Star Jones has moved on from NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice” with dignity and grace and is doing what she does best, hobnobbing. The lawyer, TV personality and author (Satan’s Sisters) served as mistress of ceremonies for the National Coalition of Black Civic Participation’s 35th Anniversary and their 14th Annual Spirit of Democracy Awards Black & White Gala, an event honoring individuals and organizations who have demonstrated a commitment to creating balance in the democratic process and support the organization’s mission of making civic participation a cultural responsibility and tradition.
“Our esteemed honorees exemplify our theme of leadership, engagement and empowerment. Each of their remarks touched on issues ranging from the crisis in education to civil rights and the assault on labor unions,” said Melanie L. Campbell, president and CEO of The National Coalition. “This year, the 35th anniversary of the organization, our audience left with a charge to get to work so we can keep moving forward instead of backward.”
In commemoration of the anniversary celebration, the founders of The National Coalition were recognized, including longtime National Coalition events manager Ruby Pulliam and a posthumous special tribute to Dr. Ronald Walters, a renowned political scientist and the organization’s founder.
The 2011 Spirit Award honorees were:
• Dennis Van Roekel, president, National Education Association, was presented with the Educational Innovation and Empowerment Award by Arlene Holt-Baker, the executive vice president of AFL-CIO.
• Randi Weingarten, president, American Federation of Teachers, was presented with the Educational Innovation and Empowerment Award by Holt-Baker.
• Yelberton Watkins, chief of staff, Congressman James Clyburn’s office, was given the Emerging Leader Award by Lyndon Boozer,vice president, AT&T federal affairs.
• Wade Henderson, president and CEO, Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights, was presented with the Trailblazer Award by Howard E. Woolley, senior vice president, strategic alliances and wireless policy at Verizon Communications.
• Minyon Moore, principal, Dewey Square Group, was given Economic and Community Empowerment Award by Rev. Leah Daughtry, House of the Lord Church.
• Rev. Al Sharpton, president, National Action Network, was presented with the Chairman’s Visionary Leadership Award by Melanie L. Campbell.
“In 1976, The National Coalition launched the first nationally coordinated coalition to register 15 million Black people to vote. Today, we bear witness to the impact The National’s Coalition’s work has had on the number of elected officials in office,” said Kevin Parker, principal, Capital Consulting Group, and 35th Anniversary Spirit Host Committee chair. “We have Black members of congress, mayors, and the election of the first African American president of the United States, President Barack Obama. Thank you for your dedication and commitment.” –yvette caslin