Inaugural Culture and Arts Ball spotlights Black excellence in Chicago

Binta Kai (Photo credit: Gordon Oliver Jr. / GLO Photography)

A few hundred patrons gathered at the Millenium Knickerbocker Hotel near Chicago’s famous Michigan Avenue for the inaugural Culture and Arts Ball. Presented by the MOVEMAKERS, Pyramid, Civilized Lifestyle, and the 2019 Culture & Arts Ball Committee, and sponsored by Ciroc, Don Julio, and Gentlemen Jack, the black-tie evening was filled with Black excellence.

“The Chicago Culture Ball is and will continue to be an annual celebratory and fundraising gala,” said Ronald Pratt, one of the event coordinators. “The gala honors and recognizes Chicagoans who have contributed to the enhancement, development, and progression of the Chicago culture through their work in or outside of Chicago.”

The event, held on Saturday, April 20, 2019, was co-hosted by Kyle Santillian of WGCI’s “Chicago Morning Takeover” radio show and Felicia Lawrence from WCIU-TV’s “The Jam” morning show.

The honorees were: music store owner George Daniels; president of Loop Capital Markets Kourtney Gibson; Fashion Geek owner Alonzo Jackson; city council treasurer Kurt Summers; former mayoral candidate Amara Aniya; hip-hop talent scout John Monopoly; former professional athlete and philanthropist Isreal Idonije; award-winning author Luvvie Ajai; and tech entrepreneur Astin Hayes.

Luvvie Ajai (center) and friends (Photo credit: Gordon Oliver Jr. / GLO Photography)

The event also included DJs Mark Fuller and Sean Mac, a silent art auction and a worthy cause. A percentage of the proceeds were donated to the Swish Dreams Education and Sports Foundation, which seeks to expose children to a “Swish Education” that uses sports to teach literacy, leadership and youth fitness.

Bobby Burke (Photo credit: Gordon Oliver Jr. / GLO Photography)
Eddie Santana White (Photo credit: Gordon Oliver Jr. / GLO Photography)

We were also able to speak with a few artists and patrons of the venue, including Eddie Santana White, a Chicago native and self-taught artist who goes by Edo. “This is my first time being dressed up ever,” he mused. “It feels good. Everyone looks beautiful. This is an amazing event.”

(L-R) Carmen Christina Cade and Taylor Griffin (Photo credit: Gordon Oliver Jr. / GLO Photography)

The night felt like every beautiful bar in the “Murder to Excellence” song on Jay-Z and Kanye West’s Watch the Throne album.

It’s a celebration of Black excellence, black tie, black Maybachs/ Black excellence/ Tuxes next to the president, I’m present/ I dress in Dries and other boutique stores in Paris.

Maybe they can get Obama next year?

Laura Miller
Laura Miller

Born in the City of Wind, Laura Miller is a freelance writer who covers entertainment/media, politics and music. She also is the Creator of The SistaGurl Blog, an empowerment blog for women of color. Follow her journey on IG: @lauramillerpens, Twitter: @80sbaby_83 and website www.thesistagurl.com.

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