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This weekend we celebrated, Black Excellence, Entrepreneurship and Community, at the 2019 L.E.G.A.C.Y. Awards Gala. Keeana Barber and the WDB Team really outdone themselves. Everything about this event was spectacular from the beginning to the end. It was like an African American Oscars. Here are some highlights of the evening.

You walked in Malcolm X College to the tunes of DJ Slugo which set the tone and put everyone in a celebratory mode. The first thing I noticed was how beautiful everyone looked. About 1/3 of the people attending this event had on African print or African garbs and the colors and prints were gorgeous and definitely caught my eye.

The first part of the event was networking Remy Martin hosted a VIP Lounge where Andrea Thompson was interviewing the Legacy Award Honorees. Andrea was so impressive, graceful, and a natural that she inspired me to do my own live video, but back to this VIP room. Remy Martin waitress staff served Remy XO inside cognac glasses instead of plastic cups so you felt like a true VIP. In addition to the liquor, their treats and staff all added to a great VIP experience for you to be interviewed, network, or just chill until time for the awards ceremony.

Right outside the VIP Lounge, Siddiqu hosted an open networking event. The process was really simple. You would walk over, give him your business card, he would announce you and your service over the microphone and instruct anyone interested to meet you in his area. How cool was that?

Also in the networking area was The Chosen Band who had a great playlist and kept our energy level high as we sang along with band. There was plenty of food, some of the companies I conversed with were Chef Pam, Love Cork Screw, B’Creative Desserts, Pop’N By, Egg Rolls etc. Classic Cobbler and Sugar Rimz Bartending. Everyone’s product had a special touch and they are all businesses I would recommend or use at my future events.

Okay, okay, now let’s get to the ceremony. The ceremony was called to order with Drum players followed by an African dance performance. Next there was an African attire fashion show. After the show, Sandy Redd (from The Voice tv show) sang the national anthem which was followed by AC Green leading us in Lift Every Voice and Sing also known as The National Black Anthem.

AC Green was the master of ceremony and he did his job to perfection making sure to keep us engaged and ceremony moving smoothly. The Young Entrepreneur Finalist shared their words of wisdom. Aaliyah Stewart spoke to me with her catch phrase, “leave a legacy not a reputation.” Dontrell Smith motivated me by reminding us that, “if you are trying to get something you never had, you have to do something you never did. Karen Spears made me want to work harder by reminding us that, “we are born hustlers” everyone before us had to work hard and we do to. This was a lot of great wisdom for young people under the age of 25.

Just when you thought it could not get any better, there were some legacy award honorees.

  • Carl Tutt was honored for his endless efforts developing our young men with on site mentoring, health and wellness education, and economic development programs at 100 Black Men Chicago as the President.
  • Tim King (who convinced me to send my son to Urban Prep in 2010) was honored for all the work he does as founder, President and CEO of Urban Prep Academies. Educating our young men and planting college in their mind as a foreseeable goal leading them on the way to become productive citizens.
  • Monique Rodriguez was honored for her national and international efforts helping African American women and girls feel empowered wearing their natural hair with her Miele Organics haircare line.
  • William Calloway was honored for his community activism, violence prevention, social justice and civil education efforts as the Executive Director of Christianaire.
  • Mapula Nkomo was honored for her work with the National Council of African Women helping women fight against racist policies and understanding the power of educating themselves so they can live a life of pride and dignity.
  • Cory Thames was honored for his youth advocacy efforts, mentoring, and community engagement roles he plays in the South Shore community by being a Community Representatives on the local school council and as Chairman of the South Shore Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

In speaking to Jada Russell and Keeana Barber, I learned non-thing like this exist for black entrepreneurs. WDB wanted to create an extravagant environment where African Americans can be honored, feel supported and connect. They feel this event is needed to help us grow as entrepreneurs and as a community. Those word spoke volume to me as a new entrepreneur striving to be the best.

If you are African American and don’t attend this event next year shame on you. The L.E.G.A.C.Y Awards Gala enriched my business and my life. I am TonShay Theresa at that was my experience at the 2019 L.E.G.A.C.Y Gala.

Thank you Juan Anthony for the amazing photographs. You rock

Thank you to my mentor Bryant Thompson of Red Level Entertainment for pushing me to be better and to get out there and display my talents.

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