A Defender Special

These are the stories that captured our interests all year long.

Hey family, 2022 has been a year of I’ve had the pleasure of covering a multitude of topics important to you, my Under 40 team. Having the opportunity to speak to some of the movers and shakers of Black Houston and experts in finance, relationships, health, and career development has been both rewarding and fun.

The American Dream has shifted for many millennials in the last several years, and we are seeing a major shift in mindset and outlook on how to live a good quality of life despite the socio-economic challenges in this country.

Here are the top 10 Under 40 stories of 2022! Looking forward to learning and growing with all of you in 2023.

How the student debt crisis affects democracy

This is part of the Solution Journalism Network’s Advancing Democracy initiative. Solutions Journalism provides research on solutions to current problems. One of them is the student debt crisis. Read about the stories of these young millennials and how student loan debt impacted them financially and professionally.

Texas Millennial pays off six-figures in student loan debt

Meet Dallas resident Alaina Curry who started her journey to becoming debt free in 2016. She had six-figures of student loan debt, but that didn’t stop her from becoming debt free at the age of 31. Learn about her techniques and strategies to eliminating her debt.

Interference by Shardé Chapman Photo by: Shardé Chapman

Two Houston Black creatives launch ‘Moment’s Project’

Houston-based Afrobeats dancer and choreographer Kemi OG teamed up with principal photographer Shardé Chapman collaborated for a dance art installation addressing the complexities of Houston’s Black diaspora experience.

Said Institute spotlight lawyer in Black author series

Defender Network education reporter Laura Onyeneho moderates an author spotlight series at Houston’s first Pan African library SAiD Institute. She interviews award-winning attorney and chief anti-bribery officer at Citigroup Inc., Chinwe Esimai and the official launch of her latest book “Brilliance Beyond Borders: Remarkable Women Leaders Share the Power of Immigrace.”

Wynton Marsalis with Defender Associate Editor Aswad Walker. Photo by Councilmember Tiffany Thomas.

Film tackles LGBTQ, intercultural relationships in African community

A new African romantic dramedy titled “Hyde Park” premiered in Houston that follows a Nigeria-American attorney tasked with saving his gay client from deportation to Uganda. The film tackles very issues including intercultural relationships and societal acceptance of the LGBTQ community.

Houston Exotic Pop Breaking Cultural Barriers in the beverage industry

Charleston Wilson is the CEO and Founder of Exotic Pop, a Black-owned beverage company that offers rare hard to find flavors and products. The luxury soda brand has been recognized by celebrities in the rap industry.

Strive for financial freedom by spending your debt away

Kiley Summer is the founder of the SpenDebt app, a platform that helps users pay off debt through everyday purchases. If you are looking for different ways to pay off your debt, this is one way you can do so.

Meet KeAndre’ Jordan: Showcasing Black food

KeAndre’ Jordan is a Southern Creative. He enjoys eating foods throughout the black diaspora, exposing the world to food in Houston’s black community through his platform My Southern Brand.

Houston filmmaker showcases Black literacy art series

Houston filmmaker Vincent Powell teamed up with local actors and artists to produce a video series showcasing Black history and literary art. As a Texas Southern University Professor, he has partnered with several area schools to use his literary art curriculum for their Black History Month studies.

Battle of the Canvas live art competition has first champion

Multi-faceted artist, entertainer, and CEO of Ofiliated Chukwunonso Ofili who gathered 16 local artists for the Battle of the Canvas live art competition where the artists go head-to-head in three rounds showcasing their best work in under 20 minutes to win a grand prize.

Laura Onyeneho

I cover Houston's education system as it relates to the Black community for the Defender as a Report for America corps member. I'm a multimedia journalist and have reported on social, cultural, lifestyle,...