Bagged + Loaded Tote Giveaway Winners!

Bagged + Loaded would like to thank all who participated in this tote giveaway! You linked, you tweeted, you Facebooked, and now it’s time to announce the 2 lucky winners. These winners were selected randomly by Congratulations to:

Here’s my tweet!!/BeaumontStudio/status/128349131440795649


eugenia says:
loveeee it! i just adore the fabric of the tote first of all and that cute little girlie!
on facebook i am moi eugenia

Thank you so much for participating, ladies! You will receive an e-mail to confirm your win. Please reply within 48 hours with a link to the tote bag of your choice in the Bagged + Loaded shop and your shipping address to receive your prize. If you do not respond within 48 hours, another winner will be chosen.


Bagged + Loaded Tote Giveaway

Bagged + Loaded is the place to find cute tote bags for yourself or gifting purposes. These unique bags are great for weddings, birthday party favors, stocking stuffers, or gift just because. Find something for both young and old. You can even personalize most items with your name or the name of a friend or relative.

This is Bagged + Loaded’s very FIRST giveaway! To celebrate, I will be giving away 2 TOTES to 2 LUCKY WINNERS (1 tote per winner).  The best part? Each winner will choose ANY tote bag of their choice from the Bagged + Loaded shop. That’s right, the choice is YOURS! The giveaway is open to U.S. and International residents.

* * * * * * CONTEST CLOSED * * * * * *


*** These entry rules are mandatory in order to win this prize ***

1. Like Bagged + Loaded on Facebook :

2. Visit Bagged + Loaded’s Etsy shop and paste the link to your favorite item in this comment section


*** These entries are NOT mandatory in order to win this prize, just ways to increase your chances of winning ***

3.  + 3 Extra Entries, BLOG about this with a link to this giveaway and leave a link to the blog post below

4.  + 2 Extra Entries, TWEET about this on Twitter with a link to this giveaway and leave a link to the blog post below

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–  Be sure to leave your e-mail address with each entry

– 2 winners will be chosen randomly by

CONTEST ENDS November 11, 2011 @ 11:59 pm

– Winners will be announced on this site on November 14, 2011

– The winners will be contacted via e-mail. If any winner does not reply within 1 week from the day the e-mail is sent, a new winner will be chosen

Thank you for entering!


“There will be mistakes, there will be falters. There will be things that are not a part of your plan. See the challenges in your life and accept them and embrace them.”


Dominique Margaux Dawes is a retired United States artistic gymnast, born in Silver Spring, Maryland on November 20, 1976 to Don and Loretta Dawes.

She was first introduced to gymnastics at age six, when she signed up for a tumbling class. When she showed up, the class was canceled, and someone suggested to her parents that she try a local gymnastics club called Hill’s Angels. Dawes signed up for classes at Hill’s and began working with Kelli Hill, who would coach her for her entire career.

Dawes was competing as a junior elite by the age of 10. She placed 17th in the all-around junior division at her first U.S. National Championships in 1988. In 1989, at the age of 12, she was sent to Australia to compete in her first international meet, the Konica Grand Prix. By the early 1990s, Dawes was achieving success both nationally and internationally. She placed 3rd in the all-around in the junior division at the 1990 U.S. National Championships.

At the 1992 USA vs. Japan dual meet, the 15-year old Dawes received a standing ovation, after an energetic floor routine in which she revived the back-to-back tumbling revolutionized by Soviet star Oksana Omelianchik. The judges were equally impressed, and gave her a perfect 10. Though she was not part of the 1991 World Championship team, Dawes continued to move up on the national and international scene throughout 1991 and 1992.

The crowd pleasing athlete placed 4th at the 1992 Olympic trials and was awarded a place on the United States Olympic team. Despite battling very painful tendinitis in both ankles and Osgood-Schlatter disease during pre-Olympic training, Dawes performed respectably throughout the competition, even having the boldness to try a brand-new move in her balance beam routine in the team competition–back handspring to three layout stepouts. She also won over the crowd with a solid optional floor exercise routine and, with a mark of 9.925, tied with Kim Zmeskal for the highest score for the American team on the event. The team won bronze, and Dawes and teammate Betty Okino became the first African American females to win an Olympic gymnastics medal.

Dawes only competed in the team competition in 1992, not breaking through as an all-around gymnast until 1993. She is probably best known for her performances at the 1993 and 1994 World Championships. In 1993, Dawes led the competition after three events, even beating her more famous teammate Shannon Miller. However, she decided to try her harder vault (1½ twisting layout Yurchenko) which was worth a 10.00 instead of simply a full-twisting layout Yurchenko which had been devalued to a 9.8. She made the first vault, but slipped and fell on the second, immediately bursting into tears. With the new rule that both vaults were averaged in all-around competition, her fall dropped her to 4th overall while Miller won the title. Famously, after the vault fall Dawes’s coach Kelli Hill exhorted her to be proud of her performance anyway, stating: “When did you ever think you would be in that position? You have to be happy with yourself. Come on. Be happy. Stand up and wave”. Dawes did so, and earned a standing ovation from the crowd. After this disappointment she rebounded in the event finals, winning two silver medals on bars and beam.

