2018 Honorees

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Lifetime Achievement Award

Cameo

Cameo is an American soul-influenced funk group that formed in the early 1970s. The group rose to the top of the charts in the early 80s with the album Word Up! and its hits, "Word Up!" and "Candy."

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The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes those who have achieved amazing professional accomplishments and are role-models for others to similarly succeed.
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Music Innovation Award
Jermaine Dupri
Grammy and Billboard Award winner, Jermaine Dupri, has established a prolific career as a hip-hop artist, producer, songwriter, author, DJ and CEO/Founder of So So Def Recordings. With over 400 million records sold to date, Dupri is one of the most successful producers in the music industry.

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The Music Innovation Award recognizes those courageous individuals who introduce new ideas, methods and influences to advance artists and the music industry as a whole.
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Impact Award

Tamika Mallory

Tamika D. Mallory is one of the four co-chairs for the Women’s March on Washington. She is internationally recognized as an integral voice for civil rights, social justice and the new wave of feminism.

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The Impact Award is presented to those who promote positive movement for a community and advancing a shared political, social or artistic idea.
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Innovator Award

Dr. Lonnie Johnson

Inventor and patent holder Dr. Lonnie Johnson is best known as the inventor of the Super Soaker. His current focus, the Johnson Thermoelectric Energy Converter (JTEC), has the potential to achieve efficient, renewable solar energy.

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The Innovator Award honors a person who has introduced or created a new idea, method or product that influences the productivity or advancement of a group.
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Rising Star Award

Rhyon Brown

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Singer, actress, dancer and philanthropist, Rhyon Brown has appeared in projects such as the Lifetime biopic Surviving Compton and BET’s hip-hop anthology series Tales. She is the founder of The Pretty Girl Project, whose goal is to create an environment in which students are capable of expressing a greater appreciation and respect for the differences they possess.

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The Rising Star Award honors those who are working diligently to achieve a goal that will improve the lives of others and make a lasting impact.
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Entrepreneur Award

Richelieu Dennis

Richelieu Dennis is the CEO and co-founder of Sundial, a natural skin and hair care company focused on inclusion. In January of 2018, Dennis purchased Essence and established the company as 100% black-owned once again.

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The Entrepreneur Award award recognizes an individual who exemplifies the capacity and willingness to develop, organize and manage a business venture, expanding the business’ profitability and productivity.
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Trailblazer Award

Marley Dias

13-year-old Marley Dias is the activist behind #1000BlackGirlBooks, an international movement to collect and donate children’s books featuring black girls as the protagonist. Dias is also a published author and serves as Editor in Residence at Elle.com.

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The Trailblazer Award recognizes those that are at the forefront of an action or movement, those that blaze a new path for others to follow.
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