On Wednesday, February 10th, ImageNation hosted their 2016 Revolution Awards at the SVA Theatre in Chelsea. The evening celebrated Black excellence in film, media and activism honoring Oscar-nominated director Ava DuVernay, Black Lives Matter, actress and playwright Danai Gurira, actor Hill Harper and MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry. The sold out soiree was a packed house attended by the cast of the award winning play Eclipsed, actress Susan Kelechi Watson, Emmy award winning hair stylist Lavette Slayer and Marvet Britto.
The evening was hosted by 103.9FM’s on-air personality Terry Bello who kept the night flowing with jokes and lively commentary. The night opened with a performance by vocalist Jeremy James followed by a heart felt video message from the Revolution Award for Trailblazing Achievements recipient Ava DuVernay who was unable to attend.
Ava addressed the need for the images of people of color and women to have caregivers and talked about her long standing relationship with ImageNation saying, “ImageNation was one of the very first organizations I aligned with when I was launching AFFRM in 2010. AFFRM is now ARRAY and ImageNation has been there with us every step of the way.”
Ava also gave a personal message for each of the other honorees saying about Danai, “I feel fortunate to live in a world where a voice like that not only exists but is being amplified and is shining so beautifully” and sharing her love for Melissa Harris-Perry’s MSNBC show saying, “She is a triumph sitting there on that show every week, a triumph for women, a triumph for people of color, a triumph for people who believe in justice and dignity, a triumph for nerds.”
Acclaimed director and activist Warrington Hudlin, founder of the Black Filmmaker Foundation, and Black Girls Rock! founder Beverly Bond presented the Ida B. Well Revolution Award for Excellence in Journalism to Melissa Harris-Perry. Film director and producer Tommy Oliver presented actor, author and activist Hill Harper with the Revolution Award for Art & Activism. Actress Zainab Jah of the upcoming Broadway play Eclipsed presented the Revolution Award for Artistic Excellence to actress playwright Danai Gurira, who is largely known for her role on AMC’s Walking Dead and as the writer of Eclipsed. The awards concluded with Yasmeen Sutton, a former member of the Black Panther Party proclaiming 2016 the Year of the Panther as they celebrate their 50th anniversary and presenting the Revolution Award for freedom to Black Lives Matter member Nakisha Lewis who accepted the award on behalf of founders Black Lives Matters Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi. Music was provided by DJ Esxence and featured a moving performance by American jazz vocalist Candice Hoyes.
Following the awards, Sway Calloway introduced the short film, The Cycle, a film about policing and racial profiling, which he produced and the feature film for the evening 1982, which stars Hill Harper, Sharon Leal, La La Anthony, Ruby Dee and Wayne Brady.
The evening concluded with a thought provoking panel with Hill Harper 1982 director Tommy Oliver, renowned psychologist Jeff Gardere, actress Troi Zee and image activist Michaela Angela Davis. The after party was held at Meridian 23.