Do Right Men 2006

Do Right Men 2006
ESSENCE.COM Sep, 05, 2008

1 of 48

DOING RIGHT: He brings smiles to our faces with his voice and performances in such films as Four Brothers and Baby Boy . Now he’s helping others to smile through his work with the BEARS Foundation, a Nigerian-based organization that provides free plastic surgery and care to impoverished patients with physical deformities. “I hope I’m raising awareness and encouraging doctors to offer their services as gifts,” says Gibson.

WHAT HE LOVES ABOUT SISTERS: “Everything. I love their hair, skin, eyes, bodies, spirit and strength. I love their presence. I’ve never dated out of my race ever. Ever, ever. Hail to the Black woman.”

2 of 48

DOING RIGHT: The Los Angeles native wears a zero on his basketball jersey because it’s the number of minutes he was initially told he would play during his first season at the University of Arizona. Today he spearheads Zero 2 Hero, which he started in 2005. The group assists D.C. foster care families. “I’m fortunate that I have the opportunity to give back to the community,” says Arenas, a point guard for the Washington Wizards.

WHY HE LOVES BLACK WOMEN: “Because they’re the queens of this earth—sexy, intriguing and God’s gift.”

3 of 48

DOING RIGHT: The rising R&B star is carrying on a family tradition through his involvement with Hubbard-Richard Community Council, a nonprofit organization founded in 1964 by his grandmother Mae Graham. The council helps uplift Detroit residents with everything from a co-op food program to computer training classes. Dwele is most passionate, however, about helping our youth. “My mom’s an elementary school teacher, and I always make time to visit her second-grade class to talk about the importance of education and to show them how to play instruments. It opens up a whole new world to them,” says the artist, who released his CD Some Kinda… (Virgin) last year.

WHAT MAKES BLACK WOMEN SPECIAL: “Their natural beauty. I love it.”

4 of 48

DOING RIGHT: He may have retired from the Phoenix Suns in 2000, but Johnson’s no benchwarmer by any means. In 1989 he founded St. Hope, a nonprofit that oversees a K­12 school that now serves 1,600 students in Sacramento, California, his hometown. “I believe in building a community that fosters young people into leaders,” he says. “My hope is that all of our students graduate prepared to go to college and succeed in life.”

WHY HE LOVES BLACK WOMEN: “Their strong sense of self and pride.”

5 of 48

DOING RIGHT: Growing up in Little Rock, Arkansas, the powerful six feet seven-inch tall Atlanta Hawks guard says the Boys & Girls Clubs played an important role in his life. Now he is influencing young people’s lives through the same organization that helped him. Last year he hosted an annual Santa-Lanta Holiday Party for Kids for 100 teens from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta.

6 of 48

DOING RIGHT: Levert loves his home state of Ohio. That’s why he’s so active in 100 Black Men of Greater Cleveland. The group provides mentors for young girls and boys ages 7 to 21. “I’m dedicated to improving the future of the city’s youth,” says the much-loved Atlantic Records artist whose latest album, Voices , came out last winter. “I enjoy participating in local reading programs and talking to students about the importance of education.”

WHAT MAKES BLACK WOMEN SPECIAL: “They have their own goals and know how to take care of themselves.”

7 of 48

DOING RIGHT: Thomas believes that helping low-income students get a postsecondary education should be a national priority-and he’s doing something about it. In 2001, motivated by the lack of Black men he saw in college, he joined Helping Teens Succeed, an Atlanta nonprofit after-school program that prepares underprivileged students for college. As a member of its board of directors, he was instrumental in acquiring a million dollar federal grant to hire full-time staff and expand programs into schools across Georgia. Three years later, his efforts secured him the role of president of the board. “I want to give our kids, especially young Black boys, the tools they need to succeed in life,” Thomas says.

WHAT HE LOVES ABOUT BLACK WOMEN: “They have a distinctive glow. It’s hard to put your finger on it, but it just pulls you in.”

8 of 48

DOING RIGHT: In 2005, the Newark, New Jersey, native established Urban Dreams Foundation, a nonprofit organization that encourages at-risk elementary school students to remain in school and on track. “I’m now a role model. So it’s my responsibility to reach out and give something back to the kids,” says the singer, whose recent album, Ghetto Classics (Warner Bros.), was released last February. “They need to know that every boy and girl is a king and queen.” He’s also reaching out to adults: Last Mother’s Day, his foundation gave away a house to a single mom.

