Although not knowing exaclty what to expect, I was thrilled about the opportunity to cover the first annual Black Celebration Awards, hosted by Black Street. I was drawn to the event's mission of celebrating individuals who exemplify greatness within our community and showcasing the passion of today's role models.
When I arrived at the five-star Carlton Hotel, time was of the essence. Due to the ceremony’s tight schedule, I had fleeting minutes to get the interviews, interact with other guests, and partake fully in the Red Carpet/Awards segments of the festivity.
The first thing I noticed was the meticulous planning of the event. Luxuriously highlighted antiques and paintings by international artists were displayed throughout the venue. It was an ambience of sophistication. Both male and female guests wore beautiful attires ranging from gowns to suits.
As the event proceeded, I met the ambitious and passionate men and women who are making a difference in our community and who were going to be awarded that evening. I was extremely proud. In the midst of these formidable attractions, I had to forge ahead and meet the honorees.
When he walked onto the set, his energy completely filled the room. There was an immediate feeling of warmth and confidence that was contagious. Mr. Isaiah Washington is so full of life. He greeted my team, joked (about riding the red bicycle situated as a lovely design across the graceful room ) and made sure to take photographs with everyone.
A very well rounded actor, producer, and philanthropist, Mr. Washington absolutely loves Africa and heavily invests on the continent. He was the Master of Ceremony for the first White House Summit on Malaria to fight the war against malaria in 15 African countries. Mr. Washington also attended the 63rd United Nations General Assembly in New York City as an advisor to President Ernest Bai Koroma of the Republic of Sierra Leone. Today, he is widely honored as the ‘first’ human being in the world given a full African citizenship based on DNA; something Pan African Pioneers such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King, Jr. Adam Clayton Powell Jr, and Rev. Leon Sullivan tried to obtain but failed.
Mr. Washington is also the first African American to lead the Africa/South Korean Alliance designed to rebuild the infrastructure of Sierra Leone, with his new company HIRA INTERNATIONAL INVESTMENT GROUP LLC overseeing a multimillion dollar investment fund. His connection and involvement with Sierra Leone continues to be visible through his organization, The Gondobay Manga Foundation which is dedicated to improving the lives of the citizens of Sierra Leone.
He is the recipient of several International awards including the Planet Africa’s 2009 Marcus Garvey Memorial Award, Reverend C.T. Vivian 2009 Passing The Torch Award, the African Achievement 2009 Philanthropy award, the National Organization of Sierra Leoneans in America Diamond Award, and more. Mr. Washington recently completed his first memoir, A MAN FROM ANOTHER LAND: How finding My Roots Changed My Life and is now producing the Audiobook version for ITunes.
It was the return to Africa that shifted his vision of the continent and its history to an affectionate perception of a place that most African Americans generations have not seen but one that we, as Africans, remember as our own. Travelling to Africa was such a shaping experience for Washington that currently, he is producing several films including documentary, AFRICANS vs. AFRICANS AMERICANS directed by Peres Owino, PRECEPICE starring Jimmy Jean-Louis and written/directed by Julius Amedume. Isaiah also produced and starred in Tony Abulu’s film Dr. BELLO starring Genevieve Nnaji, Jimmy Jean-Louis, and Stephanie Okereke-Linus.
Mikki Taylor, the other Honoree for the evening is one of the nation’s leading experts on fashion, beauty, and style. For thirty years, she served as Essence Magazine’s groundbreaking Beauty & Cover Director, and is currently the Editor-at-large for the publication. Mikki Taylor is also the Founder and President of Mikki Taylor Enterprises, LLC which serves as a holding company for a number of vertical businesses, including Satin Doll Productions, a full-service image building and consulting division.
She has offered beauty and style advice through all types of media, including print outlets which culminated in her wildly successful book, Self-Seduction: Your Ultimate Path to Inner and Outer Beauty, and a sequel, Commander –in-Chic: Every Woman’s Guide to Managing Her Style Like a First Lady. She also recently launched her own line of nude nail lacquers for women of color, the Forever Nude Collection by Mikki Taylor.
