Kennedy, Graves Honored at UNCF's 65th Anniversary Dinner - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine January-March 2019 Issue

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Publisher Earl G. Graves Sr. and attorney Caroline Kennedy (seen with the Rev Al Sharpton and UNCF CEO Michael L. Lomax) were honored Thursday night at the United Negro College Fund's 65th anniversary dinner in New York. (Source: Getty Images)

At the United Negro College Fund’s (UNCF) 65th anniversary dinner in New York, Black Enterprise magazine publisher Earl G. Graves Sr. and attorney Caroline Kennedy received awards of distinction for their commitment to the education of black students.

In addition, guests were surprised to learn from Exxon Mobile Corp. CEO Rex Tillerson that Exxon would immediately donate $500,000 and supply a matching grant of another $500,000 to the fund.

The UNCF supports more than 60,000 students that attend 39 historically black colleges and universities through scholarships and educational development. The organization is also known for “An Evening of Stars,” formerly the “Lou Rawls Parade of Stars,” a nationally televised event to raise money for HBCUs. Proceeds from the dinner will support the fund.

After UNCF President Michael L. Lomax welcomed the guests, each award recipient spoke briefly to give their gratitude to the UNCF and to HBCUs.

“Receiving this award is an indication that what I did was meaningful and substantive. I know it has made a difference,” says Graves, who has donated generously to HBCUs throughout the years.

Graves, a graduate of Morgan State University, received the Frederick D. Patterson Award for his career accomplishments and commitment to minority education and philanthropy. The award is named after the Tuskegee University president who founded UNCF in 1944.

“Earl Graves has been a role model for generations of black college students who, before Black Enterprise, didn’t really think that starting their own business or working in corporate America was much of an opportunity or an option for them,” Lomax says. “He’s been a role model, a champion, and a trailblazer in his work. That has been great for our students.”

Graves, a member of the board of directors at Howard University, requested that his grandson Carter Graves join him on the stage as he accepted his award. “I have taken each grandchild, in order of age, to an event like this. Carter is number six of the total eight,” says Graves. “I want him to understand the importance of this organization and what it means to the students and the institutions that it helps. I also want him to be exposed to an audience of 1,600 people, the majority of whom will be African American, who have had great achievements.”

In accepting the UNCF’s President’s Award for her work on behalf of New York City’s public schools, Caroline Kennedy said she was really gratified to see the improvements in student achievement in New York public schools over the last six years.

“Receiving this award has a special meaning to me because my father gave the money from his Pulitzer Prize-winning book Profiles in Courage to the UNCF, so this is an association that our

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.