Comedian Chris Tucker, actress Kim Fields, recording artist Demetria McKinney, actor Stephan James, R&B singer Kelly Price, actress Cocoa Brown, comedian George Wallace, filmmaker Roger M. Bobb and NBA Hall of Famer and former Atlanta Hawks player Dikembe Mutombo were among the notable guests at the 32nd annual Mayor's Masked Ball.
The annual event benefiting the United Negro College Fund is a highlight of every holiday season and this past event, held Dec. 19 at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis downtown, was one for the record books. Hosted by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed along with UNCF President and CEO Michael L. Lomax and Executive Vice President Maurice E. Jenkins, the gala raised $1.1 million, exceeding its goal.
Honorary co-chairs Shan Cooper, Lockheed Martin vice president and general manager of the Marietta facility; and Jack Sawyer, president of the Southeastern Region of Wilmington Trust's Wealth Advisory group, welcomed more than 1,500 guests to the elegant black-tie event sponsored by Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines, Atlanta Marriott Marquis, UPS and others.
"I strongly believe (historically black colleges and universities) are vital in preparing the next generation of African-American business owners, attorneys, doctors, artists and civic leaders, and I am honored that through our annual UNCF Mayor's Masked Ball, we are able to help fund the education of thousands of students matriculating at the Atlanta University Center," Reed said in a statement. "This year's gala was truly a night to remember, and I thank the UNCF for their unwavering commitment to our nation's future leaders."
Honored with the UNCF 2015 M.A.S.K.E.D. (Mankind Assisting Students Kindle Educational Dreams) Award were Walter Dukes, retired Georgia Power senior vice president, Carlton E. Brown, president emeritus of Clark Atlanta University, and Beverly Daniel Tatum, president emerita of Spelman College.
Over the past eight years, the event has raised nearly $10 million to support the 60,000 students at UNCF's 37 member schools, including Clark Atlanta University, the Interdenominational Theological Center, Morehouse College and Spelman College.
"The multiyear partnership and support from Mayor Reed and the contributions of time and treasure from sponsors, volunteers and attendees made this 32nd annual Mayor's Masked Ball the smashing success that it was," Lomax said in a statement. "That support is a generous helping hand for deserving young men and women and a wise investment in better futures for our students, and, through their success, for all of us."