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What do Blacks in South Florida really think

Check out Real Talk Real People and find out

D. Kevin McNeir | 8/22/2013, noon
Edwin Sheppard Photography Tony Barreau

Miami Central graduate Edwin Sheppard, 39, was working on raising funds for his class [1991] reunion a few years ago when he came upon a novel idea: provide a forum where Blacks could assemble in a comfortable setting and invite them to discuss the hot topics of the day. He chose a host who could bring both humor and solemnity to the discussion and added two panelists — each representing the male and female perspective. Finally, members of the audience were given their chance to take the mic and give their “two cents.” The response, Sheppard says, was overwhelming. Today, he’s expanded his reach beyond South Florida to Naples and most recently, to Atlanta while making his show, “Real Talk, Real People,” the kind of monthly event that people eagerly anticipate and hate to miss. His show follows a tradition that includes: Oprah Winfrey, Montell Jordan, Arsenio Hall, Wendy Williams and Tavis Smiley. But it has it’s own “unique flavor.”

“Our followers say they like the show because they’re able to leave with something positive — sometimes even life changing,” he said. “Because Miami is geared more towards the nightlife and party scene, people closer to my age have started to settle down. We enjoy entertainment but are no longer interested in hitting the clubs. People say they like our show and the topics on which we focus.”

Sheppard continues to push the envelope

Sheppard, born of a Haitian mother and a father from Gainesville, Ga., worked in the hospitality industry for about 15 years where he learned the art of bringing people together while recognizing and then tailoring to their specific needs. Those skills have been of great benefit since he formed his own entertainment company, Blooming Rose Promotions & Entertainment, Inc., almost three years ago. He hopes to one day syndicate his talk show and eventually take it to major television networks. For now he’s satisfied with it airing live on radio. The show is featured on a local internet radio station [www.wsuionline.com] — owned and operated by Odilon Lalanne, Garrick D. Robinson, Mark Robinson, Troy Johnson and Patrick Augustin.

Last April, to mark the second anniversary of “Real Talk Real People,” actor Tommy Ford joined Sheppard and the crew as the celebrity host. Topics have sometimes caused real sparks to fly: if chivalry is dead, who killed it; is it justice or just us [featuring Tracy Martin, father of Trayvon Martin]; baby momma, baby daddy drama; cheaters — loves, lies and our hidden agenda; and who do you love — me, him or her?

“We also give a rose to the first 24 women at every show,” Sheppard added. “It’s in honor of my mother, Rose Sheppard, who died Nov. 24 [2010] which is also my birthday. “ The Black community is a complex group so we have to mix up the conversation. Sometimes it’s about the kinds of topics that are controversial — sometimes the topics are more in line with social consciousness. We just want to get people to share their views honestly.”

“Real Talk, Real People” is hosted by Calvin MadeSON Early, a local poet and activist. The show is featured every 4th Thursday at Hollywood Live [2333 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood] For more info, e-mail Sheppard at edwinsheppard@ymail.com.