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#EssenceFest: Toni Braxton, Wendy Raquel Robinson and More Honored at 13th Annual McDonald’s 365Black Awards in NOLA

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A number of notable celebrities, community leaders and entertainers descended on the city of New Orleans once again to attend the 13th Annual McDonald’s 365Black Awards, held today at the New Orleans Theater in the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. They were joined by spectators who converged to salute this year’s recipients of the distinguished awards, including Grammy Award-winning artist Toni Braxton; football cornerback Charles Tillman; award-winning actress Wendy Raquel Robinson; educator and historian Lonnie Bunch; and McDonald’s owner/operatorLarry Triplett. Additionally, teen philanthropist Lauren Seroyer and teen social-entrepreneur Donovan Smith were recognized alongside this lineup with the third McDonald’s 365Black Community Choice Youth Award, facilitated by Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

Actress and singer Amber Riley and actor Lance Gross co-hosts the 13th Annual McDonald's 365 Black Awards at the Ernest Moral Convention Center in New Orleans, LA on Friday, July 1, 2016.
Actress and singer Amber Riley and actor Lance Gross co-hosts the 13th Annual McDonald’s 365 Black Awards at the Ernest Moral Convention Center in New Orleans, LA on Friday, July 1, 2016.

McDonald’s 365Black Awards are given annually to salute outstanding individuals who are committed to making positive contributions that strengthen the African-American community. The program launched in 2003 as an extension of the company’s 365Black platform, created to celebrate the pride, heritage and achievements of AfricanAmericans year-round. Held in conjunction with ESSENCE Festival™presented by Coca-Cola®, the event was hosted by actor Lance Gross and actress/singer Amber Riley.

Singing siblings and reality television co-stars The Braxton Sisters performed a show-stopping tribute to their sister, Lifetime Achievement honoree, Toni Braxton. Vocal powerhouse Kelly Price, along with recording artists Kenny Lattimore, V. Bozeman and Eric Benet joined the sisters in the esteemed accolade to Toni. Anthony Hamilton and the Hamiltones, Chrisette Michele, Ro James and Canton Jonesled the other crowd-moving performances at the awards.

Actresses Sheryl Lee RalphTa’Rhonda JonesErica Ash and Gabrielle Dennis, along with actors Cornelius Smith Jr., Ronreaco Lee and Jay Ellis, were among this year’s presenters. Other celebrities in attendance included recording artists Jordin SparksAvery Wilson and Guordan Banks, as well as music producer Sean Garrett and comedian/philanthropist Ricky Smith.

Actor, comedian and popular internet personality King Bach brought his large social media following along to the event, posting photos from the signature gold carpet prior to the ceremony.

“We salute this year’s honorees for all of their achievements and for positively contributing to their communities,” said William Rhodes, McDonald’s U.S. marketing director. “It is important to acknowledge people who are making a real difference. We at McDonald’s are proud to be able to honor this group with this form of recognition. We hope it inspires them and others to continue to make positive impact.”

Those who missed the live awards ceremony can share in the experience by watching the broadcast on BET® Networks and CENTRIC later this summerAdditionally, consumers can follow @365Black on Twitter for commentary on the awards and join the conversation using #365BlackAwards.

More pics below.

Photo Credit: Soul Brother 

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By Gabriel Williams (@Gabriel_Will2)

Named as one of NY's top socialites, Gabriel Williams has definitely made a name for himself in today's entertainment industry. Running one of the most respected blogs on the web, featured in several blogs, magazines, and on television networks, have interviewed some of today's hottest talent, to consulting/branding/styling/creative direction/social media/content creation for some of the best acts, platforms, and brands in the business; and also offering his specialty in music, whether it's providing background vocals or songwriting - Gabriel knows his place in the rapture of all-things-entertainment, and he plays it very well. Praised as one of "top entrepreneurs and influencers in the game," Gabriel is just that "IT" candidate for "All Things Pop Culture"!

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