The same fate befell her in at the 1994 Worlds. Leading after three events, she again came to vault with a chance of winning the title. This time her mistake came on the first vault where Dawes over rotated and hurled forward into a somersault. Her low score dropped her to 5th. Her mistakes continued throughout the event finals and left the championships without winning a single medal.

Dawes would finish her year on a positive note, however. She dominated the National Championships, placing first in the all-around and all four event finals at the expense of rival Shannon Miller. It was the first year since 1969 that a gymnast had swept the competition. She went on to lead the American team to a silver medal at the World Team Championships in Dortmund, Germany, posting the third highest all-around score in the process.

Dawes struggled through a difficult 1995, riddled by wrist and ankle injuries. She finished 4th at Nationals, and was forced to sit out the World Championships that year. At the 1996 World Championships, Dawes missed out on a medal on the uneven bars, but tied Liu Xuan for a bronze medal on the balance beam. However, she rebounded at the 1996 U.S. National Championships to sweep all four event finals and finished first at the Olympic trials, earning a berth on the 1996 Olympic team at the age of 19.

The team, later nicknamed Magnificent 7, dominated the team competition. A key member of the team, Dawes performed without serious error and was the only team member to have all eight of her scores count towards the total. Along with Shannon Miller, Jaycie Phelps, Dominique Moceanu, Amanda Borden, Amy Chow and Kerri Strug, Dawes claimed her gold medal as part of the first American team to take the Olympic title. Another first, she became the first black woman of any nationality to win an Olympic gold in gymnastics.

Later in the week, however, Dawes lost yet another opportunity to win a major all-around title. Going into the competition, she was considered one of the heavy favorites to medal. She was ranked sixth overall among all competitors after the team event, and her scores from team optionals were the highest on the American team and the second highest overall. Dawes led the competition after two rotations, with Shannon Miller right behind her. Both gymnasts were on Floor Exercise for the 3rd rotation. Miller had a substantial mistake in her routine, knocking her out of the medals. On the middle tumbling pass of Dawes’s floor routine, she under-rotated for fear that she might step out of bounds; she sat down the tumbling pass (and went out of bounds anyway) causing her position to plummet in the standings. NBC cameras zoomed in on Dawes, sitting in tears as her score from floor exercise was announced (it was an even 9.000), which led to numerous boos from the audience. She managed to pull out a decent Vault score, but finished 17th overall. In the Event Finals, she placed sixth on Vault and just out of the medals on Uneven Bars, but redeemed herself by winning Bronze in Floor Exercise finals, her first World Championship or Olympic medal in what had long been considered her best event.

Dawes attended Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Maryland and Gaithersburg High School in Gaithersburg, Maryland, where she was the 1994 prom queen. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2002.

Pursuing a career in acting, modeling, and television production, she has appeared in Prince‘s music video “Betcha By Golly Wow” and Missy Elliott‘s 2006 video “We Run This” in the role of Missy’s gymnastics coach. Her flipping ability has been used as the root metaphor in hip-hop songs by such artists as Ras Kass (“It’s a Given,” “12”), The Hit Squad (“International,” “Zero Tolerance”), Janelle Monáe (“Tightrope”) (Wondamix)” featuring B.o.B. and Lupe Fiasco), and Lil Wayne’s “Stunt Hard”. Dawes also briefly appeared on Broadway in a revival of the musical Grease, playing cheerleader Patty Simcox.

Dominique served as President of the Women’s Sports Federation from 2004–2006; she was the youngest President in the Foundation’s history. She was the first spokeswoman for the Girl Scouts of America’s “Uniquely Me” self-esteem campaign in 2002.  Dawes, whose younger brother is autistic, has also supported events for autism awareness, such as the 2001 Power of One rally in Washington D.C.. She is presently on the Advisory Board of Sesame Workshop’s “Healthy Habits for Life” program and also works as a motivational speaker, concentrating on youth issues.  In June 2010, President Obama appointed Dawes to be co-chair of the newly renamed President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition, along with New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

COMMENT BOX QUESTION: What does Dominique’s spirit and determination to win show you about her character?


SOURCES: Wikipedia,, YouTube


I had to make my own living and my own opportunity. But I made it! Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them.”


