Black History Month Spotlight: Magic Johnson And Issa Rae!

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.


Basketball player and entrepreneur Earvin "Magic" Johnson, one of the best basketball players of all-time, has demonstrated his leadership ability not just on the court but also in the urban community as an entrepreneur and AIDS awareness advocate. Johnson, who was a member of five NBA championship teams, won the NBA's MVP Award and Finals MVP Award three times each. He was forced to retire in 1991 after learning he was HIV positive. After a brief attempted comeback, Johnson began his second career by opening movie theaters in underprivileged neighborhoods. Johnson was a part-owner of the Lakers for several years, and was part of a group that purchased the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012. Johnson runs Magic Johnson Enterprises, a company that has a net worth of $700 million. The company includes, Magic Johnson Productions, Magic Johnson Theaters and Magic Johnson Entertainment. In 2012, he also launched Aspire TV -- a network targeted towards African-Americans.


  • Born: August 14, 1959 in Lansing, Michigan
    Education: Everett High School, Michigan State University
    Height: 6'9"
    Position: Guard
    Drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers in 1979
    NBA Experience: 13 seasons
  • Won a gold medal at 1992 Olympics as part of the Dream Team.
  • Was a 12-time NBA All-Star.
  • Got his nickname Magic while at Everett High School in Lansing, Michigan.
  • Received the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award for all of his work promoting AIDS awareness.
  • Was elected to NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team.
  • Served as executive producer of Beauty Shop and Brown Sugar which was released in 2002.
  • Used to host his own talk show The Magic Hour.
  • Launched his Magic Johnson Music record label through MCA Records in 2000. The first act signed to the label was Avant.
  • Averaged 19.5 points per game, 7.2 rebounds per game, and 11.2 assist per game in his 13 NBA seasons.
  • Became part owner of the Los Angeles Lakers in 1994.

  • Magic Johnson on investing in the community: "We've got to invest in our own... whether it's health, education, finances, we should continue to do that. At the end of the day, what I would really like to say to you... there's a lot of millionaires sitting in the house, make sure you take care of your money brothers and sisters, so at 50, 60 and 70,'ll still be millionaires!"
  • Magic Johnson on remembering where you came from: "I shouldn't be getting an award for something that I should be doing....and that we all should be doing. We all are from the hood, and don't never forget that we are from there."
  • Magic Johnson on his reaction to contracting HIV: "You know, you're sitting there like... man, how could this happen to me? (Oprah) And what does this mean? (Magic) And what does this mean? Of course... (Oprah) Right. (Magic) But I was just devastated, because I thought I had did everything right, you know? And then, the worst thing was Cookie was pregnant with E.J."
  • In clip four, Magic Johnson on his son being gay: "I would say that it... was shock in the beginning, but, also I knew. (Oprah) Yeah. (Magic) But I was just waiting on him to tell me... And, he did. And... E.J. is just a lovable guy, as I told him, I said E.J. I love you, so, I am going to support you no matter what... And I think it made him feel good... you know? Because, it's one thing with mom... And, it was another thing with me. (Oprah) Yeah. (Magic) Because he wanted my approval. He wanted my support."

  • In 1866, Congressman Thaddeus Stevens offered an amendment to the Freedmen's Bureau bill, authorizing the distribution of public land and confiscated land to freedmen and loyal refugees in 40-acre lots. The measure was defeated in the House by a vote of 126 to 37.
  • In 1958, Clifton R. Wharton, Sr. was confirmed as minister to Romania. A career diplomat, Wharton was the first black to head a U.S. embassy in Europe.
  • In 1962, A lawsuit seeking to bar Englewood, New Jersey, from maintaining "racial segregated" elementary schools was filed in U.S. District Court.
  • In 1990, Columbia University graduate and Harvard University law student Barack Obama became the first African-American named president of the Harvard Law Review.

    U.S. representative Barbara Jordan earned which distinction in 1976?

    A. She became the first female African-American keynote speaker at a national political convention.
    B. She headed the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.
    C. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

    The answer is A: She became the first female African-American keynote speaker at a national political convention.


    Issa Rae was born in Los Angeles, California on January 12, 1985. She is a writer, producer, director and actress, known for her HBO series, Insecure and YouTube series, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. Rae has received two Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Actress — Television Series Musical or Comedy6 and a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for Insecure.

    She also appeared on the cover of Essence magazine’s May 2015, "Game Changers" issue.

    Rae was also included on the annual Forbes "30 Under 30" list in the entertainment section.



    Issa Rae gives speech at ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood