Keepers of the Flame Honorees
To commemorate the Second Term and Inauguration of President Barack H. Obama, we will mark this moment with great jubilation and honor legends of our time with the once in a life-time 2013 Keeper of the Flame Award
Social Justice Through Music
Artist, Writer, Producer
Andraé Edward Crouch is an award-winning gospel musician, recording artist, songwriter, arranger and producer. His impact on gospel music is still evident. Crouch is credited with revolutionizing the sound of contemporary gospel music and was one of the first black gospel artists to crossover to mainstream contemporary Christian music. His songs have become staples and popular hymns in churches all around the world. In addition to his GRAMMY® Awards and GMA Dove Awards, he has received ASCAP, Billboard and NAACP Image Awards.
World Renown Musician and Musical Historian
South African born Hugh Masekela is a world-renowned musician, composer and a defiant political voice who remains deeply connected to his homeland and the world. The agony, conflict, and exploitation South Africa faced during the 1950s and 1960s inspired the world. Masekela is known for his musical mix of jazz, bebop, funk and Afrobeat. He has won numerous awards, made countless records and established himself as a towering musical presence.
Artist, Writer, Producer
JESSYE NORMAN is “one of those once-in-a-generation singers who is not simply following in the footsteps of others, but is staking out her own niche in the history of singing.” This rich history continues to be made as she brings her sumptuous sound, her joy of singing and spontaneous passion to recital performances, operatic portrayals and appearances with symphony orchestras and chamber music collaborators to audiences around the world. In December of 1997, she was invested with the United States highest award in the performing arts, the Kennedy Center Honor, making history as the youngest recipient in the Honors’ twenty-year existence.
Social Justice Through Stage and Screen
Actress, Activist and Humanitarian
Cicely Tyson is renowned for her portrayals of strong female characters on stage, screen and television. From her stunning initial stage appearances in “Dark Of The Moon,” and Jean Genet’s “The Blacks” for which she received the prestigious Vernon Rice Award, to the Emmy-nominated 1999 Ernest Gaines’ HBO film “A Lesson Before Dying.” Hailed for her remarkable performance in the coveted title role of “The Autobiography of Miss. Jane Pittman,” playing a slave woman ranging in ages 19 to 110 for which she received an unprecedented two Emmy Awards for Best Actress and Actress of the Year. Her esteemed career has continually brought her critical praise, making her a much revered national treasure and creative force.
Award-winning Actress & Activist
Ruby Dee is an American actress, poet, playwright, screenwriter, journalist and activist. She is perhaps best known for co-starring in the film A Raisin in the Sun (1961) and the film American Gangster (2007) for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She has won Grammy, Emmy, Obie, Drama Desk and Screen Actors Guild Awards, and Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Awards. She is a recipient of the National Medal of Arts and the Kennedy Center Honors, among scores of others awards.
Social Justice Through Sports and Medicine
Muhammed Ali is still the most recognizable man on earth. Over forty years after he burst onto the scene as a gold-medal winner at the 1960 Rome Olympics, Muhammad Ali remains a magical figure, known and loved throughout the world. His success as a boxer is widely respected, but Ali’s greatest triumph lies in his legacy as a champion, leader, humanitarian, and artist. His work both inside and outside the ring truly makes Muhammad Ali “The Greatest of All Time.”
Leading In Medicine
A native of Schaal, Arkansas, Dr. Elders is now a Professor of Emeritus of pediatric endocrinology, at the University of Arkansas School of Medical Science. Dr. Elders never saw a physician prior to her first year in college. Joycelyn Elders, the first person in the state of Arkansas to become board certified in pediatric endocrinology, was the sixteenth Surgeon General of the United States, the first African American and only the second woman to head the U.S. Public Health Service. Elders, who is a dynamic advocate of public health, was appointed Surgeon General by President Bill Clinton in 1993.
Leading in AIDS Activism & Addiction Research
Dr. Beny J. Primm, a medical consultant to several U.S. Presidents, might not be a doctor today if not for the University of Heidelberg in Germany and the University of Geneva in Switzerland, which welcomed Dr. Primm when U.S. medical schools routinely denied entrance to Blacks. Dr. Primm is internationally recognized as one of the world’s foremost experts on HIV and AIDS, an area of study he pursued initially due to the disease’s intimate relationship with addiction and the epidemic levels of infection among I.V. drug users. He has served on the Presidential Commission on the Human Immunodeficiency Virus Epidemic.
