Black History Month Spotlight: Halle Berry & Van Jones!

Black History Month: February 2019

To recall and celebrate the positive contributions to our nation made by people of African descent, American historian Carter G. Woodson established Black History Week beginning on Feb. 12, 1926. In 1976, as part of the nation's bicentennial, the week was expanded into Black History Month.


Oscar-winning actress, producer, and beauty icon Halle Berry was the first African-American woman to win a Best Actress Academy Award, for the 2001 film Monster's Ball. She also earned a Golden Globe award in 2000 for her work in HBO's The Dorothy Dandridge Story, which she also produced. A former Miss Ohio, Berry got her break in Spike Lee's 1991 Jungle Fever, playing a crack addict. She starred opposite Eddie Murphy in Boomerang, Warren Beatty in Bulworth, John Travolta in Swordfish, and played Storm in two blockbuster X-Men films. She commanded $4 million for her role in the 2002 James Bond Die Another Day. The longtime Revlon spokesmodel has been divorced twice, from baseball player David Justice in 1996 and from R&B singer Eric Benet in late 2003. She is reportedly worth $80 million.


  • Born: August 14, 1966 in Cleveland Ohio
  • Is 5 feet 7 inches tall.
  • Nickname: Hannah Little
  • Is diabetic.
  • Was then raised by her mom. Halle's parents, Judith & Jerome Berry, divorced when she was 4 years old.
  • Named Miss USA; first runner-up in 1986.
  • Named Miss Ohio USA in 1986.
  • Named Miss Teen All American in 1985.
  • Attended Cuyahoga Community College, Cleveland, Ohio.
  • Turned down the role of Annie in Speed (1994).
  • Was named after the grand old Halle Building in Cleveland, Ohio, which originally housed the Halle Brothers department store. The building is now an office building and the fictional setting for the Winfred-Louder department store on "The Drew Carey Show".
  • Was an honor society member, editor of the school paper, class president, and crowned prom queen in high school.
  • Lost some hearing in one of her ears due to a physical encounter with a boyfriend in the early 90s.
  • Attended Heskett Middle School in Bedford, Ohio.
  • Has an estranged sister named Heidi.
  • Graduate of Bedford High School, Bedford, Ohio.
  • First black American in the Miss World Competition. She didn't win a prize but her dress did.
  • Her dress for the 2002 Oscars ceremony was voted the most popular from the first 75 years.
  • Broke her arm on the set of Gothika while filming in Montreal in May 2003.
  • Half British on her mother's side.
  • The first actress to star and portray two different comic book characters for two different comic book companies (Storm) for Marvel's X-Men & X2 & (Catwoman) for DC Comics.
  • Was in a relationship with Michael Ealy for over a year.
  • Is married to actor Olivier Martinez.
  • Was in a custody battle with ex Gabriel Aubry over their four-year-old daughter Nahla.

    Halle on having a baby at 47:

    "They call it a geriatric pregnancy.' . . . I'm 47. And I was, you know, on my way…this is probably way TMI, but I was really, you know, kinda premenopausal so to have this happen was a huge shock . . . I mean, only her (Nahla) prayers could have done this . . . " Halle accepts the BET Honors Award for Service in 2013:

  • "Firstly, I want to thank a very special woman who I call, I affectionately call the earth mother of the entire universe. And that's miss Phylicia Rashad. You are as complete a woman as I want to be. So thank you. I want to thank miss Alicia Keys, who is my sister, and her heart is as big as her talent. And I'm happy to see that she's gone short. Thank you, Alicia, for being here. I also want to thank Debra Lee and my BET family. Thank you for giving me this honor, because in doing so, you shed light on an organization, on a cause that is so near and dear to my heart. By you honoring the work that we're doing at the Jenesse center, maybe it will encourage others to stand up and be strong and face the reality of what's happening to them and have the courage to make a change." (1:24 OC: . . .to make a change.)
  • Halle on dealing with adversity:

  • "I believe that we're here for a reason. We deal with the downs because they're obstacles that are put in our way to force us to grow, and without those, we never can really, feel joy fully if we haven't really been sort of to those valleys."

  • Berry on her award-winning portrayal of singer/actress Dorothy Dandridge: "...You have to find a way to be sad on every day, in every scene, in every moment. And always try to hide the sadness. And (then) you'll get the essence of who she was."
  • Berry's Oscar acceptance speech: "This moment is so much bigger than me, This moment is for Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll... It's for the women that stand beside me, Jada Pinkett, Angela Bassett, Vivica Fox... and it's for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance, because the door tonight has been opened."
  • Berry on choosing both serious and popcorn-movie roles: "There's art and there's commerce. You have to find a way to mesh the two. It's important to do the little movies just for the love of the art. But it's those big movies that take you around the world and make you globally famous."

  • In 1894, Congress repealed the Enforcement Act, which made it easier for some states to disenfranchise African-American voters.
  • In 1925, Marcus Garvey entered federal prison in Atlanta. Students staged a strike at Fisk University to protest the policies of the white administration.
  • In 1944, Harry S. McAlphin became the first African-American to be accredited to attend a White House press conference.
  • In 1968, Officers killed three students during demonstration on the campus of South Carolina State in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Students were protesting segregation at an Orangeburg bowling alley.
  • In 1978, Leon Spinks defeated Muhammad Ali for the heavyweight boxing championship. Ali regained the title on September 15th and became the only person to win the title three times.
  • In 1986, Oprah Winfrey became the first African-American woman to host a nationally syndicated talk show.
  • In 1986, Figure skater Debi Thomas became the first African-American to win the Women's Singles of the U.S. National Figure Skating Championship competition. She was a pre-med student at Stanford University.
  • In 2008, the estranged father, Dean Barrow, of incarcerated rapper Shyne is elected the first black prime minister of Belize.

  • Who was the first African-American to win a Pulitzer Prize?
  • A) Gwendolyn Brooks B) Langston Hughes C) Alice Walker

    The answer is A: Gwendolyn Brooks. She won the prize in 1950 for her poem "Annie Allen." Walker won the prize in 1983 for her novel, The Color Purple.


    Jim Crow Laws: From the 1880s into the 1960s, a majority of American states enforced segregation through statues known as "Jim Crow" laws, in reference to a black character in minstrel shows. From Delaware to California, and from North Dakota to Texas, many states could impose legal punishments on people for consorting with members of another race. The most common types of laws forbade intermarriage and ordered business owners and public institutions to keep their black and white clientele separated. (Source: BLACK HISTORY MONTH: VAN JONES Van Jones is an award-winning social entrepreneur. As an advisor to the Obama administration, Jones helped oversee the process of green economic recovery spending, and is an expert in promoting human rights and clean energy economics. He is also a Yale educated attorney who holds a joint appointment at Princeton University as a visiting fellow at the Center for African-American Studies and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

    In 2009, Time Magazine named Jones one of the most influential people in the world. The best-selling author is also the co-founder of three successful nonprofit organizations: the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Color of Change, and Green For All.

    Last year, Jones launched the group Rebuild A Dream -- which is seen as a liberal counter to the Tea Party movement. Through the group, he hopes to create jobs and fix the American economy.


    Halle Berry wins Best Actress Oscar for Monster's Ball in 2002