Born Sarah Breedlove on December 23, 1867 on a Delta, Louisiana plantation, this daughter of former slaves, Owen and Minerva Breedlove, transformed herself from an uneducated farm laborer and laundress into one of the twentieth century’s most successful, self-made women entrepreneurs.

Both parents died when Sarah was a child. As a result, Sarah was forced to move from one household to another. At age seven, she moved in with her sister, Louvenia her husband, Jesse Powell. She and her older sister, survived by working in the cotton fields of Delta and nearby Vicksburg, Mississippi. After suffering abuse from Louvenia’s husband, Sarah ran away and married Moses McWilliams when she was 14 years old. On June 6,1885, she gave birth to their daughter Lelia (later known as A’Lelia Walker). Two years later, Moses was murdered by a White lynch mob.

She moved to St. Louis to join her four brothers who had established themselves as barbers. Working for as little as $1.50 a day, she managed to save enough money to educate her daughter in the city’s public schools. Friendships with other black women who were members of St. Paul A.M.E. Church and the National Association of Colored Women exposed her to a new way of viewing the world.

During the 1890s, Sarah began to suffer from a scalp ailment that caused her to lose most of her hair. She experimented with many homemade remedies and store-bought products, including those made by Annie Malone, another black woman entrepreneur. In 1905 Sarah moved to Denver as a sales agent for Malone. She tried several products which claimed would help her condition but to no avail. At this point Sarah had a dream in which a “big Black man appeared to me and told me what to mix up for my hair. Some of the remedy was grown in Africa, but I sent for it, put it on my scalp, and in a few weeks my hair was coming in faster than it had ever fallen out.” After she shared her formula with some friends and found it successful for them as well, she realized that there were almost no hair products available for Blacks. She therefore decided to go into business, selling Madam Walker’s Wonderful Hair Grower, a scalp conditioning and healing formula, to Black women.

When she had arrived in Denver she had only $2.00 in her pocket, yet she worked during the day as a cook in order to finance her part time business. At this point she met Charles Joseph “C.J.” Walker, a newspaperman with an innate ability for marketing. She married Walker on January 4, 1906 and after changing her name to “Madam” C. J. Walker, the couple set up the “Madam CJ Walker Manufacturing Company” and began placing advertisements in Black newspapers throughout the United States. Although they proved a successful team, they disagreed as to how much the company should grow. After years of struggling and suffering, Sarah wanted her company to grow immensely and divorced him in order to devote herself to the business.

Her hard work paid off and she eventually brought her daughter Lelia, a college graduate, in to manage the company. While Lelia ran much of the company, Sarah traveled across the country and throughout Latin America and the Caribbean marketing the products and developing new ones. She also sought to bring more women into the company, desiring to empower them and give them a way of rising above the constraints set by a male dominated society. To promote her products, the new Madam C.J. Walker traveled for a year and a half on a dizzying crusade throughout the heavily black South and Southeast, selling her products door to door, demonstrating her scalp treatments in churches and lodges, and devising sales and marketing strategies.

In 1908, she temporarily moved her base to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where she opened Lelia College to train Walker “hair culturists.” She trained women to sell her products door-to-door and by 1910 had more than 1,000 sales agents. In that year, she moved the company’s headquarters to Indianapolis, Indiana and soon the company grew beyond anyone’s expectations. Less than a year after her arrival, Walker grabbed national headlines in the black press when she contributed $1,000 to the building fund of the “colored” YMCA in Indianapolis. By 1914, the woman who only nine years earlier had only $2.00 to her name was now worth more than one million dollars. Her products ranged from hair conditioners and facial creams to hot combs specially made for the hair of Black consumers.

In 1913, while Walker traveled to Central America and the Caribbean to expand her business, her daughter A’Lelia, moved into a fabulous new Harlem townhouse and Walker Salon, designed by black architect, Vertner Tandy. “There is nothing to equal it,” she wrote to her attorney, F.B. Ransom. “Not even on Fifth Avenue.”

Walker herself moved to New York in 1916, leaving the day-to-day operations of the Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company in Indianapolis to Ransom and Alice Kelly, her factory forelady and a former school teacher. She continued to oversee the business and to work in the New York office. Once in Harlem, she quickly became involved in Harlem’s social and political life, taking special interest in the NAACP’s anti-lynching movement to which she contributed $5,000.

In July 1917, when a white mob murdered more than three dozen blacks in East St. Louis, Illinois, Walker joined a group of Harlem leaders who visited the White House to present a petition advocating federal anti-lynching legislation.

As her business continued to grow, Walker organized her agents into local and state clubs. Her Madam C. J. Walker Hair Culturists Union of America convention in Philadelphia in 1917 must have been one of the first national meetings of businesswomen in the country. Walker used the gathering not only to reward her agents for their business success, but to encourage their political activism as well. “This is the greatest country under the sun,” she told them. “But we must not let our love of country, our patriotic loyalty cause us to abate one whit in our protest against wrong and injustice. We should protest until the American sense of justice is so aroused that such affairs as the East St. Louis riot be forever impossible.”

