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Center for Black Equity to host annual DC Black Pride Awards Reception on July 21

Awards honor Black LGBTQ people and allies who have made significant contributions to the Black and LGBTQ communities.

Attendees of the 2019 DC Black Pride Awards Reception. – Photo by Ward Morrison.

The Center for Black Equity will host its annual DC Black Pride Awards Reception on Wednesday, July 21 from 6-9 p.m. at The Park at 14th in downtown Washington.

The reception, which normally takes place in the days preceding Memorial Day Weekend, during the annual celebration of DC Black Pride, was postponed this year because organizers did not have enough time to plan an in-person event due to the delayed lifting of the District of Columbia’s COVID-19 restrictions in late May.

To ensure that Black excellence and achievements are celebrated year round, organizers launched ’12 Months of Black Pride,’ which will allow them to host in-person and virtual events from panel discussions to special presentations to its recently held Unity Ball, throughout the course of the year.

“The last year-and-a-half has been difficult,” acknowledges Earl Fowlkes, the president and CEO of the Center for Black Equity. “Last year, we didn’t have a Pride at all. This year, we had a hybrid Black Pride, but not the traditional celebration. It’s been a very difficult year, and we felt we had to do something, now that we have a little breathing room. Hopefully the window will stay open, and COVID impact does not reappear, even with the rise of breakthrough infections.

“We didn’t want to wait two more years to give people awards, because these awards were really supposed to be given out last year,” adds Fowlkes. “And while it’s not the traditional Black Pride celebration, what is traditional anymore? We have to develop new ways of holding our events because nothing will be the same. We’re not going to go back to pre-COVID days. We are establishing new precedents to meet the new challenges that we’re all facing during COVID-19, and we’re very happy and grateful to do it.”

This year’s reception will honor a host of individuals and groups, beginning with DeMarc Hickson, the executive director of Us Helping Us, People Into Living, Inc., and Angela Brown, of the LGBTQ community center Casa Ruby, both of whom will receive the Welmore Cook Award, given to key leaders whose work benefits the Black and LGBTQ communities. Additionally, Ernest Hopkins, the director of legislative affairs for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, and one of the original three founders of the first-ever Black Gay and Lesbian Pride Day — which eventually evolved into DC Black Pride — will receive the Ernest Hopkins Award.

Stephaun Wallace, a research epidemiologist and public health consultant who serves as director of external relations for the Fred Hutch-based COVID-19 Prevention Network and the HIV Vaccine Trials Network, will receive the President’s Award, which is presented to a member of the community who has done exemplary work in the community over the past year.

Allies Brian K. Bond, a former Obama administration official who served as deputy director for the White House Office of Public Engagement and the primary liaison for the LGBTQ community, and J. Channing Wickham, the executive director of the Washington AIDS Partnership, will both receive the Curtis L. Etherly Jr. Ally Award, which is presented to a person who has proven themselves worthy of being called an “ally” to the Black LGBTQ community.

Charmaine Eccles, a local transgender advocate and activist who currently works in the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs and oversees the Transgender Pathways career development program, will receive the honorary Earline Budd Award, given to the person who has made a substantial impact on D.C.’s Black transgender community. Other winners include TAG: The Alliance Group at University of the District of Columbia, which will receive the DC Black Pride Leadership Award; Greg Evans Real Estate Group, which will receive the DC Black Pride Small Business Award; and D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine, who will receive the Eleanor Holmes Norton Award.

Courtney Baker-Oliver III, a director and arts educator who currently serves as artistic director of Restoration Stage, Inc., will receive the Alan Sharpe Award. Bishop Kwabena Rainey Cheeks, a longtime LGBTQ activist who serves as retreat team leader with Damien Ministries, will receive the Bishop Kwabena Rainey Cheeks Award. Meanwhile, Jaye Wynn will receive the Charlotte Smallwood Volunteer of the Year Award

The D.C. Department of Health is the title sponsor for the event, which honors Black individuals and organizations that have made major contributions to the local Black and LGBTQ communities, whether in their professional or private lives. Other sponsors and promotional partners include: Gilead Sciences; Xfinity; Ed Bailey, the owner of Number Nine and Trade; Black Gifted and Whole; HBO Max;  Burberry; Only Human; Warner Media; Liberation House; NBC4; Cencational designs; End of Life Planning; and Daryl Wilson Promotions, LLC.

The evening will begin with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, with the main program officially kicking off at 7:15 p.m. Only those 21 and over may attend. Tickets for the event are $10 per person and can be purchased online.

The annual DC Black Pride Awards Reception will take place on Wednesday, July 21, from 6-9 p.m. at The Park on 14th, 920 14th St. NW. For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit www.dcblackpride.org/Reception.

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