The Root 100 Honors Young African American Trailblazers

Photo by Seher Sikandar

Photo by Seher Sikandar

While assembling at the entrance, scholars were striking up conversations with entertainers. Media professionals and political figures were sharing laughs over a few hors d’œuvres. Activists and authors were telling each other stories – often while posing for photos. These exceptionally talented individuals and more gathered at the Tribeca Rooftop in New York City to celebrate The Root 100.

Moving from the District of Columbia to New York City, this year’s event marked the second time that The Root would host an awards dinner to honor 100 influential African American achievers between the ages of 25-45. A mathematical formula that measured an individual’s reach, substance and contributions to his or her field or community was used to determine the list which has been recognizing leaders since 2009.

Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s stirring opening remarks provided the audience with a great look into the history and origin of The Root.com. He mentioned how essential it was to continue to shed light on the work of honorees like Melissa Harris-Perry and Eddie Glaude (both of whom were in attendance). Donna Byrd, publisher of The Root, also briefly spoke about the importance of the Root and the impact of the individuals chosen this year, calling recipients “the all-stars of our community.”

Some members of the list took the stage to share a few poignant thoughts. Honoree and author Wes Moore took a moment and addressed the audience about the importance of mentorship as highlighted in his book. Tara Wall took to the podium to reflect upon thinking outside of the box. As Mitt Romney’s senior communications advisor, speaking to a room filled with a number of President Obama supporters was no simple task. Wall spoke about her influences and how important it is to embrace challenges.
Khalil Gibran Muhammad, director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, was the final speaker of the evening. During his address, Muhammad stressed the importance of commitment to black historical contributions.

The Root also used the occasion as an opportunity to announce their upcoming partnership with Aspire. Created by former NBA star Magic Johnson, the TV network that celebrates African American experience will be airing an original series entitled The Root 100. Hosted by Suzanne Malveaux, the show will feature interviews and video profiles of this year’s honorees. Each episode will showcase three honorees and premieres on December 5.

Memorable 2012 Root 100 Quotes

“We need social action to be a contagion. As the most influential of our generation, we must be the frontrunners for change.” - “Beverly Bond, Black Girls Rock!

“It’s tough not to get jaded. Let us remember the responsibility we all have to speak for those who have no voice.” - Benjamin Todd Jealous, NAACP

“Every 12-year-old in Detroit or Anacostia or the Mississippi Delta has within him the seeds of greatness.” - Joshua DuBois, White House

“These jobs can get very lonely. Meeting other people of my generation who are doing the same thing — that can empower you.”  Kasim Reed, Atlanta Mayor

Jeffrey Dessources a.k.a. Mr. Jeff Dess is a writer, professor, public speaker and emcee of Haitian descent. He is the author of three book of poetry and currently serves as the Assistant Director of Campus Life at New Jersey City University.

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