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Queen Latifah on the Importance of AT&T's Dream In Black Campaign

Queen Latifah
Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for BET

Queen Latifah attends the Black Girls Rock! 2018 Red Carpet at NJPAC on Aug. 26, 2018 in Newark, N.J.

When AT&T launched its Dream In Black campaign last year, the initiative caught the attention of a powerful proponent of its mission to shine a light on black excellence—Queen Latifah.

Latifah and John Donovan, CEO of AT&T Communications, started talking about ways to evolve the campaign, and bring in additional talent to encourage African Americans to freely dream and achieve. “Dreaming in black to me means giving yourself the freedom to think, dream and expand on the possibilities of whatever it is you want to accomplish,” Latifah tells Billboard.

Among the DIB extensions is the 28 List, a curated group of African-American creators designated for each day of February, who will continue to share their stories and inspirations on social media beyond Black History Month. The first 27 selected were public influencers—including Anderson .Paak, Sean Combs, Nick Cannon, Van Jones, Khalid, Vic Mensa, Keke Palmer, Angela Yee and Zendaya—with the 28th slot reserved for a member of the community at large to be selected by a group of judges based on creativity, originality and social reach. The winner will be announced at the end of March.

“It’s about giving due recognition to the trailblazers who created opportunities for the next generation of talented leaders,” Donovan says, adding, “This is also important to our employees. They want to engage in the national conversation about black achievements and help encourage the next generation to pursue excellence.”

Palmer, who this year plans to launch a record label, Big Bosses Entertainment, as well as drop her own new album, tells Billboard she was drawn to Dream In Black because of its community involvement. “My parents taught me from an early age that community is so important, you can go out and achieve many great things, but never forget where you came from, always reach back.”

The 28 List comprises a swell of music artists, which comes as no surprise to Latifah. “Music is my first love, and was the catalyst for me to fulfill so many of my dreams,” she says. “I hope the musicians on this list reach far and wide to explore all of the opportunities and places their musical gifts can take them.”

In one of her Dream In Black social shares, Latifah expresses gratitude to the black creators who helped paved the way for her. Billboard wondered who specifically she considers to be impactful. “There are so many people who have inspired and impacted my life,” she says, noting her short-list includes Common, Nikki Giovanni, Melody Hobson, Alicia Keys, Regina King, MC Lyte and Susan Taylor.

And she’s looking forward to adding new names to the list. “Throughout the year, you’ll see Dream In Black partner with the many innovators and influencers in the black community who embody a mindset where success can look like anything that we can dream,” Latifah says.


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