2016 Mayor’s Ball raises record funds and awareness for UNCF

2016 Mayor's Masked Ball with Mr. &Mrs. Kasim Reed


The way to end any year in Atlanta is at the Mayor’s Masked Ball, and this year more than an exception. Hosted by Mayor Kasim Reed and his wife Sarah-Elizabeth Langford Reed, it was as exciting and sophisticated as an event can be; Atlanta’s time to shine while helping out the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). This year, it raised over $1.1 million dollars for the organization, while making history and the city of Atlanta proud.

The Mayor’s Masked Ball is an institution for the past 33-years, and tends to draw a diverse class of movers-and-shakers, socialites and influential personas that are staples in the Atlanta community. However, it’s not just to be seen but also to be heard as the crowd supported the efforts of an organization that has its roots and attention in the nations Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU).

Comedian/host J. Anthony Brown brought his A-Game. His usual sardonic wit and acerbic tongue was not reserved for a minute as he threw some shade on some of the guests, but did manage to bring the necessary attention to the night’s event. Even though J. Anthony has been a part of the Mayor’s Masked Ball in 3-other cities (his first in Atlanta), one memorable moment that night was shading attention to the attire of guest actor/singer Tyrese Gibson (Fast & Furious). As J. Anthony called it a gown, Tyrese had the opportunity to throw back shade on J. Anthony’s bow tie, but decided to clarify the cultural significance and meaning of what he called his “King’s Outfit.” For the sake of clarity, Tyrese actually was wearing a Kandura, a Somali robe-like garment that’s a staple in their country. It was all in good fun and Tyrese was one of the first that night to donate $25.000 to UNCF, while making a passionate plea for everyone to dig deep in support for the future of education.

The chance to mingle with icons of history such as former mayor Andrew Young, Jr., Thomas Dortch, Billie and Hank Aaron is impressive, inspiring and rewarding. These were just some of the founders and supporters of the HBCU early days. Mr. Young still speaks about the early days which have always been to lead and give back for the next generation. He pointed out that after 33-years, the HBCU parent foundation has raised over $35-million dollars. During those years, there was $70-billion dollars in new investments that flowed through Atlanta, with 40% minority and female-owned businesses during the Olympics. Newer icons, such as the various HBCU presidents, were presented with awards by the present foundation President and CEO Michael Lomax, who also thanked them for their tireless efforts in making it happen.

It was the best of many worlds as the guests that night included Council member and former HBCU-alumni John Eaves, Reverend & Mrs. Raphael G. Warnock (Ebenezer Baptist Church), news anchor Lisa Rayam, singer/producer Q. Parker and Sharlinda Parker, Brannigan Thompson of VOYA Financial (co-chairman of the Mayor’s Ball),  singer/producer Usher Raymond, reality TV star Phaedra Parks, singer/songwriter Angie Stone, former football player Stevie Baggs, Jr., council members Kwanza Hall and Ceasar Mitchell with their wives, actor Lamman Rucker, Dr. Courtney & Genise Shelton (Married to Medicine), and rapper/producer Young Jeezy.  Still, the party doesn’t get started until the music starts popping. What better way to set it off than with a special appearance by Sheila E.

The Mayor’s Masked Ball is a yearly event, while the UNCF is a daily commitment. The two together make for a lofty association. It’s the premier fundraising gala and major social event focusing on raising awareness of the need and benefits of a college education, the students UNCF serves and the contributions of historically black colleges and universities.

  • Joseph Walker, III


If you would like to make a donation to the UNCF, go to http://www.uncf.org and follow them at twitter @uncf


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