Brianna McAdoo, AFRO Staff Writer, [email protected]
On Dec. 9 the legendary Cathy Hughes brought the inaugural Urban One Awards to Washington, D.C. bringing a little more soul and music to Chocolate City.
Hosted by comedian D.L. Hughley, the Urban One Honors took place at the Anthem in Southwest, Washington, D.C. The Honors was not only a celebration of individuals in entertainment, education, activism, sports and business, but a celebration of Black Excellence in totality.
The night began with melodies from the R&B singer, Elle Varner. Timeless talented acts performed throughout the night including native Washingtonian, Johnny Gill who serenaded the audience with roses and some of his beloved songs including, “My, my, my.” Later on in the evening, there was a performance from K-Ci of Jodeci which he dedicated to the founder of Three Brown Girls and model, the late Kim Porter.
Avery Sunshine brought down the house with her tribute to the Queen of Soul, the late Aretha Franklin. This soulful songstress brought everyone onto their feet as they sang along to some of Franklin’s classic songs including “Daydreaming”, “I Never Loved a Man the Way I Loved You” and “Jump To It.”
Dr. Michael Eric Dyson presented the Global Ambassador Award to Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, the parents of Trayvon Martin.
“Thank you all for continuing to stand with us. Who knew that 2,479 days ago that we would be in a position to speak for the voiceless. 2,479 there was an injustice that occurred across this country and it’s still happening today,” said Martin when accepting his award.
Baltimore State Attorney Marilyn Mosby presented Dr.Nadia Lopez with the Education Maven Award. Dr.Lopez is the founding Principal of Mott Hall Bridges Academy in New York City where she works tirelessly to create positive impact in the lives of young people; when accepting the award she encouraged listeners to support educators in their fight for equity and equality.
When accepting the Social Change Agent Award activist Shaun King said, “I really think we are just scratching the surface on how we can organize ourselves. I think this past election was a sign of what happens when we organize in really smart ways. There’s never been a problem that we haven’t organized ourselves out of; so let’s take our organization to another level not just in elections but against injustice in powerful ways.”
A common denominator in the honorees’ awards speech was an outright gratitude expressed for Cathy Hughes in everyone’s individual success as well as collective success in many aspects of the Black community.
Bishop Marvin Sapp was awarded the Inspirational Impact Award. When accepting his award Bishop Sapp said, “I gotta thank Cathy Hughes, she has been a crazy support of mine and I just love her with all of my heart.”
Singer-Songwriter, Ray J introduced his sister Brandy as she received the Cathy Hughes Excellence Award. Initially he reminded the audience of some of the firsts that have made Brandy the trailblazer she is today.
“[Brandy is] the first Black Cinderella, the first Black singer to be the face of Covergirl, the first celebrity to be Black barbie for Mattel and also the first female artist of the 90s to reach 1.5 billion streams in music and also the vocal Bible to millions of fans.”
“I’m really touched by this moment, it would be a memory impossible to forget and I would like to dedicate this award to a special vessel, Ms.Cathy Hughes,” said Brandy when she accepted the award. “You are an inspiration, an example, for the culture, for all people and you are the epitome of Black Girl Magic; and you have demonstrated that desires are the proof that dreams are a true reality. And I love you and thank you.”
Journalist Roland Martin presented the Public Servant Award to Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. Norton expressed her gratitude for the tenacity of Cathy Hughes which ultimately helped her serve in Congress for 30 years.
“I saw that when Cathy is all in, everybody else better get out of the way. She was all in for Eleanor Holmes Norton and she was very important to my winning that seat- that seat I have held all of these years. So I come to thank you for this award, particularly to thank Cathy Hughes for all she did for me to get me to Congress in the first place,” Norton said.
Hughes presented radio veteran, Tom Joyner with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Among other icons honored were June Ambrose who received the Fashion Icon Award; Benny Pough, Record Executive of the Year; DJ Khaled, Hip Hop Impact Award; April D. Ryan, Media Personality of the Year; Jade Novah, Viral Sensation Award; Rotimi, Generation Next Award; Rick “Doc” Walker, Sports Legend Award and Jermaine Dupri, Living Legend Award.
Reflecting back on the night, Urban One Chairperson, Cathy Hughes, said “I am immensely proud of our inaugural Urban One Honors awards show.
“We exhibited and experienced Black on Black love and appreciation, something that is extremely critical during these times. We are already planning for next year and look forward to creating a rich tradition of celebrating the best and the brightest of who we are.”
The Urban One Honors are set to air in 2019.