WHY HE LOVES BLACK WOMEN: “Black women are the mothers of the earth. They are the heart of everything.”

9 of 48

DOING RIGHT: “So many kids need guidance from an African-American male,” says Askew, known to his friends, colleagues and many kids as Q. That’s why in 2002, he created the Q Foundation, a nonprofit organization that has helped 1,500 North Carolina youth increase self-esteem, develop communication skills, and find employment. “This is truly my passion,” says the former Navy serviceman, who has full custody of his two sons.

WHAT HE FINDS SPECIAL ABOUT BLACK WOMEN: I love Black women for their strength.”

10 of 48

DOING RIGHT: Like all of us, Arnett was moved by images of Hurricane Katrina and Rita evacuees. But instead of mailing a check to support them, Arnett, a recent graduate of Harvard Law School, helped organized a group of about a dozen fellow students and headed Down South to help out. “We excavated homes and distributed food and clothing,” he says. “The most compelling aspect of being in New Orleans was seeing the bright orange numbers on the doors of homes left there by inspectors. Many of them were numbers indicating how many people had been found dead inside. That really brought home the extent of what was actually happening.”

WHY HE LOVES BLACK WOMEN: “In Black women, I see an inseparable part of myself—a part so strong, so beautiful, so precious that I can’t help acknowledge and cherish our connection.”

11 of 48

DOING RIGHT: The charismatic actor and Soul Train host doesn’t just impress us on-screen, but also off. Gregory, who was diagnosed with type I diabetes as an adolescent, is currently a national spokesman for the American Diabetes Association. He says giving back can change lives-yours and others. “Volunteering is a must. It empowers and brings joy in some very surprising ways,” he says.

WHAT MAKES BLACK WOMEN SPECIAL: “They’re unique in their sophistication, independence, drive and savvy.”

12 of 48

DOING RIGHT: As clinical training director with the Institute of Human Virology­Nigeria, he has supervised more than 200 doctors and nurses caring for and treating HIV-positive adults and children in Africa. “HIV/AIDS is the worst epidemic in human history,” he says. “In 2005, 3 million people died. In all, more than 25 million have died. More funding is going into tackling this disease, but that’s not enough. We have to improve the infrastructure of health facilities.”

WHAT HE LOVES ABOUT SISTERS: “I love their hips, brains, spirit, self-respect, strength, style and dedication.”

13 of 48

DOING RIGHT: In 2003, McDade started the Young Scientist Training Program at the University of Chicago, funded by the National Institutes of Health, to increase the number of minority students in medicine and biomedical research. Each year the program accepts ten students and provides them with hands-on lab experience and mentors to shepherd them through the college selection process as well as to teach the fundamentals of research. “It’s a wonderful thing to see young people engaged in meaningful, high-level research,” says McDade.

WHY HE LOVES BLACK WOMEN: “They are nurturing, beautiful and loving-they’re my soul. How can you not love a Black woman?”

14 of 48

DOING RIGHT: In 2004 this former defensive end for the Cincinnati Bengals started X3 Modern Developers, a real estate development company that seeks to revive neighborhoods by erecting modern, loft-style, single-family residences across St. Louis. “We’re creating a better standard of living for people,” he says. “We’re building a legacy that will help many generations to come.”

WHY HE LOVES BLACK WOMEN: “I have a great example in my 106-year-old grandmother, who raised 13 children on her own after her husband died.”

15 of 48

DOING RIGHT: In 2001 this entrepreneur started the Love Foundation, a Chicago after-school program teaching kids everything from how to play chess to how to run a business. Since the organization’s inception, Love has been a father figure for more than 200 Black children between the ages 6 and 18. “When it comes to nonprofits that focus on our youth,” he says, “I don’t think people understand the emotional commitment that’s necessary. It’s a lifestyle change I’m committed to.”

WHY HE LOVES BLACK WOMEN: “They’re descendants of kings and queens. But they’re not afraid to lace up their boots and take care of their men and families.”

16 of 48

DOING RIGHT: Over the past decade, this prolific New Orleans native has conquered the stage, the big screen and the world of publishing with his greatest creation: 68-year-old Mabel “Madea” Simmons. With the help of some makeup and a wardrobe change, Perry has portrayed Madea in several successful plays (such as the current hit, “Madea Goes to Jail”) and in box-office hits like Diary of a Mad Black Woman. The versatile actor, director, writer and producer gives us plenty to laugh and think about in his work, which celebrates African-American family, spirituality and community. Up next for Perry: Daddy’s Little Girl, a film starring Gabrielle Union, scheduled for release next year, and the play, “What’s Done in the Dark Will Come to the Light” which will tour this fall.

