The Knocturnal attended Celestial Arts Presents The Influence, Writers Who Brunch, and Inconvenient Conversations.
I caught the A uptown, not too far from my old stomping grounds for the 2023 Root 100 Gala event at The Apollo Theater.
The entire evening was legendary. One of the highlights was the performance by Jon Batiste, as a music lover I appreciate the way he uses his voice and plays the piano. We saw a preview of his new Documentary, which premiers on Netflix. The documentary shows his life after being the MD on the Stephen Colbert show. He shares how his wife’s health was also impacted by a condition that they had to face together. I won’t give away the spoiler, but keep an eye peeled for it. The Prince of Jazz was also one of the honorees that received an award. He stood up from the piano after an amazing performance medley, grabbed a horn and began to get the audience to sing together and participate, which was a nice moment. His showmanship and his ability to get us to sing together was a full circle moment for him as he recalls being on the Apollo stage as a 7-year-old who traveled in a van with his brothers from New Orleans to perform and won on the same stage. The Apollo is home to him and it was a wonderful moment.
Deborah Roberts and Al Rocker were also honorees. Al Rocker is from Canarsie, Brooklyn and recalls his earlier days that led him to where he is now. Similarly, Deborah Roberts spoke about becoming a wife, and a mother, and how she always saw herself doing what she is doing now. These 2 African Americans have shared their lives, health journeys, and energy with us for so many years. The ROOT 100 did a phenomenal job by focusing on all the great achievements and sharing their criteria for how the list is made. In addition to having a social media presence and followers, other aspects such as Influence, Substance, and Reach are all calculated. The beauty of this to me as both an attendee and a writer is, that it is not exclusive to just celebrity. Any African American who can utilize social media and does the work that uplifts people can be a contender. This means we all can be great and should aspire to be like the 100 honorees. As we close out 2023, the new year provides an opportunity for any or all of us to contribute to black news by becoming solution-oriented. There is much work to be done and it’s refreshing to know that not all jobs are glamorous if you have the intent and do the work organizations like The Root will be your support.
In this space of awareness, my new perspective on myself as a writer is that it’s now my responsibility to amplify black stories and The Root 100 Gala made me both grateful and fortunate to be in attendance. Congrats to all honored.
For one legendary night, The Root—the foremost digital media publisher covering Black news and Black views—took over the mainstage of the Apollo for a star-studded evening of comedy, music, and inspiring speeches celebrating the Root 100 honorees.
The Root 100 is an annual ranking of Black Americans who are breaking down barriers and paving the way for the next generation.
Attendees included host Roy Wood Jr. (‘The Daily Show’) and honorees Al Roker (‘TODAY’), Deborah Roberts (‘20/20’), Misty Copeland (ballerina), Leslie Odom Jr. (‘Hamilton’), Nate Burleson (‘CBS Mornings’), Doug E. Fresh (rapper and nonprofit founder), Dr. Olajide Williams (nonprofit founder), Jon Batiste (multihyphenate), Fani Willis (District Attorney of Fulton County, GA), Karine Jean-Pierre (White House press secretary), DeMarco Morgan (broadcast journalist), LaChanze (multihyphenate), Abby Phillip (CNN), Melonie Parker (Google), Danyel Surrency Jones (Amazon), Brandice Daniel and (HaDaniel and Shion Row), Jamie Harrison (DNC Chair), Racquel Ode (HSBC Bank USA), Nikole Hannah- Jones (journalist/author), Adjoa B. Asamoah (influencer), Dr. Oni Blackstock (entrepreneur), and Dr. UchéBlackstock (founder and author). Also in attendance were special guests Don Lemon, Tim Malone, Hannibal Burress, Sabrina Greenlee, Jason Lee, PaperBoy The Prince, Brandee Younger, Bevy Smith, Irreversible Entanglements, Erica Lowe, Adenike Olanrewaju, Thysha Shabazz, Dr. Jasper Brewster, Dr. Jeff Gardere, Agnes Tshimbombo, Ahmed Gallab, Kristal Brent Zook, and Editor-in-Chief of The Root, Tatsha Robertson.
