Rapper and actor Chris "Ludacris" Bridges held his sixth annual benefit dinner for his charity, The Ludacris Foundation, in the District Saturday night to honor five individuals for bettering their communities.
The red carpet event and black-tie dinner at the Ronald Reagan Building in D.C. brought together prominent African-American leaders in recognition of their dedication to community service.
"It always makes me feel great to know that I helped out or changed someone's life for the better. So, I think that's what life is all about, it's about giving out and helping out others, especially if you have the means to do so," Bridges said in an interview with The Hatchet on his event's red carpet.
The Ludacris Foundation, with its slogan "Helping Youth Help Themselves," was founded in 2001. It was created to "inspire youth through education and memorable experiences to live their dreams; thereby uplifting families, communities and fostering economic development," according to the foundation's Web site.
"This foundation was a natural outreach for the things that Chris Bridges was already doing with his team. The reason that we made it a more public foundation was to exemplify more outwardly the works hip-hop artists are doing," Bridges' mother, Roberta Shields, said in an interview with The Hatchet. "The foundation is the vision of Chris Bridges and it is an extension of things he has been doing most of his life."
Music producer Quincy Jones was given the Chairman's Award, Debra Lee and BET Networks received the Corporate Award, Executive Vice President Kevin Liles of Warner Music Group received the President's Award, DC WritersCorp was given the Community Service Award, and for the first time, Rep. Maxine Waters received the Ludacris Foundation Congressional Leadership Award.
"I feel especially honored to be recognized by young folks. Ludacris is a little genius and I greatly admire him. I'm just delighted to be with him tonight and to be recognized," Waters said.
Lee, the chairman and CEO of BET Networks, said she was thrilled the network was being recognized for its work over the years.
"I'm very honored to be honored. Especially coming from Ludacris and Roberta [Shields], they're such great role models in our community," Lee said. "BET has a 10-year-old campaign called Rap-It-Up where we do HIV/AIDS education and prevention, we're doing campaigns about obesity... whatever issues are important to our community and our viewers are important to BET."
The event brought in names such as the rapper Common and the "Godfather of Go-Go," Chuck Brown, as well as other guests showing their support for what the foundation is doing for communities.
"They're doing something, everyone has to do something - whatever it is you're able to do and want to do, do something," said honoree Quincy Jones about the foundation.
The benefit dinner is being held for the first time in D.C. after being held in Atlanta, Ga. previously. Bridges said he held it here to "bridge the generation gap."
Many of the guests were thrilled to have the event held in the District.
"It's great. This is where I work, this is where I am most of the week until I fly back out to LA," Waters said.
"I think it is appropriate, it shows the growth and the foundation and its activities," Rep. Henry 'Hank' Johnson, D-Ga. said about the dinner being held in D.C.
"It exposes the foundation to a different set of people," he added.
From here, Bridges has only bigger plans for the foundation.
"We're just going to keep helping out more and more people," he said. "There's no limitation to where we're going to take it. We're going to continue to expand it and grow and there are good things to come."