Alicia Keys in Lesilla at Woodie King, Jr. Annual Benefit Gala

October 5, 2015

On May 22, 14-time Grammy winner Alicia Keys, Oscar winner Sidney Poitier and Hollywood icon Ruby Dee were among 13 individuals honored at the Woodie King, Jr.’s New Federal Theatre (NFT) 40th Reunion Gala Benefit Awards Presentation in New York City.

The special gala was held at the historic Edison Ballroom and was hosted by CBS News’ Randall Pinkston and Emmy winner Lynn Whitfield. Oscar winner Whoopi Goldberg and acclaimed filmmaker Robert Townsend were among the speakers of the evening. Chairmen of the evening were Tony and Emmy winner Laurence Fishburne and former Essence editor-in-chief Susan Taylor. The honorary chair was held by legendary author Dr. Maya Angelou.

Founded by Woodie King, Jr. in 1970, New Federal Theatre has gone on to international acclaim for its bold mission to integrate minorities and women into the mainstream of American theater by training artists for the profession and by presenting plays by minorities and women to integrated, multicultural audiences – plays which evoke the truth through beautiful, artistic recreations of ourselves. [Broadway World]

For Colored Girls writer Ntozake Shange, Golden Globe winner S. Epatha Merkerson (Law & Order, Lackawanna Blues), Lamman Rucker (Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns, Why Did I Get Married?), actor Ted Lange (The Love Boat), actor Danny Glover (The Color Purple, Beloved, Lethal Weapon), writer Amiri Baraka and filmmaker Spike Lee were also in attendance. Some alumni of NFT productions are Denzel Washington, Phylicia Rashad, Robert Downey, Jr. and Jackée Harry.

Bonus: Watch Alicia Keys and Dr. Maya Angelou perform at Oprah Winfrey’s Farewell Spectacular.