11Alive Celebrates Black History Month!

Chesley McNeil

Chesley McNeil joined 11Alive in 2009 as meteorologist for the morning and noon news and instantly became one of Atlanta's most popular on-air personalities. Chesley served on the Governor's Winter Weather Task Force to help find solutions after Atlanta's 2014 SnowJam. He holds a BA in Mass Communications from Wesley College in Delaware, and an MS in Geosciences from Mississippi State University.

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In addition to his career in television, Chesley has taught both undergraduate and graduate level Meteorology and Earth Sciences courses at several colleges and universities. He has been awarded the prestigious American Meteorological Society Seal of Approval, is a Certified Broadcast Meteorologist and is the recipient of numerous professional awards.

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou, was an American author, actress, screenwriter, dancer, poet and civil rights activist best known for her 1969 memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which made literary history as the first nonfiction best-seller by an African-American woman. Angelou received several honors throughout her career, including two NAACP Image Awards in the outstanding literary work (nonfiction) category, in 2005 and 2009.

Barack Obama

Barack Obama went on to become President of the Harvard Law Review and a U.S. senator representing Illinois. In 2008, he was elected President of the United States, becoming the first African-American commander-in-chief. He served two terms as the 44 president of the United States.

Brenda Wood

Brenda Wood announced her upcoming retirement from WXIA 11Alive in February 2017 after 20 years with the station and 40 years in television news. She anchored her final newscast on Wednesday, February 8, 2017.

Brenda has garnered a national following with her “Last Word” commentaries. They have become a distinct feature of 11Alive’s evening broadcast with many of her commentaries going viral on social media. She also has hosted and co-produced several award-winning prime time specials including “Remembering the 1996 Olympics,” “A Conversation Across America,” “50 Years of Change,” “Mission of Hope,” and multiple editions of the Emmy winning magazine show “Journeys with Brenda Wood.”

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Notable news coverage includes President Barack Obama’s inauguration, the death of Nelson Mandela in South Africa, The Carter Center’s groundbreaking medical work in Ethiopia, the 2006 Beijing Olympics and the Centennial Olympic Park bombing.

In 2014, Wood was inducted in the Atlanta Press Club Hall of Fame. That same year she was named a “HISTORYMAKER,” a distinct national honor recognizing African American trailblazers. Her career story is recorded in the national archives in Washington, D.C.

In 2013, Wood was honored with the NATAS Silver Circle Award for her long and distinguished broadcast career. She also was named Georgia Woman of the Year by the Governor’s Office of the Georgia Women’s Commission.

Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Clay) was a boxer, philanthropist and social activist who is universally regarded as one of the greatest athletes of the 20th century. Ali became an Olympic gold medalist in 1960 and the world heavyweight boxing champion in 1964. Ali devoted much of his time to philanthropy, earning the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.

Shiba Russell

Shiba Russell is an American Journalist who is immensely famous for her work as a Journalist for ‘WCVB-TV’. She is also known for being a former employee of ‘WTAE-TV’. She worked as an anchor for 11 PM newscasts on WNBC from 2011 to February 2016. She is currently with Atlanta’s WXIA-TV (11Alive) and is with #MorningRushATL from 5-7 am on weekdays. She is also a fitness enthusiast and an Emmy award-winning reporter.

Oprah Winfrey

Billionaire media giant and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey is best known for hosting her own internationally popular talk show from 1986 to 2011. From there, she launched her own television network, OWN. In 1976, Winfrey moved to Baltimore, where she hosted a hit television chat show, People Are Talking. Afterward, she was recruited by a Chicago TV station to host her own morning show. She later became the host of her own, wildly popular program, The Oprah Winfrey Show, which aired for 25 seasons, from 1986 to 2011. That same year, Winfrey launched her own TV network, the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).

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Lester Holt

TV newsperson Lester Holt started out in radio as a teenager. He landed a job as a television reporter in New York City in 1981. In the mid-1980s, Holt began his nearly 14-year run on Chicago's WBBM as a reporter and news anchor. He joined NBC in 2000 as a reporter. Before long, he landed work on such shows as Today, MSNBC's Lester Holt Live and Dateline. He also began anchoring the NBC Nightly Newson the weekends in 2007. In 2015, Holt replaced Brian Williams as the weekday anchor of NBC Nightly News, making him the first African-American to be the lead anchor on a broadcast network's weekday nightly newscast.

Robert Abbot

Robert Sengstacke Abbott (November 24, 1870 – February 29, 1940[4]) was an African-American lawyer and newspaper publisher and editor. Abbott founded The Chicago Defender, which grew to have the highest circulation of any black-owned newspaper in the country. An early adherent of the Bahá'í religion in the United States, Abbott founded the Bud Billiken Parade and Picnic in 1929, which has developed into a celebration for youth, education and African–American life in Chicago, Illinois.

Malcolm X

Malcolm X (May 19, 1925 - February 21, 1965) was a minister, human rights activist and prominent black nationalist leader who served as a spokesman for the Nation of Islam during the 1950s and 1960s. Due largely to his efforts, the Nation of Islam grew from a mere 400 members at the time he was released from prison in 1952 to 40,000 members by 1960. Articulate, passionate and a naturally gifted and inspirational orator, Malcolm X exhorted blacks to cast off the shackles of racism "by any means necessary." The fiery civil rights leader broke with the group shortly before his assassination on February 21, 1965, at the Audubon Ballroom in Manhattan, where he had been preparing to deliver a speech.

Monica Pearson

News Anchor for WSB-TV, Channel 2, the ABC affiliate in Atlanta, Georgia. Monica Kaufman is the first African American AND the first woman to become News Anchor in the Atlanta marker. She has held the same station longer than any other television personality in Atlanta and longer than most women in the country.

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Tyler Perry

Tyler Perry was born September 13, 1969, in New Orleans, Louisiana. He had a difficult childhood, suffering years of abuse. In 1992 he directed, produced, and starred in the musical I Know I've Been Changed. His 2000 play, I Can Do Bad All by Myself brought to life the character Madea, who would later appear in several successful films. Perry has also developed several television shows, including House of Payne, and acted in such recent films as Gone Girl (2014).

Watching an episode of Oprah Winfrey's talk show, Perry was inspired by a comment on the program about how writing about difficult experiences could lead to personal breakthroughs. He started a series of letters to himself, which became the basis for the musical I Know I've Been Changed. While the show tackled such tough subjects as child abuse, it also touched on forgiveness, a theme has remained central in many of his works and reflects his deep connection to his Christian faith. After saving up $12,000, Perry debuted the show—which he directed, produced, and starred in—at an Atlanta theater in 1992. The musical's run lasted only one weekend and drew a measly 30 people to see the show.