Keke Palmer is a national treasure in our eyes. From the moment she came into our lives in 2004, she’s been delivering top-tier content across multiple genres. Her bold energy and enlightening transparency have shifted Black culture over several years. She fearlessly takes up space and opens doors for Black women to show up authentically and unapologetically. She’s doing it now more than ever with her latest project.
For the best month of the year, Black History Month, Palmer is teaming up with McDonald’s USA to uplift the next generation of community heroes. Dubbed the Black & Positively Golden Change Leaders, each innovator will be granted $20K each, totaling $200,000K in funds to help further their community-driven causes. The Change Leaders program has made it their mission to lift and empower Black heroes who inspire and positively impact change in their communities and beyond. They were selected by the Golden Arches and its Owner/Operators for exemplifying Black excellence through youth-led activism. “The journey of these Change Leaders will be spotlighted in McDonald’s yearlong campaign that underscores that Black history and excellence should be celebrated all year, even beyond Black History Month.” Blackness deserves celebration every day.
We had a chance to sit down with the award-winning actress, singer, and entertainer about how she celebrates Black History Month, why she partnered with McDonald’s, and how she’s inspired by the 2023 Black & Positively Golden Change Leaders.
HelloBeautiful: What does it mean to be Black & Positively Golden for Keke Palmer?
Keke Palmer: I’m living the Black experience 365, and being Black & Positively Golden means sharing our story through my platform and within my work to inspire and uplift the community and culture.
HelloBeautiful: Tell us why thought you had to team up with McDonald’s for a second year of the program.
Keke Palmer: I just love what they do. I’ve worked with McDonald’s since I was about 16 or 17 years old. I’ve become very accustomed to the way that the company has constantly been able to give back and help when it comes to marginalized communities. When they came to me initially with this project last year and what they would be giving away to these kids and giving them access to, the main importance of pushing things forward is resources and finances. The fact that McDonald’s was committing themselves to do that, I knew that that was something I wanted to be a part of. This year, we are collectively giving $200,000 to these kids out here doing incredible things. And that’s just what I want to be a part of.
HelloBeautiful: Speaking of the change leaders, can you share some of the things you find inspiring about this year’s change Leaders?
Keke Palmer: We have so many amazing change leaders. We have Nyla Choates, who founded her own nonprofit and teaches the next generation Black History through her book, “My Roots Are Rich.” We have an activist named Brianna Baker who founded Justice for Black Girls, which is a social justice education space that serves Black girls’ needs for protection, safety, and just overall belonging, but through a holistic culture of care, which I think is awesome, and unique to her. We have a mental health advocate, Dorian Hollandsworth, who began his nonprofit organization dedicated to breaking the stigma around health and communities of color, which we know is extremely important for us. We have Dr. Derek, who I’m really just excited about. The fact that he’s such a young doctor in psychology is incredible, and he is so dedicated to helping to rework all the things that have come with being Black in America and watching some of the atrocities we have faced.
HelloBeautiful: Absolutely. And I feel like you have a lot in common with these change leaders because I think you’re a change leader yourself. So, what are you most proud of throughout your incredible career?
Keke Palmer: Well, I thank you so much for saying that because when I’m looking at what these kids are doing, I’m trying to go back to the drawing board and figure out how I can put my pieces together, girl. But the thing that I’m most excited about is the connection that I have to my community. I think as an entertainer, my parents always taught me that it’s one thing to entertain.
Still, it’s another thing to make sure that what you’re entertaining is something that you’re proud of, but also as a pathway for you to do more than entertain and shine a light on your community. They always say that that was the point, that it’s always bigger than you. They’ve never allowed me to get caught up in whatever personal praise or superficialities that could come with being an entertainer. They always made me think about people like Muhammad Ali, Ruby Dee, or Ozzy Davi. These black leaders in the community were, yes, entertainers, but they were always attaching themselves to things where they could lend their platform for the benefit of others.
The thing that I’m most proud of in my career is the connection I have with my community that I was able to continue to foster and hopefully assist them in whatever they could need going forward. Just as it is the same with what I’m doing with the McDonald’s Change Leaders – that, to me, is what it’s really about.
HelloBeautiful: Absolutely. And for me and my friends, you’re like our cousin in our heads. How do you celebrate Black History Month?
Keke Palmer: Honestly, I’m always celebrating Black History Month cause I’m always giving you that black and positively golden vibe. I’m just Blackity- Black-Black. I definitely try to celebrate by watching some old classic black movies. That’s always a good vibe, whether it’s Soul Food or The Wood or even getting into the Tubi channel with some of these new upcoming shows. Just trying to show love and things like that.
In general, you always start thinking about how Black people have impacted the world. I always think to myself, “If we didn’t use anything that a Black person created, I think it would really make me take a step back and realize all the things that Black people have actually done. And it just reminds you of the impact and the importance of our community of people, which sometimes can make you feel like it’s not acknowledged, you know what I mean? And obviously, that’s why we have a month, and that’s why we have these initiatives so we can continue to undo the erasure of Black excellence.
HelloBeautiful: I think that’s beautiful, and I feel like it kind of leads into my next question, which is, what do you love most about being a black woman because we are the blueprints?
Keke Palmer: Man, I think my favorite thing about being a Black woman is literally everything that has come with it. I think everybody has their own cultural story. You know, I can’t really speak to that. I can’t speak to how other people feel about their background and their ancestry, and their cultural narrative. But the Black narrative, I think it often can come with things that are deemed as sad or hardships, but I look at it, and I don’t really see that, not that I don’t see that there’s hardship, but I feel like those hardships have given us such incredible tools of not only survival but happiness, choosing happiness, knowing that we have the ability to really overcome anything.
I feel so powerful because of what my ancestors accomplished and gave way for me to accomplish. I feel pretty invincible as a Black woman, and I don’t think that would’ve come from anywhere else other than my history, my grandmother’s history, my mother’s history, my great-great grandmother’s history, and so on and so on. The story it gives me a fairytale vibe when I think about my Black American storyline. That’s what I’m most proud of as a Black woman.
HelloBeautiful: I feel like a lot of us are our ancestors’ wildest dreams, and you and the change leaders are a part of that. How can folks support the change leaders?
Keke Palmer: First of all, get to know them. Follow @wearegolden on Instagram, and head to McDonaldsChangeLeaders.com, where you can find more information about what they’re doing and pick a few or pick all to support and watch their careers. That way, you can see how you can continue to encourage and invest in their community.
To keep up with the Change Leaders’ amazing work, you can follow their journey via national TV and radio spots voiced over by Keke Palmer, digital content across multiple platforms, and video profiles on McDChangeLeaders.com website and Instagram @wearegolden.
Keke Palmer Talks Being Black & Positively Golden and We Love to See It! was originally published on hellobeautiful.com
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