ATLANTA — U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and ex-NBA All-Star, Grant Hill, may have been the celebrity honorees, but Morehouse College’s 27th Annual “Candle in the Dark” gala belonged to the “Morehouse men.” Some of the best and brightest to graduate from the iconic instituion were honored for their astounding career achievements that marveled and spellbound the distinguished audience inside the Centennial Ballroom at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta.
Take Paul Q. Judge for example. As a man who thought he’d never get past his first semester at Morehouse, he has gone on to found multiple high-tech security companies, is an inventor of 30 patents and patent-pending computer technologies and named one of the men to watch in business and technology by MIT’s Technology Review, Black Enterprise, The Network Journal and the Baton Rouge Business Report.
How about former corporate lawyer Eugen Vernon Wade Jr., a man who has founded UniversityNow, a San Francisco-based social venture that operates two online universities, Patten University and New Charter University. Wade, who has a law degree from Harvard and a masters of administration from the esteemed Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, is the CEO of the first online universities that are fully accredited and self-paced and offering affordable, pay-as-you-go tuition models.
Or you can talk about Robert Benjamin Crews Jr., an airport concessions magnate who has operations in the nation’s biggest airports, including Washington, Pittsburgh, Orlando, New York, Chicago, Denver, Dallas, Seattle and Atlanta.
Or how about Thomas Moorehead, the first African American to ever own a Rolls Royce dealership. He not only also owns or owns a BMW franchise and a Harley Davidson motorcycle store, but he also purchased a Marriott Residence Inn in suburban Washington D.C. and boasts 40 other properties in his illustrious portfolio.
“I want to pause and pay tribute to this event, because this event celebrates the best of who we are. And that is truly significant. You know it’s good to stare down (the stereotypes) and focus on what black men can do instead of what we can’t do. It’s important to focus on our virtues instead of always focusing on our vices. It’s important to focus on our wholeness instead of on our brokenness,” said John Silvanus Wilson Jr., president of Morehouse. “Attention America: not all black men are broken and broke. Some of us — many of us — are whole and even holy.”
And, we might add, very successful.
“I’m a proud black man, but I’m also a proud Morehouse Man,” he continued. “That’s what this night is about. But it’s also about paying it forward. You being here tonight ensures that our students graduate on time and go out into the world and make a lasting impact.”
The Candle in the Dark ceremony was emceed respectively by the master and mistress of ceremonies, actor Darrin Henson and Malinda Williams (both Showtime’s “Soul Food” alumni) and included the likes of Henry Aaron and wife Billye, Grant Hill’s wife Tamia, Jasmine Guy, Spelman President Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum and Morehouse School of Medicine president Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice. And it included a mutual congratulations from the first African American to lead the Justice Department, which oversees the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“Former President Benjamin Mays (was among those) wanted to end the injustices and the sufferings in society and who accepted the responsibility for correcting these ills,” said Holder, who accepted the award via videotape from Washington. “Throughout the illustrious history of this remarkable institution and its graduates, the school has absolutely heeded the call.”
The honorees of “A Candle in the Dark” gala were:
Bennie Achievement: Paul Q. Judge, Class of 1998
Bennie Trailblazer: Eugene Vernon Wade Jr., Class of 1992
Candle in Entrepreneur: Robert Benjamin Crews Jr.
Candle in Business: Thomas Allen Moorehead
Candle in Sports and Entertainment: Grant Henry Hill
Candle for Lifetime Achievement in Law, Civil Rights and Social Justice: Eric H. Holder Jr., head of the U.S. Department of Justice
Take a look at the photos from the Morehouse College’s Founder’s Weekend that climaxed with “A Candle in the Dark” soiree.
Photos: Terry Shropshire