By the time she died on May 25, 1919 at her estate, Villa Lewaro, in Irvington-on-Hudson, New York, she had helped create the role of the 20th Century, self-made American businesswoman; established herself as a pioneer of the modern black hair-care and cosmetics industry; and set standards in the African-American community for corporate and community giving. For many women, White and Black, however, she had served as an inspiration and a role model.

Tenacity and perseverance, faith in herself and in God, quality products and “honest business dealings” were the elements and strategies she prescribed for aspiring entrepreneurs who requested the secret to her rags-to-riches ascent. “There is no royal flower-strewn path to success,” she once commented. “And if there is, I have not found it for if I have accomplished anything in life it is because I have been willing to work hard.”

COMMENT BOX QUESTION: How has Madam C. J. Walker’s story inspired you to work towards success?


SOURCES:, (A’Lelia Bundles), YouTube


“In my mind, I’m always the best. If I walk out on the court (and) I think the next person is better, I’ve already lost.”


Venus Ebony Starr Williams is an American professional tennis player. She was born on June 17, 1980, in Lynwood, California. One of Richard and Oracene Williams’ five daughters, Venus, along with her younger sister, Serena, has redefined women’s tennis with her strength and superb athleticism. Since turning pro in 1994, Venus has captured seven Grand Slam titles, including five Wimbledon championships, joining Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf as the only women to have accomplished this.

Venus was introduced to tennis by her father on the public courts in Los Angeles, not far from the family’s home in Compton. Richard Williams, a former sharecropper from Louisiana, used what he’d gleaned from tennis books and videos to instruct his girls on the different aspects of the game.

The fact that the family had relocated to Compton was no accident. With its high rate of gang activity, Richard Williams had wanted to expose his daughters to the ugly possibilities of life “if they did not work hard and get an education.” In this setting, on courts that were riddled with potholes and sometimes missing nets, Venus and Serena cut their teeth on the game of tennis and the requirements for persevering in a tough climate.

Williams’s family moved from Compton, California to West Palm Beach when she was ten so that she could attend the tennis academy of Rick Macci, who would provide additional coaching. Macci spotted the exceptional talents of the sisters. He did not always agree with Williams’s father but respected that “he treated his daughters like kids, allowed them to be little girls”. Richard stopped sending his daughters to national junior tennis tournaments when Williams was eleven, since he wanted them to take it slow and focus on school work. Another motivation was racial, as he had allegedly heard parents of white players talk about the Williams sisters in a derogatory manner during tournaments. At that time, Williams had a 63–0 record on the United States Tennis Association junior tour and was ranked No. 1 among under 12 players in Southern California. In 1995, Richard pulled his daughters out of Macci’s academy, and from then on took over all coaching at their home. On October 31, 1994, Venus turned pro, something she proved she was more than ready for when, in her first match, she beat 50-seeded Shaun Stafford at the Bank of the West Classic in California.

It was a momentous occasion for the Williams family, Richard in particular, who wasn’t afraid to let the tennis world know that his girls were going to change the game. “That’s one for the ghetto!” he shouted out at the press conference following Venus’ victory.

Williams played 15 tour events in 1997, including five Tier I tournaments. She reached the quarterfinals in three of the Tier I events — the State Farm Evert Cup in Indian Wells, California, the European Indoor Championships in Zürich, and the Kremlin Cup in Moscow. In Indian Wells in March, Williams defeated World No. 9 Iva Majoli in the third round for her first win over a player ranked in the top 10. She then lost in the quarterfinals to World No. 8 Lindsay Davenport in a third set tiebreak. Her ranking broke into the top 100 on April 14, 1997. She made her debut in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament at the French Open, reaching the second round before losing to Nathalie Tauziat. She then lost in the first round of Wimbledon to Magdalena Grzybowska. During her debut at the US Open, she lost the final to Martina Hingis 6–0, 6–4 after defeating Irina Spîrlea in a semifinal famous for “the bump” in which Spîrlea and Williams collided during a changeover. Richard Williams, her father, later claimed that this incident was racially motivated. She was the first woman since Pam Shriver in 1978 to reach a US Open singles final on her first attempt and was the first unseeded US Open women’s singles finalist since 1958. On September 8, 1997, her ranking broke into the top 50 for the first time. She ended the year ranked World No. 22.