The Knockturnal attended Roc Nation and the United Justice Coalition hosted the 2nd annual social justice, at the Javits Center. Additionally, the summit featured over 60 national and local non-profit organizations 1including REFORM Alliance, Last Prisoner Project, Innocence Project, Gathering for Justice, etc provided programs and resources to all attendees to advocate for change in their respective communities. Not only did they create a space to have these conversations to be had together they also provided access to vendors and resources and services from mental health to prison reform. In these times we need community, events like these are actively applying healing to the many scars we need to unload and heal in our society.
It is refreshing to know some people do care and are on the front lines doing this work.
Showing up sharing their stories the atmosphere was brimming with like-minded individuals who also wanted to active positive change.
The summit also included an art gallery that leveraged artwork that told the stories of activism. In New York City that included speaking appearances from New York Attorney General Letitia James, Fat Joe, Charlamagne Tha God, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson
Angela Rye, Until Freedom co-founder Tamika Mallory, Soledad O’Brien, CNN chief legal analyst Laura Coates, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Justice Kristen Clarke, and many more that drew over 3,000 attendees.
Additionally, the summit featured over 60 national and local non-profit organizations including REFORM Alliance, Last Prisoner Project, Innocence Project, Gathering for Justice, etc that provided programs and resources to all attendees to advocate for change in their respective communities. The summit also included an art gallery that leveraged artwork that told the stories of activism.
A few highlights from the day included
Letitia James, Kristen Clarke, and Michelle Miller participated in a fireside chat to discuss the ongoing fight against hate crimes, especially in this political climate.
Fat Joe introduced a panel that featured the families of Sean Bell and DJ Henry both of whom were shot and killed by police officers.
Charlamagne Tha God moderated a panel about mental health treatment within the criminal justice system with The Solution Focused Universe founder Elliott Connie, family therapist Dr. Jay Barnett, Vibrant Emotional Health national director LaraEvans, and Deputy Director at the Perlmutter Center for Legal Justin Derek Hamilton.
The Knocturnal attended Tatter’s new flagship at 230 Ashland Place a new home to their library and exhibition galleries, providing gathering space for special events, artist openings, public workshops, and retail.
They’ve built a new space in the heart of Brooklyn’s cultural district, to convene people and conversation, exploring textile’s unique ability to bring people together. The demand for what they do has never been greater. Centrally located to invite foot traffic, shares a streetscape with other compelling organizations and cultural destinations like BAM and MOCADA.
This new gathering space in the heart of Brooklyn’s Cultural District will help TATTER to create a home where we can continue to champion textiles, build community, and celebrate one another. TATTER programming and library are used by hundreds of artists, scholars, historians, and designers each year
Textile arts have, for decades, longed for a centralized community space and an organizational steward to advance underrepresented textile artists, promote learning, engage social questions, preserve heritage, and encourage joy. Brooklyn does benefit from having hubs like this which keep our creative community connected and enrich all the surrounding areas.
The Knockturnal attended the second anniversary of The Henn na Hotel, which is the hotel group’s first property outside of Japan. The second anniversary comes at a time, especially in the hospitality real estate market where thousands of Airbnb’s and short-term listing rentals were wiped off the map in New York City. Local Law 18, which came into force Tuesday, limits how Airbnb operates in the city by implementing new policies for hosts and guests alike. Henn na Hotel New York’s presence here is celebrated as the pendulum has shifted back towards the Hotel Industry. Henn na Hotel New York offers stylish, tech-forward accommodations and irreverent hospitality to experiences in the heart of Manhattan. I met with a few of the team, toured the rooms and surrounding common areas as well, and enjoyed sushi and saki from the restaurant in the lobby. Stationed directly in the hub of NYC activities and recreation spaces to experience all the excitement the city has to offer, the property also features a GOSUKE restaurant, and a one-of-a-kind life-size animatronic T-Rex in its lobby to welcome guests which is a memorable fixture within the lobby. The rooms are very luxurious bright open and airy. I have never seen an LG Styler, in addition to steaming and reducing the need for ironing, the LG Styler refreshes clothing by removing allergens, dust, smoke and sweat and is asthma & allergy friendly. Henn na Hotel New York is an oasis away from the fast pace of New York even as it is centrally located. This is a very vibrant space private with easy access to everything in the city.
