Queen Latifah Highlights Unsung Local Heroes In New Podcast

Queen Latifah Highlights Unsung Local Heroes In New Podcast

Queen Latifah Highlights Unsung Local Heroes In New Podcast
PASADENA, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 25: Host Queen Latifah speaks onstage during the 54th NAACP Image Awards at Pasadena Civic Auditorium on February 25, 2023 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

For hip hop pioneer and cultural icon Queen Latifah, unity is so much greater than an idea. It’s a tradition. A continuous practice. An ethos.

We’ve witnessed Latifah’s creativity and impactful messages through melodic media, on screens, and behind the scenes of the music and entertainment industries. Now, the Jersey native is showing she doesn’t just rap about ‘UNITY.’

The legend is using her platform to celebrate unsung heroes who have dedicated countless hours to strengthening their neighborhoods and improving our collective society.

“Unity in the Community”an Audible Original Podcast – “celebrat[es] the selfless work of seven heroes, fueled by passion and the drive to fight for a more equitable existence for themselves and their communities,” a statement from Audible reads.

The show taps into the power of storytelling while also amplifying the power of the individual – following the inspiring narratives of several figures who’ve transformed their hardships into tangible progress for those around them.

As the second title to be released from the development deal between Audible and Latifah’s production company Flavor Unit, “Unity I.T.C.” features the stories of leaders like Dr. Rashida Govan, educationalist and innovator behind Project Butterfly, a New Orleans-based holistic mentorship and support program that helps Black girls reach their fullest potential.

With 99% of Project Butterfly’s participants going to college, Dr. Govan focuses on providing tools of self-esteem and self-love during the crucial time of adolescence in an effort to “rediscover the power within and prepare them to transform their lives and lead their communities.” Dr. Rashida Govan is a prime example of those leaders in the community whose work must be amplified and celebrated.

The same goes for Kevin Grant, who is featured in the podcast’s first episode. Coming from a tumultuous past of incarceration and other obstacles, Grant was able to change his fortune and use his unique voice to connect with young people who have encountered similar – and oftentimes systemic –  problems.

Having started his career in job placement for those at-risk and previously incarcerated, Grant now serves as the Violence Prevention Coordinator for Oakland Unite in his hometown, helping with myriad services, such as life-skill workshops, child support, legal aid, and other enriching activities. He occupies a pivotal role in the community as a bridge to those youth often overlooked, providing knowledge and genuine care to set them on the right path to success.

The podcast highlights several other individuals, each with their own inspirational narrative and outlook. It’s a guarantee that when you press play, you can expect a sonic experience to guide you on your daily commute or when simply sitting back to enjoy. From the iconic saxophone sample in the podcast’s intro, to the variation of voices and perspectives included to paint the full picture of these stories, one can feel that Unity I.T.C. is intended to both entertain and instill hope into its listeners.

But do we expect anything less with a narrator like Queen Latifah steering the ship? Her own story is one of inspiration and unbounded creativity, fueled by a mentality that many of the limits we feel are truly self-imposed.

When speaking with  Latifah about what informs this multi-hyphenate mindset and reaching success in multiple fields, she points to her upbringing, serving as proof that what you see changes how you think and feel about yourself.

“I have to give credit to my parents for making me the person that I am through showing me that you could do a lot of things.” she says over the phone. Watching someone like her mother work to earn her bachelor’s degree in arts and become a teacher, or her grandfather who owned a hardware store that employed many other relatives, showed a young Latifah that there’s not just one path to fulfillment and success. These characters exemplify the true power of exposure, a concept that is present in the stories featured in Unity I.T.C.

In addition to this show, Queen Latifah is also involved in Audible’s latest offering “Monumental,” which looks back at the riveting story of freedom fighter and hero Harriet Tubman. “Monumental” connects this history to the present day via the newly installed statue of Tubman in Newark, New Jersey – Latifah’s birthplace.

When speaking about both projects, the artist emphasizes their importance, noting that “projects like Unity I.T.C and Monumental mean something to us, because it’s our way of being in a position to give back by sharing the stories of people in the community.” She continues with intention, saying how it’s key for our people to “not just do things because we can, but do it with a purpose.”

This focus has certainly been a constant condition in each of Queen Latifah’s ventures, and both of these projects uphold this standard of greatness while celebrating the tireless work of those who truly deserve it.

All episodes of Unity In the Community are available now on Audible, here.

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