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    Morehouse College’s 2023 Founder’s Week & Awards Gala to Honor Leaders in Business, Civil Rights, Religion, and Art

    February 13, 2023

    Renowned scholar Michael Eric Dyson, businessperson David Grain, and award-winning actor Courtney B. Vance among the participants and honorees.

    Morehouse College today announced the celebration of its 156th anniversary with its annual Founder’s Week commemoration. Founder’s Week activities reflect the history and legacy of the College by honoring the work and lives of current industry and community changemakers. The annual culminating event – the “A Candle in the Dark” Awards Gala – presents two distinguished awards: the Candle and the Bennie. The Candle Award recognizes outstanding non-alumni who are exemplary in their professions and are committed to excellence, community service, and the values taught at Morehouse College. The Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays "Bennie" Award, named for one of the College’s most revered presidents, is one of the highest honors that Morehouse bestows on its alumni.

    Premier events of the week are highlighted below; the full schedule of events can be found at

    Founders Day Convocation: Thursday, Feb. 16, 10:45 a.m. at Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel

    Founder’s Week will begin with Founders Day Convocation on Thursday, February 16, 2023, at 10:45 a.m. in the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel with scholar, author, ordained minister and public intellectual, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson. Dr. Dyson is a globally respected academic of race, religion and contemporary culture. He is currently a professor in the College of Arts and Science and in the Divinity School at Vanderbilt University.

    Memory Builds the Monument Film Screening & Post-Discussion: Friday, Feb. 17, 6 p.m. at Ray Charles Performing Arts Center

    The Morehouse College Human Rights Film Festival will be screening the Paramount & BET Film Memory Builds the Monument at the Ray Charles Preforming Arts Center. The film uncovers the music and social challenges of Houston's historic 5th Ward told firsthand by aging community influencers who experienced one of the South’s most pivotal music venues – Club Matinee.

    Reflections of Excellence: Saturday, Feb. 18, 11 a.m. at Ray Charles Performing Arts Center

    The Reflections of Excellence program brings together the trailblazers receiving 2023 Bennie and Candle Awards to discuss their lives, pathways to success, and outlook on contemporary issues with a student audience. This year host is Errin Haines, founder and editor-at-large of the *19th. 

    35th Annual “A Candle in the Dark” Awards Gala: Saturday, Feb. 18, 7:30 p.m. at Hyatt Regency Atlanta 

    Hosted by “Queen Sugar” actor Tammy Townsend, the "A Candle in the Dark" Awards Gala has become one of the nation's premier events that to celebrate African American achievement, raise scholarship funds for deserving students, and highlight the College’s mission of producing leaders, while showcasing the talents and oratorical skills of Morehouse students. 

    The 2023 Candle Honorees are two-time Emmy and Tony Award winner, actor and producer, Courtney B. Vance; and investment executive and philanthropist David Grain. The 2023 Bennie Award Honorees are renowned artist and sculptor Sanford L. Biggers ’92; esteemed civic and business leader James “Jim” W. Compton ’61; and successful corporate executive Terry Woodard ‘81.

    Vesper Hour Worship Service: Sunday, Feb. 19, 5:30 p.m. at Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel

    The week will conclude at the Vesper Hour Worship Service, featuring Dr. Timothy Sloan ‘94, senior pastor of The Luke Church located in Humble, Texas. Under the leadership of Dr. Sloan, The Luke Church has grown to over 5,000 members, acquired additional property and has developed a new worship campus and life center to meet the personal and corporate needs of a growing faith community.

    For a complete list of Founder’s Week activities, visit

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