Ricky Day

Day, Ricky 2017 color

Ricky Day was born on August 17, 1964. He is a trendsetting Harlem-based artist, public speaker, photographer, and visionary whose creative and professional pursuits have included talent management, marketing, event production, community activism, and politics.

Ricky L. Day was born in St. Louis, Missouri, to Vester Day, a line cook who later founded Great Western Caterers in Los Angeles, California, and his mother, Vivian, a candy striper at Barnes Hospital (where Ricky was born) who went on to a career in retail sales. Ricky has three siblings: Lisa Bailey, Philip Day, and Kaalan Day. He attended Normandie Avenue Elementary School, John Burroughs Junior High School, and Palisades High School. While in high school, Ricky was a key member of several student organizations, including vice president of the Human Awareness Club, and the first African American student body vice president at Palisades High School.

Following his graduation from high school, he attended Los Angeles City College, and California State, Northridge. At Los Angeles College, Ricky served as program director at the campus radio station, and in a nod to his future pursuits, he was active in planning and producing several student events on campus.

While attending college, Ricky took a job as a tour guide at Universal Studios Hollywood. This “summer job” would go on to be the launching pad for many of his future experiences and successes. Ricky quickly rose through the ranks to become a tour guide trainer, special effects stage foreman, and operations manager. A co-worker from Ricky’s training class phoned him with an offer that would change his life. Pam Cornfeld informed Ricky that her cousin (John Landis) was a film director, and they needed a stand-in for the music video he was directing; she thought Ricky would be perfect. He landed the job, which turned out to be serving as the stand-in for Michael Jackson on his now historic “Thriller” musical video. For nine days, Ricky worked alongside the “King of Pop,” and formed a brief, but profound bond.

“Michael was one the kindest people I ever met,” Ricky recalled. “We talked about life, love, the relationships we both shared with our respective mothers, believing in oneself, and the merits of hard work and passion. Michael was my big brother for those nine days, and the interactions and experiences we shared changed the trajectory of my life, and inspired my lifelong interest in the arts, as well as my desire to make the world a better place. He also introduced me to all his celebrity friends who visited the set. The most incredible moments of the shoot were when MJ introduced me to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, who was a dear friend of his, and editing Michael’s autobiography. Being in the presence of greatness inspired a pursuit of greatness in my own life.”

Ricky’s employment at Universal Studios Hollywood lead to a stint as Special Events Manager at Universal CityWalk, as National Manager of Promotions and Publicity at Hard Rock Café, and as Director of Marketing for Harlem USA. Ricky’s career in marketing has seen him launch new Hard Rocks in several cities, co-produce the launch of Universal CityWalk in Los Angeles, produce grand opening events for both Harlem USA and DC USA shopping centers, execute the marketing campaign for the off-Broadway show “Harlem Song” at the Apollo Theater, and produce concert series, live music, nightlife, and many more popular events.

“What I love most about what I’ve done and continue to do is that I’ve been blessed enough to inhabit a space where I can be creative and generate revenue to sustain myself, while at the same time use my skills and experiences to inspire others and help them see and realize their own potential as well,” Ricky said. “Hard Rock Café was my favorite company to work for because they are committed to giving back to the communities in which they do business, so all of our initiatives were created to make life better for our neighbors in the cities we did business in.”

Ricky is a self-taught visual artist (painting, video, and photography) who also composes original music. Ricky’s music has appeared on television shows like “The Nanny” starring Fran Drescher, as well as several independent films. His photography has appeared in numerous magazines, blogs, and websites, including “Candid Magazine,” “Ammo Mag,” “Sheen,” “Bleu Magazine,” and “UrbanPopLife.net.” Ricky’s clients, past and present, include Ford Models NY, Click Models, Boss Models NY, Major Models, U Model Management, Signature Talent Agency, Interscope Records, MBK Entertainment, public relations powerhouse PMK-BNC, Nivea, Eucerin, Aquaphor, Biersdorf, Bevy Smith’s “Dining With Bevy, Life With Vision,” Chef Roble, True Indian Hair, accessories line Ank Man, and many others.

