The recently taped 36th annual event was held at the Atlanta Civic Center on April 12. “The purpose of “An Evening of Stars” is raise money for students attending historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) via performances and scholarship presentations. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed was on hand for the “Evening of Stars” as a presenter.
According to a press release, Anthony Anderson hosted this year’s show as it “highlights 19 students and presents more than one-half million dollars to students.” Other performers included Toni Braxton, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Estelle featuring Jussie Smollett, Kem and Morris Day & The Time.
During the show, Anderson presented scholarships to four students attending HBCUs. The “Black-ish” star also partnered with New Edition member Ronnie DeVoe to pay off an HBCU graduate’s student loan debt.
Big Sean and country singer Mickey Guyton were on hand to make special scholarship presentations. Kevin Hart, Chris Paul, Usher Raymond and Pharrell Williams appeared in special pre-recorded videos to surprise exemplary students with notable scholarship awards to help fund their education. The scholarship donations were made in partnership with the UNCF.
“UNCF and its celebrity partners and sponsors, understand now is a crucial moment in which we all must recognize and demonstrate by our actions and deeds, that ‘Black Lives Matter’. Perhaps more than ever, we must continue to fill the need UNCF has been bringing to light since its inception,” UNCF president and CEO Dr. Michael L. Lomax said in the release “I am immeasurably grateful to these young artists and philanthropists who are stepping up and answering our call.”
Since its creation, UNCF An Evening of Stars® has been “the hallmark of African American superstars supporting education,” the release noted. “In continuation of its tradition of star power giving, UNCF has partnered with leading artists, and their personal foundations, to deliver on UNCF’s motto: ‘A mind is a terrible thing to waste, but a wonderful thing to invest in®.’”
Celebrities participating in the event include “Empire” stars Trai Byers and Grace Gealey, Jermaine Dupri, Tamia and Grant Hill, Thomas Q. Jones, Claudia Jordan (“Real Housewives of Atlanta”), Keisha Knight Pulliam (“Tyler Perry’s House of Payne”), Ludacris, Ne-Yo and Dania Ramirez (“Devious Maids”) as well as Williams’ mother Dr. Carolyn Williams.
“UNCF An Evening of Stars®” will air nationally on BET at 10p/9c Sunday (April 26) and in syndication on Saturday (April 25) and Sunday.