At the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, Williams captured the gold medal in the singles competition, and then took a second one with Serena in the doubles event. The sisters have credited the other with pushing them in tennis, both as teammates and as competitors. Together, the pair have won 10 Grand Slam doubles titles and have squared off more than 20 times, including the finals of eight Grand Slam tournaments. In addition to their time spent together on the court, the sisters also share a home together in Florida. Their parents continue to coach them.

In recent years, Venus has struggled with injuries—she competed in only a handful of tournaments in 2006—but returned to form in 2007, winning the singles title at Wimbledon. She repeated the victory a year later, when she defeated Serena for a fifth career Wimbledon championship, placing her fifth all-time in women’s Wimbledon singles championships. A few months later, the Williams sisters teamed up to capture the doubles title at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Off the court, Venus Williams has cultivated a varied number of pursuits. She’s pursued art classes, and on December 13, 2007, received her associate degree in Fashion Design from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale with Cum Laude honors. In 2007, Williams teamed with retailer Steve & Barry’s to launch her own fashion line EleVen. “I love fashion and the idea that I am using my design education to actually create clothing and footwear that I will wear on and off the tennis court is a dream come true for me. The vision has been to create a collection that will allow women to enjoy an active lifestyle while remaining fashionable at the same time. I’m thrilled with everything we’ve created to launch EleVen.”

Venus is also the chief executive officer of her interior design firm, V Starr Interiors, located in Jupiter, Florida. Her company designed the set of the Tavis Smiley Show on PBS, the Olympic athletes’ apartments as part of the U.S. bid package for New York City to host the 2012 Olympic Games, and residences and businesses in the Palm Beach, Florida area. In August 2009, Venus Williams became part-owners of the Miami Dolphins with sister Serena Williams. The announcement was made during a press conference overlooking the practice field. This made Venus and her sister the first African-American females to obtain ownership in an NFL franchise.

She’s also been active in a number of social causes, including working closely with UNESCO on promoting gender equality throughout the world.

COMMENT BOX QUESTION: What do you admire most about Venus’ skills as a tennis player and her many achievements?


SOURCES: Wikipedia,,, YouTube


” You can have financial strength, professional strength, emotional strength but for me without spiritual strength none of the rest of it matters.”

– Star Jones

Starlet Marie Jones was born on March 24, 1962 in Badin, North Carolina. She spent the first six years of her life living with her grandmother while her mother, Shirley Jones, finished college. In 1969, at the age of six, Jones moved to Trenton, New Jersey, to live with her mother and stepfather James Byard, a municipal security chief.

The family lived in a housing project in Trenton, and struggled to make ends meet. Despite their financial situation, Star’s parents sent her and her younger sister Sheila to parochial school. Growing up, Jones knew she wanted to be a lawyer. As a six-year-old, Jones often pretended to orate in a courtroom.

Star attended Notre Dame High School in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, where she remained a conscientious student‚ and a mouthy one. “I had a smart mouth and could make cutting remarks,” Jones said about her childhood. “That’s probably why I became a good lawyer.”

Star graduated from high school in 1980, and enrolled at American University in Washington, D.C., for her undergraduate degree. While at American, she took clerical jobs and student loans to pay her way. She also shortened her name to Star and played a very active role in student government, becoming the National Vice President of Undergraduate Affairs for her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1984, and was accepted to the University of Houston Law Center that same year.

While studying at Houston Law, Jones was recruited by the Kings County District Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn, New York. Jones attributes her decision to take the job as being influenced by her mother and stepfathers’ roles as public servants. At the time, her mother was Trenton’s human services director and her stepfather was head of security for Trenton. She earned her Juris Doctor in 1986, and joined the Kings County D.A. Office later that year.

While working for Kings County, her ability to argue and persuade a jury grew exponentially. Jones was involved in many high profile and controversial cases, and of the last 40 homicide cases she prosecuted, 38 resulted in convictions. One of her most infamous cases involved the prosecution of a 14-year-old boy who shot another teen on a playground. During the case, Jones dealt the boy a tough sentence of nine years to life in prison. This drew ire from the African-American community, which questioned the voracity of her prosecution and the length of the sentencing. For Jones’ part, she claims to have never seen or heard any remorse from the boy, and will never forget the case.

In 1991, Jones was promoted to senior assistant district attorney for Kings County. That same year, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office was contacted about choosing an attorney for a possible Court TV appearance. A colleague referred the station to Star Jones. That summer, Jones made her first appearance on television as legal consultant for Court TV.

Jones became especially well known for her work during the William Kennedy Smith rape trial in Palm Beach, Florida. Jones’ work caught the attention of Jeff Zucker, then executive producer of the Today show. “She had knowledge of the legal aspects, but she talked like a regular person,” Zucker recalls. The show first booked her as a guest. A few weeks later, she was offered a full-time contract as an NBC-TV legal expert. She left her position at the Kings County District Attorney’s office in 1992.

