Mixing It Up

A closer look at cultural diversity

NAACP Image Awards Celebrity Sightings

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I went to a viewing event for the NAACP Image Awards in Newark at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center on Friday.

At the event, Roslyn Brock, the NAACP chairman, and A. Barry Rand, the CEO of AARP, presented Cathy Hughes with the 2012 Chairman’s Award.

Cathy Hughes is the first and only African-American woman who chairs a publicly owned company, Radio One. TV One is an African-American network owned by her company.

“Tonight is truly the most memorable night of my career,” Hughes said.

The presentation and her acceptance speech were fed into the Image Awards show, which was taped in Los Angeles.

Brian McKnight and Lalah Hathaway, both R&B singers, performed with musical director Ray Chew. I remember Ray Chew and his “crew” from Showtime at The Apollo.

Also in attendance were Rev. Al Sharpton, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, and Pastor Joe Carter, of New Hope Baptist Church, where Whitney Houston’s funeral took place the following day.

It was great to have the opportunity to attend this event and meet such accomplished people.

During the event, I asked Cathy Hughes for business advice. Hughes said to always follow your dreams, and keep your business challenges to yourself.

“Sometimes loved ones give you the worst advice,” she said.

I asked Lalah Hathaway, why it’s important to keep music programs in public schools for students.

“Music makes them smarter,” she said. “It’s not something we can just throw away.”

Hathaway advised children to listen to as much music as they could so they could hear different types and styles.

A. Barry Rand said he plans to have AARP continue to collaborate with the NAACP, just as the two organizations did for the Image Awards. Rand wants to make sure people more than 50 years old live great and healthy lives, he said.

And last but not least, I asked Roslyn Brock what the role of the NAACP is now.

I recently wrote an article about African-American History in Danbury, where several NAACP members told me they used to have marches sit-ins.  But that the NAACP doesn’t do those things anymore.

Brock said the NAACP is now more proactive in communities of color instead of reactive.

“We shape the agenda instead of responding to it,” said Brock.

One NAACP initiative is educating students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities about health topics such as HIV/AIDS.

It was a great night.