New York City was the center of divine glitterati when the people of the cloth and A-list celebrities came together for the National Action Network’s Keeper of the Dream Awards. The Reverend Al Sharpton, or as I affectionately call him, Rev. Al, brought the two worlds together at Manhattan’s Sheraton Hotel for the 12th annual gala, and the guest list reads like my high-end stiletto wish list from Christian Louboutins to Manolos (even in the midst of talking about world peace a beautiful shoe metaphor is not far behind). Back to the list: Mariah Carey, Wyclef Jean, Dr. Bill Cosby, NBC President, Jeff Zucker, Reverend Jesse Jackson, Professor Cornel West, and MSNBC anchor, Tamron Hall. “Precious” star Gabourey Sidibe was supposed to be there, but I didn’t personally see her.
Mariah Carey – who didn’t walk the carpet but glistened in a black one-shoulder gown, and who we were told would be fashionably late – was honored with the James Brown Memorial Awards for her philanthropic work through Camp Mariah, which sends 300 inner-city boys and girls to camp. Rev. Al told me Mariah doesn’t always advertise her charity work, she just does it, and so he wanted to acknowledge Mariah for her dedication.
Wyclef Jean, who has worked tirelessly before and after the earthquake to rebuild his homeland Haiti, received the Cultural Excellence Award. He shared his latest efforts of trying to educate Haitians to build proper shelters for themselves, and his wife Claudinette is preparing for another trip to Haiti; she was just there March 16 distributing goods.
Keynote speaker Dr. Bill Cosby kept the audience laughing with his anecdotes about church, and literally paid a longtime debt of $30 with interest that his wife Camille owed Rev. Al from decades ago when she got stranded at the airport with no money. His speech walked a delicate tightrope between comedy and reality. Dr. Cosby publicly called out Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, blasting, “Too many people in your area are talking tough and getting nothing done.” He offered no apologies for his past “pants on the ground” rant to African Americans in which he criticized the poor values and parenting skills of some Blacks and how we as a race need to step it up and stop blaming racism as the cause of all of life’s problems.