Jones covered many highly publicized cases while at NBC, including the rape trial of former boxing heavyweight champion Mike Tyson and the criminal proceedings for the four Los Angeles Police Department officers involved in the 1991 beating of Rodney King. After her work on these two cases, she began appearing regularly on NBC’s morning show, Today, as well as the NBC Nightly News show.

In 1994, just two years after starting at NBC, Jones was offered partial ownership of her own program. The show Jones & Jury debuted in September of 1994. In the show, Star Jones mediated small claims court cases in California and explained legal proceedings to her viewers. After hearing the case and Jones’ explanations, the jury/audience would then come to a verdict on the case. With the audiences’ participation, Jones would then give the final decision.

In 1995, after one year on Jones & Jury, Star was hired as a senior correspondent and chief legal analyst for the news magazine, Inside Edition. During this time, Jones was assigned to cover the O.J. Simpson case. While many reporters vied for an interview with Simpson during the civil proceedings, Jones was the only news correspondent able to gain access to the former football star.

Two years after starting at Inside Edition, Star was asked to join the current events program, The View, on ABC. The show, created by journalist Barbara Walters, featured five women‚ Jones, Walters, journalist Meredith Viera, comedian Joy Behar, and actress Debbie Matenopoulos, engaging in a daily round table discussion.

Star Jones’ wit, candor and polarizing opinions, along with The View‘s success, brought her to public prominence. The cast of The View, with Star Jones as a co-host, was nominated for an Emmy every year from 1999 to 2006. The show also won a Daytime Emmy Award in 1997 and 2004.

In 1998, Jones released a book of autobiographical essays, You Have to Stand for Something, or You’ll Fall for Anything. It became an immediate best seller. In the book, Jones shared her opinions on a range of subjects, including television, God and politics.

Also in 1998, Star Jones launched her own line of wigs called The Star Jones Collection. She then became the spokesperson for several full-figured apparel companies, including Salon Z of Saks Fifth Avenue and Internet shopping site She also explored her philanthropic side in 2002, when she launched The Starlet Fund. The not-for-profit foundation supported women, girls and families in need.

In 2003 Jones went through a rapid and controversial weight loss. Over the next three years, she would drop more than 160 pounds. Despite speculation otherwise, Jones denied having surgery to lose the weight, and forced her View co-hosts to state that she lost the weight through diet and exercise

In November of 2003, Jones met banker Al Scales Reynolds at an album release party for Alicia Keys. After a three-month courtship, Reynolds surprised Jones with a proposal. The couple had a multi-million dollar wedding at St. Bartholomew’s Church in November of 2004.

After nine years on the show, the show’s producers released Jones from her contract. On June 27, 2006, Jones officially reported that she would be leaving The View . She told People Magazine that the decision to leave was not her own. “What you don’t know is that my contract was not renewed for the 10th season … I feel like I was fired.” She found out her contract would not be renewed just days before Rosie O’Donnell’s addition to the show was announced. In the wake of her very public termination, Jones published her second book, Shine: A Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual Journey to Finding Love. In it, Jones writes about how women can find success and love through personal stories and advice.

In 2007, Jones launched her own talk show, Star Jones, on truTV. She also became the Executive Editor of Daytime Programming for the channel. The show was canceled after six months on the air. In September of that same year, Jones finally revealed to Glamour magazine that she underwent gastric bypass surgery.

Jones has made many small screen appearances. She appeared as herself on the soap opera All My Children and the television show Sports Night in 1998, Port Charles in 1999, along with Spin City in 2000. She also made cameos on Strong Medicine (2001), Soul Food (2002) and Less Than Perfect (2005). In addition, Jones hosted E! Entertainment Television’s Live From the Red Carpet special during the 2004-2005 award season. In 2007, she performed as guest host on Larry King Live while King was on vacation.

Jones filed for divorce from Al Reynolds on March 26, 2008. The divorce proceedings are ongoing.

Currently, Star Jones sits on the board of directors for the National Center for the Prevention of Crime and East Harlem School at Exodus House.

COMMENT BOX QUESTION: What is the one thing you find most notable about Star Jones and why?



“One of the lessons that I grew up with was to always stay true to yourself and never let what somebody else says distract you from your goals. And so when I hear about negative and false attacks, I really don’t invest any energy in them, because I know who I am.”

– First Lady Michelle Obama

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama (born January 17, 1964) is the wife of the forty-fourth President of the United States, Barack Obama, and is the first African-American First Lady of the United States.

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson was in Chicago, Illinois to Fraser Robinson III, a city water plant employee and Democratic precinct captain, and Marian Shields Robinson, a secretary at Spiegel’s catalog store. Her mother later stayed at home until Michelle entered high school.

