Monday, February 28, 2011

The anticipation has been building for the past month (even longer for some people), and now CIAA Week is here. The CIAA Tournament officially kicks off today in Charlotte with the opening of the women's basketball tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena. The men's tournament begins Wednesday. The men's and women's teams from the 13 CIAA colleges are playing all week with hopes of making it to the championship game on Saturday. Likewise, tens of thousands of fans, visitors, and Charlotteans will be partying all week with hopes of still being able to stand by the time the parties wrap up on Sunday.

There are more than 200 events scheduled (official CIAA events, but the majority from individual promoters), including networking events, day parties, concerts, comedy shows, fashion shows, after-parties, and more. You can find everything you need to know about the events surrounding the 2011 CIAA Tournament, by visiting You'll also find guides to shopping and dining, put together by Charlotte magazine's staff. I've spent the last several weeks compiling the events list (about 100 and growing), and they're organized by day to make it easier for you to map out your schedule. You'll also find a few articles I've written that give perspective to what the CIAA represents as a conference of HBCUs, a breakdown on each of the teams, as well as a list of the celebrities who are scheduled to appear in Charlotte. Also, look for photos from some of the events and parties to be added throughout the week.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Black History Tribute: Dr. Ronald Carter

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 2/27/2011 No comments
This is the final installment in my week-long tribute to Black History Month, where I've spotlighted Charlotte-area people and organizations that are making black history.

One of the things I enjoy most about my work as a journalist is the remarkable people I often meet when I'm working on stories. Last September, I spent a great deal of time with Dr. Ronald L. Carter, president of Johnson C. Smith University. I attended at least a half-dozen of his meetings and events where he spoke, as I gathered material for the article I was writing for Charlotte magazine. Months after the article came out ("Answering the Call," November 2010 issue), I'm seeing some of the things Dr. Carter was working on come to fruition.

Dr. Carter speaking at a recent event at JCSU. Photo by Jon Strayhorn/Media Arts Collective.

In his third year at the helm of JCSU, he's passionate about helping the historically black university connect more to the city--culturally and physically. He's launched several community-based programs that he feels will expose students to great opportunities and teach them to be civic-minded. He chairs the Charlotte Streetcar Advisory Committee, not the type of committee many university presidents would roll up their sleeves for, but he wants to ensure that his university and its Beatties Ford Road community are represented in the city's transit plans. One of those plans is Charlotte's proposed streetcar. The line would run a total of 10 miles along Beatties Ford Road near I-85 through Center City along Trade Street, traveling up Elizabeth Avenue by Central Piedmont Community College, and out to Central Avenue at Eastland Mall. Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) got a huge push in the right direction when it received a $25 million federal grant for the project last summer, but the costly streetcar still faces many economic challenges.

Dr. Carter was able to celebrate a smaller, but very important, victory two weeks ago, however. The Gold Rush, CATS' free Uptown bus service (the trolley on wheels that a lot of city and bank employees use), began its extended red line stops at JCSU on the west and Central Piedmont Community College to the east. The extension is made possible by a financial partnership between CATS, Charlotte Center City Partners, JCSU, and CPCC. Now JCSU students are able to travel to Uptown more conveniently to get to restaurants, meetings, cultural events, jobs/internships, and to catch buses and the light rail, all without using a car. Not to mention the potential for Uptown leaders--from city councilmen to business executives--to take the Gold Rush to JCSU's campus, where Dr. Carter has made the traditionally closed campus more open to building community and business relationships.

Another important initiative by the prez began in September. I attended a press conference then, in which he announced the university would be funding a community survey called Soul of the Northwest Corridor. Dr. Carter was inspired to have the study conducted after seeing the results of the Knight Foundation's Soul of the Community Project, which is a new community model that provides guidance for community and local government leaders seeking to create long-term, positive change within their cities. JCSU wanted to dig deeper and zero in on its neighborhood specifically. So it partnered with the Knight Foundation and hired Gallup to conduct the survey, which is said to be the first in the nation to be conducted at the neighborhood or community level.