17 of 48

DOING RIGHT: In addition to teaching geography and history at R. Frank Nims Middle School in Tallahassee, Florida, Charles created Men of Tomorrow Today, a mentoring program. “Our motto is the three E’s: Empowering, Elevating and Encouraging,” says Charles. “We match 25 young men with mentors from various backgrounds. The kids are used to looking up to entertainers and athletes, but they don’t get to see people who successfully do other kinds of work.” The young men learn useful skills such as balancing a checkbook and filing their own tax returns.

WHY HE LOVES BLACK WOMEN: “For every strong Black man, there’s a strong Black woman—a wife, girlfriend, mother, sister, aunt—beside him.”

18 of 48

DOING RIGHT: This HIV/AIDS prevention counselor and motivational speaker started Gary, Indiana’s Abstinence for Singles program. He speaks at schools, colleges, churches and local organizations to promote waiting to have sex until marriage as a means of preventing STDs and lowering teen pregnancy. “I just want people to know that they have choices,” he says

WHY HE LOVES BLACK WOMEN: “I don’t know anyone else who could understand the day-to-day trials of African-American men. There is nothing like the support you get when a Black woman is standing in your corner.”

19 of 48

DOING RIGHT: Last winter Davis became the first African-American man to win an individual gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy. But when he’s not chasing gold, he gives back by teaching children how to lace up and make tracks on ice at the Evanston Speed Skating Club. (That’s the same Illinois rink where he learned to glide gracefully.) “I’ll go out of my way to accommodate these kids,” says Davis. “I stick to my roots. I stay true to those who were there for me before I was a world champion.”

WHY HE LOVES BLACK WOMEN: “I saw how my mother had to work to compete. If someone else was good, she worked twice as hard to be considered as better.”

20 of 48

DOING RIGHT: This New Yorker helped create 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care to inform African-Americans of their rights. “One person with a desire to make a difference can do a lot,” says Adams.

WHY HE LOVES BLACK WOMEN: “They are all we need.”

21 of 48

DOING RIGHT: As a former member of the Big Brother organization, this Philadelphia native mentored at least a dozen young men. He is now working with the Amachi Training Institute, a mentoring program for children of incarcerated parents. “There’s always a shortage of Black males volunteering, and young Black kids are missing that direct contact. Sometimes you’ve got to step up and break the cycle,” says Harrell.

WHAT MAKES BLACK WOMEN SPECIAL: “Only a Black woman can truly have your back.”

22 of 48

DOING RIGHT: For the past four summers, Mashariki has donated his time to teaching junior high school students computer science at the Center for Talented Youth education camp in Baltimore. “Americans are falling behind in the innovation and science realm,” says Mashariki, a Brooklyn native who’s pursuing a doctoral degree in engineering from Morgan State University. “If we can encourage our children to bring imaginative, diverse ideas to the table, we’ll be able to take our society to a whole other level.”

WHY HE LOVES BLACK WOMEN: “I wouldn’t want to have anyone other than a Black woman at her best running the show, because she’s unstoppable.”

23 of 48

DOING RIGHT: Last year this engineer traveled to Brazil, where he was so touched by the plight of 6- and 7-year-old children in the slums of Belo Horizonte that he created the documentary Don’t Let the Fire Die. “These children have gone through so much in their lives, but they still have such love, fire and faith in life,” says the filmmaker who is helping several Brazilian youngsters with their education. “I want other people to witness this, and in turn do what they can to help someone else.”

WHAT HE FINDS SPECIAL ABOUT BLACK WOMEN: “That Black women are beautiful is a given-but they are also the most sensual women alive.”

24 of 48

DOING RIGHT: Raised by a single mother and having become a father by age 17, Batteast is committed to using his experience to help guide others. He’s been mentoring young Black men in the Mississippi juvenile justice system for the past decade. In 2005 he created Fathers Active in Their Hood (FAITH) to encourage our Black males to make positive transitions from boyhood to manhood. “Knowing that I can help a young brother find his way without making the same mistakes I did gives me a great sense of fulfillment,” he says.

