Entertainers, community leaders and more than 2,500 consumers flocked to the New Orleans Theater at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center yesterday to salute this year’s recipients of the McDonald’s 365Black Awards. The awards are given annually to salute outstanding individuals who are committed to making positive contributions that strengthen the African-American community. The 10th annual awards honored legendary recording artist and “Empress of Soul” Gladys Knight; supermodel Beverly Johnson; education leader Dr. Steve Perry; executive vice president of the Chicago White Sox Kenny Williams; McDonald’s owner/operator Roland Parrish; teen entrepreneur Leanna Archer; and youth environmentalist Charles Orgbon.
“It is an honor to be recognized alongside these remarkable individuals,” said singer and philanthropist Gladys Knight. “By lending a hand to others, we can all help create environments of strength and compassion that enrich our neighborhoods, regardless of who we are or where we live.”
McDonald’s 365Black Awards launched in 2003 as an extension of the company’s 365Black platform, created to celebrate the pride, heritage and achievements of African-Americans year-round. This year’s event was hosted by award-winning actress Taraji P. Henson and held in conjunction with ESSENCE Festivalâ„¢ weekend.
Prior to the ceremony, actress/comedian Kym Whitley covered the celebrity action from the “golden” carpet. Comedian Jonathan Slocumb opened the show and got the crowd in the mood for musical stylings of recording artists Erica Campbell, Estelle, Angie Stone, Jordin Sparks and Yolanda Adams. Actors Jay Ellis and Omari Hardwick, actress Robinne Lee, singer/songwriter LeToya Luckett and actress/singer Brandy, were among celebrities on-hand to present the illustrious awards to the honorees.