New York, NY… Clergy, politicians, civil rights activists, leaders, Broadway entertainers, sports legends, and legal scholars were all in the house at Jazz At Lincoln Center on October 16th for the National Action Network’s 13th Annual Triumph Awards. The Triumph Awards annually recognizes leaders in the arts, business, sports, and other fields who have used their platform to advance social justice.
This year’s Triumph Awards recipients were Tony Award-winning actor Leslie Odom Jr., the cast, director, and producers of the reboot of Ossie Davis’ Broadway play Purlie Victorious; Fearless Fund cofounders Arian Simone and Ayana Parsons; Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO Anti-Defamation League; Stephanie and Floyd Rance, Founders of the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival; and Max Siegel, CEO, USA Track & Field.
In his printed Welcome Message, Rev. Sharpton said, “This evening we gather not just to recognize the remarkable accomplishments of our honorees but to celebrate the spirit of resilience, unity, and progress that defines our community.”
Chairman of the Board, Reverend W. Franklyn Richardson, opened the award show with prayer for the people of Israel, Gaza, and Ukraine. He congratulated the Honorees and expressed his gratitude to everyone for attending. “May this evening be a source of inspiration and a reminder that when we unite in the name of justice, there is no challenge too great, and there is no victory beyond our reach.”
A video montage was played highlighting the organization’s pivotal events in 2023. At the conclusion, Rev. Al Sharpton, President and Founder of NAN, took the stage and received a standing ovation.
Rev. Sharpton introduced the first Honoree, Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). Rev. Sharpton said he and Mr. Greenblatt have been friends for many years and are united in the fight against antisemitism, hate, and bigotry in Black communities across the nation and worldwide. The Honorable Eric Adams, Mayor of New York City, presented the President’s Award for Service and Humanitarian Efforts to Mr. Greenblatt.
Nora Davis Day, Guy Davis, and Dr. Hasna Muhammad, a/k/a Ruby & Ossie Davis Posse, were there to present Leslie Odom, Jr., the cast and director of Purlie Victorious, with the President’s Award for Leadership & Transformative Service in the Arts. “I think it is important that we stop and take a breath and realize that art and culture informs politics,” said Sharpton. “And if we can get together on Broadway, then maybe we can get together in the world.”
Stephanie and Floyd Rance were awarded the NAN Triumphant Power Couple of the Year. In 2022, the Rances founded the Oscar-accredited Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival, one of the fastest-growing film festivals in the country.
Co-founders of the Fearless Fund, Ayana Parsons and Arian Simone, were the recipients of the Triumphant Women of the Year Award. The Fund, founded in 2019, is the first venture capital fund created for women of color by women of color. Max Siegel, CEO of USA Track & Field, received the President’s Award for Historic Transformative Service in Arts & Entertainment. Rev. Sharpton said Max Siegel was instrumental in bringing his TV broadcast, Politics Nation, to MSNBC.
Attorney Benjamin Crump addressed the audience and congratulated all the Honorees on their contributions to the Black Community. Benjamin Crump has been at the forefront of some of the highest-profile cases involving civil rights and racial injustice.
Singer Sammulous, Pastor David Wright, and The Life Tabernacle Choir were the musical guests for the evening.
Before ending the evening, Rev. Sharpton acknowledged Rev. Dr. Byrd Malcolm J. Byrd, Senior Pastor at Mother A.M.E. Zion Church and NAN Director of Operations. He asked all clergy to stand. “Clergy,” he said, “are the backbone of this organization.” Several members of Mother Zion attended the awards ceremony.
It was an entertaining and inspiring award show. Rev. Sharpton said, “as we keep the momentum from the March on Washington building and take a stand against those who seek to undo our civil rights, it has never been more important to celebrate those who use their celebrity to get people off the sideline.”
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