Submitted by: Deborah Smith

Host Wayne Brady opened the show bringing his sexy on with his parodies and freestyle on the audience. He and all of his assistants, including Anthony Anderson, were very entertaining.

The first award of the night, the Corporate Citizen Award, went to Ken Chennault, CEO of American Express since 2001.  Mr. Chennault says be courteous, but push forward and get the job done.  Believe in yourself, be proud and work hard.  Make a difference.  Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve excellence.  Parents, you must instill values into your children.  You can make a difference by focusing on what you can control.  For those of you who fought for rights and freedom, we stand on your shoulders.

Entertainer of the Year Award was presented to none other than Ice Cube.   Ice Cube, a Hip Hop pioneer is now an accomplished writer, Hollywood actor and owns his own production company.  A family man. Keeping it real. He has a love for his art.  “It provides feeling”.  Ice Cube says, “Love it or hate it, thanks for watching me paint.”

The Visionary Award went to the incomparable Barry Gordy Jr. who created the greatest record company in the world.  The year was 1959 in Detroit and Motown was born. Barry Gordy Jr.  had a vision that Black Music was for everybody.  He is not only successful in music production but also a pioneer in black film production. He is trailblazing the entertainment industry now with ‘Motown on Broadway’ touring the country and to open in Chicago April 2014.  A vision is to imagine and have passion.  Motown was all about LOVE.  Motown, a fairy tale that came true.

The Visual Arts Award went to little know but internationally renowned photographer, Carrie Mae Weems.  Her visionary journey began on her 18th birthday when she received a Nikon camera.  Her father taught her so much in life.  She has many works that touch the core of life and family.  Carrie Mae Weems would like to be remembered for being fair and honest.  In her thanks she appreciates BET and Debra Lee for going beyond the bounds of Popular Culture and giving her this award.

Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, was awarded the Music Arts Award.  She has the most recognized voice of the world.  17 Grammys and over 50 years of performance she is not done yet.  Karen Clark-Sheard, Aretha’s son, granddaughter and Jennifer Hudson all gave great performing tributes to her.

To close out the evening Aretha sang a beautiful rendition of ‘I was Born by the River’ in tribute to the Honorable Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela who was awarded the Champion of Humanity Award.  2 of Madiba’s grandchildren accepted the award remembering him as a selfless person of greatness and humility. They also remember their Grandfather’s teaching ‘we have to rise to our highest self’ and ‘there can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children’.

Submitted by Deborah Smith


I have functioned as a Business and Media Consultant over the past sixteen years and spent many years developing my capacity to function in our ever evolving use of technology, communication, education and training.