The multicultural fashion and lifestyle magazine makes a statement as its editorial team incorporates Women’s History Month and Black History Month together in Agenda magazine’s “Changemakers,” featuring WITH HER FIST RAISED (the biography of Dorothy Pitman Hughes) as the lead story. Other features include the first Black male supermodel Renauld White, the first Black supermodel with albinism Diandra Forrest, playwright/actor Levy Lee Simon, women’s suffrage activist Susan B. Anthony; the work of celebrity photographer Michael Benabib, and the Black Design Collective’s Kevan Hall, Byron Lars, and Octavius Terry-Sims.
This is a world that has created holidays for every month and nearly every one of the 365 days in the Gregorian calendar. And based on each individual’s preferences, choosing which holidays are the most meaningful, and keeping them all “straight” can be daunting. However, two very significant months are very near and dear to Agenda magazine’s heart — February for African Americans and March for Women. In “A Letter from Your Editor,” Kaylene Peoples gives us insight on what sparked the idea for “Changemakers.”
“We’ve come a long way … or have we? That is a question that is always up for debate. As a woman in a man’s world, this saying is useful. Women have made strides over time, and particularly in the early 20th century. We won the right to vote. Then we won seats in Congress, and now we are the Vice President of the United States. A victory is a victory, right? However, as a nation, America is coming to the equal rights game a little late. Other countries have had women as chief executives for a while. Then there is another little problem: Race, and why do we still have the divide.
I started working on this collector’s issue with the thought of focusing on Black History Month. Then, I thought again. Oddly the two “minority” celebrations in our Jim Crow nation just happen to be adjacent: February (the short month) reserved for African Americans and March (on its tail) for women. Aren’t we fortunate to have our own month! All sarcasm aside, focusing on race and focusing on gender should be a moot point by now, yet it isn’t. The decision to combine the two months made more sense to me. And instead of calling it “Black this” and “Women that,” the title, ‘Changemakers,’ made the cut. Agenda Collector’s Issue 2021: ‘Changemakers’ is here to celebrate the achievements and ongoing pioneering of trailblazers, who just happen to be women and people of color!” – Kaylene Peoples, Editor-in-Chief of Agenda Magazine
“Changemakers” is filled with great stories and interviews, beautiful fashion editorials, and some surprises. From two “firsts” in the world of supermodels to activists, playwrights, book reviews, photography; beauty, health, and humanitarianism, the 2021 collector’s issue is not only exciting but interesting and informative.
Here’s what’s in the issue:
With Her Fist Raised: Dorothy Pitman Hughes and the Transformative Power of Black Community Activism
This biography was written by Professor Laura LeeAnn Lovett, a historian and author of other relevant books on women and race issues. Lovett talks about the process of completing her book about the life of Dorothy Pitman Hughes who is the co-founder of Ms. Magazine with Gloria Steinem, an effective civil and women’s rights activist, the first to start a child daycare center, and a former Miss America Franchise owner. Here’s what Laura had to say in this interview.
“I’m really hoping that we go back and rethink what we know about history and reassess our assumptions about African American women and feminism. Dorothy is somebody who is self-made, who figures out what she needs to do, and figures out community needs and does it; she created the childcare office and program for the whole city. I think that understanding that the importance of that message of ‘you can do it, that what is possible comes from the community’ is really the most important part of this book, about her life, and what I take away from learning about her. — Laura L. Lovett, Author
An Unexpected Advocate: Susan B. Anthony Is Still Relevant Today
Susan B. Anthony is a well-known historical figure that fought her entire life for the suffrage movement, as well as being an abolitionist who played her own part in the civil rights movement. This article is a historical retrospective on this Quaker-turned-activist.
“We might question why a woman who was born in 1820, and a Quaker nonetheless, would champion such a dangerous cause, bound to deliver reverberating backlashes. We might even consider the fact that she had no real resources other than the support of her parents; exampled by them removing her from the school that wouldn’t teach girls math and placing her in an educational program that offered her equal learning.
In 1863, together Susan B. Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton founded the Women’s Loyal National League, which orchestrated the largest petition drive in United States history up to that time; they collected close to 400,000 signatures in support of abolishing slavery. In 1866, they initiated the American Equal Rights Association, which campaigned for equal rights for both women and African Americans. This is what led to them publishing [the newspaper] The Revolution.” – Kaylene Peoples, Agenda
The Black Design Collective’s new president Kevan Hall, and new BDC members Byron Lars and Octavius Terry-Sims inspire us to consider buying Black. The Nielson Ratings reported that Blacks spend annually upwards of 1.7 trillion dollars, buying clothes and accessories. This piece of information has spurred a community of designers that promote, market, educate, mentor, and raise money for this nonprofit and fashion collective.
Agenda interviews the three designers:
Kevan Hall – Changing the Face of Fashion Retail with the Black Design Collective
“Who knew that when 2020 came around, a pandemic would hit like it did? We immediately shifted into gear as to what we could do to help our designers sustain their businesses, so we started doing a series of workshops. And these workshops were to help our folks figure out how to get a PPP Loan, Unemployment Insurance as an independent designer or contractor eligible for unemployment, where usually self-employed people couldn’t get it. They needed to know how they could get grants.” – Kevan Hall, President & Celebrity Designer
Getting to Know Byron Lars as he talks Barbie and Celebrities
Byron Lars prior to designing Black Barbie collectibles for Mattel,“I was on a very shallow level with Barbie and not on a soapbox about inclusion, but I learned it was really meaningful. All those white dolls all those years, and the ones they just copied on a Black doll with none of the colors and sensibilities really had nothing to do with us.”
