Courtney B. Vance was among the honorees at the 30th annual Bounce Trumpet Awards, founded in 1992 by U.S. civil rights leader Xernona Clayton, on Saturday at the Dolby Theatre. The annual awards show honors “Black excellence” in the arts, politics, social justice and beyond; other honorees included Stan Lathan, Zaila Avant-garde, Princess Sarah Culberson and Georgia senators Ralph Warnock and Jon Ossoff.
Avant-garde, the first African-American contestant to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee, was awarded the rising star award for her many accomplishments, which also include holding three basketball Guinness World Records and being co-holder of a fourth. “I want to thank my entire family for all of their support, I couldn’t be here without them,” she said Saturday, adding a shoutout to the E.W. Scripps Co.: “Without them, I would not have won the Scripps Spelling Bee.”
The excellence in entertainment award went to Vance, who spoke of how he first began acting in a play during his sophomore year in college and it was that performance that inspired his aunt to encourage him to make it a career.
“This path that chose me would give me an opportunity to tell stories through performance that could touch people … get people to see different points of view, make people laugh, cry, think and engage,” he said. “I have never done this work for honors and trophies but I felt deeply blessed when they called that first syllable of my name.”
Lathan, who was introduced virtually by Dave Chappelle, accepted the living legend award, an acknowledgment of his 54-year career directing in television. In his speech, Lathan remembered there being “very few Black producers and almost no Black directors” when he started in the industry in 1968, adding: “It took a long time for that to change. Since then, I’ve been witness to a slow moving revolution of artists fighting to break down barriers.”
The day’s programming also included musical performances from Tank, PJ Morton, Dru Hill, Mary Mary, Kelly Price, Dave Hollister, Doug E Fresh and more.
Clayton’s speech anchored the festivities, giving the show weight and perspective. “I created the Trumpet Awards hoping in the creation that we could build a closer and better America,” the American civil rights leader — who worked with Martin Luther King Jr. at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference — and broadcasting executive said.
Bounce, an entertainment network serving African-American audience, acquired the Trumpet Awards in 2016. The show will air on the network on June 19, otherwise known as Juneteenth, a holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans.