Entertainers, professional athletes, political figures and other citizens packed the Mahalia Jackson Theater in New Orleans Friday for the 2012 McDonald’s 365Black Awards, an annual event honoring outstanding African-Americans who are making positive contributions to the community.
Guests attended the ninth annual ceremony honoring multi-platinum and 10-time GRAMMY winning recording artist Chaka Khan; global humanitarian, best-selling inspirational author/entrepreneur Bishop T.D. Jakes; GRAMMY-nominated R&B singer/songwriter Tamia and husband, All-Star NBA player, Grant Hill; teenage medical innovator Tony Hansberry, II; youth empowerment activist Mary-Pat Hector; and McDonald’s owner/operators, Tina and Harold Lewis.
“Helping others and giving back are critical components to making our community stronger, and it was moving to witness the number of celebrities and community members who supported the event,” said Chaka Khan, founder of The Chaka Khan Foundation. “I am humbled I was chosen to receive the 365Black Award with such an amazing group of individuals who also embrace community service. I commend McDonald’s for their ongoing efforts to make community service a priority.”
Khan closed the ceremony with a surprise performance. Singer/songwriter Marsha Ambrosius, national television journalist Roland Martin, entertainment correspondent Janell Snowden and R&B singer Tank were among the celebrities on-hand at the ceremony which was hosted by actor Laz Alonso.
GRAMMY winning gospel star Fred Hammond, GRAMMY-nominated artists Melanie Fiona and Eric Benet, and hip-hop legend Doug E. Fresh also gave performances to help pay tribute to the honorees.
“We remain steadfast in our commitment to recognize and celebrate people who are doing significant work for the community,” said Rob Jackson, U.S. marketing director, McDonald’s USA. “From what our operators do in their local communities to our efforts around the globe, McDonald’s supports multiple programs that help build feelings of pride and inclusion and work to make our communities stronger.”
McDonald’s 365Black Awards launched in 2003 as an extension of McDonald’s 365Black platform, created to celebrate the pride, heritage and achievements of African-Americans year-round. This year’s event was hosted as a prelude to the ESSENCE Music Festival weekend.