Social Justice Through Art & Activism
Sculptor & Historian
Air Force Pilot and America’s First Black Astronaut Candidate
Ed Dwight is one of the most prolific and insightful sculptors in America, creating fine art sculptures, large-scale memorials and public art projects. His works document significant Black contributions to American culture. He is creator of large scale works including the International Underground Railroad Memorial in Detroit and Battle Creek, MI and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial monument in Denver.
A Dynamic Legal Eagle
Elaine R. Jones is President and Director-Counsel, Emeritus of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), the nation’s oldest law firm fighting for equal rights and justice for people of color, women, and the poor. When Ms. Jones took the helm of the Legal Defense Fund in 1993, she became the first woman to head the organization. She brought with her vast experience as a litigator and civil rights activist, as well as a passion for fairness and equality that dates back to her childhood.
Civil Rights Activist and Attorney
Vernon E. Jordan, Sr. is a business executive and civil rights activist. He is a leading figure in the civil rights movement, and was chosen by President Bill Clinton as a close adviser. Jordan is one of the most influential figures in law and politics, whose advice is sought in all realms of endeavor including government, corporate, labor and legal. He has contributed his talent, wisdom and insight to leading civic organizations, such as the NAACP, as well as serving as President of the National Urban League and Executive Director of the United Negro College Fund.
Social Justice Through Faith
The Right Reverend George E. Battle, Jr. was elected and consecrated the 84th Bishop in succession at Shaw Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church, Atlanta, GA during the 44th General Conference on July 31, 1992. At the 2012 General Conference held in Charlotte, NC, George E. Battle, Jr. was elevated to the position of Senior Bishop. His academic life includes a B.A. Degree from Livingstone College, where he now serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees; M. Div. from Hood Theological Seminary; and D. Min. from Howard University School of Divinity. Having manifested unusual administrative abilities, he was elected a member of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education in 1978 and served as its chairman from 1990, resigning in1995 because of his duties as Bishop. With numerous awards and recognitions, Bishop Battle is globally recognized for his spiritual leadership in stewardship and financial management.
The Right Reverend Philip R. Cousin, Sr. was elected and consecrated the 96th Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1976 and offered Episcopal Service for over 32 years, faithfully serving the 9th, 11th, 1st, and 4th Episcopal Districts. His legacy includes serving as president of the National Council of Churches, member of the National Board of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and President of Kittrell Junior College. He was the first African-American to teach at the Divinity School. He is the recipient of numerous awards and honors including an Ebony Magazine designation as one of the 100 most influential Black Americans. In 2008, to celebrate the election of President Obama, Bishop Cousin was afforded the honor of offering the prayer in Chicago’s Grant Park to mark the occasion. He was an early supporter of a qualified, young African-American possessing the audacity to dream.
The Right Reverend William H. Graves, Sr. was elected and consecrated the 42nd Bishop of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. At the 2006 General Conference held in Memphis, Tennessee, William H. Graves was elevated to the position of Senior Bishop and CEO of the CME Denomination until his retirement in 2011. Upon receiving his B.A. degree from Lane College, he matriculated at Phillips School of Theology of the ITC in Atlanta, GA. He pursued his Doctor of Ministry degree from the Claremont School of Theology. He rose to prominence in the church during an outstanding pastorate at Phillips Temple CME Church of Los Angeles, CA, where he earned a reputation as an unusual leader in stewardship motivation of local congregations. Bishop Graves serves as a National Board Member of the NAACP and the Tennessee Valley Authority.
Rev. Dr. Cynthia L. Hale is the founding and Senior Pastor of the Ray of Hope Christian Church in Decatur, Georgia. The Ray of Hope Christian Church is a congregation that has a vision to “impact and transform this present world into the Kingdom of God” through Housing, Healthcare and Education Initiatives. As a recipient of numerous honors and recognitions, Dr. Hale was inducted into the African American Biographies Hall of Fame and the Martin Luther King Board of Preachers of Morehouse College. In July 2009, Dr. Hale was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships. Dr. Hale is a dedicated active member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and is revered locally, nationally, and internationally for her leadership, integrity, and compassion.
Theologian, pastor, and civic leader, the Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, Jr. is one of America’s most influential religious leaders and highly sought-after public speakers. He is Pastor Emeritus at Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio. President Barack Obama named him in February 2009 to serve on a newly established 25-member White House Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. He also serves on the Board of Trustees at Morehouse College, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1956. He earned a Masters of Divinity Degree from the Morehouse School of Religion/ITC and a Doctorate of Divinity degree from the United Theological Seminary. In 1971, he served as co-pastor, with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Sr., at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. In 1975, Moss was called to pastor the Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio.