2018 gRAND MARSHals       BIOs




In 1955 a miracle happened. Arthur Mitchell, an African-American ballet dancer selected by George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein, joined the New York City Ballet. This historic occurrence in pre-civil rights America set the stage for many firsts by Mitchell, which changed the face and future of dance forever. Through roles choreographed by Balanchine specifically for Mitchell, such as the pas de deux in Agon and the role of Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream, he honed his craft to become a principal dancer with NYCB for 15 years. Never forgetting how the arts had turned his own life around, he helped create dance companies in Spoleto, Washington, D.C. and Brazil, but it was upon learning of the death of Martin Luther King, Jr., that Mitchell determined to do something to provide children in Harlem the kinds of opportunities which he felt had been given to him.

The Dance Theatre of Harlem was born in 1969 with 30 kids in a church basement in a community where resources of talent and creative energy were virtually untapped. Two months later, there were 400 youngsters attending classes. Eventually, Mitchell used his personal savings to convert a garage into the company's first real home. In Harlem, DTH created an explosion of professional opportunity in dance, music and related theater activities. The school has an outstanding number of former students who, today, are successfully engaged in careers as dancers and musicians, as technicians in production, stagecraft and wardrobe, and in instruction and arts administration. And with this success, DTH challenged the dance world to review its stereotypes and revise its boundaries.

Over the years, Mitchell and his dancers have taken over the roles of cultural emissaries. In 1988, DTH was the first ballet company invited by the U.S. Information Agency to perform in the Soviet Union as part of the U.S./U.S.S.R. Royal Ballet of England in a series of historic collaborations that paired black and white dancers for the companies recently launched a new education project to find and train talented children of all races in England. "The Dance Theatre of Harlem, under Mr. Mitchell's guidance, has helped dispel prejudice on an international level but has produced an all-black ballet company of stature and integrity" (The New York Times). The company, therefore, was a natural choice to become the first major performing arts troupe to visit South Africa as a statement of that country's increasing racial openness.

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Cheryl Wills is a veteran anchor for Spectrum News NY1 – she joined the broadcasting network during its launch in 1992.  She is the host of the public affairs talk show “In Focus with Cheryl Wills” and the primetime anchor of the “NY1 Live at Ten” airing weeknights.The award-winning journalist is the author of three books about her great-great-great grandfather Sandy Wills who fought in The Civil War:  “Die Free: A Heroic Family Tale, an illustrated children’s book “The Emancipation of Grandpa Sandy Wills” and a YA book “Emancipated: My Family’s Fight for Freedom.” Cheryl has interviewed some of the most powerful people in the world including The First Woman President of Africa: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.  Cheryl’s groundbreaking report earned her a prestigious medal from United Nations Correspondents Association.  She also scored an exclusive interview with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. Cheryl’s personal favorite was going one-on-one with the late great writer and activist Maya Angelou.

Cheryl has received awards from The New York Press Club, Newswomen’s Club of NY Front Page Award, and The Associated Press. The celebrated author of Lightswitch Learning's book series has traveled the world to report on society's most pressing issues and worked with more than 15,000 students in over 120 schools nationally.  In 2017, The Association of Social Studies Teachers / UFT awarded Cheryl Wills The Rosa Parks Award for Social Justice for “illuminating the struggle for Black equality from The Civil War to present.”  In 2017, Cheryl also received the Dr. Martin Luther King Award from three prominent Jewish organizations at The Israeli Consulate for bridging the gap between African Americans and Jews. Cheryl is also the recipient of The YMCA National Black Achievers in Industry Award, The Carl T. Rowan Leadership in Media Award and, in 2010, McDonald’s honored her as a broadcasting legend. In 2015 McDonald’s again honored her with the first ever, Harold Dow Lifetime Achievement Award, in recognition of extraordinary and unparalleled contributions to broadcast media.