WHY HE LOVES BLACK WOMEN: “Regardless of age, size or complexion, they are the most beautiful women on Earth.”

25 of 48

DOING RIGHT: Beam contributes his time to the National Black Deaf Advocates. “As a hearing-impaired man,” Beam says, “I have a unique understanding and commitment to the deaf community.”

WHY HE LOVES BLACK WOMEN: “I love a sister who’s confident. There’s something special about a woman when she’s sure of herself.”

26 of 48

DOING RIGHT: Burns, a government affairs account director in Baltimore, is a youth pastor. “The biggest joy to me is watching children grow spiritually,” says Burns, who oversees a ministry for 150 kids. He also directs a tutorial program.

WHY HE LOVES BLACK WOMEN: “Their sacrifice and the amount of love they give is amazing.”

27 of 48

DOING RIGHT: A Heisman Trophy winner and new running back for the New Orleans Saints, Bush has donated $50,000 to refurbish Tad Gormley Stadium in New Orleans, a hub for many children’s programs that was devastated by Katrina. “Providing youth with positive activities and outlets helps them reach their full potential,” says Bush. “I want to see smiles on their faces again.”

WHY HE LOVES BLACK WOMEN: “A sister can be nurturing while still maintaining her sensuality.”

28 of 48

DOING RIGHT: When hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit his home state of Louisiana last summer, he transported 72 people from Baton Rouge to Dallas, where he lives.

WHY HE LOVES BLACK WOMEN: They are true beauties, from their full lips to their naturally curvy bodies to their skin tones and smiles.”

29 of 48

DOING RIGHT: This Jacksonville, Florida, native is an advocate of improving our schools. He hosts events that encourage students to excel on their Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, a critical achievement exam. “I want to make sure that I give as much of my time as I possibly can so our kids have every opportunity to strive for success and to fulfill their potential,” says Coles, a popular New York Jets wide receiver.

WHY HE THINKS BLACK WOMEN ARE SPECIAL:“Their incredible strength.”

30 of 48

DOING RIGHT: Through the Common Ground Foundation, a Chicago nonprofit organization, this smooth rapper educates young people about their physical and emotional health. “I’m an advocate for teaching children about life and encouraging their individuality and leadership skills,” says the artist, whose new record, Finding Forever (G.O.O.D. Music/Geffen), will be released next month. “Their parents may be going through their own battles and struggles, so as part of the village, it’s my duty and obligation to step up and give kids some of my time to let them know that they’re loved.”

WHAT MAKES BLACK WOMEN SPECIAL: “I love the souls of Black women. It’s the way they carry themselves, their strength and inner shine.”

31 of 48

DOING RIGHT: The Cuyahoga County, Ohio, assistant prosecutor created The Dow Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works with programs in Cleveland, Chicago, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Gary, Indiana. Dow says, “I’m passionate about helping kids to empower themselves.”

WHY HE LOVES BLACK WOMEN: “In one word: attitude!”

32 of 48

DOING RIGHT: Though his hours are long on the set of the hit Fox drama Prison Break, this Oakland native (sitting, left) and multimedia artist always finds time for one of his favorite causes: HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention. He credits his mother, Veronica, a former registered nurse, with nurturing his passion for activism. “She taught me about sex, protection and prevention so I could grow up aware as a Black man,” says Dunbar.

WHY HE LOVES BLACK WOMEN: “I find Black women’s unpredictability exciting and exhilarating.”

33 of 48

DOING RIGHT: The thinking woman’s heartthrob, Ealy stars in the Showtime series Sleeper Cell. He’s also a member of the artistic board of Working Playground, a New York arts foundation that teaches master classes in film, TV, theater, fashion and graphic design to young people. “Working with kids has always been rejuvenating to me,” says the actor. “The impression of inner-city youth is that they don’t want to learn, which I disagree with wholeheartedly.”

WHAT HE LOVES ABOUT BLACK WOMEN: “Nothing beats a sister wearing a nice summer dress, except one wearing a shirt of mine. The sexiest thing a woman can do for me is be confident in who she is, but at the same time know in her heart that she can depend on me when she needs to.”

34 of 48

DOING RIGHT: The British-born actor, who stars with Hilary Swank in The Reaping this November, volunteers his spare time with the Left to Tell Charitable Fund, an organization based in Carlsbad, California, that helps Rwandan children displaced as a result of the 1994 genocide. “When I did the film on Rwanda [2005’s Sometimes in April ], I didn’t want to jump on any soapboxes, but this charity is nonpolitical and is a place where survivors can create a life for themselves.”

