Vote It Loud hosted its first ever Multicultural Media Correspondents Dinner. The star-studded event paid tribute to cultured media experts who don’t receive the recognition they deserve in mainstream media. Vote It Loud Corp. is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit corporation established to inform people of color that civic engagement can be used as an effective means to influence and alter social, political and economic policy. Its mission is to provide people of color with the necessary tools and relevant information to make informed decisions. The exclusive, invitation-only black-tie gathering was held at The National Press Club in downtown Washington, D.C., just blocks away from the White House.
Funnyman Chris Spencer from “Real Husbands of Hollywood” hosted the dinner, but he wasn’t the only comedian in the room. Comedians Alonzo Bodden and Aida Rodriguez brought down the house receiving standing ovations. The ultimate comedian, Jamie Foxx, surprised guests right before the dinner commenced. The actor, singer-songwriter accepted the Icon Award later in the evening. During his speech, Foxx acknowledged how negatively mainstream media portrays people of color but also how they often dismiss their accolades. He briefly spoke about the importance of starting events such as the Multicultural Media Correspondents Dinner as well as how honored he was to be invited.
Host of TV One’s “News One Now” morning show, Roland Martin, interviewed the political figures, entertainment moguls and media mavens who graced the red carpet. Pras Michel, one of the founding members of the hip-hop group, the Fugees, represented the gathering. The Grammy Award-Winning artist is chair of Vote It Loud. He spoke about how important the night was to him and gave his thoughts on modern-day protestin. He stated that “traditional protesting doesn’t do anything. It just makes noise, and then you’re going to just have these idiots out there that’s going to take advantage of that, and then what you'[re] trying to say, gets disrupted. The way you protest is, for example- understanding the black consumption ‘dollar power’ in America. [It’s] over a trillion dollars. So, if we just sat back for one day and said ‘You know what, we’re not going to consume!’ There’d be a lot of bills passed in our favor … because that’s how corporations survive. It’s based on dollars. But if you don’t understand your value, then how [do] you expect someone else to tell you what your value is?” He went on to say, “It’s great to see a lot of black people together. This shows power in unity and strength. I think the more we see this, the more we’re going to be a formidable challenge to the status quo.”
Honorees of the night included:
Charles B. Rangel- Lifetime Achievement Award
Jamie Foxx- Media Icon Award
Armstrong Williams- Media Owner of the Year
Kim Keenan- Media Executive of the Year
Yvette Clarke- Special Recognition
Todd F. Brown- Champion in Media- Fifth Estate (Online Media)
Victor Shiblie- Champion in Media- International
Richard Lui- Champion in Media- Broadcast Journalism (Politics)
Patricia Guadalupe- Champion in Media- Print
Cenk Uyger- Champion in Media- Fifth Estate (TV)
Blanquita Cullum- Champion in Media (Radio)
Having the opportunity to speak amongst their peers to voice opinions and stand as a united front will show mainstream media that it will have to pay attention to people of color. It is a great conversation provoker. As comedian and actress Aida Rodriguez stated, “I think it’s very important for us to reinforce within ourselves that we are here, and we’re here for each other, specifically with the media. The media dictates so heavily how we feel about ourselves. There’s so much that’s told to us through the media … The narratives are just so negative. We need each other. I am supported by mainstream media and I do things that are more mainstream. I was on NBC but, at the end of the day, I always want to come home. It’s very important to me to have the support of my people and to be in the company of my people. I love us and I won’t stop. I talk about this a lot. It’s very important for Black and brown people to unite, because I think that together we will be the most powerful force here. They divide us for a reason.” She also went on to speak about the two “E’s” that she supports the most: “To me, it’s the two E’s- education and economics. Higher education is key and I think we need to learn to put our money into our own businesses. Sometimes, you’d go a little longer and pass Best Buy to support that other business.”
With the success of the inaugural media dinner, next year’s event is sure to be even better.