NEW ORLEANS — Grammy-winning singer Toni Braxton was serenaded by her sisters, The Braxtons, while award-winning actress Wendy Raquel Robinson enveloped the theater with her incandescent personality as among the highlights of the 13th annual McDonald’s 365Black Awards that honored celebrities, athletes, educators and entrepreneurs which took place in Crescent City during the Essence Music Festival.
Hosted by lady killer Lance Gross (“Tyler Perry’s House of Payne” and Meet the Browns movie) and actress Amber Riley, McDonalds365 took place at the New Orleans Theater inside the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Braxton (“Unbreak My Heart”) and Robinson (“Steve Harvey Show,” “The Game”) were honored alongside former NFL cornerback Charles Tillman, educator and historian Lonnie Bunch, and McDonald’s owner/operatorLarry Triplett.
Equally exciting is the devotion to illuminating the achievements of young black boys and girls. McDonalds365 recognized teen philanthropist Lauren Seroyer and teen social-entrepreneur Donovan Smith with the third McDonald’s 365Black Community Choice Youth Award, which was facilitated by Thurgood Marshall College Fund. Thurgood Marshall, by the way, was most famous for the leading the legendary “Brown vs. Board of Education” decision that outlawed the pernicious “separate but equal” school in the South and introduced integration into the school system. He was also appointed to serve as a justice at the U.S. Supreme Court in the nation’s Capitol.
A showstopping moment came when the The Braxton Sisters performed a singing tribute to their eldest sister Toni prior to her being bestowed the Lifetime Achievement award. Vocal powerhouse Kelly Price, along with recording artists Kenny Lattimore, V. Bozeman and Eric Benet joined the sisters in the esteemed accolade to Toni. Anthony Hamilton and the Hamiltones, Chrisette Michele, Ro James and Canton Jones led the other crowd-moving performances at the awards.
Actresses Sheryl Lee Ralph, Ta’Rhonda Jones, Erica Ash and Gabrielle Dennis, along with actors Cornelius Smith Jr., Ronreaco Lee and Jay Ellis, were among this year’s presenters. Other celebrities in attendance included recording artists Jordin Sparks, Avery Wilson and Guordan Banks, as well as music producer Sean Garrett and comedian/philanthropist Ricky Smith.
McDonald’s 365Black Awards are given annually to salute outstanding individuals who are committed to making positive contributions that strengthen the African-American community. The program 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.
“We salute this year’s honorees for all of their achievements and for positively contributing to their communities,” said William Rhodes, McDonald’s U.S. marketing director. “It is important to acknowledge people who are making a real difference. We at McDonald’s are proud to be able to honor this group with this form of recognition. We hope it inspires them and others to continue to make positive impact.”
Actor, comedian and popular internet personality King Bach brought his large social media following along to the event, posting photos from the signature gold carpet prior to the ceremony.
Those who missed the live awards ceremony can share in the experience by watching the broadcast on BET® Networks and CENTRIC later this summer. Additionally, consumers can follow @365Black on Twitter for commentary on the awards and join the conversation using #365BlackAwards.
Take a look at some of the photo highlights from the McDonad’s #365BlackAwards.