The Robinson family can trace their roots to pre-Civil War African Americans in the American South; her paternal great-great grandfather, Jim Robinson, was an American slave in the state of South Carolina, where some of her family still reside. She grew up on Euclid Avenue in the South Shore community area of Chicago. The family ate meals together and also entertained together as a family by playing games such as Monopoly and by reading. She and her brother, Craig (who is 21 months older), skipped the second grade. By sixth grade, Michelle joined a gifted class at Bryn Mawr Elementary School (later renamed Bouchet Academy). She attended Whitney Young High School, Chicago’s first magnet high school, where she was on the honor roll four years, took advanced placement classes, was a member of the National Honor Society and served as student council treasurer. The round trip commute from her South Side home to the Near West Side took three hours. She was a high school classmate of Santita Jackson, the daughter of Jesse Jackson and sister of Jesse Jackson, Jr. Michelle graduated from high school in 1981 as salutatorian, and went on to major in sociology and minor in African American studies at Princeton University, where she graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in 1985.

Michelle was inspired to follow her brother to Princeton because he had shown her it was possible (he graduated in 1983). At Princeton, she challenged the teaching methodology for French because she felt that it should be more conversational. As part of her requirements for graduation, she wrote a thesis entitled, “Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community.” “I remember being shocked,” she says, “by college students who drove BMWs. I didn’t even know parents who drove BMWs.” She obtained her Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from Harvard Law School in 1988. She is the third First Lady with a postgraduate degree, following Hillary Rodham Clinton and Laura Bush.) While at Harvard, she participated in political demonstrations advocating the hiring of professors who are members of minorities.

She met Barack Obama when they were among very few African Americans at their law firm, Sidley Austin, and she was assigned to mentor him while he was a summer associate. At the firm, she worked on marketing and intellectual property. Their relationship started with a business lunch and then a community organization meeting where he first impressed her. The couple’s first date was to the Spike Lee movie Do the Right Thing. Michelle and Barack married in October 1992, and went on to have two daughters, Malia Ann (born 1998) and Natasha (known as Sasha) (born 2001).

After Michelle’s time at the firm, she later held public sector positions in the Chicago city government as an Assistant to the Mayor, and as Assistant Commissioner of Planning and Development. In 1993, she became Executive Director for the Chicago office of Public Allies, a non-profit organization encouraging young people to work on social issues in nonprofit groups and government agencies. She worked there nearly four years and set fundraising records for the organization that still stood a dozen years after she left. In 1996, she served as the Associate Dean of Student Services at the University of Chicago, where she developed the University’s Community Service Center. In 2002, she began working for the University of Chicago Hospitals, first as executive director for community affairs and, beginning May 2005, as Vice President for Community and External Affairs. She continued to hold the University of Chicago Hospitals position during the primary campaign, but cut back to part time in order to spend time with her daughters as well as work for her husband’s election.

She served as a salaried board member of TreeHouse Foods, Inc., a major Wal-Mart supplier with whom she cut ties immediately after her husband made comments critical of Wal-Mart at an AFL-CIO forum in Trenton, New Jersey, on May 14, 2007. She now serves on the board of directors of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.Although Obama has campaigned on her husband’s behalf since early in his political career by handshaking and fund-raising, she did not relish the activity at first. When she campaigned during her husband’s 2000 run for U.S. House of Representatives, her boss at the University of Chicago asked if there was any single thing about campaigning that she enjoyed; after some thought, she replied visiting so many living rooms had given her some new decorating ideas. After Mr. Obama’s election to the U.S. Senate, the Obama family continued to live on Chicago’s South Side, choosing to remain there rather than moving to Washington, D.C.

At first, Obama had reservations about her husband’s presidential campaign due to fears about a possible negative effect on their daughters. She says that she negotiated an agreement in which her husband gave up smoking in exchange for her support of his decision to run. About her role in her husband’s presidential campaign she has said: “My job is not a senior adviser.” During the campaign, she has discussed race and education by using motherhood as a framework.

In May 2007, three months after her husband declared his presidential candidacy, she reduced her professional responsibilities by eighty percent to support his presidential campaign. Early in the campaign, she had limited involvement in which she traveled to political events only two days a week and traveled overnight only if their daughters could come along; by early February 2008 her participation had increased significantly, attending thirty-three events in eight days. She made several campaign appearances with Oprah Winfrey. She wrote her own stump speeches for her husband’s presidential campaign and generally spoke without notes.

