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Cathy Adams: I was named an Icon Among Us. I show up because I care.

Cathy Adams on the Comcast float in the 2024 Black Joy Parade in downtown Oakland, CA

Guest Writer: Cathy Adams, President and CEO of the Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce, 2021 Icons Among Us Finalist 

Black History Month has come to an end, yet I’m still overflowing with gratitude for the multiple celebrations and recognitions throughout the month. But I must admit that belonging to the Icons Among Us club, a group of 12 Iconic Black leaders in Oakland, has been the joy of a lifetime.  

Back in 2021, I was selected as one of the three 2021 Icons Among Us by Comcast and the Black Joy Parade organization. The recognition came during the pandemic, and it was the first year of the ongoing program. 

Comcast has supported the Black Joy Parade since its inception in 2017 and its first parade in 2018. However, in 2020, during the pandemic, they began to reimagine their partnership and that’s when Icons Among Us was born.

Comcast and Black Joy Parade honor the 2021 Icons Among Us at the Black Joy Parade in downtown Oakland, CA

According to Black Joy Parade, to be an activist is to be a visionary – to give your time and energy to a mission that may not be realized in your lifetime. Black Joy Parade and Comcast team up to recognize these local heroes and they want to do it while they are still walking among us. Comcast contributes $5,000 to each Icon to donate to the charity of our choosing. I donated my award to the Training Institute for Leadership Enrichment (TILE). TILE believes that for urban communities, and Black women in particular, to thrive, potential leaders must be identified and provided with the skills and tools of sustainable leadership.  The primary premise is that Black women need to be included within the top ranks of corporate executive leadership, and at all levels of elected and appointed political leadership. Without their participation, the much-touted “inclusive decision-making” model is a vision at best. I love this program and LaNiece Jones who runs the program and makes it all happen. 

I am truly humbled by the experience and the recognition as an Icon. I do the work because I care. I show up because it’s necessary. What gets me up in the morning is knowing that not only am I going to change my life and do something great, but I’m going to help people. To me being an icon is about innovation and creativity. Even though my award came in 2021, Comcast and the Black Joy Parade continue to make me feel honored. This year they sent me a thoughtful gift and invited me to ride on their float where I got to share the spotlight with the new Icons.   

Comcast and Black Joy Parade honor the 2024 Icons Among Us at the Black Joy Parade in downtown Oakland, CA

This year’s Icons are Jameelah Hanif, Children’s Mental Health Advocate and Founder of Watch Me Grow, Inc.; Shelene Huey-Booker, Founder and Executive Director for Youth Utilizing Power and Praise Organization and Donald Frazier, CEO, Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS), Executive Director, Reentry Providers Association of California. Please join me in celebrating and congratulating these leaders.  

I support and attend the Black Joy Parade because it’s our culture and represents our freedom of expression, and economic empowerment. It is an opportunity to buy Black. I’m amazed by the way the founders Elisha Greenwell and Amber Lester have grown this parade and festival to a first-class event that gathers hundreds of thousands of parade-goers and boosts the city’s morale and economy.   

I’m also grateful to Comcast and the private-public partnerships they have brought to the City of Oakland. In 2021 and 2022, they brought $2 million to small businesses owned by people of color. Also, for over a decade they have helped close the digital divide through their Internet Essentials program that offers internet at home for $9.95 a month to qualified families. They have been doing amazing work in our community.  

Learn more about the Icons Among Us program by visiting blackjoyparade.org/iconsamongus and please continue supporting Black businesses. 

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