Trailblazers in film, media and activism were celebrated Wednesday, Feb. 10 at the ImageNation Revolution Awards in New York. Held at the SVA Theatre in Chelsea, the sold-out event was hosted by 103.9 FM personality Terry Bello and featured a night of award presenting, music, and film.
Singer Jeremy James opened the ceremony with a special performance. Afterward, a video message from filmmaker Ava DuVernay was played, since she was unable to attend. She was presented with the Revolution Award for Trailblazing Achievements.
“ImageNation was one of the very first organizations I aligned with when I was launching AFFRM in 2010. AFFRM is now ARRAY and ImageNation has been there with us every step of the way,” DuVernay said.
She expressed that images of people of color and women are extremely necessary in her field. She then shared appreciation for the other honorees, including “The Walking Dead” actress and Revolution Award for Artistic Excellence recipient Danai Gurira, who also wrote the upcoming Broadway play Eclipsed.
“I feel fortunate to live in a world where a voice like that not only exists but is being amplified and is shining so beautifully,” she said of Gurira.
The Selma director also spoke highly of MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry, who was presented the Ida B. Wells Revolution Award for Excellence in Journalism. “She is a triumph sitting there on that show every week, a triumph for women, a triumph for people of color, a triumph for people who believe in justice and dignity, a triumph for nerds,” DuVernay said of Perry.
Filmmaker Tommy Oliver presented actor, author, and activist Hill Harper with the Revolution Award for Art & Activism. To wrap up the night, former Black Panther Party member Yasmeen Sutton spoke about the group’s 50 year anniversary and labeled 2016 as the Year of the Panther. Black Lives Matter member Nakisha Lewis then accepted the Revolution Award on behalf of BLM founders Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi. The night closed with music by DJ Esxence and jazz singer Candice Hoyes.
After the ceremony, Sway Calloway introduced a short film on racial profiling that he produced entitled The Cycle. He then introduced the feature film of the night, 1982, which stars Harper, Ruby Dee, and Wayne Brady.
Harper, 1982 director Oliver, psychologist Jeff Gardere, actress Troi Zee, and activist Michaela Angela Davis then gathered for a thought-provoking panel discussion.