The Root, an online news source from an African American perspective, honored 100 of the most influential African Americans under 45 who shape our daily dialogue with work that matters. The honorees ranged from journalists, politicians, musicians, athletes, clergy, and activists to TV producers. The event took place on November 5 in Washington, DC. More than an awards event, the purpose of the Roots first ever awards gala was to reach back to bring others along the way. Publisher Donna L. Byrd of The Root expressed the event’s purpose as” a forum for the whole to exceed the sum of its parts.”
Honoree DJ Beverly Bond, producer of BET’s Black Girls Rock, challenged The Root 100 honorees not just to accept the recognition and accolades but challenged them to “each one teach one” in the words of the African proverb. She stated that African Americans stand on the shoulders of giants and “it is our obligation to each one teach one” and “usher someone else along the way”. DJ extraordinaire Beverly Bond has used the arts to teach young girls that they must put in the work to get good results.
Honoree Josh DuBois, Director of the White House’s Faith Based Fatherhood Initiatives, working with young boys, spoke about the White House and his role on fatherhood in watering the seeds of every 12 year old boy to greatness, whether from Anacostia Washington, DC, Detroit to the Mississippi Delta. In all areas, we are all connected and we are all affected. NAACP president and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous, honored for his exemplary activist work in bringing awareness to Troy Davis and the death penalty spoke about the need for activism which moves anger to progress.
I asked honoree Jamal Simmons, Principal of the Raben group for his advice to young persons on being successful. He said the most important thing to remember is to do things your own way—to strike out on your own path. And each of the 100 honorees has done exactly that while reaching back and paving a way for others to make their way.
The Root 100 gala gave new meaning and life to the term “party with a purpose.” Attendees had fun but also left with a sense of urgency from the challenge to “each one teach one”. The Root, owned by the Washington Post company, was founded in 2008 under the leadership of Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates. The Root offers a fresh take on breaking news and raises the profile of black voices in mainstream media. For a complete list of honorees, click The Root.
Debbie Hines is a lawyer, former prosecutor and political/legal commentator appearing in national and local media including CNN, the Michael Eric Dyson Show, XM Sirius radio, NBC , ABC and CBS -Washington, DC affiliates, NPR, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, Black Enterprise among others. She founded LegalSpeaks, a progressive blog on women and race in law and politics. She also writes for the Huffington Post.