As a visual artist, Ricky has exhibited in multiple group shows in NYC and beyond. His exhibitions include the group shows Curate NYC at Rush Arts Gallery, The Great LGBT Photo Show at Leslie Lohman Gallery, Latent: An En Foco Photo Exhibition at Umbrella Arts, and White Lies: Black Noise at Rush Arts Gallery, all in New York City. Solo exhibits include A Portrait of The Life at Billie’s Black, and This is Urban Pop at Chi Chiz, both in New York, and Introducing Ricky Day at Bus Boys and Poets, in Washington, DC.

“Artistically I like to create projects that blur the lines between art, commerce, and pop culture, while communicating messages that I hope can be inspiring to those who experience the artwork and or performances,” said Ricky. “A great example of this is my project ‘All Black Kings Go to Heaven,’ which is a portrait series, book, and short film about African-American males. I’m hopeful the project will inspire a generation to believe in themselves and their dreams, possibly help others to see young men of color as the beautiful human beings they are, and to inspire non-Blacks to place equal value on Black lives as they do their own lives and property.”

Ricky launched his own company, Urban Pop Enterprises, in 2006, which houses his photography, filmmaking, and fine art brands. Ricky also manages the career of recording artist/rapper Kamau Kenyatte. He is currently serving as Director of Marketing and Operations at Blur Communications (www.blurcommunications.com), a full service boutique marketing, advertising, and communications firm owned by Joseph W. Tolton, also a Black SGL man. Blur’s clients past and present include the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries (TFAM), UnitedHealthcare, Turks and Caicos, and more. Ricky is also a producer of the untitled feature length documentary film about Pastor Michael A. Walrond Jr., currently in production and co-directed by Kurt Williamson and Warren Oliver.

Ricky identifies as a Same-gender Loving (SGL) man who nonetheless has a deep respect and admiration for women. Like so many in his generation, he struggled with coming to terms with his sexuality for many years. “I’ve always cared very deeply about God and wanted him to love me and welcome me into his kingdom,” Ricky said. “Although I came from a very loving and supportive family, I felt it was necessary to deny who I was, and to try and pray it away because I thought it was wrong in the eyes of God. Of course, as I would later realize, this was foolishness and not required because I’ve come to know and accept that God loves me as he created me, and Jesus made it quite clear in his teachings and interactions that he loves and even seeks out those whom society would cast out. My so-called coming out moment was quite anti-climactic, since by the time I had the conversation with my family and close friends, they all already knew who I was anyway.”

The black SGL/LGBTQ community is very important to Ricky. This passion can be seen in both his work, and the causes he supports.

“My art is really about, and an examination of what I call the performance of self,” said Ricky. “I believe that self is a character that we perform for the audience of human beings in this theater we call life. This self is constructed from the lessons and examples shared with us by our family, friends, peers, and society as a whole. Mass media is the primary tool for putting the raw materials in the world from which we construct self, so for me it’s important to contribute positive images and examples to the library of life. As humans, in order to be a ‘thing,’ we must first imagine it. And for many it’s hard to imagine yourself being something you haven’t seen or experienced before. I think it’s critical for SGL/LGBTQ people as well as ALL HUMAN BEINGS to love ourselves, because joy comes from within. And it is impossible to experience joy, let alone love for anyone else, without learning to love yourself, first.”

Ricky has been a mentor to many LGBTQ youth over the years, and as such has been, in many cases, a surrogate father to young people who needed a mature point of view to help them along in their journey to wholeness. He is a member of First Corinthian Baptist Church (FCBC), where he serves on the Connect Media ministry and Sheperd’s Circle pastoral ministry, and volunteers for multiple events on a regular basis. Ricky served as Events Director and a key advisor to his friend, Pastor Mike Walrond, in his bid for the U.S. Congress. Ricky is a supporter of The Fellowship Global, and its mission to fight for the rights of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters in Africa as spearheaded by his good friend, Pastor Joseph W. Tolton.

Ricky makes his home in Harlem, New York. He is a passionate family man who loves children and time spent with a romantic partner. He is currently single, but looking forward to developing a loving long-term relationship in the near future. “Love matters to me and I’d like to have a long term relationship, however I’m not desperate for it, and I enjoy my time alone to be creative and to commune with the Creator,” Ricky said.

