Grammy Award Winner Howard Hewett Photos: Courtesy CAU photographer Curtis McDowell

CAU Boasts Successful 9th Annual Spirit of Greatness Gala Raising Thousands of Dollars

Hundreds of Clark Atlanta University alumni, dignitaries and celebrities filled the Omni Hotel Saturday night to raise educational scholarships for CAU students.  The 9th Annual Spirit of Greatness Gala recognized alumni and pioneers who are making a positive contribution to CAU and society.

“Tonight is a recognition that our future is as bright as our past,” says CAU President Ronald A. Johnson. “We are the essence of the spirit of greatness. The essence of our culture.”

The evening of elegance honored Kenya Barris, Clark Atlanta University 1996, producer, writer and creator of the critically acclaimed ABC Network sitcom “Black-ish”; The Honorable Brenda Hill Cole, Atlanta University 1967, Fulton County State Court Senior Judge; Horace Henry, Clark College 1971, world-renowned photographer;  Anthony White, Clark Atlanta University 1999, Emmy-award winning videographer and journalist; Al B. Reid, Clark College 1983, vice president of corporate development at Abbott Laboratories; and Steve Ewing, president and owner of Wade Ford.  The event was emceed by KDKA-CBS Pittsburgh Anchor Lisa Washington Rushing and former DeKalb County Interim CEO Lee May, both Clark Atlanta University 1998 alumni.

Barris who started his career by selling jokes to comedians, kept the crowd laughing during his acceptance speech but then turned sentimental as he reminisced. “Clark Atlanta University played an integral part in the success I enjoy today”, he said.  “The lessons, friendships, trials, and triumphs gained during my time at CAU all helped propel me to where I am now.”

Like Barris, several of the honorees spoke of their humble beginnings, “My mom had me at the age of 15, we didn’t have much, says White who’s emotional speech had the crowd in tears. “We couldn’t afford for me to go to college, then one day I got a call from CAU, they accepted me, and that’s why I am here today,” added the tearful 12 time Emmy Award winner.

The Spirit of Greatness Gala to date has raised more than $1.5 million for CAU students.  Alumni from all over the country attend the black-tie gala. This year, actor/comedian Justin Hires of Stomp the Yard21 Jump Street and Rush Hour made a surprise visit.

Guests dined and danced to the sounds of Grammy-winner Howard Hewett.

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