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Morehouse College Celebrates 154th Anniversary, 2021 Bennie Awards and Candle Honorees

Morehouse College President David A. Thomas (Morehouse’s twelfth President) and the Morehouse community celebrates the 154th Anniversary of the founding of Morehouse College. The celebration culminates with a gala of the 33rd Annual “A Candle in the Dark Awards” Ceremony.

The “Candle in the Dark” Gala was named after the title of the Morehouse’s official history book written by Edward A. Jones (Morehouse, 1926).

Due to COVID, this year’s gala will be a virtual event via the Internet, on Saturday, February 13, 2021. “The Bennie Award,” named in honor of the sixth president of Morehouse College, Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, is one of the most prestigious honors that Morehouse College bestows on successful alumni who have helped light the way for others. This honor recognizes alumni who are thought leaders in their professions and their communities.

The awardees will join the ranks of other distinguished Morehouse alumni including Dr. Peter Chatard, Jr. (Morehouse, 1956); Verdun Perry (Morehouse, 1994), Managing Direct and Global Head of Blackstone; Steve Pamon (Morehouse, 1991), Chief Operating Officer of Parkwood Entertainment; actor Samuel L. Jackson (Morehouse, 1972); actor Danny Glover; actor Denzel Washington; actor, and producer; and Spike Lee, filmmaker, director, and producer; historian and educator John Hope Franklin; sports greats Henry “Hank” Aaron, Muhammad Ali and Arthur Ashe; retired New York Transit Authority worker Clarence “Kappa” Brown (Morehouse, 1940); Civil Rights leaders Ambassador Andrew Young and H. Julian Bond (Morehouse, 1971); former Postal Rate Commission Chairman George Haley (Morehouse, 1949); former U. S. Surgeon General David Satcher (Morehouse, 1963); noted scholar and professor Cornel West; and philanthropist and entertainer Oprah Winfrey.

This year’s Bennie Award recipients are Attorney Gordon L. Joyner (Morehouse, 1972), in the area of Achievement; Robert “Bob” Gore, MD (Morehouse, 1998), in the area of Service; and the Honorable U. S. Senator Reverend Dr. Raphael G. Warnock (Morehouse, 1991), for the Trailblazer award.

This year’s Candle Honorees are Kenneth C. Frazier, in the area ot Law and Innovation; Darren Walker, in the area of Education and Philanthropy; and Byron Allen, in the area of Business, Arts and Entertainment.

 Attorney Gordon L. Joyner is the owner of the Law Offices of Gordon L. Joyner, based in Atlanta, Georgia. He is the former executive director and administrator of Georgia’s Civil Rights Department, Georgia Commission on Equal Opportunity.

Robert “Bob” Gore, MD is a physician and founder of the Kings Against Violence Incentive,

The Honorable U. S. Senator Reverend Dr. Raphael G. Warnock is senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta and recently elected as one of Georgia’s United States Senators.

Kenneth C. Frazier is chair, president and CEO of Merck.

Darren Walker is president and CEO of Ford Foundation.

Media mogul and philanthropist Byron Allen is founder, chair and CEO of Allen Media Group.

The emcee this year is actor, comedian, producer and humanitarian, Chris Tucker.

Chris Tucker is an international award-winning actor and comedian best known for playing the role of detective James Carter in the Rush Hour film series with Jackie Chan. He became a favorite on HBO’s Def Comedy Jam in the 1990s and came to prominence in his first starring role, the 1995 film cult classic Friday starring alongside Ice Cube.

Outside of comedy, Tucker is a dedicated humanitarian, spending much of his spare time traveling around the world, doing philanthropic work to make a difference through his Chris Tucker Foundation (CTF), a non-profit organization dedicated to making a positive impact in youth and families locally, nationally and internationally through innovative initiatives and by funding life-changing programs.

Join Morehouse College’s Founder’s Week and Gala 2021 – A Virtual Celebration

Morehouse celebrates its 154th Observance of the founding of the College. Weekend of activities and events and registration for Founder’s Day and Gala experience at:

Last updated on February 4, 2021

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