By Haley Bartlett, Editor-In-Chief-
Chattanooga’s convention center witnessed the production of the first inaugural award ceremony honoring the entrepreneurs of the black community on Sunday, February 9th.
The Black Excellence Chattanooga (BEC) Awards were manifested and put on by the city’s Business Elite organization as well as sponsored by many local businesses.
Maria Gilchrist, one of the event coordinators, said that the event was an accumulation of two years worth of planning. She said the show was very important to her and her team.
“It means a lot to me to be able to show off the achievements of the black community and honor the entrepreneurs that have worked as hard as they have,” she said.
The night was orchestrated much to the outlines of the Oscars or any other award banquet, but tweaked with its own spin. All nominees walked a black carpet into the event and were adorned in elegant outfits alongside the attendees. The evening was full of showing a sense of pride for their community.
Hosts Nate Royal and Donna Elle opened up the night with a warm welcome and shared their excitement for what the night meant for the almost 800 audience members.
“How do you define black? Black is beautiful, black is bold, black is 750 people in Chattanooga,” they said.
A total of 38 categories represented the entire black community of the city ranging all the way from small and local businesses to doctors and teachers. Each presenter identified what was special about each group in regards to the community, and gave facts such as how there are only 90 African-American physicians in the entire city.
The night wasn’t just about awards, but also a representation of fashion and live entertainment with the help of vendors to give guests a well-rounded experience. D. Williams Dance Academy opened up the night with a hip-hop routine, and throughout the night, there was a gospel performance put on by some of the music nominees alongside other acts.
There were many people in attendance who strive to better their business, and thought the event was good for outreach. Nacho Mamma, the mother of a little boy called Nacho Son who owns his own food service, said it was an honor to be a part of it and to have her son present an award.
“You know I’m just happy and honored, I think we all are to be here. He was the only kid to be a part of this and to go on stage to give out an award,” she said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for him.”
The BEC Awards brought together a whole community as they celebrated each other and the successes they have made. It was an evening full of cheering and networking all the while appreciating their blackness.