Ricky enjoys working out, traveling the world, time spent with friends and family, Sunday brunches, long walks, drives up the California coast (with the top down), intimate conversation, spending time in service to others (feeding the homeless, volunteering at church, etc.), and sharing quiet time with close friends and his partner (when there is one in the picture). He is passionate about standing for those who cannot stand for themselves.

“It’s important to me to be a true disciple of Jesus, NOT a so-called Christian,” said Ricky. “Jesus was not this watered down Christmas card character he is made out to be. Jesus was a loving soul and a rebellious man of integrity who also spoke truth to power as he saw it, and this is why he was killed. What good is knowing what’s right unless you embody it, share it, and live it? What good is having love in your heart unless you put that love into action in service of others and of God? I like to surround myself with people who challenge me to be a better person every day and I like to be that person for others as well.”

You can explore Ricky’s artistic output at www.rickydaystudio.com, and find him on social Instagram and Twitter with the handle @RickyDay.

We thank Ricky Day for his numerous contributions to the arts, and his support of our community.

Wallace Thurman

Wallace Thurman was born on August 16, 1902 (to December 22, 1934). He was a celebrated Harlem Renaissance novelist, editor, poet, playwright, and literary critic.

Wallace Henry Thurman was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Oscar and Beulah Thurman. His father abandoned the family when Wallace was less than a month old; father and son would not reunite until 30 years later. His mother was married and divorced several times, and she and Wallace lived in Salt Lake City with her mother, Emma Jackson, who ran an illegal saloon from the family home.

Thurman began grade school in Boise, Idaho, but returned to his grandmother’s home in Salt Lake City after becoming ill. Thurman would live in Chicago, Omaha, Nebraska—where he finished grammar school—and Pasadena, California, before returning to Salt Lake City and graduating high school. In addition to suffering childhood heart problems, Thurman caught influenza during the worldwide flu pandemic while living in California; he eventually recovered.

Despite his life of chronic illness, loneliness and family volatility, Thurman wrote his first novel at age 10, and immersed himself in reading everything from Plato and Aristotle to Shakespeare, Havelock Ellis, and many others. He went on to study pre-med at the University of Utah from 1919 to 1920, before transferring in 1922 to the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He never received a degree, but while in LA he befriended writer Arna Bontemps, and wrote a column, “The Inklings,” for a black-oriented newspaper. Thurman also founded the magazine “Outlet,” with the goal of bringing Harlem’s literary renaissance to the West Coast. The publication lasted only six months, and Thurman moved to New York City.

In 1925, Thurman became a reporter and editor at “The Looking Glass,” and the managing editor of the Black periodical “The Messenger” a year later. “The Messenger” was a journal of Harlem’s radical socialists, and Thurman published works by Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston. He left in the autumn of 1926 to join the staff of a white-owned publication, “World Tomorrow.”

By this time, Thurman was fully immersed in the Harlem scene, and his editorial acumen made him well known in literary circles. His rooming house at 267 West 136th Street became the self-named “Niggerati Manor,” the headquarters for the African American literary avant-garde and visual artists of the Harlem Renaissance. The walls were red and black, and Thurman’s roommate, Richard Bruce Nugent, painted murals on the walls, some of which contained homoerotic themes.

Thurman collaborated with Hughes in founding the experimental and acclaimed literary magazine “Fire!! Devoted to the Younger Negro Artists” in 1926, along with contributions from Hughes, Hurston, Gwendolyn Bennett, Bontemps, Nugent, Aaron Douglas, and other prominent writers of the era. Despite its all-star lineup, “Fire!!” folded after only a single issue.

Thurman’s 1927 essay, “Negro Artists and the Negro,” took on African American expression through art, and decried the popular tendency to present Black music, fiction, and poetry in a conventional manner. He claimed that many of the artists receiving praise from white and Black critics alike were more interested in sociology and propaganda, with Hughes and Eric Walrond among the exceptions.

In 1928, Wallace Thurman was asked to edit a magazine called “Harlem: A Forum of Negro Life.” Its contributors included Alain Locke, George Schuyler, and Alice Dunbar-Nelson. Like “Fire!!” before it, the publication was short-lived. In August of that year, Thurman married a former schoolteacher, Louise Thompson. The news of his marriage surprised his friends, who knew him as a partygoer and “not the marrying kind.” The union lasted only six months, with Thompson declaring that Thurman was a homosexual who refused to admit it. It is widely agreed today that Thurman was, at the very least, bisexual.