WHAT HE FINDS SPECIAL ABOUT BLACK WOMEN: “Their skin fascinates me. Black women’s skin never gets old. They wear it well, and the less makeup, the better. That’s very appealing to me.”

35 of 48

DOING RIGHT: With his father being a prominent politician who served in the House for 22 years, Harold Ford, Jr., had a career practically from birth. When he was a child, his working in political campaigns was as routine as going to church. In 2001, he started Next Step, Inc., a Tennessee nonprofit organization that holds an annual drive to provide supplies for needy schools in his Memphis-area district. Now the U.S. congressman is a Democratic senatorial candidate. “Outside of how you raise your kids, there’s not a better way to impact our future than public service.”

WHAT HE LOVES ABOUT BLACK WOMEN: “Everything. My mama’s one.”

36 of 48

DOING RIGHT: The consummate funny man knows laughter can cure many ills, so he’s committed his talents to such important causes as Laffapalooza!, his annual comedy show that benefits the Atlanta charity Learn Through Laughter Foundation. In the last few years, the Jamie Foxx Foundation has supported causes related to orphanages in Haiti, HIV/ AIDS in Africa through Save Africa’s Children, and victims of Hurricane Katrina. This year he has launched a partnership with the Twenty-First Century Foundation that aims to create a significant platform to meet the needs of underserved youth.

ON WHAT MEN REALLY WANT FROM WOMEN: If you want to talk about what bachelors think, it’s not as simple as trying to get a woman into bed. what we’re looking for is the admiration of a woman. That’s what it’s really about."

37 of 48

DOING RIGHT: For the past year, Gordon, who was born in London but raised in Mount Vernon, New York, has supported Walgreen’s Get Fit Program for Kids, which encourages children to embrace healthy eating habits. “Many of our young people don’t have the best eating habits, and if they don’t start making changes, they’ll only get worse as they become adults,” says Gordon, a guard for the Chicago Bulls. “Just showing them that someone cares is fulfilling.”

WHY HE LOVES BLACK WOMEN: “They’re the most beautiful women in the world.”

38 of 48

DOING RIGHT: He’s a versatile actor who has played roles that make us laugh (Married With Children), cry (Beloved) and cheer (for his breakthrough role as Dr. Sheldon Hawkes on CSI: NY). But the part Harper, an Iowa City, Iowa, native, would currently like to play is that of role model. This year the graduate of both Brown and Harvard universities released his first book, Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny (Gotham). An instant New York Times bestseller, it offers credible, powerful, humble words of wisdom and advice to males traversing the challenging journey from adolescence to adulthood.

39 of 48

DOING RIGHT: This Uniondale, New York, volunteer firefighter is on call 24/7. “Being a firefighter lets me look outside my immediate circle of family and friends to help others,” says Lacy.

WHAT HE LOVES ABOUT SISTERS: “Black women just have a spirit that perseveres no matter what the odds.”

40 of 48

DOING RIGHT: While Liles is second in command at Warner Music Group—home to Lil’ Kim, Missy Elliott, P.Diddy and T.I.—he’s first in the fight when it comes to motivating young people through his two charities: Kevin Liles for a Better Baltimore and the Make It Happen Foundation. Says Liles, “My organizations hold me accountable for making a difference in the community.”

WHAT HE LOVES ABOUT SISTERS: “It’s about more than their strength. Black women are therapy. They’re refreshing. They’re supportive.”

41 of 48

DOING RIGHT: In 2002, Mbilishaka united 27 Boston activists and formed Reawakening the African Genius Mind to educate and empower our youth. This past May, he took seven students, ages 13 and 14, to Senegal for eight days to show them that they’re part of a bigger world. “Once our children are exposed to opportunities, they realize there’s nothing they can’t do,” says Mbilishaka, who teaches eighth-grade social studies at Smith Leadership Academy, a Beantown-area charter school for our children.

WHY HE LOVES BLACK WOMEN: “It’s easy to get caught up in her looks, but there’s nothing better in this world than a brilliant Black woman.”