Cheryl takes great pride in being the Founder and Commander of The New York State Chapter of the Sons & Daughters of the United States Colored Troops, a national organization based in Washington D.C. She enjoys teaching students about the contributions of the 200,000 black soldiers who fought valiantly during The Civil War. Cheryl Wills is a graduate of the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, with a major in Broadcast Journalism. She received an Honorary Doctorate from New York College of Health Professions in May of 2005.

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Ann Tripp is the News Director of  both WBLS and WLIB Radio.  Ann currently provides the twice hourly “news and views” on the nationally-syndicated Steve Harvey Morning Show on WBLS and the once-an-hour news update on Get Up! Morning’s with Erica Campbell on WLIB, which isalso heard nationally.

Ann began her on-air career at age 14 and she has long been known for her unique, “conversational” news delivery…a style now employed by several other radio and television news announcers.  While in high school, Ann was featured on WNYCas an announcer, actor and singer on the weekly variety show produced by the Police Athletic League.  She graduated from City College, toured Europe for a few years as a singer and then began her adult media career as a street reporter and on-air personality on WHN (now ESPN), a position she held for 6 years.  Tripp then worked at WNEWbefore moving to WKTUas a news announcer and interviewer for the next eight years. After that, she became News and Public Service Director of WXRK(orK-ROCK).

Ann Tripp next served as News and Public Service Director at WXRK(K-Rock) and then enjoyed a 13-year stint at WRKS(KISS-FM) starting in 1987, where she was heard every morning as co-host of the top-rated IsaacHayes and Friends Morning Show,adding a “woman’s touch” through her bubbly personality, funny antics and “on-target” one-liners.  On weekends, she was a co-host of the highly rated political roundtable TheWeek in Review. Ann Tripp has received a Congressional Proclamation, three New York City Council Proclamations and  has been honored by the New York State Broadcasters Association for her domestic violence series. Ms. Tripp has been awarded the Ida B. Wells Journalism Award, the Lincoln Center Award, Best Female New York City Radio Newscaster, Outstanding Young Woman in America, The McDonald’s “Faces of Black History” Award (2012) and  the “Rosa Parks Award”  from the Social Studies teachers union  of  the City of New York.(2015).

She has been honored by Alpha Kappa Alpha and Zeta Phi Beta Sororities, Bellevue Hospital, the Boy Scouts, the Bedford-Stuyvesant Healthy-Heart Program, the American Kidney Foundation, the Jackie Robinson Center for Physical Culture, The Caribbean-American Chamber of Commerce and Industry, The Network Journal, 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, Legends of Brooklyn, Safe Horizon and by Black Veterans for Social Justice. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Harlem Beauty Pageant, the New York Lung Association, Safe Horizon (formerly Victim Services) and The Make the Grade Foundation.





Doug E. Fresh is dubbed the “World’s Greatest Entertainer” and the “Original Human Beatbox,” but over the course of his 30-year career, he has established himself as so much more, including: global icon, artistic trailblazer, television personality and producer, successful businessperson, and activist. Fresh has forever etched himself into the annals of music history with his creation of the beatbox art form, whereby he vocally simulates the sound of drums and other musical instruments with stunning accuracy. Today, his skill and talents have resulted in an enduring international hip-hop legacy that continues to break new ground.

As a pioneering entertainer, Fresh possesses the unrivaled ability to captivate an audience with or without a musical backing track and has performed at the request of Saints, foreign dignitaries, and US Presidents. As a television personality and producer, he has appeared as a performer and musical mentor on Fox’s “American Idol,” hosted HBO’s “Bad Boys of Comedy,” served as one of three celebrity judges on BET’s “Showtime at the Apollo,” and earned three consecutive executive producer credits for his work on BET’s newly reprised “Soul Train Awards.” As a businessperson, he has launched marketing campaigns for international brands like McDonald’s, Toyota, and Febreze. He has also established several successful enterprises, namely an eponymous restaurant in New York City and multiple real estate development projects. As a lifelong activist, he has set an example of the power of hip-hop and celebrity to address social ills.