Thurman adapted his short story, “Cordelia the Crude: A Harlem Sketch,” into the play “Harlem,” which debuted on Broadway in 1929. The same year, his first novel, “The Blacker the Berry: A Novel of Negro Life,” was published. The work is now recognized as a groundbreaking work of fiction because of its focus on numerous issues, including homosexuality, abortion, and ethnic conflict between African Americans and Caribbean Americans. It also didn’t shy away from criticizing intra-racial prejudice. As a dark-skinned Black man, Thurman felt shunned by both whites and the lighter-skinned members of the Black community in Harlem.

In 1932, he published “Infants of the Spring,” a satire of Black socialites and what he believed were the overrated creative figures of the Harlem scene. Thurman often argued that African American artists should embrace expression on their own terms, rather than as a way of appealing to Anglo-American respectability. Some reviewers welcomed Thurman’s bold insight, while others vilified him as a racial traitor. Thurman never again wrote on African American subjects.

Thurman co-authored “The Interne” in 1932, his final novel written with Abraham L. Furman. The novel is an exposé of unethical behavior at City Hospital on Welfare Island (now Roosevelt Island) in New York City. Later, he became a reader for a major New York publishing company, the first African American to work in such a position. Thurman struggled with debt throughout much of his life, and had to resort to writing under pseudonyms to make ends meet.

Wallace Thurman died at the age of 32 from tuberculosis, at the same City Hospital he once wrote about.  His illness may have been exacerbated by a long battle with alcoholism.

We remember Wallace Henry Thurman for his contributions to literature, and for his support of our community.

 

Victor Mukasa

Mukasa, Victor 2017

Victor Mukasa was born on August 16, 1975. He is a transperson, human rights defender, consultant, and a founding director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) (2004-2007). He has also served in varying capacities with the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (EHAHRDN), Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG), Trans Support Initiative, Uganda (TSI-Ug), and the Pan African e-networks AfricanSolidarity and Trans Africa. Mukasa is the current executive director of Kuchu Diaspora Alliance-USA (KDA-USA).

Mukasa was born into a conservative Catholic family in Kampala, Uganda. As a biological girl who behaved and loved to present as a boy, Mukasa was punished by his father, and ridiculed by most of his family and classmates for being true to himself. As part of a church ceremony, Mukasa was stripped naked, and his clothes and shoes were burned to “kill the male spirit.” He attended schools for girls, St. Mary’s College Namagunga, Trinity College Nabbingo, and studied banking law at the Uganda Institute of Bankers.

In 2005, Mukasa’s home was raided by police without a search warrant, and a fellow activist found at his home, Yvonne Oyoo, was arrested. Following the raid, Mukasa publicly declared his intent to sue the Ugandan government for violation of his and his colleague’s human rights. When he did, Mukasa started getting threats from government officials to withdraw the case. He went into hiding within Uganda with the help of Amnesty International and several other regional and international human rights organizations.

While in hiding, he set up a legal team that later represented him and Oyoo in the civil suit, Victor Mukasa and Yvonne Oyoo vs. Attorney General of Uganda. As Mukasa waited for court hearings to begin, he fled to South Africa, where he joined the Africa team of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) as a researcher on East Africa. Eventually, Uganda’s High Court sided with Mukasa and Oyoo, and ruled that the country’s human rights laws extend to all citizens, including the LGBTI community.

In 2009, Mukasa was named International Grand Marshal of the Toronto Pride Parade.

Mukasa returned to Uganda in 2011, but facing oppression there, fled to the United States the following year. During a 2015 panel hosted by the Center for American Progress, Mukasa said, “At some point it became unbearable. It became unbearable and you’re just like, ‘I have to leave. I have to leave to save my life. There are people who are here for safety. There are people there who need safety.”

Mukasa has also served as a board member for Gender DynamiX (South Africa), Behind the Mask (South Africa), Coalition of African Lesbians (Pan African), and the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA). He was also project coordinator for the Human Rights Defenders Project at the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL). Mukasa spearheaded the Nairobi Trans* Declaration in 2007, and the first-ever Pan African Transgender workshop supported by IGLHRC. The initiative led to the formation of several transgender organizations in Africa as well as the Proudly Transgender and African project.

