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Gordon Parks Foundation Gala 2014 - Wednesday, 6/4/2014 10:14 PM

Pint sized pop star, Janelle Mon­ae, kicked the entire room into an energetic dance party last night at the Swizz Beatz hosted Gordon Parks Foundation Gala, celebrating the near $500,000 raised in honor of the legendary photographer, Gordon Parks.

“Gordon Parks is our hero and we are honored to be a part of this,” opened Mr. Beatz, speaking on behalf of him and wife, Alicia Keys, standing at his side – a sentiment palpably shared throughout Cipriani Wall Street’s grand ballroom.

Mr. Parks had touched so many lives through his work and efforts, leaving an indelible mark on the evening’s honorees – Artist and Photographer Lorna Simpson, Designer Vera Wang, Director Ed Zwick, and Jazz Musician Irvin Mayfield.

“Each of these incredible [honorees] embody four principles that informed Gordon’s life: courage, vision, compassion and heart,” imparted former Mayor and longtime friend of Mr. Parks, David Dinkins.

Wang, demonstrating these principles, spoke on how Parks affected her views on life, “[Parks] was a champion of moral responsibility and social conscientiousness… considering all with a genuine care, regardless of race, class or sex.” She then passed on special mentions to Bethann Hardison and Stephen Burrows for their efforts and beliefs paralleling Parks’ spirit.

Tonight also marked the inaugural presentation of the Patron of the Arts Award; awarded by Foundation Direction, Peter Kunhardt Jr. to George Lucas and Mellody Hobson. Earlier this year, through the George Lucas Family Foundation, Lucas and wife, Hobson, donated $25 million to the University of Chicago to build the Gordon Parks Arts Hall, making this new structure, as Hobson proudly announced, “The first [on campus] to be named after an African-American.”

Pop star Janelle Monae closed out the show with an electrifying performance. Opening with an excellent cover of the Jackson 5 classic, ABC, she brought models Karlie Kloss and Chrissy Teigen, along with everyone else in the room, to their toe tapping feet and inspired everyone with a smile in the name of Mr. Gordon Parks.

The Gordon Parks Foundation preserves the works and legacy of Gordon Parks while recognizing the efforts young students with scholarships to fund their dreams in the arts. To find out more or see his works, visit their website at www.gordonparksfoundation.org.