A Soul Train Celebration

Larry Wilmore, an Emmy Award-winning comedian, producer, writer and actor, received the William A. Strickland Excellence Award for his contributions to entertainment. Wilmore, former host of “The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore” and senior black correspondent on “The Daily Show,” said he was inspired by “Soul Train” as a child because it represented the African American community presenting its own voice to the culture. That example shaped his TV career goals, driving him to be the narrator of his own story, rather than a performer telling someone else’s story.

“Don’t just follow your voice, but be a voice,” Wilmore advised the students at the gala. “Be someone out there that we’re listening to and that we cannot deny.”

Wilmore’s comedy career includes stints working with Eddie Murphy and Steve Tompkins. He created “The PJs,” and he was the creator and executive producer of “The Bernie Mac Show.” He was the executive producer of “Whoopi,” a sitcom developed by Whoopi Goldberg. In 2016, Wilmore hosted the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner.

Lecia Brooks ’78, outreach director of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama, was given the Hon. Irma Brown Dillon Community Service Award. Brooks writes and speaks frequently on tolerance and racism. She also is the director of the Civil Rights Memorial Center in Montgomery.

The Broadway Federal Bank, a major L.A. institution particularly in the African American community, received the association’s Legacy Award. Wayne-Kent Bradshaw, CEO and president with more than four decades of experience in financial management and banking, accepted the award on behalf of the bank.

The AAAA fundraiser took place Oct. 22 at the Cooper Design Space in Los Angeles.