Awards trumpet 'real' achievement
By A. SCOTT WALTON
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 04/26/05
He came dressed in his finest formalwear — a custom tux and gleaming silver necktie — like all the other attendees. But the rich and famous comedic actor Chris Tucker best summed up the appeal of Monday night's Trumpet Awards ceremony at the Georgia World Congress Center by commenting, "I'm just here to see people who've done some real stuff."
Real stuff like showing selfless dedication to civil rights, overachieving both in and out of the sports arena, wielding political power responsibly, and leading untold thousands down the path of righteousness.
The Trumpet Awards, held annually since 1993, highlight the accomplishments of African-Americans and their champions from all walks of life.
Monday night's honorees included Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin; tennis phenoms Venus and Serena Williams; comic-turned-activist Dick Gregory; theologians Charles E. Blake, T.D. Jakes, Eddie Long and Vashti Murphy McKenzie; hair care magnate Joe Louis Dudley; former Detroit Mayor and Michigan Supreme Court Justice Dennis Archer; and pop singer Beyoncé Knowles, who was a last-minute no-show.
Father Theodore Hesburgh, president emeritus of Notre Dame University, made sure he was there to receive the inaugural Humanitarian Award.
"I've all but stopped traveling because I'm losing my eyesight and I walk with this cane," said Hesburgh, 87. "But for various reasons I had to make it here, not the least of which being the fact that Atlanta was always the most civil of Southern cities during the movement leading to the signing of the Civil Rights Act."
President Lyndon B. Johnson, who signed that act into law in 1964, was honored with a Trumpet Award posthumously Monday night.
"This is a premium invitation," said radio host Ryan Cameron. "Being here with people this powerful makes me feel like I've arrived again."
It was also a good experience for the newly arrived, such as Clark Atlanta University graduate Eva Pigford, recent winner of the reality television show "America's Next Top Model."
"I'm new to all this," Pigford said. "I'm humbled to be among all this greatness."
Xernona Clayton, founder and president of the Trumpet Awards Foundation, said the black-tie gala broke attendance records with more than 1,700 invitees.
Most — such as Tucker, former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Atlanta City Council President Lisa Borders — attended in support of the Trumpets' noble cause. But the sight of a seemingly endless stream of celebrities and dignitaries on the red carpet has been a Trumpet Awards drawing card each year as well.
The Williams sisters — dressed, respectively, in Dolce & Gabbana and Betsey Johnson — certainly didn't disappoint the film crews who crowded the red carpet in unprecedented numbers.
Neither did Pigford (sheer white cap-sleeved dress by Chloe); "Beauty Shop" co-star LisaRaye (sheer white wrap dress by Versace) or "Apprentice" femme fatale Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth (yellow column gown by Roberto Cavalli).
"We fight and scramble just like every girl hassling with our clothes and hair and makeup to the very last minute," Venus Williams said. "But it all comes together in the end."
A three-hour-long Trumpet Awards special, complete with a one-hour red carpet preview, will air on the TV One cable network on June 5, with replays scheduled tentatively throughout that month. (Time TBA, depending on the NBA playoffs.)