Mukasa is executive director of KDA-USA, a human rights organization he founded with LGBT activists in February 2014, to support refugees and to amplify the collective voice of human rights struggles back home in Africa.

Mukasa, who is the father of two daughters, aged 7 and 17, currently lives in the United States.

We thank Victor Mukasa for his tireless work for the LGBTQ/LGBTI community in the United States, in Uganda, and beyond.

Charles Stephens

Stephens, Charles 2017

Charles Stephens was born on August 15, 1980. He is a highly respected writer, critical thinker, activist, and founder of The Counter Narrative Project, an initiative that engages in advocacy around issues that impact Black gay men.

Charles Stephens was born in Atlanta, Georgia, to Eddie Stephens, a welder by trade, and his mother, the late Etta Stephens, who was a homemaker.

Charles is a graduate of Georgia State University, where he co-founded Black Out, the campus Black LGBTQ student organization, and he was a recipient of the ZAMI Scholarship, Tony Daniels Community Ally Award.

From 2006 to 2011, Charles Stephens ran The Deeper Love Project, an HIV prevention program for Black gay and bisexual men in Atlanta, and in 2011, he coordinated a social marketing campaign targeting young, Black, gay men called From Where I Stand. The campaign produced a popular t-shirt series inspired by Audre Lorde, Essex Hemphill, and Joseph Beam, and focused on the inherent resilience among young, Black, gay men as a tool to empower them in the fight against HIV. The campaign also produced a book, documentary, and series of impactful billboards around Atlanta. Charles is especially proud of the community building and groundbreaking sexual health work in which he’s been involved throughout the past decade.

We thank Charles Stephens for his commitment to teaching and serving others, his advocacy on behalf of same-gender loving people of African descent, and his many contributions to our community.

Louis J. Mitchell

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Louis J. Mitchell was born on August 15, 1960.  He is a respected, longtime transgender activist, faith leader, social justice advocate, and community builder.

Louis James Irving Mitchell was assigned female at birth, named and raised as a girl, but says he knew as young as three years old that “she” was not who he was. His life began in Los Angeles, California, the beloved child of Joyce L. Johnson. Joyce and his paternal contributor, Ernest, were not married, and Ernest was concurrently involved with another woman, who was also named Joyce Johnson. His parents’ relationship was short lived, and Joyce would go on to date Robert L. Irving. She maintained that Robert “wasn’t really her type” but he was the only person she dated who actually made time and plans to go on dates that included her baby. They married in 1963, and Robert legally adopted their child.

Louis, also known as “LJ,” spent the first ten years of his life with his maternal grandmother, Janie Mae Johnson, in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles, and then moved with his family to West Covina, where he graduated from Edgewood High School in 1978. He was raised as the middle class kid of a working class family. Joyce retired from the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office, where she worked as a secretary, and Robert, who passed away in 1991, worked for Four-S Bakery as a route delivery driver. Though raised in the suburbs, Louis spent a lot of time visiting family around the country, notably in Corpus Christi, Texas; Hattiesburg, Mississippi; Birmingham, Alabama; Detroit, Michigan; and frequent weekends with cousins in Compton, California.

Even though he graduated near the top of his class, and with one of the top Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores in the country, Louis was already wrestling with addiction, complicated by his uncomfortable relationship with his identity and discomfort over his attractions. It would take both time and a commitment to transform his life before Louis would find peace in reconciling the different aspects of his existence.

When his beloved grandmother died in 1978, Louis went on a binge—engaging in theft and prostitution, and doing time in jail, all the while surviving sexual trauma. This was a difficult time, and he describes it as his “version of slow suicidality.” Having left behind all formal religion because of his belief that God didn’t and couldn’t love him, Louis felt no compulsion to see what adulthood might have to offer.

He returned to West Hollywood and found recovery in 1983. One of his first jobs was with the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center, where he worked with runaway and throwaway youth, trained as a peer counselor, and managed the youth shelter.

