The stars aligned at the Dolby Ballroom as the Los Angeles Urban League (LAUL) honored Earvin “Magic” and Cookie Johnson at their annual fundraiser, the 44th Whitney M. Young, Jr. Awards Dinner on Friday, April 21. With over $1 million dollars raised and 700 plus attendees, this highly anticipated event reached new heights of success and prestige. The evening began with the who’s who of Los Angeles walking the red carpet. Representing the entertainment, sports, political and business and business industries, some of the high-profile guests included: awards dinner host Holly Robinson Peete and husband Rodney Peete, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Bill Bellamy, LaTonya Richards Jackson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Tina Lawson, Byron Scott, Julius Randle, Tarik Black, Jordan Clarkson, Elgin Charles, LA City Council President Herb Wesson, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas among many others. Attendees expressed their support and admiration for LAUL’s rich history and commitment to uplift communities of color and pure joy in celebrating Earvin and Cookie’s much deserved recognition as the 2017 Whitney M. Young, Jr. Honorees. Students from the Debbie Allen Dance Academy opened the event with a whimsical performance showcasing their talents with great enthusiasm and passion.
The theme of this year’s awards dinner, “The Magic of Giving” symbolized the importance of investing in the Los Angeles Urban League, which in turn empowers the community to strive for excellence. The night was filled with endless special moments including the League celebrating its 96th anniversary of service and an unparalleled track record in making magic by transforming the lives of individuals with their workforce, economic and business development programs and initiatives.
In honor of this tremendous milestone, the 96 for 96 text-to-give campaign launched, encouraging guests to invest $96 dollars, $1 for every year of service to continue LAUL’s mission to empower, educate and serve for years to come. Those interested can join the movement and invest in the 96 for 96 campaign by texting $96 to 1-626-624-4288, this campaign will continue for the entire year. The stellar event also featured the live auction of a beautiful diamond ring designed by acclaimed jewelry designer Cynthia Bach, raising an additional $8,500 for the Los Angeles Urban League. Iconic American fashion designer Tom Ford, applauded the Johnson’s special honor with exclusive gifts. A custom suit for “Magic” and an invitation for Cookie to attend Ford’s upcoming Fall Collection Fashion Show in New York City.
“Thank you, thank you so very much for your generosity, commitment and willingness to be a partner with the LA Urban League. See it as an investment not just a contribution because we won’t rest until everyone in our community is seated around the table of opportunity participating as full partners,” John W. Mack, LAUL President Emeritus addressed attendees.
Emotions were high in the Ray Dolby Ballroom as John W. Mack presented the Johnson’s with the 2017 Whitney M. Young, Jr. Award for their unwavering commitment to economic empowerment for the underserved, HIV & AIDS advocacy and philanthropy. Earvin contributes most of his business success and understanding of community responsibility to John W. Mack. Their very special relationship dates back 30 years when Earvin spent countless hours at the LAUL office with his mentor (Mack) discussing life after basketball. Mr. Mack encouraged Earvin to invest in urban communities to provide hope and opportunities and he listened. Earvin “Magic” and Cookie are the city of Los Angeles’ first couple, devoted to inspiring individuals to live their best lives.
To conclude the spectacular night, the 44th Annual Whitney M. Young, Jr. Awards Dinner closed with a performance by
70’s soul group the Honey Cone, performing their chart hitting songs, “Want Ads” and ‘Stick-up.” Then the crowd went wild as legendary singer Eddie Levert and the O’Jays took over the stage with a surprise show-stopping performance of their Grammy-Award Winning hits like “Love Train” and “My Girl.” This year corporate donors, supporters and friends of the League included – Aids Healthcare Foundation, AT&T, Chevron, Cleveland Avenue LLC, Edison International, Equitrust Life Insurance, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Intuit, JP Morgan Chase, Macy’s, Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc., and UPS to name a few.
For more information on LAUL’s programs and initiatives visit www.laul.org. To stay informed with updates on the LAUL
movement, connect with the League on social media: Instagram @LAURBANLEAGUE_ and Facebook & Twitter
@LAURBANLEAGUE. Share your story with the League via the #YOURLAUL hashtag.