EBONY Power 100 Spotlights Black Excellence

Power 100
Guitarist Nile Rodgers, center, performs with his band at the 2016 EBONY Power 100 Gala at the Beverly Hilton. Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Black brilliance, creativity, and genius filled a packed room at the Beverly Hills Hilton in Los Angeles Thursday night during the 2016 EBONY Power 100 Gala. Hosted by comedian Cedric the Entertainer, the annual celebration honored remarkable individuals who have blazed a trail in fields spanning across community and corporate leadership, technology and the arts.

R&B supergroup Earth, Wind & Fire and beloved award-winning actress Cicely Tyson were honored with EBONY Lifetime Achievement Awards at the event, while legendary songwriter, producer and performer Nile Ridgers was presented with the Icon Award.

Related: The EBONY Power 100 Gala Red Carpet Photo Gallery


Chairman Emeritus of Ebony Media Operations, Linda Johnson Rice, acknowledged and applauded the attendees and honorees, followed by a video message from First Lady Michelle Obama welcoming guests to the salute to greatness on behalf of herself and President Obama.

“For more than 70 years Ebony Magazine has been shining a bright spotlight on the lives of Black people in America with pages featuring images of Black talent, achievement and Black beauty,” she said. “And when it comes to the most important issues facing the African-American community and American community, EBONY Magazine and Johnson Publishing were there, capturing our most pivotal moments and engaging in our most important debates.”

Finally, leading into the festivities was a prayer and dedication to paying respects to one of 2016’s fallen “Community Crusaders” and Power 100 honoree, renown journalist Gwen Ifill, who died on Nov. 14.

Attendees of the stellar event included entrepreneur and fashion designer Tina Lawson, singer Kelly Rowland, entertainment industry mogul Mathew Knowles, director John Singleton, actor Laz Alonzo, and cast members from the hit show Queen Sugar.

“Looking out at this crowd and running down our Power 100 list, I can honestly say this is one of our proudest moments,” Willard Jackson, Vice Chairman of EBONY Media Operations, stated. “We are even more dedicated to ensuring the EBONY and JET brands continue to shine. We truly need this in our community, both nationally and globally.”

Later in the evening, when Tyson was awarded with one of the evening’s two Lifetime Achievement Awards she shared an emotional story that remains dear to her heart regarding the first time she met EBONY and JET founder, John H. Johnson and what he will forever mean to her.

“John Johnson has been indisposable to me throughout my entire career and to say that I am indebted to him and what he has done for me, personally, and what he has done for all of us, is indelible. I am grateful that he left a legacy and someone to deal with it and carry it on so that it is not lost. We need someone to show us who we are, what we are, and what we can be.”

Rodgers brought legendary soul band Chic to the stage with a medley of hits he produced all while broadcasting it on Facebook Live.

Sponsors included Nationwide, who a strong five-year supporter of EBONY; Cadillac; United Airlines; and Hilton Worldwide. Fashion Fair Cosmetics and Twitter were also onboard as partners for the event.

Executives with EBONY Media Operations, the parent company of EBONY, and say the Power 100 Gala offer historical context into Black life – where we’ve been, the legends and who’s next to climb the ladder of Black Excellence.

“We are not helpless. We are not hapless. We are not hopeless. We’ve got the power,” said EBONY Editor in Chief, Kyra Kyles. “Now, what we do with it, that’s up to each one of us.” An earlier version of this story appears on

Image: EBONY Lifetime Achievement honoree Nile Rodgers, center, performs with his band Chic at the 2016 EBONY Power 100 Gala at the Beverly Hilton.  Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

An earlier version of this story appears on