NEW ORLEANS, July 5, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Notable community leaders, celebrities and entertainers were out in full force at this year's McDonald's 365Black Awards, held today at the New Orleans Theater in the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. They were joined by a full house of spectators who converged to salute this year's recipients of the distinguished award, including civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton; film producer Will Packer; music executive Kevin Liles; inspirational leader Iyanla Vanzant; former NFL athlete Dhani Jones; and McDonald's owner/operator Henry Coaxum. Additionally, artist Skyler Grey and entrepreneur Gabrielle Jordan Williams were recognized alongside this lineup with the first-ever McDonald's 365Black Community Choice Youth Award.
McDonald's 365Black Awards are given annually to salute outstanding individuals who are committed to making positive contributions that strengthen the African-American community. The program launched in 2003 as an extension of the company's 365Black platform, created to celebrate the pride, heritage and achievements of African Americans year-round. This year's event was hosted by actor/television host Terrence 'J' Jenkins and actress Tika Sumpter and was held in conjunction with ESSENCE Festival™ presented by Coca-Cola®.
Prior to the ceremony, national television journalist Janell Snowden covered the celebrity action from the "golden" carpet wearing a dress designed exclusively by TraVonne Walker, winner of the McCafe - Harlem's Fashion Row® University Student Design Competition and guided by fashion design reality television alum Kimberly Goldson.
R&B recording artist and New Orleans' own Ledisi opened the show and got the crowd in the mood for the soulful sounds of Pastor Kim Burrell, Tank, Leela James, Jazmine Sullivan, Kierra Sheard and Mali Music. Singer/actress Michelle Williams, veteran radio personality Tom Joyner, news correspondent Soledad O'Brien, film director Warrington Hudlin, actress Naturi Naughton and news correspondent Nischelle Turner were among celebrities on hand to present the illustrious awards. Celebrities in attendance included news correspondent Roland Martin; recording artist Raheem DeVaughn; the cast of Preachers of L.A., including Minister Deitrick Haddon, Pastor Wayne Chaney, Pastor Jay Haizlip and Bishop Ron Gibson; actress/singer Demetria McKinney; Grammy-nominated gospel recording artist Anita Wilson; and singer/songwriter Jesse Boykins III."We commend all of this year's honorees for their diligent service and dedication to bettering our communities," said Rob Jackson, McDonald's U.S. marketing director. "We are proud to continue this tradition of recognition and are grateful for the contributions of all 365Black Awards honorees, both past and present." Those who missed the live awards ceremony can share in the experience by watching the broadcast on BET® Networks on August 10 at 10 p.m. EDT/ 9 p.m. CDT. The awards ceremony will also air on CENTRIC on August 17 at 11 p.m. EDT/ 10 p.m. CDT. Additionally, consumers can follow @McDScene on Twitter for commentary on the awards and join the conversation using #365BlackAwards. About McDonald's McDonald's USA, LLC, serves a variety of menu options made with quality ingredients to more than 27 million customers every day. Nearly 90 percent of McDonald's 14,000 U.S. restaurants are independently owned and operated by businessmen and women. Customers can now log online for free at approximately 11,500 participating Wi-Fi enabled McDonald's U.S. restaurants. For more information, visit www.mcdonalds.com, or follow us on Twitter @McDonalds and Facebook www.facebook.com/mcdonalds. To learn more about the 365Black initiative, visit www.365Black.com. About BET Networks: BET Networks, a subsidiary of Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIA, VIAB), is the nation's leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs television programming for the African-American audience. The primary BET channel reaches more than 90 million households and can be seen in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom and sub-Saharan Africa. BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of business extensions: BET.com, a leading Internet destination for Black entertainment, music, culture, and news; CENTRIC, a 24-hour entertainment network targeting the 25- to 54-year-old African-American audience; BET Digital Networks - BET Gospel and BET Hip Hop, attractive alternatives for cutting-edge entertainment tastes; BET Home Entertainment, a collection of BET-branded offerings for the home environment including DVDs and video-on-demand; BET Event Productions, a full-scale event management and production company with festivals and live events spanning the globe; BET operates in the United Kingdom and oversees the extension of BET network programming for global distribution. The following trademarks used herein are owned by McDonald's Corporation and its affiliates: 365Black, McCafe and McDonald's. ©2014 McDonald's