As a young, naïve and optimistic activist, Louis learned that “community” looks very different from the lenses of folks who are not white, wealthy, cisgender, able-bodied, American-born and gay or lesbian. Experiencing all of the “ism’s” intra-community was a painful lesson that he’d never forget.

Louis, in his former incarnation, was involved in the lesbian and women’s communities, serving on the board of Connexxus Centro de Mujer, and helping to start support groups around Los Angeles for LGBTQ young people and people in recovery.

After winning money on a game show, Louis relocated to the San Francisco Bay area to study with Angela Davis at San Francisco State University in 1989. While a student, he offered to help Professor Davis as she started her work in the prison system in San Francisco. Louis stayed on as a credentialed teacher after Davis left to teach at UC Santa Cruz. He credits those years at the jail as being some of the most formative in his life of activism. Louis went on to work on the Tom Ammiano for Supervisor campaign, and was offered the position to serve as his legislative aide after his successful election.

Passionate about community service and social justice, Louis has been a persuasive advocate for the rights of the LGBTQ community, African-American and other people of color communities, as well as the homeless, HIV/AIDS-affected, and recovering and inmate communities. He has worked in non-profit community service and government agencies for most of his career. His commitment to serve the least, the last, the lost, and the left-out has had a profound impact on the lives of so many. Though Louis would have preferred a more formal education, he is an autodidactic learner and a critical thinker who has continued to learn and grow.

Louis remembers always feeling “not quite” right with his lesbian identity, but lacked the language to rightly identify himself. In the early 1990s, as some of his friends began to transition, what had always been a fantasy was now possible. With that truth came the uneasiness of walking through the fears to live into that integrity, not the least of which was coming out to his mom…again.

Two factors cemented his commitment to living fully as himself. While serving as emcee at the Bay Area Dyke March, LJ looked out at the community that he loved so deeply. He realized that by not moving on he was stealing an opportunity from one of them because he was holding space that wasn’t his to hold. Secondly, he realized that part of him was waiting for his mom to pass on to begin his life—and he didn’t want any part of him wishing for her demise. He decided then and there that even if it meant that he would lose a relationship with his mom, he needed to live fully in his truth.

Most of the men that Louis met who transitioned—or were in the process of transitioning—were white. In his search for other men of color, he connected with the lives and stories of Marcelle Cook-Daniels and Alexander “Bear” Goodrum. Their lives and work gave Louis hope and inspiration; the loss of both to suicide in 2000 and 2002, respectively, impacted him deeply.

Very early on in his transition, he was given the opportunity of opening a program that he’d helped to develop, called the Oshun Center. It would be located at the site that once housed Compton’s Cafeteria, on the corner of Taylor and Turk in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district. Though new in his transition, he felt awed by the chance to provide services at a place that had so much history for him as a man of trans experience.

In 2001, Louis and his then-wife, Krysia L. Villón, moved to western Massachusetts. He picked up where he left off working for service agencies until he was accepted at Andover Newton Theological School. Reluctantly answering a call to ministry, Louis founded Recovering the Promise with Rev. Charla Kouadio in Springfield, Massachusetts. In 2012, Louis and Krysia welcomed their daughter, Kahlo, into the world.

Louis is currently living in western Massachusetts, and works as an associate minister at South Congregational Church. He also serves as the Senior Program Developer for Transfaith, while completing his Master’s degree in Pastoral Studies. Louis spends the majority of his time connecting with and growing relationships within community. Identifying openly as a pansexual, non-monogamous man of trans experience and faith, he attempts to make and hold space for those who are often marginalized. You can learn more about his work here.

Louis says his life has been full—and filled—with wonder and awe. For inspiring, motivating and encouraging him in his journey, he credits his recovery; his reintroduction to church by his former pastor, Bishop Yvette Flunder; the incredible love and support from his mother; the partnership of his kin and co-parent, Krysia; his empowering “anchors,” Almah LaVon Rice and Chris Paige; and the many members of his amazing “adopted” family.

We thank Louis J. Mitchell for his wonderful contributions to activism, the church, social justice, and the LGBTQ community.

 

Dr. Oscar Holmes IV

Holmes, Oscar IV 2017

Dr. Oscar Holmes IV was born on August 15, 1981. He is a respected scholar-activist, and diversity and management expert.

