In Gwinnett, much of the focus during last week’s primary elections was on commission and school board races. But it was Ronda Colvin-Leary who made history.
Colvin-Leary, a local attorney, won her nonpartisan race for a spot on Gwinnett’s State Court bench, making her the first black judge elected in the history of one of Georgia’s most diverse counties — and she may also be its first person of color elected in a countywide local election.
“I’m just humbled that so many people believed in me,” Colvin-Leary said. “And I think it’s significant also because I had the support of a lot of people, I had bipartisan support. … I think why that means so much to me is that people looked past the race [of the candidates].”
Last week’s higher profile Gwinnett races included legislative primaries and a handful of Democratic candidates competing for the right to pursue the county commission and school board seats up for grabs in November’s general election.
Many of those Democrats were people of color, and the victors — Ben Ku and Marlene Fosque on the commission side, Wandy Taylor and Everton Blair for the school board — will now have the chance to become the first non-white members of their respective bodies, though, all four will still have to beat Republican opponents come fall.
Colvin-Leary has already crossed the finish line.
Because Gwinnett’s local judicial races are nonpartisan, her victory last week over opponent Lance Tyler is final and there will be no second election in November.
Gwinnett spokesman Joe Sorenson said the county has had black judges appointed to its magistrate, juvenile and recorders courts. The county’s Administrative Office of the Courts, however, confirmed that no black judge had ever been elected.
Two Gwinnett cities recently elected the county’s first-ever non-white mayors, and voters in a handful of legislative districts have sent non-white candidates to the state Capitol in recent years. But Colvin-Leary is believed to be the first black candidate ever elected in a countywide local election.
Advocates say more diverse leadership can pave the way for fresh ideas and more equitable representation.
Renita Hamilton Edmonson, whose term as president of the Gwinnett branch of the NAACP recently ended, said she could not think of “any individual who has worked harder and deserves this achievement more.”
“This is a wonderful time in the history of Gwinnett County,” she said. “The significance of this event reflects the spirit of diversity, the melting of prejudices and welcomed change.”
Gwinnett has about 920,000 residents, and less than 40 percent of them are white. Black residents make up about 28 percent of the county’s population, with Latino (21 percent) and Asian (12 percent) not far behind.
The lack of minority representation on the county level has been the subject of ire — and litigation — in recent years.
An ongoing lawsuit filed by the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, the Georgia NAACP and others argues that the way Gwinnett’s commission and school board districts are drawn dilutes the influence of minority voters. It asks for more majority-minority districts to be drawn.
Racially charged Facebook comments posted in early 2017 by current Commissioner Tommy Hunter added fuel to the fire.
Colvin-Leary was raised in a small town outside Montgomery, Alabama, and attended college at Auburn University. She got her law degree from Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville and was admitted to the Georgia bar in 2001.
She previously worked in Atlanta Municipal Court and the DeKalb County Solicitor General’s Office. In addition to the private law practice she’s run in Lawrenceville for more than a decade, Colvin-Leary currently serves as the city of Winder’s solicitor.
She is married to a Marine Corps veteran and has two daughters. They live in Snellville.
Gwinnett State Court handles misdemeanor and traffic violations that are prosecuted by the solicitor’s office, as well civil actions.
“I love State Court because, for me, I like to think that … if you come to State Court we can try to address it before something else major happens and you wind up in Superior Court for a more serious offense,” Colvin-Leary said.
Superior Court may actually be where Gwinnett’s next black elected official lands.
Last week, local defense attorney Veronica Cope was one of the top two vote-getters in a five-candidate race for an open seat on the court’s bench. She and Tracey Mason will now compete in a July 24 runoff.
BLACK MUSIC HONORS 2019
CENTRAL CITY PRODUCTIONS PRESENTS THE 2019 BLACK MUSIC HONORS IN A NEW CITY AND VENUE
XSCAPE, FREDDIE JACKSON, YOLANDA ADAMS AND ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT TO RECEIVE BLACK MUSIC HONORS RECOGNITION
RICKEY SMILEY AND LETOYA LUCKETT RETURN AS HOSTS OF TELEVISION SPECIAL
CHICAGO, IL. – July 26, 2019 – Chicago based television production company Central City Productions announces the 2019 Black Music Honors television taping set to take place on Thursday, September 5th at The Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta, GA. During this star-studded two-hour television special, Central City Productions (CCP) will honor artists and musicians who have influenced and made significant contributions to American music.
