Keepers of the Flame

African American Church Inaugural Ball Celebrates 2nd Inauguration of Pres. Obama; Honors ‘2013 Keepers of the Flame’

New Journal and Guide


The African American Church Inaugural Ball will be held on Sunday, January 20, 2013, at 6 p.m. at the Grand Hyatt Washington. Like its premiere event in 2009, this year’s event will feature leaders and influencers from the religious, civic, business, arts, and entertainment communities. Attendees will gather to honor the 44th U.S. president, Barack Obama, and the great history and strength of the African American church, and its impact on the community.

Themed, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the African American Church Inaugural Ball will honor extraordinary leaders with the “2013 Keepers of the Flame” Award. The recipients are individuals who have sustained an unshakable commitment to our future and who have earned an undeniable place in the African American book of history. Confirmed honorees include: Muhammad Ali; Bishop George E. Battle, Jr.; Bishop Philip R. Cousin, Sr.; Andraé Crouch; Ed Dwight; Joycelyn Elders, MD; Bishop William H. Graves, Sr.; Rev. Dr. Cynthia Hale; Hugh Masekela; Rev. Dr. Otis J. Moss, Jr.; Jessye Norman; Beny Primm, MD, and Cicely Tyson.

Other honorees to be confirmed include: The Honorable Andrew Young, Hon. William J. Clinton, Ruby Dee, Aretha Franklin, Rev. Dr. Cain Hope Felder, Rev. Dr. Katie Cannon, and Dr. Vernon J. Jordan, Sr.

In 2009, distinguished honorees included: Dr. Maya Angelou, Donna Brazile, Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, Dr. Marian Wright Edelman, Dr. John Hope Franklin, Earl Graves, Sr., Rev. Dr. William H. Gray, III, Bishop Barbara Harris, Dr. Dorothy I. Height, The Honorable Alexis Herman, Rev. Dr. Benjamin Hooks, Congressman John Lewis, Rev. Joseph Lowery, Marc Morial, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Gardner Taylor, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Rev. Wyatt Tee Walker, Sr.

As part of the evening’s celebration, musical legend and 2013 Keeper of the Flame Honoree Hugh Masekela to present a musical tribute to SA President Nelson Mandela in honor of President Barack H. Obama.

“This inauguration is an extraordinary mark in American history, punctuated by those who so gallantly served so we could see such a time,” said Rev. Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson, II, Inaugural Ball Chair and pastor of Grace Baptist Church, Mt. Vernon, NY. “This is certainly a time when the African American church community can be proud of its contributions to this great country and honor the work that has been done and those who have made an indelible footprint in the sands of history.”

The Executive Producer is Pernessa Seele, who is the Founder/CEO of The Balm In Gilead, Inc., the gala’s fundraising beneficiary. The Balm In Gilead, a nonprofit, international organization, is committed to a dynamic, community-driven approach, contributing a lasting response to health disparities and ensuring that African Americans will become fully knowledgeable about the Affordable Care Act.

“A new day is dawning, as the leadership of African American churches mark another historic moment in America’s history, while making a commitment to address health disparities, including the enormous challenges of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, cervical cancer, and sexual violence,” said Seele.

“This African American Church Inaugural Ball not only celebrates history and President Obama’s second term, it also honors the work that he has enacted, such as The Affordable Care Act, an essential tool for decreasing the rates of preventable diseases in African American communities. The Balm In Gilead is proud to be in partnership with our president, and we responsibly take the charge to ensure that faith institutions have the appropriate tools for educating their communities about this signature law that President Barack Obama has stamped into American history.”

Seele, whose voice spans continents, was included in Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential Persons in the World and Essence Magazine’s 50 Most Powerful Women Shaping Our World, along with Oprah Winfrey.

For more information on the African American Church Inaugural Ball, visit

For more information on Pernessa Seele and The Balm In Gilead, visit