GALA

Our Keynote Speaker

keynotespeaker

Laz Alonso

Actor

Born and raised in Washington DC, Laz always knew he wanted to be an actor. He graduated from the prestigious Howard University School of Business, earning a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in marketing. After college, he worked on Wall Street as an investment banker. He now splits his time between New York City and Los Angeles.

 

Chosen as one of Variety’s “Top Ten Actors to Watch in 2009” and part of the new breed of emerging leading men in Hollywood, Laz Alonso is currently shooting the lead in NBC’s pilot MYSTERIES OF LAURA alongside Debra Messing and Josh Lucas. Laz’s television credits also include the lead roles in NBC’s DECEPTION and A & E’s BREAKOUT KINGS.

 

Laz recently played the lead in Sony Screen Gems’ BATTLE OF THE YEAR opposite Josh Holloway, Josh Peck and Chris Brown. Inspired by the award-winning documentary, PLANET B BOY, the film is about an all-star American b-boy crew training to compete in France at the “Battle of the Year (BOTY) International Championship.”

 

In 2011, Alonso starred in the hit romantic comedy JUMPING THE BROOM for Columbia Pictures’ for which he received a 2012 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor In A Motion Picture . He was also nominated for a BET Best Actor Award. Prior to JUMPING THE BROOM, he played the heroic role of “Tsu’Tey” in the highest grossing film of all time, James Cameron’s AVATAR. Laz played the lead villain role of “Fenix” in Universal’s FAST AND FURIOUS, which reunited the original cast.

 

His past movie credits include lead roles in the Sony/Screen Gems’ hits STOMP THE YARD and THIS CHRISTMAS, a co-starring role in Sam Mendes’ hit JARHEAD, for Universal opposite Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx, Jake Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard, and a supporting role in Rod Lurie’s remake of the Sam Peckinpah classic STRAW DOGS for Sony Screen Gems. Laz also starred in Spike Lee’s MIRACLE AT ST. ANNA, in which he played one of four main leads opposite Derek Luke, Michael Ealy and Omar Benson.

 

Laz executive produced and starred opposite Danny Glover in Alan Jacobs’ DOWN FOR LIFE (aka POR VIDA), which ended up with a much-coveted position in the Toronto Film Festival where it received critical acclaim.

 

See Laz Alonso in his latest movie “Traffik” with fellow co-stars Paula Patton, Omar Epps, and, Roselyn Sanchez.

2019 VaBHMA GUESTS OF HONOR

Dr ALelia Bundles1

Dr. A’Lelia Bundles

Author and journalist Dr. A’Lelia Bundles writes biographies about the amazing women in her family: as the great-granddaughter of entrepreneur Madam C. J. Walker and Harlem Renaissance icon A’Lelia Walker. After a 30-year career as an executive and Emmy award winning producer with ABC News and NBC News, she now is historical advisor with Madam C. J. Walker Beauty Culture, a trustee of Columbia University and an advisor and ambassador with Walker’s Legacy.

Mr. Anthony Ray Hinton1

Mr. Anthony Ray Hinton

Anthony Ray Hinton was released from prison in April 2015 after spending 30 years on Alabama’s death row for a crime he did not commit. He was released with the help of the Equal Justice Initiative, of which he is now an employee. He now serves as EJI’s Community Educator and travels both nationally and internationally to speak about his experience. His new book “The Sun Does Shine,” was selected by Oprah for her annual Book Club.

Dr. Jesse J. Holland1

Dr. Jesse J. Holland

Dr. Jesse J. Holland is an award-winning journalist and the author of “Black Panther: Who Is the Black Panther?” In this novel, Holland retells the origin story of the original Black Panther updated for the new century. Holland is also the author of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Finn’s Story” and “The Invisibles: The Untold Story of African American Slaves in the White House”; the latter was honored at the Independent Publisher Book Awards and by Smithsonian.com.

Rev. Wheeler Parker, Jr1

Rev. Wheeler Parker, Jr.

The Rev. Wheeler Parker Jr. is Pastor of the Argo Temple Church of God in Christ in Summit, Illinois. He also is the cousin of Emmett Till and the last living witness of the infamous kidnapping and brutal murder of his cousin and best friend in 1955. This lynching is said to have sparked the modern Civil Rights Movement, and has been a cause of Rev. Parker’s mission for years. Rev Wheeler Parker Jr. will give the Opening Prayer and sign copies of his new book.

Special Performance By

The Courthouse School of Ballet1

The Courthouse School of Ballet

The Opening Act will be performed by the Courthouse School of Ballet. The school is the premiere studio for professional dance lessons in Spotsylvania, VA. Ms. Karin C. Tucker RN, BSN, is the Executive Director of the school. Karin, a native of Philadelphia, PA, began her formal dance training at age 11 at the school of The Philadelphia Dance Company, Philadanco. Karin has many years of experience performing in various Dance Companies in Pennsylvania, New York, Washington DC and New Jersey.

Our 15th Annual Jumping the Broom Ceremony

The Broom Jumping Ceremony1

The Broom Jumping Ceremony

One of the most endearing segments of the entertainment is the (surprise) Broom Jumping Ceremony. A local pastor is selected to read the story of how a couple met that is either facing some difficult family challenge or has shown enormous courage through a unique set of circumstances. After the story is told the couple (guests) realizes we are talking about them and is asked to come forward. After some brief counsel from the pastor their marriage vows are renewed and they “Jump the Broom” which is an African American tradition that dates back to the time of slavery.

15th Annual Jumping the Broom Event