The Gordon Parks Foundation hosted its annual Awards Dinner and Auction at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City and kicked off the evening by taking every attendee to church. Anthony Morgan’s Inspirational Choir of Harlem gave a lively performance that rose the crowd to their feet in celebration of the famed photographer’s legacy and those continuing his commitment to advancing social justice. With a VIP guest list that included Good Morning America host Deborah Roberts, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, quilting artist Bisa Butler and many more, the festive occasion raised nearly $2 million for the foundation.

Gala co-chair and evening host Swizz Beatz opened the night. “It's been an honor to serve the Golden Parks Foundation for so many years as a deep collector and to bring the photography to the light and love,” said the record producer and rapper. “Me and my family are just honored to be a small piece of this family.” Fellow co-chairs include Alicia Keys and Tonya and Spike Lee.

The evening honored scholar and activist Angela Y. Davis; artist Amy Sherald, who painted the official portrait of former First Lady Michelle Obama; author and producer Crystal McCrary; businesswoman and philanthropist Clara Wu Tsai and businessman and community leader Raymond McGuire. 

Angela Davis. Image: Jason Lowrie/

Pulitzer-prize-winning creator of the 1619 Project, Nikole Hannah-Jones presented the award to Davis, who encouraged the crowd to continue to support efforts around the world to fight “against racism, class exploitation, patriarchy, homophobia, transphobia and to continue our ongoing work to save this planet.” Screenwriter and producer Mara Brock Akil presented the award to painter Sherald, who was congratulated by Michelle Obama via a special video message. Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem, presented the award to McCrary and McGuire, who were honored as Patrons of the Arts.

Gordon Parks' Doll Test in Harlem 1947. Image: courtesy of the Gordon Parks Foundation.

Kate Clark Harris, the daughter of Dr. Kenneth Clark and Dr. Mamie Clark, the psychologists who developed the “doll test” experiments which were photographed by Parks for EBONY in 1947, spoke about the significance of his work. The evening also acknowledged the 2023 Gordon Parks Foundation Fellows: artists Jammie Holmes and José Parlá and art historian and Howard University professor Melanee C. Harvey, who received the Genevieve Young Fellowship in Writing. 

DJ Nice. Image: Jason Lowrie/

DJ D-Nice closed the evening with an old-school playlist as guests danced through the night.