Written by | Ray Cornelius

The stars aligned on Saturday night for the “Andrew J. Young International Leadership Awards & 85th Birthday Tribute.” The Civil Rights pioneer and former Mayor of Atlanta presented the invitation only event at Philips Arena which featured an all-star lineup of today’s biggest and brightest entertainers and performers. The evening was also hosted by “Black-ish” star Anthony Anderson.

Ambassador Andrew Young

Andrew Young is best known as one of Dr. Martin Luther King‘s “generals” during the turbulent 1960s. From Selma to St. Augustine to Memphis, Young was there during the Movement’s most pivotal moments. He would later serve as a United States Ambassador to the United Nations in 1977 and was chosen personally by former President Jimmy Carter. Young was also very instrumental in Atlanta becoming the city of choice for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games and now runs the Andrew J. Young Jr. Leadership Foundation. The non-profit organization recognizes exceptional individuals whose activism, philanthropy and leadership have transformed lives throughout our global community.

Honorees Bob Bland and Tamika Mallory

This year’s recipients of the Andrew J. Young International Leadership Awards included the National Co-Chairs of the Women’s March – Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez and Bob Bland; world renowned educator and founder of the Ron Clark Academy Ron Clark; media commentator, activist, thought leader and Dream Corps founder Van Jones; Award winning rapper, producer and philanthropist Akon; “Silver Rights Activist” John Hope Bryant and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Angela Robinson and husband

The evening began with a dazzling red carpet of stars that included “The Haves and The Have Nots” actresses Angela Robinson and Crystal Fox; “The Quad” actor Larry Rhem; legendary Motown performer Hamilton Bohannon; “Saints & Sinners” actress Jasmine Burke; “If Loving You is Wrong” actor Joel Rush; media personality Frank Ski, Civil Rights icons Reverend C.T. Vivian and Xernona Clatyon, veteran actors and philanthropists Afemo and Elisabeth Omilami. Other Atlanta notables included actress and producer Chrystale Wilson, actress and producer Terri J. Vaughn, singer and former reality star Meelah, child actor Lil Dee Dee, accomplished actor and singer T.C. Carson, former Destiny’s Child singer LaTavia Roberson, “Braxton Family Values” stars Evelyn and Trina Braxton and film star and comedian Chris Tucker. 

Brandon J. Dirden as Andrew Young in Broadway’s “MLK”

The award show also featured amazing performances from Estelle, Anthony Brown and Group TherAPy, Cristina Quinones, Angie Stone and a scene from the forthcoming Broadway play, “MLK” featuring Brandon J. Dirden as Andrew Young. There were also breathtaking tributes by “Greenleaf” star Keith David, harpist Tulani, jazz harmonicist Frédéric Yonnet, African rapper Davido and Grammy winning singer and actress Jill Scott. Unfortunately I was not able to stay for Wyclef Jean and Usher‘s performances.

The show was sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company, Delta Airlines, Chevron, OPRAH, Cox Enterprises, EBONY and Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority.

See all of the photos below:

Larry Rhem and guest

Hamilton Bohannon

Afemo and Elisabeth Omilami

Joel Rush 

Chrystale Wilson and guest

Lil Dee Dee

Jasmine Burke 

Ambassador Andrew Young talking to media

Frank Ski and guest

LaTavia Roberson 

Wyclef Jean + Cristina Quinones

Mrs. Carolyn Young 


Honoree Ron Clark

T.C. Carson 

Terri J. Vaughn 

Anthony Anderson 

Akon‘s Family

Evelyn and Trina Braxton 

Keith David 

Reverend C.T. Vivian 

Crystal Fox 

Cristina Quinones

Wyclef Jean 

Xernona Clayton 

Chris Tucker 


Mayor Kasim Reed 

Mrs. Carolyn Young 


Anthony Brown and Group TherAPy

Anthony Brown 

Angie Stone 

Angie Stone performing “Brotha”

Cristina Quinones performing Andra Day‘s “Rise Up” 

Akon’s Family accepting his award


Honoree Van Jones 


Keith David 

Honoree John Hope Bryant 


Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com