It’s time again for the African American Leadership Institute to recognize the hard work and dedication of unsung black leaders. The African American Leadership Awards honors individuals making the lives of African-Americans better every day, celebrating local, regional and statewide public servants, and community and business leaders. Award categories include: Grassroots Organizer of the Year, Political Pioneer, Political Strategist of the Year, Emerging Black Leader, Black Legislator of the Year, Labor Leader of the Year, Lear Corporation Business Leader of the Year, and Staffer of the Year.
The ceremony is inspired by the underdog and this year it will be “bigger and better,” says Al Williams, president and founder of the institute. Last year was an election year, but Williams says, this year, guests are there not only to politic but “truly invest their time and dime.” They are expecting to pack The Wright’s auditorium. The public nominates who they think best fall into the categories, and the committee then goes through profiles and anything that’s public record. They examine the history of the business owners and mission statements, doing their best to identify the leaders of yesterday, today and tomorrow. After the nominees are analyzed the committee votes, democratic style, to determine the winners. As the ceremony nears, the awardees are slowly announced.
The emcees slated are WXYZ Channel 7’s editorial and public affairs director Chuck Stokes and Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley. Williams is inspired by Stokes and recalls growing up listening to him, and the institute is equally thrilled to have Riley on board. Williams says, “Whenever (Riley) hits the table the conversation changes. She has such an impact on our quality of life as African-Americans, and such an impact in leadership and women.” He adds the two together bring “a level of depth and class for the individuals participating this year.” Senior director of investments at Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. Gail Perry-Mason will serve as keynote speaker. Detroit native and singer Cree from the R&B group 702 will also debut and perform her new single. And two lifetime achievements awards will honor former U.S. Rep. John Conyers and former State Rep. Alma Stallworth.
Charles H. Wright Museum, Detroit
Feb. 22, 5:30 p.m.-midnight