When asked about one of her treasured moments, she mentioned a trip to South Africa, at the special invitation of Oprah Winfrey, where she served as an instructor to 149 girls ages 12-14, at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls. Taylor taught a course called Celebrating Your Unique Beauty & Style, a three-part workshop that addressed practical and timeless elements of social graces and the essential basics of inner and outer skills to insure a phenomenal photograph.
She concluded the interview by encouraging all women of color whether living in the U.S. or in Africa, to embrace their individual unique beauty and to learn to celebrate their hair, skin and features as they are.
Later that evening, we were ushered in to the segment of the evening where the winners were announced. They include Non-Profit winner Judith Mills, Education winner Lynette Carr-Hicks, to Fashion winner Dennis & Dhylles Davis, Comedy winner Evangelist Kim Thompson and more. From that moment on, these winners became our heroes and sheroes and more importantly, they were recognized as passionatel and committed world citizens who no matter how much they have achieved, see each day as another opportunity to give back to the community and make a difference in someone’s life.
Congratulations to all the honorees and winners of the "Black Celebration" Awards 2012. Check out the list of winners below:
2012 BLACK STREET HONORS
MIKKI TAYLOR WITH THE LIFETIME OF GREATNESS AWARD
ISAIAH WASHINGTON WITH THE HUMANITARIAN AWARD
SABRINA THOMPSON WITH THE EMPOWERMENT AWARD
JEAN ALERTE WITH THE TRAILBLAZER AWARD
2012 BLACK STREET AWARD WINNERS
BRANDON FRAM FOR EXCELLENCE IN EDUCATION
EVELINE PIERRE FOR EXCELLENCE IN ART
JENNIFER LAROCHE FOR EXCELLENCE IN DANCE
ORANE WILLIAMS FOR EXCELLENCE IN FINANCE
STEPHANIE FOLLING FOR EXCELLENCE IN BLOGGER CATEGORY
CANDICE COOK FOR EXCELLENCE IN LAW
MYCHAL SLEDGE FOR EXCELLENCE IN EMPOWERMENT
MARCUS JOHNSON DDS, MSD FOR EXCELLENCE IN MEDICINE
DAMAIN BAILEY FOR EXCELLENCE IN SPORTS & FITNESS
STEPHANIE FOLLING FOR EXCELLENCE IN WEBSITE CATEGORY
CARLA MILLS-TATUM FOR EXCELLENCE IN TV & FILM
PST. DWAYNE H. DAWKINS SR. FOR EXCELLENCE IN SPIRITUALITY
JERMAINE "JAY EVERYDAY" SMITH FOR EXCELLENCE IN RADIO
SAMUEL L. PIERRE FOR EXCELLENCE IN POLITICS
FABRICE ARMAND FOR EXCELLENCE IN PHILANTHROPY
JUDITH MILLS FOR EXCELLENCE IN NON- PROFIT CATEGORY
ALEXIS GARRETT STODGHILL FOR EXCELLENCE IN NEWS & JOURNALISM
ESNAVI FOR EXCELLENCE IN MUSIC
DON CLITANDRE FOR EXCELLENCE IN LITERATURE
DENNIS & DHYLLES DAVIS FOR EXCELLENCE IN FASHION
CHEF NILKA HENDRICKS FOR EXCELLENCE IN CULINARY ARTS
KIM N. THOMPSON FOR EXCELLENCE IN COMEDY
KATHY LIAUTAUD FOR EXCELLENCE IN BUSINESS
MARLENE DUPERLEY FOR EXCELLENCE IN BEAUTY
LYNNETTE CARR-HICKS FOR EXCELLENCE IN PERFORMING ARTS
Photo Credit: Nii "Mewzik" Okai Djarbeng
Omoy Catherine is a Woman after God's own heart and a passionate advocate for human rights issues. She has a heart for people and ministry, and a deep commitment to the betterment of Africa's image within the global community. She received her B.A. from Ithaca College, and M.A. from the New School University. Follow @Omoy_Entries on Twitter.