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A SPECIALTY PUBLICATION OF THE RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH

Local African-Americans Share Their Stories Inspired By Black History


COPY WRITER : JOANNA ERNST GR APHIC DESIGNER : BA XTON BAYLOR

blacks and whites. The young kids today dont know the opportunities they have. Who has been your role model? My uncle, O.P. Chiles Sr., was a good role model for me. I never thought in a hundred years that Id be the manager of a funeral home, but my uncle always said so. And he struggled a lot to start this business.

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experiences such as a TV production. It was intellectually, spiritually and personally stimulating to work with such fi ne people.

You were the first African-American woman named Homecoming Queen of a predominantly white university (36 black students in a population of 6000) and the first black woman on the cover of Glamour magazine. What do these milestones mean to you?

past. We have every age group, so were especially diverse. We stay relevant to all these groups and speak to where people are in their journeys right now.

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The church has a reputation for community outreach. Can you tell me about some of the specific projects?

Whats the history of Chiles Funeral Home? How long have you been in business?

The business was started in 1933. I remember there was a big fi re, and he [O.P. Chiles Sr.] buried them for little or nothing when nobody else would take them. In another case, about 25 to 30 years ago, this lady went to every funeral home in Richmond. My uncle said, Dont worry. Youre going to get your son buried. The small things have meant a lot; that happened years ago, and I havent forgotten that.

I was in the right place when lightening struck. You dont know you are a pioneer until you look behind you and see that you have done something that had not previously been done. It really was just another day for each occasion.
PHOTO COURTESY OF DAPHNE MAXWELL REID

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What advice do you have for todays aspiring actors and artists?

Daphne Maxwell Reid


ENTREPRENEUR AND ARTIST, CO-OWNER OF NEW MILLENNIUM STUDIOS

Dont let the successes go to your head nor the failures go to your heart. Have a passion for something you love to do, as well, in case you have to wait for your DONT lightening to strike. What is the mission of New Millennium Studios? What did you and your husband, Tim Reid, have in mind when you opened it?

During the winter, we host the overflow shelter for the city. When its 35 degrees or below, they can stay here overnight, from November to March. Im looking out the window right now and people are bringing in clothes. We do quite a few things. Once, instead of a Sunday morning service, we did a community outreach to spread the spirit of love in the community. I cant let the cat out of the bag just yet, but we are about to do it again but on a much greater scale. Youve been listed in Style Weeklys Top 40 under 40. In November 2011, you were elected by the citizens of Varina to serve as its supervisor, the first African-American elected official in the districts history. Youve served on several boards. Whats next?

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PHOTO BY DARL BICKEL

PHOTO BY DARL BICKEL

N. Purcelle Brown
MANAGER, CHILES FUNERAL HOME

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What does Black History Month mean to you?

I came out of the service in the 1960s, and no one would hire me. I went to every refrigerator and air conditioning company in Richmond and could not get a job. I was told that blacks were just not being hired to work as mechanics and that I was over-qualified.

My uncle, Mr. Chiles Sr., said you can stay here, and the rest is history.

Because of my race, no one would hire me at all. Now, Ive been in this business for 51 years. My brother is 15 years younger than me and does very well in the refrigeration and air conditioning business. Black History Month shows just how far weve come. Today, you get the job when youre qualified. It sticks in your mind how youve been treated through the years. I worked on a farm in New Kent for my family. Three days after I graduated from high school, I joined the Air Force. I was stationed in Florida, and the minute I got on public transportation, I was told to move to the back of the bus. That was my first and last time going downtown. I also remember separate water fountains for

You have to treat your neighbor right the way you want them to treat you. And then youll be able to sleep at night. Do right from the very beginning, and people can see you. Its the way you carry yourself, and it comes back to you. In July, Ill have done this for 52 years. Seeing a satisfied family, when the family says youve made it easier, it makes you feel good. They appreciate what youve done for them. Yes, they lost a loved one, but youve helped ease the burden. We go the extra mile for them.

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Whats the most rewarding aspect of what you do?

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What does Black History Month mean to you personally?

It disappoints me that we study black history and honor black Americans in a set-aside month and the shortest of the year. I look forward to the day when black Americans are interwoven in the entire history, all year long, of the making of America. Is there a historical figure that has had a special significance for you as youve embarked on your career track?

Learn how to treat your fellow man right. Dont take advantage of anyone in their sorrow. It takes a special person to fit this role because its not just a job. You have to have compassion for people. And its no longer just a mans job, either. Now there are women funeral directors, too. Its all about the attitude. You dont just get up and go to work; you do it as a profession and must be a professional about it.

