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Melyssa Ford attends the Culture Creators 4th Annual Innovators & Leaders Awards Brunch at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on June 22, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California.
Photo by Jerritt Clark/Getty Images for Culture Creators

Melyssa Ford Shares The Importance Of Emotional Healing Following Traumatic Car Accident

Television personality and model Melyssa Ford has found a new appreciation for life following her near-fatal car accident last year. As her fight to a full recovery continues both physically and emotionally, Ford spoke to Essence about her healing journey.

The series, which highlights women who have survived tragedy in various ways, focuses on Ford's brave journey back to a normal life. In June 2018, the media maven was en route to a bridal shower when an 18-wheeler truck clipped the back of her vehicle. The car flipped three times, leaving Ford with a skull fracture, bleeding on the brain and severe cuts and bruises.

Friends like Claudia Jordan and Rosci Diaz were by her side throughout her healing journey, with Jordan opening up a GoFundMe to help with Ford's extensive medical bills. Ford had to relearn cognitive skills like walking and her memory which she still struggles with to this day.

 

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As a Scorpio, we think about Life and Death a lot. Being the sign of Death and Rebirth, we contemplate our mortality frequently, which is why I think we also seem to constantly search for a deeper perspective, in the hopes of transforming to reach our higher Selves. Having an experience that brought me as close to death as I have ever been, I’ve spent the months in recovery thinking A LOT. About the way I want to live the rest of the life God spared and what I have to offer, having been given this chance by Our Creator to discover a greater purpose. But it’s also made me think about LOVE. The outpouring of LOVE I’ve felt the last few months, not just from friends and family but the ways total strangers have supported me in messages left in email and DMs and comments; sharing their own painful stories as a way to create a sense of solidarity with me... man, I don’t know what else to say other than my birthday wish is for YOUR peace, happiness, safety, health and abundance. The pic I chose is an example of LOVE. My two Scorpio Sisters @iamalesharenee and @rocsidiaz in my hospital room trying to raise my spirits with some pampering. I ❤️ them and I ❤️ all of you.

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#tbt I’m normally a pretty private person but if you don’t celebrate your own victories, why would anyone else? This was a month after the crash that almost took my life. I needed to support of a walker from the symptoms of post concussive syndrome. My speech And cognition was affected, I was constantly disoriented and I was scared. But what ended up happening over the next few months of recovery was intense self discovery: things that no longer fit within the realm of who I was or what I could accept or be a part of. Certain relationships fell apart due to the glaring fact that, at my worst moment, ppl I loved and would have done anything for couldn’t seem to muster the same energy for me and made excuses for their lacking. You live and you learn I guess 🤷🏽‍♀️Now that I’m better, my energy will be focused on projects and endeavors that are more reflective of the real me... at the helm of my own ship, charting my own course. Thank you to everyone who has cheered me on and rooted for and prayed for me.

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“It comes back in dreams—the sounds of metal scraping on the pavement, which is one of the most horrible sounds in the world,” she says.“I had to walk with a walker for about a month."

The 42-year-old also spoke to her battle with her ongoing severe depression and active thoughts of suicide. Not in favor of sharing her journey on social media, Ford saw being transparent to her followers as another form of coping and healing.

"I've spent the better part of my life hiding when I was in pain," she tells Essence. "I had this mantra that I used to repeat to myself ever since I was young: 'Never let them see you shook-- never.' That did not work anymore. I was up against something I wasn't prepared for."

Since the unfortunate accident, Ford is confidently glowing on her Instagram feed with positive posts and daring model pics.

"It's taken a while to get back to some semblance of normalcy; some things I've had to accept as "my new normal" after the car crash. But every time I thought about giving up, I thought about the strong women, both in my life & those I've admired from afar, and the perseverance I've witnessed them exhibit. It was the motivation I needed to give it 'just one more day'. Happy #womanshistorymonth Queens!"

The next story in the five-part series will appear in the July/August 2019 issue of Essence. 

