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*Russell Simmons was born on this date in 1957. He is a Black entrepreneur.
Born and raised in Hollis, Queens, New York City, his father Daniel was a public school attendance supervisor. He is the older brother of Rev. Joseph Simmons, known as "Run" of Run-DMC. Simmons attended City College of New York but left to begin promoting local rap music acts, including Kurtis Blow and Run-DMC, and producing records.
In 1984, he and Rick Rubin founded Def Jam Records, signing the Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, and other artists. Def Jam is one piece in Simmons' corporation, Rush Communications, which includes a management company, a clothing company called Phat Farm, a movie production house, television shows such as Def Comedy Jam, a magazine, and an advertising agency.
He married model Kimora Lee Simmons in 1998 and they were divorced in 2006. They have two daughters Ming Lee and Aoki Lee who both model for the Baby Phat Kids Collection. Simmons sold his stake in the record company for $100 million to Universal Music Group in 1999. The up-and-coming component of Rush Communications is the sneaker company Run Athletics, a company that produces Legacy shoes and the Arthur Ashe shoes. Simmons brought his show Def Poetry to Broadway earning awards for the youthful and multicultural cast. Simmons, in partnership with a financial institution, released The Rush Card, a line of re-loadable Visa debit cards aimed at consumers who would otherwise have problems obtaining a checking/debit account.
Simmons contributes to the contemporary American Civil Rights movement and social justice efforts. He aided voting efforts in the 2004 US presidential election. Simmons, a vegan, has also spoken out against cruelty in factory farms and slaughterhouses. In 2005 he began contributing blogs at The Huffington Post. Simmons was working on a project to fight anti-Semitism. This project included Beyonce, Leonardo Dicaprio, and Will Smith. In August 2006, Simmons hosted a reception in support of Republican United States Senate candidate from Maryland, Michael Steele.
In November 2017, model Keri Claussen Khalighi accused Simmons of sexual assault in 1991 when she was seventeen. On December 13, 2017, The Los Angeles Times published an investigative report in which five women accused Simmons of sexual misconduct; including an alleged rape. On the same day, The New York Times published the accounts of four other women who accused Simmons of inappropriate conduct; including three alleged rapes. In response to the allegations, Simmons stated he "never had a sexual encounter that was not consensual or lawful. Ever."
On February 9, 2018, Simmons denied the allegations to Rolling Stone. A documentary film about the sexual assault allegations against Simmons, On the Record, was released in January 2020. Oprah Winfrey withdrew as executive producer of the film, citing creative differences and stating that she was pressured by Simmons to abandon the project.