It was an opportunity to showcase noted figures with Alabama ties and to let them be themselves in a candid, lively and provocative discussion about life and humanities issues.
CNN’s Emmy-winning Kamau Bell, business executive and historic novelist Nimrod T. Frazer, best-selling author Cassandra King and US District Judge Myron Thompson took the stage in front of a crowd of more than 320 at The Club with moderator Michel Martin, host of National Public Radio’s All Things Considered.
And what followed was historic. The Fellows – an all-star cast with Alabama ties – engaged in a live conversation about issues of the day and the impact those Alabama ties had on their lives, their careers and their perspectives. Martin called it a conversation that was both “timely and timeless.”
They spoke of race. They joked about decisions that ultimately shaped their lives. They talked about the good and bad of Alabama. And they looked to the future and what they would like to see for their state, for the nation and for humanity.
Also recognized at the luncheon event were Alabama Tourism Director Lee Sentell, winner of the Wayne Greenhaw Service to the Humanities Award, and Vulcan Materials Company, honored with the Charitable Organization to the Humanities Award.
Top teachers from around the state were recognized as Jenice Riley Memorial Scholarship winners. The $1,000 awards are given each year in memory of the late daughter of former Gov. Bob and Patsy Riley, who had a passion for teaching.
They were: Carly Nelson of Demopolis Middle School, Tiffany Rushing of Knight Enloe Elementary, Della White of Chickasaw High School and Lisa Williams of Brownwood Elementary School.
In a surprise move, Kamau Bell pledged an additional $1,000 to the teachers, noting their impact on children’s lives.
For more about The Alabama Colloquium, see Mosaic Magazine, which will distribute later this month.