Throughout the campaign, the media often labeled her as an “angry black woman,” and some websites attempted to propagate this perception, causing her to respond: “Barack and I have been in the public eye for many years now, and we’ve developed a thick skin along the way. When you’re out campaigning, there will always be criticism. I just take it in stride, and at the end of the day, I know that it comes with the territory.” By the time of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in August, media outlets observed that her presence on the campaign trail had grown softer than at the start of the race, focusing on soliciting concerns and empathizing with the audience rather than throwing down challenges to them, and giving interviews to shows like The View and publications like Ladies’ Home Journal. The View appearance was partly intended to help soften the perception of her, and it was widely-covered in the press. rather than appearing on news programs. The change was even reflected in her fashion choices, wearing more informal clothes in place of her previous designer pieces.

Throughout her husband’s 2008 campaign for President of the United States, she made a “commitment to be away overnight only once a week—to campaign only two days a week and be home by the end of the second day” for their two children.

The marital relationship has had its ebbs and flows. The combination of an evolving family life and beginning political career led to many arguments about balancing work and family. Barack wrote in his second book, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, that “Tired and stressed, we had little time for conversation, much less romance”. However, despite their family obligations and careers, they continue to attempt to schedule date nights.

The Obamas’ daughters attended the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, a private school. As a member of the school’s board, Michelle fought to maintain diversity in the school when other board members connected with the University of Chicago tried to reserve more slots for children of the university faculty. This resulted in a plan to expand the school. The Obamas’ daughters now attend Sidwell Friends School in Washington. Mrs. Obama stated in an interview on the The Ellen DeGeneres Show that the couple does not intend to have any more children and have received advice from past first ladies Laura Bush, Rosalyn Carter and Hillary Rodham Clinton about raising children in the White House. Marian Robinson moved into the White House to assist with caring for her grandchildren.

In July 2008, Obama accepted the invitation to become an honorary member of the 100-year-old black sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha, which had no active undergraduate chapter at Princeton when she attended.

With the ascent of her husband as a prominent national politician, Michelle Obama, like all other first ladies, has become a part of popular culture. In May 2006, Essence magazine listed her among “25 of the World’s Most Inspiring Women.” In July 2007, Vanity Fair magazine listed her among “10 of the World’s Best Dressed People.” She was an honorary guest at Oprah Winfrey’s Legends Ball as an “young’un” paying tribute to the ‘Legends,’ which helped pave the way for African American Women. In September 2007, 02138 magazine listed her 58th of ‘The Harvard 100’; a list of the prior year’s most influential Harvard alumni. Her husband was ranked fourth. In July 2008, she made a repeat appearance on the Vanity Fair international best dressed list. She also appeared on the 2008 People list of best-dressed women and was praised by the magazine for her “classic and confident” look.

As a high-profile darker-complected woman in a stable marriage, it is anticipated that she will be a positive role model who will influence the view the world has of African-Americans.Her fashion choices were part of Fashion week, but Obama’s influence in the field has not impacted the paucity of African-American models who participate, as some thought it might. However, fitness trainers are noting that many women now aspire to have biceps and triceps like Michelle Obama.

She has been compared to Jacqueline Kennedy due to her sleek but not overdone style, and also to Barbara Bush for her discipline and decorum. Her white, one-shoulder Jason Wu 2009 inaugural gown was said to be “an unlikely combination of Nancy Reagan and Jackie Kennedy”. The First Lady’s style is described as populist. She often wears clothes by designers Calvin Klein, Oscar de la Renta, Isabel Toledo, Narciso Rodriguez, Donna Ricco and Maria Pinto, and has become a fashion trendsetter, despite the country’s economic woes.

She appeared on the cover and in a photo spread in the March 2009 issue of Vogue. Every First Lady since Lou Hoover (except Bess Truman) has been in Vogue, but only Hillary Clinton had previously appeared on the cover.

First Lady Obama has stated that she would like to focus attention as First Lady on issues of concern to military families and working families. During her early months as First Lady, she has frequently visited homeless shelters and soup kitchens. She has also sent representatives to schools and advocated public service. On her first trip abroad in April 2009, she toured a cancer ward with Sarah Brown, wife of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. She has began advocating on behalf of military families. Like her predecessors Clinton and Bush, who supported the organic movement by instructing the White House kitchens to buy organic food, Obama has received attention by planting an organic garden and installing bee hives on the South Lawn of the White House, which will supply organic produce and honey to the First Family and for state dinners and other official gatherings.

Obama has become an advocate of her husband’s policy priorities by promoting bills that support it. Following the enactment of the Pay equity law, Obama hosted a White House reception for women’s rights advocates in celebration. She has pronounced her support for the economic stimulus bill in visits to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development and United States Department of Education. Some observers have looked favorably upon Mrs. Obama’s legislative activities, while others feel that she should be less involved in the intense politics. According to her representatives, she intends to visit all United States Cabinet-level agencies in order to get acquainted with Washington.

COMMENT BOX QUESTION: What one quality do you admire most about First Lady Michelle Obama and why?


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