Oscar Holmes IV was born in Richmond, Virginia, the son of Oscar Holmes III, who was a truck driver, and his mother, Constance Holmes, a school bus driver. He has an older sister, Trina Holmes, and a younger brother, Olando Holmes, Sr. Oscar attended King and Queen Central High School and the Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School, both in Virginia, and graduated valedictorian of his high school class in 1999.

Following high school, he enrolled at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he graduated with honors in 2002, earning his Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology with minors in Human Resource Management and Spanish. He attended The University of Richmond and earned a Master of Liberal Arts degree in International and American Cultural Studies, and in 2013, he obtained a Ph.D. and Master of Arts degree in Management from the Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration at The University of Alabama. Oscar is a 2006 alum of Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business Summer Institute in General Management.

While in school, he was an active member of the Black Student Alliance, the Latino Student Alliance, and Virginia Commonwealth University Black Awakening Gospel Choir. Oscar is a Life Member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. He came out as gay at the age of 21, and his entire family has been very supportive and accepting.

Oscar Holmes IV is an Assistant Professor of Management and the Director of Access and Outreach in Business Education at Rutgers University School of Business, where he teaches executive education, graduate and undergraduate courses in leadership, organizational behavior, and crisis management. Oscar says that what he loves most about his job is getting to learn new scientific information, and having the ability to influence politics and business practices through the hundreds of students he teaches each year.

Oscar’s research interests include investigating how leaders can maximize productivity and well-being by fostering more inclusive environments. He has been published in several top-tier academic journals and books, such as the “Academy of Management Annals,” “Journal of Applied Psychology,” “Journal of Organizational Behavior, Equality, Diversity & Inclusion: An International Journal,” and “Oxford Handbook of Workplace Discrimination,” to name a few.

Oscar Holmes IV was elected to serve a three-year term (2014-2017) on the Executive Committee as a Representative-at-Large for the Gender and Diversity in Organizations (GDO) division of the Academy of Management, and selected to serve on the editorial review boards of “Africa Journal of Management” and “Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal.” In the fall of 2016, he was a Visiting Research Professor of Management at the LeBow College of Business at Drexel University, and a Research Fellow at the University of Pretoria (South Africa).

In addition to his scholarship being covered in various news outlets, Dr. Holmes has made a number of media appearances that include Huffington Post Live, and television and radio interviews. Additionally, he is an active church member and trustee at Saint Paul’s Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and sits on the board of the Village of Arts and Humanities (Philadelphia). Oscar is an expert for “Psychology Today” magazine, and hosts his own column, “Beyond the Cubicle: Managing Human Capital.”

LGBTQ advocacy, especially for the Black and Latinx LGBTQ community, is very important to Oscar. He donates to the National Black Justice Coalition and served as its digital ambassador. Oscar Holmes IV is also a trained Safe Space faculty member. He is a staunch supporter of The PhD Project, where he serves as a mentor to a number of doctoral students, and is founder of the On the Mill Facebook group, dedicated to providing resources and support to assistant professors of management and industrial/organizational psychology, to assist them in earning tenure at their respective academic institutions.

Oscar Holmes IV is an avid reader who, although he prefers non-fiction, lists E. Lynn Harris as his favorite fiction author. Oscar was also very influenced by the work of Dr. Cornel West, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, and Keith Boykin. He says, “Their work awakened an intellectual curiosity in me that made me want to become a scholar and produce my own scholarship.”

Oscar and his loving husband, Kristopher White, J.D. (also profiled on Ubuntu Biography Project), make their home in southern New Jersey, and enjoy spending time together, traveling, and hanging out with friends and family. Oscar is a huge fan of Beyoncé, Jazmine Sullivan, India.Arie, Mariah Carey, and Jill Scott. His favorite TV shows include “Scandal,” “Queen Sugar,” “Greenleaf,” “Being Mary Jane,” and “How to Get Away with Murder.” His passions include dancing, listening to music and going to concerts, enjoying the arts, and social justice issues.

He can be reached on Twitter (@OHIV), and via his Rutgers and “Psychology Today – Beyond the Cubicle” websites.

We thank Dr. Oscar Holmes IV for his numerous contributions to academia and advocacy, and for his support of our community.