Phyllis Smith Asinyanbi

This is the second article in an occasional series on celebrity philanthropists. Celebrity gossip abounds, but celebrities are human, and like the rest of us, they volunteer time and make charitable donations. "Celebrity Philanthropist in the News" will focus on the positive deeds of the rich and famous.

Terrence Howard, 44, an Oscar-nominated actor and singer, has joined the Colon Cancer Alliance "Sons and Mothers." The Alliance launched the campaign in March with print ads in newspapers and magazines throughout the nation.

Well-known individuals like Howard, whose mothers have died or survived colon cancer, are urging others to get screened and are also paying tribute to their moms. Howard's mother, Anita Hawkins Williams, died at 56, after a six-year battle with the disease. He wrote a poignant Huffington Post piece, "I Miss My Mother's Voice," recalling the "irreplaceable" woman she was and memories of her singing to him. While he grieves her death, he hopes her story saves others.

In Howard's PSA, he emphasizes that although 50 is the age the Alliance recommends for initial screening, his mother, like many others, should have been screened earlier. Personal health history, incidence of cancer in first-degree relatives (parents, siblings or children), distant relatives (aunts, uncles, grandparents, nieces, nephews and cousins), and ethnic background play major roles in the incidence of colon cancer. Those with a family history of adenomatous polyps or colon cancer should be screened prior to age 50. For information on other risk factors, click here.

The American Cancer Society reports African Americans have the highest incidence and mortality rates for colon cancer of all ethnic groups in the United States, but the cause is unknown. Jews of Eastern European descent have the highest colorectal cancer risk of any ethnic groups in the world due to several genetic mutations.

Jasmine Greenamyer, COO of the Colon Cancer Alliance said, “Terrence Howard is an extremely talented actor and we are so grateful that he is volunteering his support to the Colon Cancer Alliance . . . by sharing his personal story, he sends a powerful message to women about their risk for this disease," according to Look to the Stars, a celebrity-giving website.

Facts and thoughts on Terrence Howard:

Terrence Howard is a consummate actor who was born in my adopted second home, Chicago. Below is a list of not necessarily "great" movies (a matter of opinion), but the passion and dramatic authenticity Howard breathed into each character was astounding:

"The Best Man" as Quentin Spivey

"Crash" as Cameron Thayer

"Lackawanna Blues" as Bill Crosby

"Hustle and Flow" as Djay

"Iron Man" as USAF Lt. Col. James "Rhodey" Rhodes

"Red Tails" as Col. A.J. Bullard

In 2006, he was nominated for an Oscar, for his role as DJay, a pimp who wanted a career in the music business, in "Hustle and Flow." It was rumored he didn't win because the Academy feared potential negative publicity if it awarded an Oscar for such a controversial performance.

Howard was raised in my hometown of Cleveland. I'm always rooting for him so he'll obtain movie roles that showcase his tremendous, yet not fully tapped, acting skills. I also pray that he'll become a spiritually mature human being, which is one of his strong desires.

I admire the charitable work he's doing that evolved out of a personal experience and hope his partnership with the Colon Cancer Alliance is fruitful and the message is delivered to all who need it. Howard's mother would certainly be proud of the good work he's doing while honoring her memory.


Additional reference links are embedded within the article.

Another "Celebrity Philanthropist in the News" report:

Celebrity philanthropist in the news: Rihanna gives $1.75 million to Barbados hospital