Dr. Adelaide Sanford (presenter) with iconic actress Ruby Dee, recipient of the Revolution Award for Lifetime Achievement.

*The prestigious ImageNation Revolution Awards were founded by ImageNation and are presented annually to individuals who inspire social change, blaze new trails, help foster solidarity throughout the African Diaspora, and promote or advance the arts, including Black and Latino film and culture.

The 2010 ImageNation Revolution Awards gala took place on Thursday, December 2, 2010, at The Film Society of Lincoln Center and honored trailblazing members of the entertainment, business and political communities.  Actor Jamie Hector hosted the celebratory event that included a soul-stirring performance by Jermaine Paul.

During the festive program, Woodie King, Jr. presented the Revolution Award for lifetime achievement to iconic actress Ruby Dee; Marva Smalls presented the Revolution Award for visionary leadership in television to BET chairman and CEO Debra L. Lee; Dr. Adelaide Sanford presented Burrell Communication group chairman emeritus and author of Brainwashed Tom Burrell with the Revolution Award for pioneering leadership in media enterprise; Actress Lynn Whitfield presented producer Lisa Cortés (executive producer of Precious) with the Revolution Award for trailblazing in independent film & music; and Dr. Susan Wilcox presented filmmaker and activist Iris Morales with the Revolution Award for activism.

Producer Lisa Cortes (executive producer of Precious), recipient of the Revolution Award for Trailblazing in Independent Film and Music; Moikgantsi Kgama, president, ImageNation; Gregory Gates; and actress Lynn Whitfield (presenter).

The event also paid tribute to Georgia Congressman and civil rights hero John Lewis who joined the event via Skype and was presented with the Revolution Award for Freedom by Stanley Nelson.  Nnenna Lynch brought greetings from New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s office expressing Mayoral support of ImageNation’s Sol Cinema project.

“We are so honored to celebrate the life and work of these extraordinary change agents.  Their work inspires us, and we hope those who attend will leave galvanized and ready to better the world,” said Moikgantsi Kgama, president of ImageNation.           

“ImageNation is doing some of the most innovative programming in New York, bringing together the worlds of film, theater and music, uptown and downtown,” said Richard Peña, program director, The Film Society of Lincoln Center.  “We’re proud to work with them.”

The event included an advance screening of Stanley Nelson’s film Freedom Riders, which will air on PBS in 2011.  The film is the powerful account of more than 400 black and white civil rights workers who transformed America over six months in 1961.

Risking their lives by traveling together on buses and trains through the Deep South — thus flouting the Jim Crow laws — the Freedom Riders were met with stark racism and mob violence.  Ultimately what they encountered put their belief in nonviolent activism to the test.  The filmmaker and Lewis, one of the Freedom Riders, were on hand to discuss the film.

Proceeds from the event will benefit ImageNation and the capital campaign for the ImageNation Sol Cinema, Harlem’s first and the nation’s only, art-house cinema dedicated to Black and Latino independent film.  Sol Cinema is scheduled to open on 125th Street in Harlem, directly across from the Apollo Theater in 2013.

ImageNation Cinema Foundation is a Harlem-based nonprofit media arts organization founded as an outlet for progressive media by and about people of color, with the goal of establishing a chain of art-house cinemas dedicated to these works.

The Film Society of Lincoln Center was founded in 1969 to celebrate American and international cinema, to recognize and support new directors, and to enhance the awareness, accessibility and understanding of film.  (Photos by Terrence Jennings)

Audrey J. Bernard is an established chronicler of Black society and Urban happenings based in the New York City area.