Mural Artist (above): Michael J. McBride

Give Black, Give Back’s Changemakers Interview Series highlights individuals who are dedicated to furthering the progress of our community by uplifting and empowering those they are committed to serving.

Dr. LaDonna and Yvette Boyd

Kia Jarmon and Lisa Swift-Young, philanthropy co-chairs of the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee’s initiative Give Black, Give Back Chairs recently interviewed LaDonna Boyd and her mother, Yvette Boyd, wife of 38 years to Dr. T. B. Boyd III, who passed away in May 2022.

The conversation began with the question, “What does being a philanthropist mean to you?”

LaDonna Boyd was quick to respond.

“Being a philanthropist means leading by example. It means put your money where your mouth is,” she boldly replied.

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Mignon Francois

As a kid, Mignon used to be teased because of her large hands and long fingers. When thinking about her life’s journey, Mignon reflected that God had a dream for bigger than she could have ever imagined. She started off being what she already was…”a giver”; always being what she saw her mother do, sharing her means with others.

When people began to rave about her cupcakes, especially her original basic flavors of wedding, strawberry, carrot, coconut and the ever popular “red velvet” cupcakes her desire to use her God given talents / abilities, she thought she may be on to something. Although she had only baked from boxed recipes with no formal culinary or baking training, Mignon would use profits from the sale of her cupcakes to groups for meetings (fraternity & sorority, birthdays, weddings & special occasions) to experiment with family recipes she created from healthy ingredients. She baked cupcakes by the dozens weekly and gave them away for free to her neighbors, friends and complete strangers (many of whom were tourist who found their way on her Germantown home with its bakery in what would have been her living room area).

Those same neighbors, tourist and friends soon began making their way to the renovated house that served as the bakery and primary resident of and her family for years seeking to “purchase” not only her staple of original flavors but, the expanded, seasonal flavors that have been added to the menu such as: German chocolate, Key-Lime, pumpkin.

Involved with some land purchased outside off New Orleans where her family are growing organic food which are helping in “Theriot Farms”.

She’s a visionary and a visionary’s job is to write the vision and make it plain; preparing the next generation to take over her business so she can do other things. Always ties scripture back to what she is doing in her life.

When she gave her hands to God, HE blessed her & she has “baked goodness” into our community by spreading “joy”.

Ms. André Prince Jeffries

Ms. André Prince Jeffries owner and proprietor of Prince’s Hot Chicken, the granddaddy of Nashville hot chicken, the city’s true indigenous food and now a favorite nationwide. She is the great-niece of Thornton Prince, founder of Prince’s Hot Chicken in Nashville in 1945, and she has delighted journalists from coast to coast retelling the ribald tale of its origin. (It’s retold on the restaurant’s website.)

Now in her mid-70s, André has owned and operated the iconic restaurant since 1980. In 2013 the prestigious James Beard Foundation honored the restaurant as one of America’s Classics, an award given to restaurants with timeless appeal, each beloved in its region for quality food that reflects the character of its community.

Establishments must have been in existence for at least ten years and be locally owned. The restaurant now has a main location on Nolensville Pike in South Nashville as well as a branch at the Assembly Food Hall in the Fifth + Broadway development in Downtown Nashville. Its long-time home one Ewing Avenue in Northeast Nashville closed a few years ago.

Robert Churchwell Jr.

Give Black, Give Back’s Changemakers Interview Series highlights individuals who are dedicated to furthering the progress of our community by uplifting and empowering those they are committed to serving. In this edition of Changemakers, Give Black, Give Back co-chairs Lisa Swift-Young and Kia Jarmon sit down with Robert Churchwell Jr.

Robert Churchwell Jr. comes from a “God & church-centered” loving family with a rich and honorable legacy in journalism, education and medicine.  His father, Robert Churchwell Sr., was known as the Jackie Robinson of journalism in the segregated South by becoming one of the first Black journalist employed by a White-owned metropolitan newspaper at the Nashville Banner. Sr’s. select body of work is in the National Association of Black Journalist (NABJ’s) Hall of Fame Museum and on the 3rd Floor of the National Museum of African American History & Culture & Smithsonian Museums in Washington, D.C. His mother, Mrs. Mary Churchwell was an educator for more than 30 years and taught him his first prayer at age 3.

Churchwell’s origin story of philanthropy goes back to his involvement with the Family Children’s Board and Ronald McDonald House years ago. His mother and aunt taught him that “to whom much is given, much is required”. The Churchwell family have the Robert & Mary Churchwell Scholarship Fund housed here at The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee students majoring in journalism & English, in addition support Vanderbilt’s Children Hospital. (READ FULL BIO)

David S. Ewing

Give Black, Give Back co-chair Lisa Swift-Young and founding advisory board member Eric Brown sat down with David Ewing for this edition of the Changemakers. David Ewing is a ninth generation Nashvillian, historian and is the CEO of Nashville History On Tour a company that does private tours and history consulting. He is an active in the nonprofit community as a board member, public speaker and historian. The Nashville Scene in 2017 named him “Best Historian” in the annual best of Nashville issue and in 2018 the Nashville Scene named his Instagram page “The Nashville I Wish I Knew” the “Best Nashville Instagram Page.”