On designing for celebrities,“I don’t really put the celebrity moment ahead of my average customer, because it really does come back to the experience that you’re having. It just so happens that it’s their job to be public luminaries. And other peoples’ jobs are more about putting this dress on and crushing that meeting, because mama’s looking good! You know what I mean? It really is pretty much the same charge, whether in the public eye or not.” — Byron Lars, Fashion Designer & Barbie Collectibles
There’s more than meets the eye with designer and CEO of GROOM.
“I am currently writing an autobiographical self-help memoir, detailing all my different lives from Olympic hopeful; getting married on the 2014 Grammy Awards; being a singer songwriter with two albums; and now a celebrity fashion designer.” – Octavius Terry-Sims, Designer
Levy Lee Simon: Odyssey of a Harlem Artist
Award-winning playwright, actor, and director Levy Lee Simon talks about his three pandemic-related projects in his ‘Arting Around’ interview with Sheryl Aronson.
“I would like for people to support live theater during these difficult times, and have a different kind of experience in addition to watching Netflix and Amazon Prime. It is very interesting watching plays on Zoom and seeing the actors in these little boxes. And very soon the audience is caught up in the drama of the play. The solo performance was my debut, and I promise … I hoped I didn’t bore the audience. The response overwhelmingly has been that I didn’t.” – Levy Lee Simon
Milk Run is a novel by Zac Baldwin that is thrilling, has fast-paced fiction with not one, but two female leads; and Passing Myself Down to the Grave: A Woman’s Rise from Darkness is a memoir by Sheryl Aronson — an exposing personal journey through breast cancer, surviving, and coming out on the other side.
Looking at Music Royalty Through the Lens of Michael Benabib
Michael Benabib is a celebrity photographer who has photographed the most iconic musical artists in the world, including Michael Jackson, The Fugees, Miles Davis, and more. Agenda highlights some of those rare, captured moments.
“I set up my lights, and I tried to take a picture that told a story by showing the board in the studio. Miles [Davis] was great, and was really interested in what I was doing. He asked about my technique, the camera I was using, and he wanted to see all the Polaroids. He was just totally involved. It was a great experience for me.” – Michael Benabib, Re-quoted from Thelastmiles.com
Beauty by Shahada Karim
It’s all about self-care with reviews of products by African American female business owners in the following reviews. “Danessa Myricks and the Beauty of Color,” “Gavin Luxe and the Sensual Sense,” and “EPARA: The Science of Beautiful Skin.”
Getting Back to Basics with Regards to Women’s Health
When it comes to health, Agenda has a discussion about women’s wellness with Melanie Wise of Wise Remedies in this candid conversation …
“When I train people for injury rehab or other reasons, I’m not looking for lifetime clients. I want to teach them what they need to know and get them out the door. I want people to be in the driver’s seat of their own health. I don’t want to be their cheerleader, and they don’t need a cheerleader, what they need is good health.” — Melanie Wise, Wise Remedies
Fashion Whisperer Ty-Ron Mayes produces three timeless editorials
“Celebrating Renauld White, a Living Legend and Stylish Trailblazer”; “The Nomadian,” featuring model Jean-Mary Aubourg; and Diandra Forrest’s “Blonde Noir, the First Black Supermodel with Albinism.” Included in Forrest’s editorial is an eye-opening and consciousness-raising interview.
“I think it’s been long overdue for us to be looked at as the unique beauties that we are. A lot of the times in the entertainment business, people with albinism have been portrayed as something supernatural or odd or freakish-looking, and I love that we are being seen in a different light.” — Diandra Forrest
Agenda pays tribute to those who’ve been the first to achieve or those who’ve changed history. Throughout the entire magazine, Agenda magazine spotlights Kamala Harris, Angela Davis, Jimi Hendrix, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Halle Barry, Sidney Poitier, Tuskegee Airmen, Toni Morrison; Donyale Luna, Harriet Quimby, Shirley Chisolm, Ruby Bridges, Lauryn Hill, Marguerite Higgins, Sandra Day O’Conner, Barack Obama, Kathryn Bigelow, The 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, nicknamed the “Six Triple Eight, Angela Davis, and honoring those anonymous activists who did their part to help bring forth equality!” A changemaker, simply put, is anyone who is taking creative action to solve a social problem—first, by actively tackling that social problem demonstrates they are motivated to act!
“There is no going back, there is only moving forward.” – Melinda May, S.H.I.E.L.D.
Agenda Collector’s Issue 2021: Changemakers is available in print and digital. To learn more, visit https://www.agendamag.com/product/agenda-collector-changemakers/
Featured on Talk Agenda Podcast are interviews with Black Design Collective president Kevan Hall, Byron Lars, and author of With Her Fist Raised Laura L. Lovett.
To Listen to Talk Agenda, visit: https://www.agendamag.com/category/podcast/talk_agenda/
Agenda Collector’s Issue 2021: “Changemakers” is sponsored by Bella Composers.
Agenda is the fashion and lifestyle magazine that has been telling the story behind the story since 2004. Agenda has a diverse readership, consisting mostly of women from various backgrounds, ranging from college age to 65 years old and beyond. Touted as ‘the intelligent read,’ Agenda is credited for being the first online magazine to stream video and documentary-style interviews. Since the very first Special Edition “Fall Is Fascinating,” in 2014, the magazine has consistently put out breathtaking coffee table keepsakes with content, including fashion, beauty, articles, photography, interviews, reviews, historical retrospectives, commentary, entertainment, and more. Agenda magazine is published by KL Publishing Group and is available worldwide!