Yesterday, JCSU released the results of the Soul of the Northwest Corridor Survey, in which 1,000 residents of neighborhoods along Beatties Ford Road were polled. It's a lot of data that can be particularly useful for a segment of the population that's not traditionally studied in such ways (click here to read it). I'm reminded of something Dr. Carter said a few months ago at an event in which he spoke in front of an audience of mostly African-American businessmen: "We cannot continue to say there is a problem and not define the problem." That's where Dr. Carter's going to make the most impact in the community. He's leading efforts to define the problems many African-Americans have complained about for years. And once they've been defined, real solutions can be sought.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Black History Tribute: Max Siegel

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 2/24/2011 No comments
Each day this week, I'm spotlighting a Charlotte-area person or organization that is making black history.

I got to know Max Siegel in 2008 while writing a story about him for Charlotte magazine. At the time, he was president of Dale Earnhardt Inc. (DEI), the famed NASCAR franchise founded by the racing legend it's named after. Max allowed me to follow him around his office and the race shop as well as sit in on meetings. After this close interaction over a couple of days, I walked away impressed--just as most people are--by the man who has for much of his career been a pioneer.

Today, Max runs The 909 Group, a sports, entertainment, and lifestyle marketing firm he founded, and through it he oversees several ventures. He spent most of his career as an executive and attorney in the entertainment industry, but once he ventured into NASCAR a few years ago, he's seized the opportunity to bring his experience with leading successful brands to help NASCAR's ongoing effort to improve diversity in the sport. Max oversees NASCAR's Drive for Diversity program, which works to develop minority and female drivers and crew members. He's also CEO of his own race team, Revolution Racing.

Max has helped make NASCAR's diversity efforts more visible. The reality show he created, Changing Lanes, aired last fall on BET, showcasing minority and female drivers competing for a spot on his race team. A great deal of the footage in the eight one-hour episodes was shot in Charlotte and Concord.

The 2011 Revolution Racing team, which competes in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.

More recently, Max partnered with NASCAR Media Group and ESPN Films to produce Wendell Scott: A Race Story, which premiered on ESPN last Sunday right after the Daytona 500. The documentary tells the story of Scott, who remains to this day the only black driver to have won a race in NASCAR's top series (today known as the Sprint Cup), which he won in 1963. A Race Story combines historical footage with re-creations and interviews from members of Scott's family and racing legends. NASCAR Hall of Fame is showing the film Saturday, March 5 at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m.

You can learn more about Max Siegel, his accomplishments, and business ventures by visiting

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Each day this week, I'm spotlighting a Charlotte-area person or organization that is making black history.

There are two extremely important and culturally relevant exhibits on display at Charlotte museums: RACE: Are We So Different? at Discovery Place and COURAGE: The Carolina Story That Changed America at Levine Museum of the New South. Each of these exhibits gives context and insight into what we think we know, and if you visit them you should walk away with a level of understanding that could shape how you view issues we're currently facing in society.

RACE is a project of American Anthropological Association and is on display at Discovery Place until May 8. The traveling exhibit offers visitors an opportunity to explore the science of human variation, the history of the idea of race, and the contemporary experience of race and racism in the U.S. According to the exhibit and contrary to what we're accustomed to, science has shown that humankind cannot be divided into races or categories. Genetically, humans fall on a continuum--short to tall, thin to fat, pale to dark--and there are no clear places to divide people into groups.

RACE is explored through interactive activities, multimedia presentations, contemporary and historical photography, unique artifacts, and thought-provoking questions. There are more than 30 exhibits and activities in the 5,000-square-foot exhibition. Highlights of the experience include:

  • The Colors We Are: Visitors scan their skin and watch the image appear on the screen next to dozens of other visitors. Then, participants are challenged to consider whether skin shade equals race.
  • Who’s Talking: Visitors are invited to match voices they hear with people in photos based on speech patterns and inflection. The results are surprising.
  • The Hapa Project: Through photographs and words of people who consider themselves to be multiracial. Museum-goers experience issues of race and racial categories.
  • Creating Race: Tells the story of how the idea of race was created in the 17th and 18th centuries in response to political, economic and social forces.