Proudly born and raised in Harlem, New York, Fresh shot from local phenomenon to nationally recognized talent with the help of an appearance in the 1984 cult classic movie “Beat Street.” By 1985, Fresh had become one hip-hop’s biggest international stars thanks to the success of his instant classics, "The Show” and “La Di Da Di," recorded with his Get Fresh Crew, including MC Ricky D (a.k.a. Slick Rick).

In the late 2000’s, Fresh’s multi-tiered legacy spawned several tribute songs, most notably, the 2009 breakout hit “Teach Me How to Dougie,” by LA rap collective Cali Swag District. The song birthed an international dance craze called “The Dougie,” an ode to moves Fresh created in the 1980s that have since been adapted and performed by an unlikely bevy of celebrities ranging from journalists Wolf Blitzer and Barbara Walters to superstars Justin Bieber and Beyonce. Among the many awards Fresh has accumulated over the years, he is a Hip Hop Hall of Fame inductee; the 2004 recipient of The Source Awards’ Lifetime Achievement honor; and the 2014 BET Hip Hop Awards’ Icon honoree.

To date, Doug E. Fresh stands as one of the most actively touring musicians across all genres, averaging a whopping 200 live, domestic performances per year for the past two decades. A tireless act who remains highly relevant and on the pulse of innovation, Fresh will continue to expand his empire. In the process, one thing is certain - he will always remain true to giving back through his gift. “I always lived my life saying I don’t want to be financially rich and spiritually bankrupt,” he says. “So most of my decisions lean toward what's better for the spiritual growth of others and for myself, and toward creating the best celebrations of life. When I make music, I've always been about trying to elevate the culture. Hip-hop is supposed to uplift, to educate people on a higher level, and to make change.”





Tom Joyner earned the nickname “The Fly Jock” and “The Hardest Working Man in Radio” by working long hours and flying between his morning job (in Dallas, Texas) and afternoon job (in Chicago, Illinois) every weekday for eight years, collecting over 7 million frequent flyer miles. Tom Joyner grew up in the town of Tuskegee, Alabama. He is one of two sons. His mother was a secretary for the military and his father served as a Tuskegee Airman. His beginnings were very much like many young blacks in the south.

During the Montgomery Boycott, there was the “Tuskegee Boycott”. Tom and many others fought for their civil rights. They took their protests to the streets weekly to try and effect change. One such protest was taken to a local radio station that refused to play “black” music. Eventually the station manager relented and Tom (naturally) nominated himself for the position. Tom Joyner graduated from Tuskegee Institute in his hometown of Tuskegee, Alabama in 1970. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and immediately began his career in radio. He started at WRMA (an AM station in Montgomery, Alabama). After breaking onto the airwaves there, he worked his magic at WLOK (an AM station in Memphis, Tennessee), KWK (an AM station in St. Louis, Missouri), and KKDA (an FM station in Dallas, Texas).

Eventually, he moved to Chicago – the Windy City. He blew through the Windy City on radio stations WJPC (FM), WGCI (FM), WVON (AM) and WBMX (FM) and caused a whirlwind of excitement on urban radio. Never before had listeners experienced such energy, humor and vitality. Opportunity came knocking in the mid 1980’s. Tom’s upbeat style and comedic antics put him in an awkward position. His contract was about to expire and it was decision time. He was offered the MORNING drive time position at KKDA (Dallas, Texas) by one company and the AFTERNOON Disc Jockey position at WGCI (Chicago, Illinois). Any normal human would have chosen one position or the other – Tom Joyner chose to do BOTH! His plan was to fly thousands of miles everyday by airplane each day between Dallas and Chicago. He spent so much time in the air that he received the name “The Fly Jock”. This commute and his rich on air style gained him national publicity and high ratings.

