By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
Byron Allen’s inaugural TheGrio Awards honored comedian Dave Chappelle with the Cultural Icon Award, Allyson Felix with the Sports Icon Award, and Patti LaBelle with the Music Icon Award.
And while trailblazers like Tyler Perry and Jennifer Hudson also received honors, the recently televised awards spotlighted the work of “America’s Black Attorney General.”
Ben Crump, the renowned civil rights attorney and freedom fighter, elicited the night’s biggest applause when he accepted the newly minted Justice Icon Award.
“It was an honor to accept the Justice Icon trophy in the company of so many Black leaders in our community,” Crump remarked.
“This award represents our fight for tomorrow’s future – our children’s future,” he asserted. “We will never stop demanding equality and justice.”
Those words were just a sample of Crump’s four-minute acceptance speech that brought the crowd of dignitaries to its feet and prompted LaBelle to remark, “Ben, you sure talking truth, and we all were listening.”
Crump, who has represented the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and others, said if Black America doesn’t fight for its children’s future, they couldn’t expect anyone else to go to battle.
“We have to be willing to fight for our children’s future until hell freezes over, and then, we have to be ready to fight on the ice,” Crump demanded.
“We have to make sure our children believe Black lives matter, where it can’t be lip service, it has to be action.”
Crump also recalled the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“Dr. King concluded that there comes a time when one must take a position that’s neither popular nor politically correct or not even safe,” Crump told the audience, who loudly cheered their affirmation.
“But that being said, there comes a time when we must take a position because their conscience tells them it is the right thing to do. I submit to you at the first annual TheGrio Awards that it is the right thing to do to stand up for our children’s future.”
Broadcast on Nov. 26, the awards celebrated excellence in film, music, comedy, television, sports, philanthropy, business, fashion, social justice, environmental justice, education, and the cultural icons and innovators whose many contributions positively impact America.
Taped at The Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles, Allen designed the star-studded, black-tie event special to pay tribute to and amplify the history makers, change agents, and artists who define and influence the Black world.
“I created ‘theGrio Awards’ to celebrate and amplify African American excellence and the incredible champions from other communities who truly support us,” Allen said in a release.
“As a child, strong, positive African American icons such as Berry Gordy, Jr., Rosa Parks, Muhammad Ali, and Martin Luther King, Jr. helped me see myself differently and changed the trajectory of my life. Celebrating and amplifying iconic individuals is something we can never do enough of, especially for our children.”