This new docu-series peels back the curtain and I learned multiple things that I never knew about this brand. An example of the things I never knew about Essence Magazine is that it was founded by four black men Edward Lewis, Clarence O. Smith, Cecil Hollingsworth, and Jonathan Blount founded Hollingsworth Group.
This would later be named Essence Communications, Inc. The four businessmen decided to start a magazine at a time when there was no representation of black women in American print media at the time.
The images that were seen on the television and in the new stands didn’t reflect the audience that the men envisioned. To me this was an audacious act, showcasing black women in this light was not only groundbreaking it had never been done before.
This is just 1 of the nuggets you’ll walk away with from just episode 1 that I as a black man can appreciate.
Originally before the name of the Magazine was not Essence as we now know, ideas were floating around amongst the 4 founders and the name of a popular black actress who was on television at that time came up. However, if a black woman was referred to by this character’s name it represented being loud uncouth etc., and was somewhat of a dig.
The name Essence was given by a black woman who worked with the 4 founders and she later took the helm of the creative direction of the magazine. Without giving too much away it serves as an open book of how Black creatives & business owners were able to navigate gain and build financial infrastructure and in return give its culture the same consideration and appeal of a then, sports illustrated or a Playboy magazine which dominated the newsstands but with our stories and in our voice.
Essence Magazine believed in Black Women from day 1 in a time when they were not viewed nor regarded As marketable, beautiful, or interesting. Iconic founder/photographer Jonathan Blount whose iconic eye has contributed to the aesthetic blueprint not only for Black culture and community loosely but for Home community and community full-stop specifically.
This Docu-series is produced by 51 Minds in partnership with Own & along with Executives from Essence. In attendance at the preview, were some of the original alumni staff, production partners, and the Essence Ventures team.
At the world premiere of #TimeOfEssence , There was a discussion on the legacy and an obligation to be the sixth episode of this brand’s story moderated by Essence Ventures CEO Caroline Wagna.
I spoke with dynamic Caroline @wangawoman one-on-one after the Q&A, and I had an epiphany of what she was referring to as the sixth episode.
5 documented episodes, however, the sixth She mentioned was a foreshadowing prophetically that as a community the influencers, writers, storytellers, songwriters, or the people need to share and tell our stories as it becomes a part of the tapestry of the 53-year legacy Essence essentially laid as a foundation for us to stand on and push forward. With a mission statement like this, it’s evident that Essence as a global home brand, shows no sign of stopping or slowing down. Leaving room open for the new as we celebrate the origins.
Episode 1 is binge-worthy leaving many gems, Set your DVRs & grab a nice snack and beverage. Make sure to watch #TimeOfEssence tomorrow ET/PT on OWN and streaming on Max!
For The Knockturnal
The Knockturnal attended the AAPI Panel, in association with SNIPES, the premier sneaker and streetwear retailer with Canal Street Market. This event brought forth an extraordinary event that celebrates the rich and diverse tapestry of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) culture.
The Knockturnal attended the VISION GALA at New York City Center. The Dance Theatre of Harlem honored Founding Member and Outgoing Artistic Director, Virginia Johnson with the Arthur Mitchell Vision Award; and arts advocate, business leader, and former DTH Board Chair Reginald Van Lee with the Virtuoso Award.
The Knockturnal sat down with Todd White, Founder & President, Ramzy Kahhale, of Dry Farm Wines at BLACKBARN Restaurant in NoMad NYC.