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Bennett Raglin

B. Smith, Lifestyle Guru, Restaurateur And Former Model, Dies From Alzheimer’s Disease

B. Smith, the groundbreaking lifestyle guru, restaurateur, author and former model, died on Saturday (Feb. 22) from early on-set Alzheimer’s disease. She was 70.

Smith’s husband, Dan Gasby, announced her death via Facebook on Sunday (Feb. 23). “It is with great sadness that my daughter, Dana, and I announce the passing of my wife, Barbara Elaine Smith,” the statement reads. “B died peacefully Saturday, February 22, 2020, at 10:50 p.m., of Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease in our home in Long Island, New York.”

Barbara Elaine Smith was born in Everson, Penn., on Aug. 24, 1949. Smith began her modeling career in the 1960s working for Ebony Fashion Fair and later signing with Wilhelmina Models. Smith covered 15 magazines during her modeling days, including becoming the first Black model to cover Mademoiselle magazine in 1976. Additionally, Smith appeared in TV commercials for Mercedes-Benz, and worked as a spokesperson for Verizon, Colgate, Palmolive, and more.

Smith opened her first of multiple restaurants in New York City’s theater district in 1986. She also opened restaurants in Long Island, N.Y. and Washington D.C.

For nearly a decade, Smith hosted the nationally syndicated show, B. Smith with Style, captivating audiences with her bright personality and unforgettable smile. Smith also produced multiple specials for TV One and was bestselling author. Her signature tagline, “Whatever you do, do it with style,” was featured at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

In 2001, Bed Bath & Beyond debuted the B. Smith Style Home Collection. The collection, which including bedding, doormats and more, made Smith the first Black woman to have a home decor line sold by a national retailer.

Smith publicly revealed her Alzheimer’s diagnosis to CBS News in 2014. During the interview, Smith didn’t shy away from expressing her fears of battling the disease, and admitted that she initially tried to hide it, but she was determined to persevering in spite of Alzheimer’s.

“I think the future’s going to be fine,” Smith said at the time. “I’m going to do my best to make it work out for me, and for as many people that I can possibly help.”

Read dedications to Smith below.

The elegance. The grace. The style. May God rest and bless her soul. #BSmith was one-of-a-kind.

Thanks to @mmeans40 for this fantastic video. pic.twitter.com/ByZRURLiHY

— Ava DuVernay (@ava) February 23, 2020

She broke down barriers. She shined. She fought the good fight. Rest In Peace, B. Smith.#BSmith pic.twitter.com/ocEL3IkDoC

— Audrey Washington (@AudreyWSBTV) February 23, 2020

.⁦@ThankyouDan⁩ #Memories #BSmith was an icon and a mentor. Rest in power Queen B. pic.twitter.com/zCf2LrXUhz

— Maya R. Cummings, Ph.D. (@MayaRockeymoore) February 23, 2020

RIP to the legendary B.Smith

I remember growing up and watching her show. I wanted to be her. Style and grace. Rest well beautiful. pic.twitter.com/diBjGf1Jyb

— Melanin Monroe (@whatdedesays) February 23, 2020

Sad to share the passing of restauranteur, model and advocate B. Smith after a several year battle with Alzheimer’s. We are thankful she spoke at our Celebrating Hope Gala in 2016. Rest B. And thank you 💜 #ENDALZ @alzassociation pic.twitter.com/G9IDVAB0DL

— Alzheimer's Association Connecticut Chapter (@alzct) February 23, 2020

We lost legendary fashion model, chef, restaurateur, lifestyle icon and magazine publisher, B Smith today. 70 years old, she and her husband, Dan Gasby were at the forefront of #alzheimers #research for people of color. Love to them and daughter, Dana. #bsmithwithstyle pic.twitter.com/pqFOpa9oxs

— Al Roker (@alroker) February 23, 2020

I only met B. Smith once or twice at her restaurant in New York City.

She was beautiful, graceful and welcoming each time. As a model, a TV personality, a business owner and an entrepreneur, she was always a trailblazer.

