Common to Perform at Gordon Parks Foundation Event Honoring Mavis Staples, Jon Batiste & More

Common attends the 87th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on Feb. 22, 2015 in Hollywood, Calif.
Christopher Polk/Getty Images

Common attends the 87th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on Feb. 22, 2015 in Hollywood, Calif.

Singer Mavis Staples and musician Jon Batiste are among the honorees who will be saluted at the Gordon Parks Foundation’s annual awards dinner and auction. The June 6 event at Cipriani in New York City will also honor philanthropist Alexander Soros, Congressman John Lewis (D-Georgia), American Express chairman/CEO Kenneth Chenault and his wife, philanthropist Kathryn Chenault.

A special performance by Common will be among the evening’s festivities. Guest presenters thus far include Late Night With Stephen Colbert host Stephen Colbert, Usher and Harvard University professor/historian Henry Louis Gates Jr. Among the dinner co-chairs are Alicia Keys and Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean, Karl Lagerfeld, Janelle Monae and Usher and his wife Grace Raymond. Dinner chairs include Russell Simmons and Gloria Vanderbilt with Valerie Jarrett, former senior adviser to President Barack Obama, as one of the evening's special guests. Rounding out the program: an auction featuring seven lots of the late Parks’ work and recognition of the first two recipients of the inaugural Gordon Parks Fellowship. The fellowship supports photographers, artists, filmmakers and musicians working within the theme of social justice.

In a statement announcing this year’s slate of honorees, Peter W. Kunhardt Jr., executive director of the Gordon Parks Foundation, said, “Each year we come together to celebrate the lasting legacy of Gordon Parks and to honor the artists, humanitarians, and philanthropists who are making a meaningful impact in the arts and across humanity. We are so proud to recognize this year’s honorees and to introduce our inaugural class of fellows who are exploring themes of social justice -- an issue that is becoming more and more urgent with each passing day in our current political climate.”

All proceeds from the dinner and auction will support the Gordon Parks Foundation’s ongoing artistic and educational programs and initiatives. Parks, a critically acclaimed photojournalist, director (1971’s Shaft) and social activist, died in 2006. For more information, visit


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