Each year the Trumpet Awards honor a number of giants in the fields of Art, Business, Religion, Law, the Military, Civil Rights, youth achievement, and other special categories. This years honorees included Los Angeles' artist, Synthia Saint James, for her artistic contributions. St James' work includes the design for the United States Postal Service Kwanza stamp (1996) as well as the design for the UNICEF greeting cards in 1993.
For Business and Religion, the Trumpet Award went to Reverend Jim Holley of Chicago's historical Little Rock Baptist Church. Holley's work during his twenty years at Little Rock Baptist Church includes development of a facility and program for job training and placement. The development of Little Rock Village, composed of buildings purchased and developed into a housing development and businesses, are part of the church's outreach programs. Giving thousands of pairs of shoes to welfare children and helping the homeless to transition into homes are also part of the programs that reach beyond the walls of the church to do God's work.
Joining Reverend Holley and Synthia Saint James as honorees this year were Reverend Joseph Lowery and his wife Evelyn Lowery who gave much of their lives to continuing the work of Dr. King in the Civil Rights Movement. They were awarded the Civil Rights Award. Others included General William E. Ward, a Black four star general for the Military Award, Businessmen Clarence Otis (Business), John Rogers (Corporate), Don Jackson, president of TV One (Producer's Award), entertainer Steve Harvey (Pinnacle Award), Dr. Farrah Gray (Young Entrepreneur) who earned his first million dollars while a teenager. Judge Clarence Cooper (Legal), entertainment icon, Frankie Beverly and Maze (Lifetime Achievement Award).
A special service is held at the historical Ebenezer Baptist church to enshrine giants of the Civil Rights Movement into the Civil Rights Walk of Fame. This event encompasses a program that marks the enshrinement of the footprints of Civil Rights giants. The footprints are marked by acquiring a pair of shoes from the family of the particular giant and implanting them in cement. Just as the Hollywood Walk of Fame has the handprints of so called famous stars, the Civil Rights Walk of Fame has the footprints of such Civil rights luminaries as Medgar Evers, Dr Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Thurgood Marshall, and others. Additional inductees are added to the Walk of Fame each year.
This year,The Black Press was honored as an organization that was included in the Walk of Fame. The Black Press was represented by the National Newspaper Publishers Association president Danny Bakewell. The Journal is a member of NNPA where I have served on the NNPA foundation. One memorable moment at this years Walk of Fame ceremonies was when Congressman James Clyburn said he told his father that he would not be following him in the ministry. He went on to tell his father that he had chosen politics as a career. His father told him that was Ok, as long as he remembered the book of James when it says that faith without works is dead. Congressman Clyburn said his father told him, "Son I suspect that the world would rather see a sermon than hear one." I agree.
Speakers at the annual three day event reminded us that we all are walking on floors that we didn't build, and going through doors we didn't open, and we should not forget that we have the Civil Rights giants, past and present, to thank for our progress. Their lives should be examples and inspiration on how to keep up the struggle in our communities. I take seriously the statement by NNPA Chairman Danny Bakewell in his acceptance speech on behalf of the publishers that, "Every publisher of a Black newspaper is, by definition, a Civil Rights fighter in his own community. That role can be as much a burden as it can be an honor."
Other special activities at the annual Trumpet Awards event included High Tea with High Heels in which the Honorable B. Katherine Smith, JP was presented with the Crystal Stiletto Award, and a Prayer Breakfast in which Spiritual Enlightenment Awards are presented to spiritual leaders of Black America such as Dr. Bobbie Jones, Andre Crouch, Albertina Walker, among others. This year awards were presented to Bishop Neil C. Ellis, Bobby Hurd, Reverend Otis Moss III, Tammy Trent, Melba Moore and Vickie Winans. One highlight of this year's Prayer Breakfast included a message in song by a street person named General Larry Platt. At last year's event Mr. Platt was identified as being presented with an award as one of the unsung foot-soldiers who marched with Dr. King, and he was badly beaten and hospitalized. In the interim he recently tried out for American Idol when they came to Atlanta only to discover that he was too old to compete (he was over 60. The age limit is 29).
At the Prayer Breakfast, Platt sang a song that he wrote and sang for American Idol called. "Pants On The Ground." The words which he sings are: "Pants On The Ground, Pants On The Ground, Looking Like A Fool With Your Pants On The Ground. Hat Turned Sideways, Gold In Your Mouth, Looking Like A Fool With Your Pants On The Ground."
Unfortunately, those who wear their pants on the ground have not heard the message of the Civil Rights giants who opened doors for them.