Organizations showcasing people of color have been part of the national diversity debate ever since the mostly White 2016 Academy Award nominees were announced earlier this winter.
Thankfully, ImageNation has helped celebrate an alluring ray of outstanding talent and entertainment in Hollywood for years. Their legacy continued in New York last week at the Revolution Awards.
NewsOne was present for the Harlem-based organization’s show, in which they honored director Ava DuVernay, Black Lives Matter, actress and playwright Danai Gurira, actor Hill Harper, and MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry. Among the attendees included the cast of the award-winning play Eclipsed, actress Susan Kelechi Watson, Emmy award-winning hairstylist Lavette Slayer, writer Michaela Angela Davis, and brand strategist Marvet Britto.
The event was hosted by 103.9FM’s on-air personality Terry Bello and ImageNation founders Moikgantsi Kgama and Gregory Gates.
Harris-Perry was the recipient of the Ida B. Wells Award for Journalism presented by Black Girls Rock founder Beverly Bond. She expressed the importance of Black youth following their dreams.
DuVernay wasn’t present to receive her award due to her latest TV project “Queen Sugar” with Oprah’s OWN network, but she recorded a special video praising ImageNation:
“ImageNation was one of the very first organizations I aligned with when I was launching AFFRM in 2010. AFFRM is now ARRAY and ImageNation has been there with us every step of the way.”
Ava also offered a personal message to each of the other honorees, saying about Danai Gurira,
“I feel fortunate to live in a world where a voice like that not only exists but is being amplified and is shining so beautifully.”She also shared her love for Melissa Harris-Perry’s MSNBC show, saying, “She is a triumph sitting there on that show every week, a triumph for women, a triumph for people of color, a triumph for people who believe in justice and dignity, a triumph for nerds.”
Another special moment was when Black Panther Party member Yasmeen Sutton presented the Revolution Award for Freedom to Black Lives Matter member Nakisha Lewis, who accepted the award on behalf of BLM founders Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi.
Following the awards, Sway Calloway introduced the short film The Cycle and the movie 1982, starring Harper, Sharon Leal, La La Anthony, Ruby Dee, and Wayne Brady.
Kgama shared her delight about the awards with NewsOne:
“We are so thankful for everyone who supported and helped make this year’s Revolution Awards a stellar celebration of Black art and activism. The energy was truly electric,” Kgama said. “We ask that people continue to stand in solidarity by donating to ImageNation’s Sol Cinema campaign to open a boutique theater in Harlem devoted to independent Black film.”
To learn more about ImageNation, check them out here.
PHOTO CREDIT: Raymond Hagans, Terrance Jennings, Getty