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15th Annual Celebration Begins at Schomburg Center
By Nathan James
The 15th Annual NYC Black Pride week got under way Wednesday night with a gala Heritage Awards Ceremony honoring pioneers, movers, and shakers of the LGBT community of color. Held at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the ceremony drew notables and honorees from all over the city, and beyond.
Hosted by Black Pride Executive Director Lee Soulja, and comedienne Tammy Peay, the festivities began with a Red Carpet featuring such luminaries as MSNBC anchor and author Keith Boykin, radio host DJ Baker, author, actor, and producer Delvon Johnson, community activist Byron Barnes, LGBT advocate and promoter Laurence Pinckney, and Black Pride founder James Saunders. “I’m very honored to be recognized tonight,” said Pinckney, “and Black Pride is an important event in our lives.”
Pinckney served as head of Black Pride in New York from 2001 to 2005. Byron Barnes, who received the Bayard Rustin Award, expressed his gratitude by saying, “I’m thrilled to be honored with an award bearing the name of such a great man.”
The ceremony included a live musical performance by lesbian duo Cheryl and JaVonne, who sang their hit song, “Waiting all My Life”, and was sponsored by GBMNews, El Dorado Vodka, GMAD, and all of the NYC Black Pride Participating Sponsors.
During the ceremony, the Executive Committee was introduced, and a Proclamation designating August 15-19 as “Black Pride weekend” by Mayor Michael Bloomberg was read before a packed house. State Sens. Bill Perkins and Eric Adams were on hand to publicly support Black Pride, and City Council Speaker and mayoral candidate Christine Quinn sent a letter of support.
NYC Black Pride continues through Sunday. For all the events, hotel information, and locations, visit www.nycblackpride.com.