David has previously served on over 30 boards and commissions including the board of the Metro Board of Zoning Appeals where he was Chairman, Metro Historical Commission, Metro Historic Zoning Commission, Cheekwood, Nashville Symphony, Nashville Opera, Nashville Area America Red Cross, The Hermitage and Travelers Rest. He is currently on the board of the Conservancy of Centennial Park and the Parthenon.

Sharon Kay, Tuwanda Coleman, Lelan Statom, Vicki Yates

In this edition of Changemakers, Give Black, Give Back co-chairs Kia Jarmon and Lisa Swift-Young welcome guests – four long-time Black journalists and media personalities representing some of Nashville and Middle Tennessee’s very best professionals in the business. They all share common traits in the reason they chose their respective professions. Raised in the church with a great sense of “family”, community & moral obligation to serve others, Sharon Kay (Jazzy 88 WFSK General Manager), Tuwanda Coleman Shaw (NewsChannel 5 Producer/Reporter), Lelan Statom (NewsChannel 5 Senior Meterologist/Co-Host), and Vicki Yates (NewsChannel 5 Newscaster) take great pride in helping their neighbors and sharing time, talents, and their treasures as the genesis of their philanthropic legacies.

Early in her career, Sharon Kay broke color and gender barriers while at AM1250 WREN Radio in Topeka, Kansas in the late 1970’s by becoming the first black and first woman host of the station’s Monday through Friday midday program and served as Public Affairs Director for many years. Today Sharon is the General Manager at Fisk University’s radio station JAZZY 88 WFSK – the first African American licensed FM radio station in Nashville (1973). When hired in late 2005, Kay again broke a glass ceiling as the first female to serve in that capacity in the station’s history. Sharon has served on and chaired numerous local, national & international boards, volunteered with dozens of organizations from feeding and clothing hungry and homeless to raising donations for nonprofit organizations and has a long history of being a community advocate.

Tuwanda Coleman Shaw says she knew she wanted to work in television, and particularly at NewsChannel 5 (NC5), the first time she saw Oprah Winfrey deliver the news on the air. Tuwanda’s initial job with NC5 was that of a studio camera operator – a position she held for a decade. Tuwanda found her way as assistant producer and moved quickly into the full-time producer role for the station’s “Talk of the Town” show in 1992. In 2003, she moved from behind the camera to an on-air field reporter for the show. In addition to her duties with “Talk of the Town”, Tuwanda also hosts “The Plus Side of Nashville” and the “Talk of the Town” spin-off show “Taste of the Town” for NewsChannel 5+. Tuwanda is actively involved in the community lending her to support to numerous boards and organizations including; the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt Advisory Board, the National Association of Television Arts and Sciences, the Oasis Center, YMCA Black Achievers, Nashville Film Festival and Youth About Business. She is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Lelan A. Statom is an Emmy Award-winning meteorologist who has been helping Mid-Southerners start their day since 1999, as part of Nashville’s #1 rated morning newscast, NewsChannel 5 This Morning. As a member of the National Weather Association and American Meteorological Society, Lelan has the TV Seal of Approval from both organizations. He is a member of 100 Black Men of Middle Tennessee and is a past president of the Nashville Association of Black Journalists where he currently serves as Treasurer. A volunteer with TN & Davidson Co. 4-H, Lelan also serves on several boards including Cornerstone Financial Credit Union, Northwest YMCA, Middle TN Boy Scouts, Laughter is the Best Medicine and the Board of Visitors for UTK College of Communication & Information.

When Emmy Award-winning anchor Vicki Yates brought the news every night at 4p.m. and 6p.m., viewers were benefiting from more than three decades of experience and award-winning reporting. Her career began in Detroit, Michigan while attending college, taking on tough assignments, including the crime beat and various issues at Michigan State University. Vicki’s experience and responsibilities grew while working as Assistant News Director, reporter and Public Affairs Director at WMJC Radio in Detroit. Her talent landed her an anchor/news reporter position at WKRC-TV in Cincinnati, where she helped make the noon newscast number one in the market. Before joining the NewsChannel 5 team, Vicki anchored and reported at KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for five years. In 2011, Vicki was invited by the White House to visit Washington, D.C. and interview President Barack Obama one-on-one. In addition to her anchoring and reporting duties, Vicki co-hosts the annual Children’s Miracle Network Telethon benefiting Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, a testament to her community involvement on and off the air.

Reverend Dr. Kelly Miller Smith, Jr.

