Washington, D.C. –The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) and the Congressional Black Caucus Spouses recently recognized the contributions of three icons in the arts, as well as students pursuing careers and opportunities in those areas, during the 16th Annual Celebration of Leadership in the Fine Arts on September 19 at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.
The event serves as a fundraiser for scholarships in the performing and visual arts as well as the kick off for the Foundation’s 42nd Annual Legislative Conference (ALC), at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center from September 19-22.
Susan L. Taylor, editor-in-chief emeritus of Essence Magazine and Founder of the National CARES Mentoring Movement served as the evening’s emcee. In her opening remarks, Taylor reminded everyone of the importance of voting this year and asked everyone to encourage others to do so as well.
Before introducing this years three honored guests, Taylor introduced the twenty 2012 Scholars of this years Performing and Visual Arts from various colleges. “They are the good news we don’t see on the television news at night. They are the promise and the hope of our future”, commented Taylor.
To date through the Congressional Black Caucus Spouses program, more than 9 million dollars have been awarded in scholarships to deserving students who have excelled in Fine Arts.
This year’s honorees included Ambassador Dr. Bobby Jones, gospel artist; Kenny Leon, theatrical director; and Tayari Jones, author.
Dr. Jones, best known as the host and executive producer of Bobby Jones Gospel which has aired on BET since 1980, performs all styles of gospel music. The Bobby Jones Gospel Radio Show and The Bobby Jones Gospel Countdown, are favorites of gospel music lovers.
In 2010 award-winning director Mr. Leon’s Broadway show ‘Fences’ garnered 10 Tony nominations, including Best Director, the most nominations ever for a play revival, set box office records and received the Tony award for best Revival of a Play, Best Actor and Best Actress. Past Tony nominations include, his Broadway productions of ‘Radio Golf’, ‘Gem of the Ocean’ and ‘Raisin In The Sun’, starring Sean Combs, Phylicia Rashad and Audra McDonald.
Ms. Jones first novel, Leaving Atlanta, received best of the year nods from The Washington Post, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Creative Loafing. Her second book, The Untelling, won the Lillian C. Smith Award from the Southern Regional Council and was a Target Breakout Book.
In addition 20 undergraduate students were recognized as scholarship recipients in the performing and visual arts. More than 270 performing and visual arts students applied for CBCF’s national scholarship program – an increase of about 57 percent from last year’s applicant pool.
Since 1976 the Congressional Black Caucus Spouses (CBC Spouses) has been comprised of the wives and husbands of the African-American Members of the United States Congress. As a component of the CBC Foundation, the CBC Spouses organization has worked tirelessly to improve the quality of life for young people through education and leadership programs. In this capacity, the spouses have been instrumental in developing and implementing internship, fellowship and education scholarship programs. Since 1988, the CBC Spouses have awarded more than $12 million dollars in scholarships to deserving students seeking degrees in higher education.
Photos by Sheilah Belle/LaBelle & Associates