The honorees for this year’s Black Music Honors include Xscape who will receive the Urban Music Icon Award for the platinum selling quartet group’s 25 years in the industry. Yolanda Adams will receive the Gospel Music Icon Award. Culturally-conscience eclectic group, Arrested Development and chart-topping crooner, Freddie Jackson, whose career has spanned over 33 years, will also be honored.
“The vision behind the Black Music Honors is to recognize the trailblazers in African American music who have paved the way for the artists of today. Many of these artists have never received their much-deserved recognition,” stated Founder and Executive Producer, Don Jackson.
Television and radio personality Rickey Smiley and Grammy® Award-winner and actress LeToya Luckett return as co-hosts of the show, which is set to air in broadcast syndication Sept. 14 – October 20, 2019. State Farm returns as the show’s title sponsor.
The epic event will be held at The Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre located at 2800 Cobb Galleria Pkwy, Atlanta, GA 30339. Doors open at 6 p.m. with the show taping at 7 p.m.
Tickets are available at: blackmusichonors.com and ticketmaster.com
The 4th Annual Black Music Honors show is Executive Produced by Don Jackson, with Jennifer J. Jackson serving as Producer and Michael A. Johnson as Producer and Director.
For more information on Black Music Honors, please visit www.blackmusichonors.com and connect on social media@blackmusichonors #BMH2019 and #BlackMusicMatters.
T.I. throw shade at Travis Scott decision to perform at the Super Bowl
T.I. believes Travis Scott‘s decision to do the Super Bowl halftime show is selfish … and he hopes the rapper makes up for it by being selfLESS down the road.
Scott’s taken all sorts of heat for his decision to perform at Super Bowl 53 from people like Common and Nick Cannon who have been critical of the NFL for the way it’s treated Colin Kaepernick.
In fact, Cannon told Raquel Harper on BET’s “Raq Rants” that Scott’s move clearly shows he doesn’t care for black culture.
So, how does T.I. feel about it? See if you can read between the lines …
“I think every man have an opportunity … he can make a decision for himself, or he could be selfless. And, nobody can tell someone when to be selfless.”
“That’s every man’s right to choose that moment for themselves. So, if this ain’t something that he wanted to be selfless about, hopefully in the future we’ll see other moments where he will. You dig?”
Not everyone is upset with Scott — rap legend Nelly told us just a few days ago the outrage over the halftime show is stupid — and said he’d “probably do it” if asked.
Scott and Maroon 5 will take the stage Feb. 3 … with others like Big Boi from Outkast and Gladys Knight set to grab the mic throughout the day as well.
20th Annual Super Bowl Gospel Celebration set to air on BET Networks
(ATLANTA) – January 9, 2019 – Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms officially welcomed the 20th Annual Super Bowl Gospel Celebration (SBGC) to Atlanta during a press conference today at City Hall with officials from the NFL, the Atlanta Super Bowl Host Committee, Boys & Girls Club of America and Radio One in attendance.
Returning to Atlanta for its 20th anniversary, the concert will be taped in front of a live audience on Thursday, January 31, 2019 at Atlanta Symphony Hall during Super Bowl LIII week. National radio and tv personality Rickey Smiley is set to co-host the show, which will feature performances by Kirk Franklin, Tasha Cobbs Leonard, The Winans and the Super Bowl Gospel NFL Players Choir. More talent will be announced
The Super Bowl Gospel Celebration special will premiere exclusively on BET Networks on Saturday, February 2, 2019 at 8:00PM ET.
