entrepreneurs and corporate executives to entertainment and community leaders, the publication includes a variety of occupations and personalities. Gracing the coveted cover are Congressman John Lewis, Fox 5 News anchor Lisa Rayam, Wade Ford owner Steve Ewing and Atlanta Business League President and CEO Leona Barr-Davenport.
“Who’s Who in Black Atlanta” Associate Publisher Wayne Brown said he hopes that the book can be used to motivate youth and future leaders.
“I think the biggest thing we can do right now is give our future, our youth, hope. And what I mean by that is that they need to see these stories and they need to read these stories so they can know who they can become. You can’t be who you can’t see. So many times the images and the role models they see are just not present. I’ve been in corporate America for over 30 years and I pick this book up that we’ve done all across the country and I’m still amazed at some of the things that Black folks are doing,” said Brown.
Jackson echoed Brown’s comments and brought straight talk to describe the honorees and what they exemplify. “You’re not the people that they’re talking about on the six o’clock news every night. We ain’t all gang-banging. We ain’t all selling crack. We ain’t shooting people,” said Jackson. “We search the country and every year, we find the most talented people in the world who happen to be African Americans and we tell the world about you.”
Wade Ford’s Ewing, also one of the event sponsors, spoke about his initiative to hire African-American talent, and how he has been an advocate for African Americans at Ford. Ford recently ran an advertising campaign featuring actor Boris Kodjoe, which Ewing acknowledged.
Atlanta City Council President Caesar Mitchell brought greetings and thanks from Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. “I’m here to say how thankful I am that Who’s Who is willing and has chosen to make Atlanta one of the cities where it highlights the achievements of the African-American community, where it shows how deeply we are entrenched in the notion of success and the notion of networking, the notion of making a difference in the community and the notion of making ourselves better individually and one community at a time,” said Mitchell.
Walt Dukes, vice president of land development for Georgia Power, another sponsor, reminded the honorees that while they may sometimes feel isolated at the top, the Who’s Who publication should serve as a motivator to work harder.
“I think this recognition tonight certainly will serve as encouragement to those who are continuing to blaze the trail. There are times when we serve as leaders, sometimes we are out there alone and sometimes when we’re doing our products or whatever position of leadership you are in, sometimes you are by yourself. But when somebody comes along and recognizes it, it’s good because it gives us encouragement to continue to go on and be that beacon and share more light and be an example for those to follow us,” said Dukes.
Dukes underscored one of the most poignant messages of the night in stating that “to whom much is given, much is required.”