For more details on RACE: Are We So Different?, visit

Next, we go from race to education--actually to an exhibit that's primarily about race and education. COURAGE is on display at Levine Museum through January 2012. The exhibit tells the story of the Rev. J.A. De Laine and other brave citizens of Clarendon County, S.C., who brought the first lawsuit in America challenging racial segregation in public schools. Combined with four other national lawsuits, the result was the 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education, which ruled that racial segregation of schools was unconstitutional.

COURAGE is comprised of personal histories, photographs, artifacts, and interactive components, including one that shows you how far some black children in Clarendon County had to walk to school when the local school district wouldn't provide buses for them (nine miles, which is the equivalent of walking from Uptown Charlotte to Carowinds).

Even though the exhibit chronicles a period in our history that those of us who were born after can't even fathom how segregation could've existed for so long, it should help us put our current challenges into perspective. Nearly 60 years later, we still aren't providing equal education to all children in this country, because that essentially is what the Rev. J.A. De Laine and members of his community wanted for their children--and was one of the primary issues during the Civil Rights Movement.

It's also inspiring to know how the De Laine children went on to become college educated and have successful careers, despite all of the hurdles they faced. The Rev. De Laine’s daughter Ophelia is a retired college professor living in New Jersey; son B.B. is a retired educator; and son Joe is a retired chemist. B.B. and Joe live here in Charlotte.

For more details on COURAGE: The Carolina Story That Changed America, visit

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Black History Tribute: Queen City Tours

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 2/22/2011 1 comment
Each day this week, I'm spotlighting a Charlotte-area person or organization that is making black history.

When you think of touring a city, you might view this as something for out-of-towners. But for cities like Charlotte in which there are so many transplants, many of us could benefit from a guided tour of this city we call home. Since 1993, Queen City Tours has been leading groups on journeys through Charlotte's rich history. The company offers a variety of tours ranging from its traditional daily city tour, a NASCAR tour, and ghost tour to its cutting-edge Segway tour, where you cruise the city on the two-wheeled vehicles. And one of the most popular among the tours offered is the Charlotte Black/African-American Heritage Tour.

A group reads an historical marker during one of the Pilgrimage tour stops.

On the African-American Heritage Tour, guests are taken on a two-hour-plus tour that includes more than 75 sites that are significant to black history. Those include touring three historic black neighborhoods (Washington Heights, McCrorey Heights, and Biddleville), Johnson C. Smith University, the old Good Samaritan Hospital, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. statue, The Excelsior Club, and more. This tour is offered daily.

And each February, Queen City Tours presents its annual Pilgrimage, which it's been holding for the last 13 years. Each Saturday during Black History Month, the company leads groups on a special tour through Charlotte and Huntersville, highlighted by visits to former slave churches and cemeteries. The final edition for this year's Pilgrimage is this Saturday, February 26, offered at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

For more details on these great tour opportunities, visit

Monday, February 21, 2011

Each day this week, I'm spotlighting a Charlotte-area person or organization that is making black history.

The Pride Entrepreneur Education Program (PEEP) has been helping prepare African-American youth in Charlotte to become future leaders since it was founded in 2007 by Dee Dixon, owner of Pride Communications. The nonprofit organization has a Career Mentoring Program, in which it pairs high school students with mentors who are successful in the career fields they're interested in. Mentors serve as career advisors for six to 12 months. PEEP also offers a scholarship program, and for the 2010-11 school year it awarded full scholarships to two students to attend Central Piedmont Community College, and it awarded $2,500 scholarships to seven students who are attending various four-year universities.

Last Thursday, I had the privilege of attending the annual PEEP Luncheon the organization held at The Blake Hotel. I was invited to be one of the professionals who would attend and be seated at a table with high school students. I'm so happy I accepted the invitation. The organizers viewed it as us professionals "donating our time" to attend the two-hour program, but I feel that the experience was just as rewarding for me as it was for the students.

Attendees at the 2011 PEEP Luncheon.

