers on the network. The show currently airs weekdays.
Producer / Film Maker
Baisden Film Works: Michael has 2 successful national stage plays (based on his novels); an award winning feature length film presentation documentary titled Love Lust & Lies that deals with relationships and sexuality based on the perspective of people of color; 2 seminar tapes, Relationship Seminar and Men Have Issues Too; a successful web-based community portal and currently a movie in pre-production.
Baisden Entertainment: The Love, Lust & Lies Relationship Seminar Series attracts thousands of standing room only sold-out crowds nationwide as he tours the country. As a motivational speaker he has been an inspiration to hundreds of thousands attending his seminars and events. As well as numerous national Baisden Live Tours, he has also produced international Island Jam events in Jamaica and has an exclusive trip to South Africa upcoming.
The Michael Baisden Foundation: A non-profit organization was formed with a goal to eliminate illiteracy as well as promote technology and is dedicated to education, support and advancement in our communities. Michael’s own passionate testimony as to how books changed his life gives hope to those who have been enslaved by the shackles of illiteracy.
In December 2009 Michael called for a National Mentor Training Day and announced his plans for a 2010 nationwide campaign. He pledged up to $350,000 of his own money to be donated in over 72 markets he would visit on a bus tour. The outreach was named “One Million Mentors National Campaign To Save Our Kids.” Michael challenged his listeners to match or beat his donations and get involved. In October 2010 President Barack Obama publicly congratulated Michael on his efforts. He founded the Michael Baisden Foundation focusing on education, literacy and mentoring. Michael believes that “books change lives” and he is living proof!
Social Activist & Community Leader
Baisden’s proudest moment came on September 20, 2007, when he passionately and skillfully spearheaded the famous Jena 6 March in Jena, Louisiana. This historic and momentous occasion garnered tens of thousands of citizens of all races to peacefully march in support of six young men who have been unfairly treated by the justice system. In addition, he urged millions of listeners to wear black on September 20th in protest of unequal justice. The news traveled throughout the country. Everyone from college students of all races to corporate executives wore black in support of the Jena 6.
Another historic year was 2008. In late January Michael endorsed Sen. Barack Obama in the democratic primary. He celebrated President Obama’s victory with over 4,000 fans at a watch party in Miami on election night. The Obama camp along with millions of listeners credited Michael with being one of the major forces behind this historic victory to elect the first African American to the Presidency of the United States.
In 2009 he once again stepped up and answered the call of the National Association of Free Clinics. With Michael’s help they were able to get more volunteers than they needed and get the word out to the countless thousands that needed the free health services.
Michael continues to entertain, enlighten and educate as he pursues one of his first dreams, to have his novels adapted to major motion pictures.
In 2011, Michael continued to expand his media reach when he produced, wrote, and directed a groundbreaking relationship film titled, “Do Women Know What They Want?” The reviews have been amazing! “It was time for something new and exciting, and no one else was doing it, not like this!” Michael said. Get ready! It looks like the baddest man on radio and late night TV will be in theatres near you soon!
Love, Lust & LiesBaisden is also often associated with his topic of “Love, Lust & Lies”, and has recently turned this popular and familiar topic into a film: Michael Baisden Presents: a Love, Lust & Lies: The Documentary. This film can be compared to documentaries such as “Real Sex” on HBO, which deals with relationships and sexuality but from the African American perspective. The film is rated for Mature Audiences Only. “It’s amazing to me how many people are afraid to be open about what they want inside and outside the bedroom.” Michael says. “Hopefully, after watching these interviews they’ll be more willing to explore their sexuality and to discuss issues such as infidelity, adult toys, and the Swinging lifestyle.
Baisden After DarkBaisden After Dark, is the late-night TV Talk Show series starring the Nationally Syndicated Radio Personality, Michael Baisden, also known as the Bad Boy of Late Night TV, The show airs on TV One, and is now in its second season. Once again Baisden is exploring provocative and off-the-chain topics that most people have only thought about but never discussed. His partners include: Comedian George Willborn aka the Stress Reliever of Comedy and musician, Morris Day, who conducts the house band.
The After Dark party is the place to be as the bad boys discuss topics such as: “After the Affair: Do you forgive and forget or do you remember…..and remember?”, “Obesity in America,” and “Sex 101,” just to name a few.
Do Women Know What They Want?Baisden continues to expand his media reach when he produced, wrote, and directed a ground breaking documentary film titled, “Do Women Know What They Want?” The film takes the engaging and energetic host to the streets of Atlanta, Dallas, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, New York and Washington, D.C. to talk directly with women about what they want in relationships. The upbeat, funny, thought-provoking, and very candid documentary film invites conversations with women and men to discuss their views on relationships.
Michael Baisden FoundationJena Six March
One Million Mentors National Campaign to Save Our Kids
Gospel for Teens / Mama Foundation Auditions – Honorary Judge
Partnership with Black and Missing Foundation
Mentoring Brothers partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters & Black Fraternities