Inaugural Mahogany Awards promotes empowerment of LGBT community

(l-r) Honoree-Judge Rachel Bell, Founder- Nick Calvin, Speaker- State Rep. Brenda Gilmore, Trailblazer Recipient- Dwayne Jenkins, Honoree- T.K. Hampton (courtesy photo).

The recent Mahogany Awards in Nashville commemorated community service at its best.

The motto and purpose of the dinner was to honor, commemorate, empower, and charge the LGBTQ community and reduce the disparity that exists amongst people of color living with HIV/ AIDS.—and to promote positive progression in the LGBTQ community for people of color in Nashville.

General Sessions Court Judge Rachel L. Bell, was honored for her multiple platforms of service to the LGBTQ community and her initiatives for inclusion of all people from all walks of life.

“We are all just human and need to work to end discrimination and strip away the labels that divide us,” said Bell, “so then we can have the opportunity to rejoice in our humanity”.

The inaugural keynote speaker was Tennessee state Rep. Brenda Gilmore (54th District).

The honorees were T.K. Hampton, Dwayne Jenkins, and Judge Rachel L. Bell. The lifetime Trailblazer award was given to Dwayne Jenkins, the executive director of My House.

“According to the 2016 CDC study, one in two Black men of color who have a male sexual partner will be infected with HIV/AIDS,” said event founder and visionary, Nick Calvin.

“This statistic is unacceptable. We must combat this statistic for men of color by bringing the medical, the religious and other community organizations together to strengthen those working in the HIV/AIDS field—by honoring the past victories of those persons of color who have trail blazed the way, by empowering the work we continue to do today, and charging our future with greatness. I wish those in attendance will join us in this fight.”

The packed room with people from all walks of life made a statement in itself.

The event was heartfelt and drew support from a myriad of agencies and people, including: My House and Nashville CARES.

The organization operates year round. After a short break, plans will be underway for next year’s stellar event.