The Reverend Dr. Kelly Miller Smith Jr. is the proud pastor of First Baptist Church, Capitol Hill, which he began serving in September 2010. He is the son of the late Reverend Dr. Kelly Miller Smith Sr. and Dr. Alice C. Smith Risby; he was born in Mound Bayou, Mississippi and reared in Nashville, Tennessee. He was licensed to preach in 1974 and in 1979; he was ordained here at First Baptist Church, Capitol Hill, during the thirty-three-year tenure of his father’s serving as pastor.

Dr. Smith received a B.A. degree in Music from Morehouse College in 1976. He later attended Morehouse School of Religion of the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) in Atlanta, graduating with a Master of Divinity degree in 1983. In 1993, he received a Doctor of Ministry (D. Min.) degree from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, where he was a Proctor-Moss Fellow.

After serving for six years as pastor of Berean Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee, Dr. Smith accepted the pastorate of Mount Olive Baptist Church (Knoxville) in 1991. During his nineteen-year pastorate at Mount Olive, the church experienced tremendous spiritual, numerical, and financial growth. Among the ministries established at Mount Olive is a pre-school called the Garden of Discovery Learning Center, and a music school called The Mount Olive Music Academy.

To Read How Give Black, Give Back Changemakers Grants Support Nashville’s HBCU’s:


Courtney and Ever Hale

Courtney and Ever Grey Hale established the Tia Barbour-Hale OGOT Legacy fund to honor the life of Tia Barbour-Hale. A graduate of Tennessee State University’s Occupational Therapy Program, Tia was an occupational therapist dedicated to empowering Nashville’s exceptional-needs students and their families to excel personally and intellectually through nonprofits offering customized educational programs and independently ensuring long-term success in life.

Courtney and Ever Grey Hale, founded Super Money Kids by knowledgeBANK to teach young people about financial literacy. By bridging a gap in financial education, the Hales hope to improve the lives of young people.

The inaugural Changemaker grant to Tennessee State University was made in their honor.

Dr. Paul T. Kwami

Dr. Paul T. Kwami is Musical Director and Curb-Beaman Chair of the Fisk Jubilee Singers®.

Dr. Kwami was born in Ghana, West Africa one of seven children. His father, a musician, taught him piano, violin, theory and conducting. He studied music at Ghana’s National Academy of Music and taught there until immigrating to the US in 1983 as a student at Fisk University. He promptly joined the Jubilee Singers.

After graduating from Fisk in 1985 he continued to study music at Western Michigan University. In 1994 he was solicited to serve as part-time director of the Jubilee Singers. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Kwami was promoted to full time faculty member in the music department and musical director of the Singers. He is the first African to direct the ensemble, and the first to hold the Curb-Beaman Chair position. He received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in conducting from the American Conservatory of Music.

Dr. Kwami feels a deep connection between Negro spirituals and the music of his Motherland. “The music we sing today helps to bridge the gap between Africans and African-Americans,” he says. “When my students sing, I am reminded of my life in Ghana and feel close to my past.”

The music also touches his spirit. He believes in the sovereignty of God, who was a source of faith, hope and love for slaves and for the original Jubilee Singers. “My greatest desire is to fulfill my call,” he says.

Mr. Dwight Lewis

Dwight Lewis, a graduate of Tennessee State University, is a retired award-winning reporter, columnist and editorial page editor for The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville. In 1981 he was awarded a national Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship to study at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

In November 2017, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Tennessee Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). He is the co-author of A Will to Win, which chronicles the amazing athletic history TSU, as well as contributing author to Thinking Black: Some of the Nation’s Best Black Columnists Speak Their Mind.

Mrs. Rosetta Miller-Perry

Mrs. Rosetta Miller-Perry is founder and publisher of The Tennessee Tribune and a long-time Civil Rights activist and leader. She founded the Tribune in 1992, and the paper subsequently has become the leading voice of Nashville’s African American community.

Always a trailblazer, she was among the first African-American women to integrate the University of Memphis when she completed her B.S. degree in chemistry from then Memphis State University in 1952 and was was the first female graduate from Nashville’s John A. Gupton School of Mortuary Science in 1957. Actively involved in the civil rights struggle, Miller-Perry worked closely with Z. Alexander Looby, Curley McGruder, Reverend Kelly Miller Smith and other leaders.

When Looby’s home was bombed by the Ku Klux Klan in 1960, Miller-Perry moved to Memphis. She worked closely with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She was brought into the United States Civil Rights Commission in 1960 as a clerk typist, then as a field representative. Assigned to cover the Memphis Garbage Strike in 1968, Miller-Perry witnessed the suspicious activities of the FBI, “The Invaders” and the chaos after the murder of Dr. King. Assigned to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 1975, Perry became Nashville Area Director of the EEOC. She retired from government service in 1990.

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