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What qualities would you say are needed to be successful in your career track?

Tim and I were hoping to create a facility that would anchor the fi lm industry that existed in Virginia. We wanted a place to independently create excellent programming and were hoping to create an infrastructure that would be embraced by the creative community.

LET THE SUCCESSES GO TO YOUR HEAD NOR THE FAILURES GO TO YOUR HEART.

The Reverend Tyrone Nelson


SIXTH MOUNT ZION BAPTIST CHURCH

Not just during the month of February but year-round, my culture inspires me to do the best I can with the gift s and talents I have.

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How has black history inspired your career path?

sense into a new role. Everything intermingles; life isnt lived all in separate boxes it all flows together.

Is there a historical figure that has had a special significance for you?

Diana Sands gave me the courage to step foot into the acting arena. (Sands was a prominent black actress who challenged racial barriers in the 1950s and 60s.) A personal role model?

My mother. A community activist before it had a name.

A lot of people remember you as Aunt Vivian from the Fresh Prince of BelAir. What was that experience like?

The arts scene is growing from a hobbyist environment to a serious art and culture environment. New Millennium is very deeply rooted in the community through events and our participation on several local boards. We are the largest venue available in the area and still a curiosity draw for many.

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Tell me about the arts scene in Petersburg. What does New Millennium contribute to this culture?

Naturally, I am drawn to Martin Luther King Jr., who combined community and church. Also Adam Clayton Powell Jr. (The fi rst AfricanAmerican elected to Congress from New York) and Otis Moss Jr. (A renowned preacher and civil rights leader). All three took their religious convictions and were drawn to serve the greater good of mankind.

People are the most important thing. It has to be about caring about everybody even if we have our differences.

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Whats something you didnt learn in a classroom?

Ill continue to do what Im doing and do it the best I can. I have more than enough on my plate. Thats my path. I want to be the best I can for the church. I want someone PEOPLE ARE to beis proud God THE MOST of or, not IMPORTANT proud, but pleased with. THING. IT Thats better.

What is the No. 1 message you try to impart to your congregation?

LEARN HOW TO TREAT YOUR FELLOW MAN RIGHT. DONT TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ANYONE IN THEIR SORROW.
In 1875, African-American jockey Oliver Lewis won the FIRST KENTUCKY DERBY on Aristides.
PHOTO PUBLIC DOMAIN

I had a long, wonderful career in Hollywood as a star of several TV shows of which I am very proud. Fresh Prince was a wonderful three years that has brought me a wider audience and the recognition that brings, as well as another family of wonderful co-workers with whom I share a forever bond that is forged through

Whats next on your horizon?

I am pursuing a venture that focuses on my collections of photographs called Fresh Prints. I have produced a print collection, a note card collection and am shopping a book about my travels and my photography. Its going to be a great year.

With an Associate of Science in business administration, a Bachelor of Science in business administration and a Master of Divinity what was the big takeaway from all that schooling?

All of us have the responsibility to do the best we can with what we have; Matthew 25: 31-46: For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in Th is is what God wants us to know.

Sixth Mount Zion has more than 140 years of rich history. How do you adapt to the needs of the 21st century?

Theres a counterbalance in what Ive done. I got my business degree and brought my business

We stay relevant. Im 38 years old, and I started here when I was 31. We try to make sure we reflect on our

In my spare time, Im home. My wife and I are entering our 13th year of marriage, and we have three kids. Im also a sports enthusiast basketball and football I love the Dallas Cowboys and UVA Cavs. Its also a little known fact that, for the past five years, a group of five guys comes over on Sunday nights and we have some spirited Monopoly games. Its the best Monopoly game in the United States.

HAS TO BE ABOUT CARING ABOUT EVERYBODY EVEN IF WE HAVE OUR DIFFERENCES.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

In 1821, Thomas L. Jennings became the rst African-American to receive a patent for his DRY-CLEANING PROCESS.

African-American inventor Alfred Cralle patented the FIRST ICE CREAM SCOOP IN 1897; his original design is still in use.

On June 15, 1921, Bessie Coleman became the rst African-American woman to RECEIVE A PILOTS LICENSE.
PHOTO FROM (NASA-HQ-GRIN)

In 1923, African-American inventor Garrett Augustus Morgan received a patent for a THREE-WAY TRAFFIC SIGNAL, which was later sold to General Electric for $40,000.

On April 23, 2007, 75-year-old Barbara Hillary became the rst black woman to REACH THE NORTH POLE. At age 79, she became the rst black woman on record to REACH THE SOUTH POLE.
PHOTO COPYRIGHT, 2007 BARBARA HILLARY

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