NEW YORK -- Universal Motown President Sylvia Rhone was honored last night at the National Action Network's 20th Anniversary Keepers of the Dream Awards. Other honorees included NFL Hall of Famer Jim Brown, MSNBC President Phil Griffin and NBA Hall of Famer Earvin Magic Johnson -- all for their life achievements, commitments to service, and for their philanthropic work.
The event took place at New York City's Sheraton Hotel & Towers, which became a maze of police and Secret Service security as President Barack Obama was to be ushered in. The president, looking a bit fatigued, gave a 20-minute speech that broadly noted the honorees' accomplishments, and focused more on domestic issues like education, health care and Wall Street reform. The President was received warmly by the packed ballroom, which included new Sony CEO Doug Morris, Stevie Wonder, filmmakers Warrington Hudlin and Spike Lee, Stargate's Tim Blacksmith, Keith Clinkscales of ESPN, Andre Harrell and Russell Simmons, along with former New York Mayor David Dinkins, former New York Governor David Paterson and Congressman Charles Rangel (D-NY).
Rhone, wearing black eveningwear and dangling earrings, was flanked by her mother and daughter all evening. Citigroup chairman Richard Parsons introduced Rhone with affection, and also reminded the crowd that she in fact started out in banking, and graduated from the Wharton School of Business.
In her acceptance speech, Rhone thanked in particular her mother, who is 90, and also expressed gratitude to Mr. Morris, for "changing the face and gender of the music business by naming her the first African-American woman to be called 'chairman.'" Rhone was chairman of Elektra Entertainment Group through the '90s.
Sponsors of the event included Ogilvy & Mather, Comcast, FedEx, Ford, GE, Global Hue, Home Depot, Honda, Macy's, MTV Networks, and NASCAR. The National Action Network was founded in Brooklyn, NY by the Reverend Al Sharpton. He remains president of the organization, and was on hand, hosting the event all evening.