In 1994, Tom Joyner took his show to a new level. He knew that if he wanted to reach a broader audience, more “Fly Jockeying” would not do the trick, so he convinced ABC Radio Networks that his show could work in syndication. ABC, impressed with his determination, credentials and following gave it a try. In 1994, The Tom Joyner Morning Show started with Tom Joyner at the helm. The show is beamed to radio stations across the country each weekday. Over 8 million ears tune into the show from their favorite local radio station. It is very well known that Tom Joyner likes to have a good time. He says, “First we get people laughing, then we get ’em to listen. If you can get people to listen, then they begin to think, and that’s when they start making a difference”. Tom takes radio to a whole new level. Never before have African Americans been able to wake up to such an upbeat, entertaining and positive show. 

Tom did not forget his roots when he signed onto the Tom Joyner Morning Show. He setup a foundation that earmarks dollars for students and schools that have run out of money. The Tom Joyner Foundation has raised more than $60 million to help keep students in historically black colleges and universities. The Foundation, just like the morning show, his website, events and his other endeavors, exists to “super serve” the African American community. Joyner’s website BlackAmericaweb.com receives 1 million unique visitors on a monthly basis; with exclusive content from the top radio shows in urban radio along with news, entertainment, and lifestyle reports relevant to the black community.


robert mccullough

former athlete, founder of rucker pro legends & Each One Teach One, Inc.

Bob McCullough was recruited by the legendary Holcombe Rucker for Benedict College’s coach John E. Brown.  Coach Brown stated in the school’s newspaper, “Bob McCullough is the greatest basketball player to ever register at Benedict”.  In 1961, Bob’s freshman year, he scored 54, 56, and 64 points in exhibition games. Bob was also the MVP in the Colleges of South Carolina Tournament twice (1962 and 1964).  

Bob McCullough was a leading scorer along who averaged 22.5 points per game on Benedict College’s 1964 NAIA National Scoring Championship Team. Bob led The Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association in scoring (1964-65) with 36.4 points per game average, finishing second in NAIA scoring.  Bob was also the MVP in the Colleges of South Carolina Tournament twice (1962 and 1964).  He was selected as the Most Outstanding Player in the Norfolk State Invitational Tournament, where he had a two-game average of 44.1 points.  In t965 Bob set the Benedict College record in single game scoring of 51 points against South Carolina State College. He totaled 2,135 career points (28.4 ppg).  In1965. He broke the color barrier in the South Carolina Palmetto State by accepting an invitation to be the first African American to play in the Greenville (SC) Southern Textile League postseason basketball tournament, which resulted in him being named to the All-Tournament first team.  

He received All-America Honorable Mention Honors by United Press International and Converse Magazine.  Also in 1965 he was offered a contract by the Harlem Globetrotters and was drafted by the Cincinnati Royals of the NBA.  Bob played 15 exhibition games with the Royals.  He was left off the Royals’ roster when Oscar Robinson, All-Star Guard,  renewed his contract.  McCullough played in the Eastern Professional League.  He was selected to the All-Star Team with NBA players Walter Dukes and K. C. Jones.  He became the commissioner of the of the Rucker Summer Professional Basketball League in Harlem, NY, and remained with the Rucker Summer Professional Basketball League for the next 40 years.  

In 1967 with Fred Crawford, he co-founded the nonprofit Each One Teach One, Inc.  Over the last 50 years, this developmental and mentoring program has successfully used sports as a vehicle to motivate youth to pursue higher education and staying free of drugs.  Bob has been enshrined in the Benedict College Hall of Fame, the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame, the National Black Legends Hall of Fame, the Brooklyn USA Hall of Fame, the Bob Douglass Hall of Fame, the Harlem Roots Hall of Fame, the Nike Pro Sports Hall of Fame and the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame. There is a park on Randall’s Island in New York City named “Bob McCullough Field.

Bob McCullough is a New York City Board of Education licensed School Teacher, former Counselor and teacher for Hunter College Dept. of Academic Skills/SEEK.  Bob earned a Master’s of Science from Lehman College, Bronx, New York and conducted graduate study at N.Y.U. and Hunter College.  He earned a certificate in Career Counseling an Technological Change from Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations.  He is a published researcher and has presented at several conferences, such as the First International Conference on Mentoring at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver Canada and at the National Association of Black Social Workers Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana and Los Angeles, California, April 2000.