There were about 300 Charlotte-Mecklenburg High School students and about 75 or more professionals in attendance, spread across dozens of banquet tables. Seated at my table were five students from Olympic High School and two other professionals--Damian Johnson, co-owner of the No Grease barbershop franchise, and Ashley Jeffers, who works for Vanguard, an investment management company. While we ate a delicious lunch, we had the chance to converse with the students. They asked great questions about our career fields and I was just as interested in learning more about each of them, whom were all seniors.

There was also a four-person panel who spoke to the audience about finding success and achieving goals. Three of the panelists were business owners and the fourth was an executive at Walmart. Each of them shared stories of how they worked hard to get where they are, and also how they took advantage of opportunities that came their way. The students were able to ask the panel questions as well.

This event and the other programs PEEP offers is an important community service and is helping our most valuable asset: our youth. To learn more about PEEP, whether it's to sign up to be a mentor, make a financial contribution, or inquire about a scholarship, visit

Sunday, February 20, 2011

There's one week left in Black History Month. Have you done anything in recognition of it? Like many people, I believe African-American history is American history, so February is just an opportunity to pay tribute to people and moments that don't often get the recognition they deserve. For the next five days, Monday through Friday, I'm going to blog about a local person or organization that is making a significant contribution to Black History.

This isn't something I initially was planning to do, but over the past couple of weeks I've had the privilege to come in contact with and/or learn about some great local efforts that are trying to help move black people forward. As a black person, I'll be one of the first to say that my race is falling behind greatly in areas of education, employment, health, and other social aspects--and I'm not one of those who blames the "man". So I applaud the people who are working toward change rather than complaining, and who are uniting rather than dividing. I'll be spotlighting them here on so be sure to check back each day this week.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It's just been announced that Usher will bring his "OMG Tour" to Time Warner Cable Arena on Saturday, April 30. His special guest will be fellow chart-topper Akon.

Usher, who's currently touring in Europe, has added a second North American leg to his tour, making stops in nearly 20 additional cities. After performing in Charlotte, the tour travels down I-77 to Colonial Life Arena in Columbia the following night. This is said to be Usher's first concert in Charlotte in more than six years.

Usher performing during a recent tour stop in France. Photo from

After I watched Usher perform at the Grammys on Sunday, and Chris Brown on Saturday Night Live the night before, I was thinking how these two guys are leaps and bounds above any other artists in their genre--even beyond their genre. The two had fans everywhere swooning last year when they teased about the possibility of touring together, but that didn't come to fruition. It would've truly been a show for the ages. Sort of what it would've been like had Michael Jackson and Prince toured together in the early 1990s (but with fewer people fainting). Akon's certainly no slouch, though. Not many artists over the last five years have had more hits than him.

Tickets go on sale Friday, February 25 at 10 a.m. through Ticketmaster. For more details, click here.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

If I was a teenager living in this area, I would think one of the coolest jobs to have would be at Carowinds. "It isn't a summer job, it's a paid vacation," the website says. I wouldn't go that far, but as a teenager I imagine you'd be one of the cool kids if you worked where tons of people came to have fun, including many your age. The amusement park on the North Carolina-South Carolina border is now accepting applications and conducting on-site interviews for all departments. It plans to hire more than 2,100 seasonal employees for its 2011 season, which begins when the park opens Saturday, April 2.

I referenced teenagers because young people usually want "cool" jobs, but these jobs are often desirable for people of all ages, particularly those who look for seasonal work (teachers, retirees, etc.). Seasonal positions are being offered in the areas of food and beverage, rides, games, merchandise, admissions, marketing, aquatics, security, warehouse, cash services, and guest services. The age requirement for many of these positions is 15 years of age or older (some are 18 or older). For more details and for an online application, which must be filled out before you go to the Carowinds Employment Office, visit

Carowinds will also hold auditions for live entertainment on Saturday, February 26, 3-6 p.m. The park is seeking trained, talented, and experienced actors and characters for the 2011 entertainment season, and those auditioning should bring a one-page resume and current photo. Stage managers and supervisors are also being hired.

Actors should be prepared for a cold read and be prepared to sing as well. A short dance routine will be taught by a choreographer so wear comfortable clothing and shoes (no flip-flops). You will also need to fill out an application before audition day, at or in person at the Carowinds Employment Office.

