Eckstine’s legend in jazz has been compared to the likes of Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr., and he has worked with folks like Charlie Parker and Quincy Jones along the way. His voice dazzled audiences the world over and like many deeply inspired musicians, he taught himself this intrinsic power of music by playing several instruments at once. Among them were the trumpet, trombone, guitar and piano, the latter of which was his first channel. Born in Pittsburgh, PA, in 1914, he taught himself to grow as a musician and became the pioneer of a new movement in ecstatic sounds called Bebop. He was a styled band-leader that everyone respected and he encouraged dedication and an earnest passion for jazz.
Mr. Parks is the epitome of a Renaissance Man. A film director, writer, photographer, civil rights activist and more; he was a man that took many steps to conquer his fears and create his dreams. He started out as a freelance fashion photographer, being the first black man to work for Life or Vogue. All the while, he stayed true to himself as a risk-taking documentary photographer, capturing life in Chicago’s city slums and other scenes of political irony & civil rights. An accomplished pianist, and a notable film director in the 60s, the question still remains, what can't Mr. Parks do? A true Renaissance Man to his core.
"I had known poverty firsthand, but there I learned how to fight its evil—along with the evil of racism—with a camera."
"The Greatest of all Times"
Born in 1942 in Louisville, KY, as Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., he remains the most recognizable athlete in the world. By the time he was 19, he had won an Olympic Gold Medal, 6 Kentucky Golden Gloves, 2 National Golden Gloves and 2 AAU titles. All that seizing passion was sparked when someone stole his bike at the ripe age of 12; after that, he began training hard in boxing so that would never happen again. He shook the world with his flamboyancy and athleticism. When he was denied or provoked (by the Supreme Court, Ernie Terrell, Joe Frazier, etc.) he pushed harder. Now, after 3 Heavyweight Championship titles, he dedicates tireless effort to the United Nations and other international advocacy & aid causes. When you hear the cries, "the champ is here," or see someone practicing their shuffle you know exactly who they are speaking of.
The Honorable Supreme Court Justice spent his entire career as an officer of the court, fighting for the civil rights of his people. As a young lawyer for the NAACP, he spearheaded ground-breaking cases that allowed color people to have equal rights in this country. He received many honors and recognitions, as well as appointments from two presidents. Thurgood Marshall puts the fair & just in the word justice.
Born in 1932 on the south side of Chicago, Melvin Van Peebles could not keep still for too long. Van Peebles settled in exotic places such as San Francisco, Mexico, Europe and France, where he wrote and published several novels. What he is best known for, though, is his 1971 release of a movie he wrote, directed, scored and starred in called Sweetback’s Badasss Song. This avant-garde and controversial film is credited for being the first-ever blaxploitation production. Mr. Van Peebles wrote, directed and starred in many movies and Broadway plays during a time when the majority of black actors and artists could not capture the positive attention of the mainstream film industry His accomplishments have proven to all the major film critics that there is a market for black films. Melvin Van Peebles, a pioneer of African-American films and a true Renaissance Man.