Stephanie’s View: TEDxHarlem: Having Black Conversations And Making Black History!

February 15, 2024

By Stephanie Woods-McKinney

An enchanted evening of pure Harlem Hospitality was had at The TEDxHarlem Salon located at Home to Harlem, 246 Lenox Avenue in Harlem, NY. 

This enchanting brownstone with restored Harlem Renaissance vibes is perfectly fitting for its quarterly community-minded events held by TEDxHarlem Salon.   As a licensee of the TED Talks organization, TEDxHarlem Salon allows local speakers, businesses, or Harlem-bred celebrities to illuminate, educate and uplift the Village of Harlem locals. 

The idea of such intimate gatherings was organized by Kenneth L. Johnson, the founder and president of East Coast Executives number one-ranking diversity recruitment firm based in the soul of Harlem.  Johnson has a long love and history in Harlem as a career leader, speaker and executive of the People.  It is his love for community and holistic conversations that birthed TEDxHarlem from the sensational conversations-TED Talks (Technology, entertainment and design) whose business concept is:  Ideas worth spreading.

The Salon continues to host grand gatherings of Harlem thinkers and welcomed Black History Month 2024 with media and entertainment giant Cynthia Horner. Mrs. Horner had a deep conversation and moderated a Q&A with another media force, WABC 7 news reporter Darla Miles.   This edutainment discussion gave a deep view into the life of news reporting but prior to the opening conversation, the talk takes a fascinating turn as Cynthia delights the crowd with a small overview of her career and entrepreneurial journey as she continues to rise from her childhood career as writer, editor at Right On! Magazine to her current role as CEO/ President of Cinnamon CHIPS Public Relations and as her current role as an editor at a local Harlem newspaper. 


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Mrs. Horner was open about her career as she walked the crowd through some unbelievable stories when writing for ‘Right On! Magazine’.  One story Cynthia noted involved how she persuaded the magazine to cover a story on a local newcomer named Prince.  Prince was a young unknown artist at the time, and the magazine refused to do a story on a ‘no name’ who was considered weird at the time based on his temperament and clothing style.  It was Cynthia’s persistence that pressured the magazine to allow her to interview him and the rest is ‘Purple Rain’ history.  Plus, Cynthia had the privilege of growing up with The Jackson 5 and writing articles of their career as the family evolved and this is pre ‘The King of Pop’ Micheal Jackson.  Cynthia is also an Executive Board member of The New York Association of Black Journalists while continuing to volunteer for several organizations. 

Emmy Award Winner and recipient of countless other accolades- WABC 7 News reporter and producer Mrs. Darla Miles, a Texas native and graduate from Spellman College, educated the audience on the requirements needed for a career in media relations and gave pointers on how she maintained her values, integrity, ensured that her stories were valid, maintained accuracy and was faithful while concealing important information from friends and family.  The ethics required to sustain a successful 15-year career comes with its hardships, but her love for community and stories affecting groups of all ethnicities really touch her soul and keep her inspired. 

Darla was open and extremely transparent as she thanked the community for being a part of the news and storytelling by videotaping and giving raw footage when transparency of a story is extremely vital to not only the residents and law enforcement, but the truth affects the families of those impacted by a story.  The discussion was a true sense of ‘enlightenment’ as the audience was schooled on the elements of local news vs. national news and why each of these mediums is vital to worldwide information and current events.  

Social media and gossip slivered their ugly heads into the dialogue, but Darla and Cynthia were both quick to advise the room to refrain from taking part in spreading rumors in life and they advised all to “get their facts from a trusted source before escalating untruth conversations” and remember the 5Ws guideline for reporting which are:  Who, What, When Why and Where”.  Both powerhouse women were able to find common ground as they both speak fluent Spanish, loved their journalistic career journey, and consider themselves a ‘people person’-which is highly recommended in their field.

Maria Granville’s Home to Harlem space was the perfect setting for a warm gathering and was a welcoming outlet for local ‘Black and Brown’ business owners as they were allowed to promote their products and offer services to the audience. The evening gave true ‘Harlem’ spirit as the co-host, Mrs. Granville’s space showcased local artists such as Ken Taylor and she was extremely gracious to offer a tour of the historic Harlem brownstone, which will continue to support the essence of ‘Harlemites’ artists and culture.  TEDxHarlem noted all elements of promoting ‘Black Heritage’ in Harlem all done in one captivating and memorable evening. 

Stephanie Woods-McKinney

Stephanie Woods-McKinney is a Bronx native who graduated Magna Cum Laude from The College of New Rochelle with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Liberal Arts. She is a vocal community activist who sits on Community Board #10 in the Bronx; is a Co-chair of the Youth & Education Committee and holds a deep love for Hip Hop culture and community activism. Stephanie writes throughout NYC, and Harlem, she has also received countless awards and letters of recognition for her hip-hop photojournalism and a ‘Citation of Merit’ from Eric Adams. https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephanie-w-2637a229/

Photo Credit: 1-2) In His Image Photography Tampa Fl,. 3) Album cover by Amazon. 4) Group image by Simone Collins.

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