Friday, February 11, 2011

You can be one of the first to see The Adjustment Bureau during a special free screening Thursday, February 17, 7 p.m. at AMC Carolina Pavilion 22 (9541 South Boulevard), two weeks before the movie officially opens in theaters. The Adjustment Bureau stars Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, and Anthony Mackie and is written for the screen and directed by George Nolfi (writer of Ocean’s Twelve, co-writer of The Bourne Ultimatum). Go to to RSVP for the screening.

Here's how the movie's plot is described: "On the brink of winning a seat in the U.S. Senate, ambitious politician David Norris (Matt Damon) meets beautiful contemporary ballet dancer Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt)—a woman like none he’s ever known. But just as he realizes he’s falling for her, mysterious men conspire to keep the two apart. David learns he is up against the agents of fate itself—the men of The Adjustment Bureau—who will do everything in their considerable power to prevent David and Elise from being together. In the face of overwhelming odds, he must either let her go and accept a predetermined path...or risk everything to defy fate and be with her."

I can't say the plot description makes me want to see The Adjustment Bureau. The trailer is a little interesting, though--like one of those movies that kinda freaks you out and makes you wonder if there really are secret groups/forces that control the world. If you attend the screening or go see it once it opens March 4, holler at me and tell me what you think of it.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Brooklyn Decker, Charlotte's famous supermodel-turned-actress, is making her major movie role debut when Just Go With It opens in theaters everywhere this Friday. The film stars Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston, but Brooklyn's star power is being used to sell the film as well, as evident by the prominent role her yellow-bikini scene received in the commercial that aired during the Super Bowl.

Despite her sex appeal, in interviews Brooklyn is always talking sports and plugging her beloved Carolina Panthers. So in this funny video, she seeks to further reiterate that she's just one of the guys.

And of course, this is the time of year when anticipation is building toward the release of the annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. Brooklyn landed the coveted cover last year, and her career has been skyrocketing since (her most recent magazine cover is the February 2011 issue of Esquire). Will she be like the fewer than a handful of models in the 47-year history to grace the SI cover in back to back years? Who knows, but she's on one of the promotional images for the issue that debuts February 15.

Monday, February 7, 2011

UPDATE - Feb. 14: Clowney is a Gamecock!

A week from today, on February 14, I'm hoping for the best gift ever! You probably think I'm referring to Valentine's Day. Well, that's great and all. But this year, February 14 takes on new significance because it's the day the nation's number one ranked high school football recruit plans to announce where he will attend college this fall. That top-ranked young man is Jadeveon Clowney, a defensive end from South Pointe High School in Rock Hill. Not only is he a local kid, but he's narrowed his choices down to three schools: South Carolina (my beloved Gamecocks), Alabama (roll away from here Tide), and Clemson (get your paws off).

Bypassing last week's National Signing Day, and keeping the college sports world in anticipation, Jadeveon plans to make his decision on his 18th birthday, which also happens to be Valentine's Day. The 6'6", 240-pound man-child is on the cover of the current issue of ESPN The Magazine, with labels affixed to him like "BCS-ready now," "Runs like a deer," and "Future Super Bowl MVP."

If the Gamecocks win over Jadeveon's heart next week, he would elevate us to a top-10 recruiting class, in what has already been an impressive recruiting season for the Old Ball Coach a.k.a. Steve Spurrier. This would mark the second year in a row Spurrier has landed the top player in the state--last year was running back Marcus Lattimore and you saw the awesome first season he just had--and this kid coming out of South Pointe is also the top in the nation.

Come on Cupid!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Over the last few years, the NBA's "Where Amazing Happens" promotional campaign has been one of the best ever in sports marketing. The latest project from it is called "Encouragement," in which there have been 30-second TV commercials featuring Kevin Durant, Amar’e Stoudemire, Steve Nash, and Chris Paul in sequences that put their pasts--usually showing them working hard perfecting their crafts--up against their presents. The latest commercial features two of the Currys, whom I've deemed Charlotte's First Family of Basketball.