May she rest in peace. https://t.co/YqyxUZKMrB

— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) February 23, 2020

All of these things so true. Thank you B. Smith. https://t.co/Fmi0QJNviu

— Tamron Hall (@tamronhall) February 23, 2020

RIP B. Smith. You epitomized class, true beauty and dignity. Rest well Queen❤️❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/uJlWb9aapG

— Viola Davis (@violadavis) February 23, 2020

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Malcolm X’s Daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz, Speaks On His Legacy And Netflix Docuseries

In commemoration of the 55th anniversary of his assassination, Malcolm X’s daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz, spoke out on her father’s legacy and the popular Netflix documentary, Who Killed Malcolm X? 

Speaking with Democracy Now on Friday (Feb. 21), Ilyasah praised the filmmakers behind the six-part docuseries for their work in attempting to uncover, “Who killed our father? Who took the life of a very young man who challenged the moral compass of world nations.”

Ilyasah was just two years old when her father was assassinated in front of her, three of her sisters and her mother, Betty Shabazz, who was pregnant with twins at the time. A week before Malcolm’s murder, the family’s home was firebombed.

Ilyasah has no memory of her father’s assassination which took place on Feb. 21, 1965, inside Harlem's Audubon Ballroom. Malcolm was preparing to give a speech in the venue and invited his family to sit in the front row.

“I’m really grateful that I don’t have memory as my older sisters I’m sure can recollect, being 6 years old and 4 years old, the trauma and chaos and understanding that our father never came home,” she said. “And especially to my mother who was a young woman that actually saw bullets just tear my father’s body apart.”

The interview details the days leading up to Malcolm's death, including France banning him from entry into the country three weeks before his assassination. Malcolm who was only 39 years old when he died, traveled to Europe during the first week of February in 1965. He was turned away at the airport in France without explanation and subsequently forced to fly back to London where he delivered what would become one of his final speeches at the London School of Economics.

“He realized this was bigger than the Nation of Islam,” Ilyasah explained of Malcolm being banned from France. “The Nation of Islam itself did not have the power to keep him [out of France] and France did not want history to include that Malcolm was assassinated on their land. And so that speaks volumes, and my father understood that his life was not just challenged by the Nation of Islam. It was much bigger than that.

“It’s important to look at the work that he was doing,” she added. “Challenging world powers, challenging world nations for taking control of an [unequal] distribution of the world’s wealth.”

Ilyasah also dismantles the notion that her father “miraculously became Malcolm X” after he went to prison by detailing how his upbringing shaped his interest in political activism.

“He was always a leader,” she said. “He was always compassionate, he was always a learned young man. His parents instilled specific values in him and his siblings. The importance of self love, compassion, [and] care.”

Watch the full interview in the video above (Ilyasah’s portion begins at 12:17).

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Gregg DeGuire

Jhene Aiko Reveals Release Date For ‘Chilombo’ Album

Jhene Aiko announced the release date for her third studio album and what appears to be the album artwork on Friday (Feb. 21). The album titled, Chilombo, after Aiko’s sur name, is slated to drop on March 6 and promises to be some of her “realest” work to date.

“Just typed out all the lyrics to the free flows that are #CHILOMBO #phew realest s**t I ever wrote,” the Grammy-nominated tweeted on Monday (Feb. 17). Aiko described the album as an compilation of her previous work. “If sailing soul(s), sail out, souled out and trip had a baby #CHILOMBO.”

just typed out all the lyrics to the free flows that are #CHILOMBO 👏🏼 #phew realest shit i ever wrote....

— Chilombo (@JheneAiko) February 17, 2020

if sailing soul(s), sail out, souled out and trip had a baby #CHILOMBO 🌋

— Chilombo (@JheneAiko) February 17, 2020

Last month, Aiko dropped the track “P*$$Y Fairy (OTW),” which is expected to be on the album. Aiko’s last album, Trip, was released in 2017.

See the Aiko's latest album artwork below.

 

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"Chilombo" March 6th 🌋

A post shared by Jhené Aiko Efuru Chilombo 🌋 (@jheneaiko) on Feb 21, 2020 at 6:00pm PST

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