42 of 48

DOING RIGHT: Besides being an active member of the Spirit of Faith Christian Center in Temple Hills, Maryland, McNair devotes his time to the church’s many programs. On any given day you’ll find him leading the Mighty Men of Valor fellowship group or mentoring youth members through SWAT (Sold-Out Word Activated Teenagers), his way of promoting positive Black role models. “The scarcity of visible men causes a lot of challenges in our community,” he says. “Knowing that someone is better-off because of something you’ve done makes life much more significant.”

WHY HE LOVES BLACK WOMEN: “No matter what they’ve been through, they’re always committed to our community.”

43 of 48

DOING RIGHT: No matter what, Mfume gets the job done. At 23, while helping to raise five sons and tirelessly working two jobs, he enrolled at the Community College of Baltimore and eventually went on to earn degrees from Morgan State and Johns Hopkins universities. In 1986 he was elected to Congress representing Maryland’s 7th District, where he promoted and passed landmark civil rights and anticrime legislation. In 1996 he left Congress to serve a nine-year stint as president of the NAACP. Mfume’s running for the Senate in Maryland this fall. He says, “I get satisfaction knowing I’ve had a chance to be an advocate for issues people care about.”

WHY HE LOVES BLACK WOMEN: “I find love, compassion, caring and sacrifice to be their most beautiful attributes.”

44 of 48

DOING RIGHT: The information technology consultant and volunteer firefighter travels between Maryland and Virginia (where he resides), to make sure that both communities are secure when an emergency strikes.

WHAT HE LOVES ABOUT SISTERS: “Their resilience and strength.”

45 of 48

DOING RIGHT: Last fall, these identical twin surgeons and Army reservists volunteered to leave New York City and go to Afghanistan to provide medical treatment to injured civilians. Despite the challenge of having to perform surgeries using light from their cell phones or flashlights—not to mention the constant threat of random gunfire—their dedication to saving lives never faltered. “It’s easy to label the Afghans as terrorists,” says Vince (standing), a cardiothoracic surgeon at Kimball Medical Center in Lakewood, New Jersey. “But I see them as people who need health care just like the rest of us.” Vance, a urologist at Stony Brook University Hospital, says: “As we were growing up, when people implied that we wouldn’t succeed in accomplishing our goals, we used that doubt as a catalyst to defy the odds and to help others do the same.”

WHAT MAKES BLACK WOMEN SPECIAL:“Their self-sufficiency and grace,” says Vince. “Their positive outlook,” says Vance.

46 of 48

DOING RIGHT: Last fall, these identical twin surgeons and Army reservists volunteered to leave New York City and go to Afghanistan to provide medical treatment to injured civilians. Despite the challenge of having to perform surgeries using light from their cell phones or flashlights—not to mention the constant threat of random gunfire—their dedication to saving lives never faltered. “It’s easy to label the Afghans as terrorists,” says Vince (standing), a cardiothoracic surgeon at Kimball Medical Center in Lakewood, New Jersey. “But I see them as people who need health care just like the rest of us.” Vance, a urologist at Stony Brook University Hospital, says: “As we were growing up, when people implied that we wouldn’t succeed in accomplishing our goals, we used that doubt as a catalyst to defy the odds and to help others do the same.”

WHAT MAKES BLACK WOMEN SPECIAL:“Their self-sufficiency and grace,” says Vince. “Their positive outlook,” says Vance.

47 of 48

DOING RIGHT: As police officer Thomas Edward “Tek” Kramer on NBC’s long-running soap Days of Our Lives, his performance is arresting. But as a young boy growing up on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Orange (near left) admits that he was headed down a troubled path before discovering a passion for performing. Now he hopes to help young people in Los Angeles as a mentor and coach for the Junior Lakers, an L.A. YMCA basketball program. “The kids I work with usually don’t have anyone to show them the ropes, so it feels good to help them believe in themselves,” says Orange.

WHY HE LOVES BLACK WOMEN: “I find their confidence really sexy.”

48 of 48

DOING RIGHT: He’s the CEO of a national non-profit, Building Educated Leaders for Life (BELL), which steers underperforming elementary school students to success. During the past decade, he has raised over $53M and BELL has helped over 20,000 Boston, New York, Baltimore and Washington, DC children excel academically and develop as leaders. 100% of BELL’s scholars have gone on to graduate from college. Senator Barack Obama recently introduced legislation that will bring $100M to fund summer programs modeled after BELL. Phalen says, “My purpose is to give everything I have so our children can become amazing people.”

WHY HE LOVES BLACK WOMEN: “Black women’s intelligence and honesty make them incredibly sexy.”