Stephen with parents Dell and Sonya Curry. Younger brother Seth currently plays for Duke.

A few nights ago, the commercial premiered on TNT, featuring a young Stephen Curry, who is now in his second season with the Golden State Warriors, shooting hoops with his father, Dell Curry, during warm-ups before a game in 2000 while Dell was playing for the Toronto Raptors. According to a Dime Magazine interview with an executive for NBA Entertainment, a production assistant found the old footage of father-and-son-Curry. In the current clip, it's been meshed with footage of a child actor talking to young Stephen. "In 10 years, I'll be with my dad, and we'll be watching you," the kid says.

See the video below.

See more videos at

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

J. Cole will be the next hip-hop star to be interviewed on MTV's "RapFix Live", when he sits down with Sway tomorrow (February 3). The interview will stream live at 4 p.m. on Fans can submit questions to be answered by J. Cole by tweeting @MTVRapFix with the hashtag #rapfixlive or if they upload videos to

If you don't know who J. Cole is, you probably don't follow hip-hop too closely. But for a refresher: He's a Fayetteville native who took his musical aspirations to New York, where he attended St. John's University (boy's got smarts), dropped a critically acclaimed mixtape, and became the first artist to be signed to Jay-Z's Roc Nation label. I've blogged about Cole a few times before.

J. Cole, pictured here at a MAZ Entertainment party in Charlotte last year.

His debut album is one of the most highly anticipated in hip-hop. And the pressure of having "Jay-Z protégé" attached wherever his name is mentioned has to be weighing heavily on him, though it has opened several huge doors for North Carolina's most popular rapper since Petey Pablo.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Today, those of us who live in Charlotte got a taste of what it would be like if the Carolina Panthers would happen to win the Super Bowl, and said Super Bowl happened to have been played in Charlotte. Okay, I'm exaggerating, but there are a lot of people celebrating in and around this city after news came this morning that Charlotte had won the bid to host the Democratic National Convention in 2012.

I won't write about that news here right now because all the other media outlets--near and far--are doing a great job reporting on how the decision was made and what we can expect--everything from hundreds of millions of dollars pumped into the local economy to never-experienced-before heightened security when the convention comes to Charlotte the week of September 3rd, 2012. The Charlotte Observer did an excellent job with its news coverage throughout the day. By noon, its website had several links on the homepage. You can read much of that news coverage by clicking here.

You can read First Lady Michelle Obama's lovely letter announcing Charlotte as the host city, and praising our "southern charm, warm hospitality, and an 'up by the bootstraps' mentality," by clicking here.

You can keep up with future developments by visiting the Charlotte In 2012 organizing committee's website at, which also links to their Facebook and Twitter pages.

Now here's the funny part.

I've been reading news stories online throughout the day about Charlotte landing the Democratic National Convention. And after reading all of the proficient and in-depth reporting, I stumbled across a hilarious blog post on, the frequently updated website of Complex Magazine. It's titled "Congratulations Charlotte! 5 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About the Host City of the 2012 Democratic Convention." According to writer Jack Erwin, those five things are:

  1. "Charlotte" also refers to the name of a haircut.
  2. Charlotte loves Bojangles.
  3. Charlotte hates GWAR.
  4. Juwanna Mann and Shallow Hal were both set in Charlotte.
  5. Charlotte is the birthplace of Billy Graham and both K-Ci and Jo-Jo, and was also the one-time home of Carson McCullers.

But you have to read the article yourself to see how Erwin explains each point (along with a couple of amusing photos). Click here.

Now I hope none of my fellow Charlotteans gets angered by Erwin's remarks. I found them funny (and we do love our Bojangles'). And anyone who reads Grown People Talking knows how huge of a supporter of Charlotte I am. Besides, stuff like this reminds us to be proud, but to not take ourselves too seriously. Just like we shouldn't take anyone seriously who doesn't recognize that having the DNC come to Charlotte is good for the entire city and its residents, regardless of party affiliation or political views (so ignore the "anonymous" commenters on news websites and blogs).

Cheers to 2012!
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