McDonald's 365Black 2011 awardees (l-r): Ruby Dee, Hank Thomas, Mary J. Blige, Ben Jealous & cathy Hughes

*Continuing its long-standing support and connection to the African-American community, McDonald’s recognized a distinguished list of five prominent African-Americans who influence and inspire greatness through outstanding community service at its annual 365Black Awards.

This year’s 365Black Awards was co-hosted by nationally syndicated radio personality Tom Joyner and Academy Award nominated actress Angela Bassett. It was held Friday, July 1 at 12:30 p.m. in New Orleans at the start of the Essence Music Festival weekend.

The 2011 365Black Awards honorees are multi-platinum recording artist Mary J. Blige, Oscar nominated and Grammy Award winning actress Ruby Dee, Radio One network founder Cathy Hughes, NAACP  president and CEO Benjamin Jealous, and civil rights activist and McDonald’s owner/operator Henry “Hank” Thomas.

This year’s honorees join an elite group of past award recipients, including Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Marian Wright Edelman, ESSENCE Magazine president Michelle Ebanks, educator Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, CNN’s Soledad O’Brien and NBA legend Alonzo Mourning. Awards show co-host Tom Joyner was one of the first recipients of the 365Black Awards, which exemplify outstanding community service.

“Our 365Black Awards honorees define true leadership in our community, from Ruby Dee’s trail blazing career as an actress to the civil rights crusades led by Hank Thomas; from the media empire created by Cathy Hughes to the leadership that Benjamin Jealous brings to the NAACP, our honorees inspire all Americans to give back in some unique way,” said Neil Golden, Chief Marketing Officer, McDonald’s USA.

“Through her organization FFAWN, the Foundation for Advancement of Women Now, Mary J. Blige continues to invest in the future of young women and gives them the confidence they need to succeed,” Golden added, noting that McDonald’s is also supporting FFAWN through a charitable contribution of $40,000.   (Scroll down to watch the check presentation and the awardees at the news conference for the event.)

The 365Black Awards were launched in 2003 and are an extension of McDonald’s 365Black initiative, created to celebrate the pride, heritage and achievements of African-Americans year round. McDonald’s outreach under the 365Black platform includes the web site, as well as alliances with organizations that provide opportunities for African-Americans to succeed.

“At this year’s 365Black Awards, we celebrate not only our distinguished honorees but all that makes the Crescent City truly amazing — such as the culture, the cuisine and the courage it has taken to rebuild New Orleans,” said Rob Jackson, Director of U.S. Marketing, McDonald’s USA.  “The Fleur De Lis has become a popular, multi-cultural symbol of the rich history of New Orleans, just as McDonald’s 365Black Awards symbolize our long-standing support and commitment to the African-American community.”

About McDonald’s
McDonald’s USA, LLC, is the leading foodservice provider in the United States serving a variety of wholesome foods made from quality ingredients to more than 26 million customers every day. Nearly 90 percent of McDonald’s 14,000 U.S. restaurants are independently owned and operated by local business men and women. Customers can now log online for free at any of the 11,000 participating WiFi enabled McDonald’s U.S. restaurants. For more information, visit, or follow us on Twitter (@McDonalds) and Facebook ( for updates on our business, promotions and products. #emfjunket11