NAACP Gala Awards 2016
By Monica Peters
Friday October 14 was the birthday of The Philadelphia Sunday Sun’s founder and late publisher Jerome “Jerry” Whyatt Mondesire. The stars also had it aligned that his birthday coincided with the Philadelphia chapter’s NAACP Gala Awards held at First District Plaza. Jerry was the long-time President of the chapter.
Many notables were in attendance at the gala including Mayor Jim Kenney, Kenny and Faatimah Gamble, State Representatives Vanessa Brown, Joanna McClinton and Dwight Evans. Councilpersons Cherelle Parker, Helen Gym and Derek Green also supported the annual gala.
Also in attendance, at the Philadelphia Sunday SUN table were Jerry’s fiancé Catherine Hicks along with his children, Jennifer and Joseph Mondesire, his fiancé Brianna Smalley, SUN Advertising Executive Leah Fletcher along with a few other extended family and friends.
Mondesire’s son Joseph and Hicks are now co-publishers of The SUN. His daughter Jennifer also works for the publication.
WURD 900AM’s Thera Martin Connelly and NBC 10’s Jacquelyn London served as the evening’s Mistress of Ceremonies.
Pre-gala activities began with a VIP reception where Charisse Lillie, Vice President of Community Investment at Comcast, was honored with the organization’s Earl B. Dickerson Civil Rights and Community Service Award. John Chin, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation, was also presented with the chapter’s Businessman of the Year Award.
During the gala program and dinner, Juanita Jones Abernathy, wife of late civil rights leader Ralph Abernathy, accepted the chapter’s Civil Rights Pioneer and Legend Award for her activist work.
Joey Temple was presented with the inaugural J. Whyatt Mondesire Award. Temple’s dedication to the local chapter was noted during the presentation, as he stayed committed to the organization after losing a previous election bid for President.
The chapter’s current President Minister Rodney Muhammad was presented with a surprise honor—the President’s Award.
Philly native Eugene “Man Man” Roberts, who tours with John Legend and rapper J. Cole to name a few, kept the groove lively performing with his band Kitchen and vocalist Natalie Imani.
Other gala awardees were Judge Ann Butchart (Arthur B. Springarn Justice Award); Will and Jen Fuller (Community Service Award); and Shirley A. Jordan, II (Mary White Ovington Service Award Whyatt Mondesire passed away last year on October 4 at the age of 65. His physical presence was missed.
However, J. Whyatt Mondesire was definitely there in spirit and I’m sure he would be proud of the evening’s activities and honorees.
For the month of October, The Philadelphia Sunday Sun will continue to honor Jerry’s legacy and memory.
Rest in power Jerry and may your legacy continue to live on.