Kim Coles Honored Among Other Great New Yorkers

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[Helese TALKS!]

There's an inspiring monthly event in New York that gives spotlight to Black professionals and artists doing uplifting things in the community.

Among those honored on Jan. 17 were Dr. Olajide Williams, Chief of Staff of Neurology at Columbia University Medical Center. In addition to that, he holds too many other titles to name here. He also created The Hip Hop Public Health Project in partnership with hip hop legend Doug E. Fresh which provides health literacy for people of color. He’s a prolific speaker and in addressing that audience that night, spoke about focusing on the good saying that “we can’t let our inability to doing everything stop us from doing what we can--but there is so much more to be done.”

As for his personal climb to the top of his field, Dr. Williams said it wasn’t self doubt that he had to overcome but a fury that burned inside of him since he was a child, to overcome odds and be bigger than the sum total of his parts, recognizing that by doing for others he was doing something great for himself. He mentioned his beautiful seven-year- old daughter who's a straight A student, as an inspiration. He said he’s “passing the baton to her so that we never stop fighting.” He also gave thanks to the late Dr. Muriel Petioni, who was honored that night as well.

As for notable people in entertainment, actress and female empowerment empresario Kim Coles was honored that evening. Even though she’s been living in LA for 22 years she still considers herself a BK girl and said she feels like she grew up in Harlem. After all, The Apollo is like a home to her and was the venue of her first television appearance.  What's more, now that January 17th is now Kim Coles Day in Harlem, she belongs to Harlem!

Coles was honored for her program G.I.F.T.S. which explores Gratitude, Intentions, Forgiveness, Triumphs, and Self-Love. Through the program she intends to “bridge the gap between self doubt and self love.” So, what was Kim Coles’ biggest doubt she had to overcome in her rise to success? And she made it clear she hasn’t reached the top yet!

She spoke of that feeling that we all have at some point in our lives that makes us feel like we don’t belong. She used to ask herself “why do I feel so different?”  She realized that "What's the same about us connects us; what's different about us is what makes us beautiful."

Did I mention she looks guh-rate, even more beautiful in person and than I remember her on Living Single? (My Dad didn’t let us watch In Living Color.) She definitely practices what she preached to me that night: “Find your beauty and share it.”

Lenny Williams, who was also at the event, and is a legend in his own right, was glad to see successful people come together and be celebrated. He performed his favorite song to perform, Cause I Love You, and still hits notes perfectly that some days I can’t even hit.

Great city that it is, I’m sure New York will continue to inspire such great ambassadors for the Black community and the world such as those that were honored that night. It was truly a night to feel proud to be a New Yorker; and a little melanin never hurt, either.

Helese Smauldon, Columnist for The Black Star

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