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General Motors celebrated Black History Month on Friday with an extraordinary event featuring critically acclaimed movie director Spike Lee as keynote speaker, along with a special musical guest, Grammy-nominated crooner and Detroit’s own, KEM. This 10th annual Black History Month celebration is organized and coordinated by GM’s African/African-American workforce, GM African Ancestry Network.

Taking place at Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center, the festivities began with a VIP reception at the hotel’s Forty-Two Degrees North lounge. There were light hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, mingling with GM executives, remarks from some of the evening’s honorees, and a brief appearance from Spike Lee.

The main event was inside the Renaissance Ballroom, which was embellished with a fleet of shiny new Cadillacs — the evening’s sponsor — and began with a soul food buffet dinner, including breaded chicken, fried catfish, sweet potato soufflé, macaroni and cheese, and greens. Musician Randy Scott dazzled guests with his amazing horn-playing skills during dinner.

Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen, who acknowledged his South African heritage during the program (he received the Lifetime Achievement Award), made remarks regarding Cadillac leaving the Motor City and moving to New York. “Every step Cadillac takes, we take Detroit with us,” he assured the 1,200 guests.

Spike Lee, recipient of the Trailblazer Award, delivered a thought-provoking keynote about the importance of the arts, education and mentorship. He challenged the audience in thought with an emphasis on supporting the dreams of children.

KEM was presented with the Image Award and delivered an astounding musical set highlighting many of his biggest hits, much to the guests’ delight.

Other awards went to DMC CEO Reginald Eadie; music executive Mike Muse (who was the evening’s emcee); Chicago Child Care Society’s Dara T. Munson; Marc Robert, owner of the male grooming spa Marc Robert Experience; and the Rev. Dr. Cecelia Evelyn GreeneBarr, pastor of Smith Chapel AME Church. Tickets to the event were $60 general admission and $125 for VIP.

Chuck Bennett is the creator of The Social Metro. See TheSocialMetro.com.

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