“Atlanta is proud to host the 20th anniversary Super Bowl Gospel Celebration,” said Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. “As a beacon of Southern hospitality and the cradle of the civil rights movement in America, Atlanta is excited to showcase the greatest talents in gospel music on the stage of Atlanta Symphony Hall. We look forward to sharing this memorable concert experience through the telecast on BET Networks.”
“I can think of no better place to host our 20th Super Bowl Gospel Celebration than in my hometown of Atlanta,” says Melanie Few-Harrison, NFL Sanctioned Holder, Creator & Executive Producer of the Super Bowl Gospel Celebration. “Atlanta’s vibrant music scene, rich culture and diverse community are the perfect backdrop for Super Bowl 53 and all of our incredible artists will inspire audiences, touch lives & put on a show the city will never forget!”
“We are proud to have The Super Bowl Gospel Celebration as a sanctioned event partner with the NFL and we celebrate this 20-year milestone!” said Arthur McAfee, NFL, Senior Vice President of Player Engagement. “The Super Bowl Gospel Celebration is a favorite with the players and one of the best attended and most talked about events during the Super Bowl weekend year after year. We look forward to continuing to build this relationship with the Super Bowl Gospel Celebration as it continues to grow.”
“On behalf of BET Networks, we are beyond excited to partner with Melanie Few and the Super Bowl Gospel Celebration team for the 6th year in a row to bring the special to our loyal BET audience and gospel fans around the world,” said Connie Orlando, Head of Programming for BET Networks. “We congratulate Melanie and team on the 20th Anniversary of Super Bowl Gospel Celebration and for bringing this inspiring and uplifting event to her hometown of Atlanta, GA. Each year we have continued to see the growth of the special, drawing in thousands of fans in each city – from Minnesota to Houston to Arizona – and we are proud to have been there every step of the way! We look forward to continuing our partnership with another successful Super Bowl Gospel Celebration.”
Originating at Super Bowl XXXIII in 1999, the annual event joins together key NFL Players, top Gospel/Contemporary Christian and mainstream GRAMMY® Award-winning artists and special guests all on one stage to bring audiences an evening of uplifting music and inspirational messages.
By far, the largest multicultural event to take place during Super Bowl weekend in its 20-year run as an NFL-sanctioned event, SBGC has featured artists including Patti LaBelle, Yolanda Adams, Gladys Knight, Natalie Grant, Mary Mary, Fantasia, Donnie McClurkin, Anthony Hamilton, among many others.
For information and tickets, visit superbowlgospel.com.
ABOUT THE SUPER BOWL GOSPEL CELEBRATION:
The Super Bowl Gospel Celebration was launched in Miami in 1999 during Super Bowl XXXIII weekend. The event became the first, and remains the only Gospel concert sanctioned by the National Football League (NFL). The show has drawn crowds in the thousands and has demonstrated growth year-after-year, selling out venues in major Super Bowl host cities including Dallas, Tampa, Detroit, Jacksonville, Houston and Phoenix.
ABOUT BET NETWORKS:
BET Networks, a subsidiary of Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIA, VIA.B), is the nation’s leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs television programming for the African-American audience. The primary BET channel reaches more than 90 million households and can be seen in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom and sub-Saharan Africa. BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of business extensions: BET.com, a leading Internet destination for Black entertainment, music, culture, and news; BET HER, a 24-hour entertainment network targeting the African-American Woman; BET Music Networks – BET Jams, BET Soul and BET Gospel; BET Home Entertainment; BET Live, BET’s growing festival business; BET Mobile, which provides ringtones, games and video content for wireless devices; and BET International, which operates BET around the globe.
ABOUT ATLANTA SYMPHONY HALL:
Atlanta Symphony Hall has served as the home venue of the Grammy® Award-winning Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) since its construction in 1968. Located in the Woodruff Arts Center’s Memorial Arts Building, Atlanta Symphony Hall hosts more than 130 acts and performances each year, including ASO’s Delta Classical Series, Family Concert Series, Coca-Cola Holiday Concerts and educational concerts, as well as renowned musicians and entertainers from Delta Atlanta Symphony Hall LIVE. With a capacity of 1,800, more than 225,000 audience members visit the Hall each year.
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