The Root 100 2016 Gala Celebrated the Best in Black Art, Athletics, Activism and More

When is black excellence not a lit-uation?

Derrick Davis

The Root celebrated the eighth year of The Root 100 list of influential African Americans, and the first gala with newly appointed Managing Editor Danielle Belton, on Monday in New York City at the swanky venue (that made every girl in the room want to host her wedding there) Guastavino’s.

Belton says, “Though I’ve been a part of The Root 100 for several years, this year is very special to me as new managing editor, particularly since our theme this year recognizes those influencers who use their platform for change. Every day, The Root aims to champion change through our reporting and coverage of the issues, so it’s important for us to honor those who do the same.”

And she’s right (duh)! The Root 100 is a celebration of the best and brightest black people championing their communities. And when you have Bomani Jones, the irreverent and prolific host of The Right Time on ESPN radio and co-host of ESPN’s Highly Questionable, as the master of ceremonies, you’re in for a night of joy and no sleep (aka being woke).

The Roots publisher, Donna Byrd, opened the night by paying homage to one of the biggest black voices in media, Gwen Ifill, whom we lost Monday. The room sighed in sadness but delighted in having a chance to honor this legend in a room of excellence.

Jones never holds his tongue, and neither do any of the esteemed honorees who graced us with their presence. That description couldn’t have rung more true for honoree Luvvie Ajayi, a New York Times best-selling author (I’m Judging You) and all-around fearless pop culture pundit, who spoke during the event.

The unfiltered scribe stood proudly onstage and went off-script to address the solemn times we’re in since the election that made Donald Trump president-elect. “I blame white women,” Ajayi boldly stated before a stunning room filled with laughter. She went on to speak about how voting played out by the numbers, and that it felt good to blame white women because history had done nothing but protect them.

If everyone in the room wasn’t in love with her before that speech, they most certainly tripped and fell into it afterward. “Continue being disrupters,” Ajayi urged as she became emotional around Ifill’s death.

Other honorees who addressed the crowd were Adam Foss, former assistant district attorney in the Juvenile Division of Boston’s Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and an advocate for juvenile-justice reform, and Symone Sanders, the former national press secretary for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign and a CNN political commentator, both of whom roused the crowd with encouraging words around a damaging election and a weary America.

While each speaker filled us up with food for thought, the actual dinner was nothing less than delectable. Guests received a three-course meal that rivaled their mama’s best dishes.

And after dinner, there was the after-party, filled with face painting, more cocktails and dancing the night away. Infiniti’s slogan is “Empower the drive,” and so the night was saturated in empowerment and inspiration.

And just in case you couldn’t be there, here’s the ultimate gallery so that you can feel as if you were in the room. You’re welcome.

Image 1
  • Chef Roblé Ali and the Infiniti Q60 Derrick Davis
  • The sleek Infiniti Q60 Derrick Davis
  • The Root 100 honoree and host Bomani Jones with The Root Publisher Donna Byrd Derrick Davis
  • Bree Newsome Derrick Davis
  • Party time! Derrick Davis
  • The Root 100 honoree Kassandra Frederique Derrick Davis
  • The Root writers Michael Arceneaux and Maiysha Kai Derrick Davis
  • Members of The Root staff Breanna Edwards, Danielle Belton and Yesha Callahan Derrick Davis
  • The Root Managing Editor Danielle Belton Derrick Davis
  • ABC News’ Joi-Marie McKenzie ABC News' Joi Marie-McKenzie
  • The Root 100 honoree and host Bomani Jones Derrick Davis
  • The Root 100 honoree Darnell L. Moore Derrick Davis
  • The Root 100 honoree Charlene Carruthers Derrick Davis
  • The Root Managing Editor Danielle Belton, The Root 100 host and honoree Bomani Jones, and The Root Publisher Donna Byrd Derrick Davis
  • Chef Roblé Ali and Adam Banks Derrick Davis
  • The Root 100 performers Apt 33 Derrick Davis
  • The Root Chairman Henry Louis Gates Jr. Derrick Davis
  • The Root 100 honoree Evita Robinson Derrick Davis
  • The Root Publisher Donna Byrd and The Root Chairman Henry Louis Gates Jr. Derrick Davis
  • Infiniti Rep Danielle Austen, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Donna Byrd, Chef Roblé Ali and Danielle Belton Derrick Davis
  • The Root 100 honoree Adam Foss Derrick Davis
  • The Root 100 performer Maude Arnold
  • Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Allison Keyes Derrick Davis
  • The Root Young, Fabulous and Female panelist Jovian Zayne and Wondaland DJ George Two Point Oh Derrick Davis
  • The Root 100 honoree Haben Girma and Henry Louis Gates Jr. Derrick Davis
  • The Root 100 honorees Wesley Lowery and Damon Young Derrick Davis
  • The Root 100 honoree Rue Mapp and guest Derrick Davis
  • The Root 100 2015 honoree Jamil Smith and guest Derrick Davis
  • Sway in the Morning co-host Tracy G
  • The Root 100 honoree Elaine Welteroth Derrick Davis
  • The Root writer Demetria Lucas D’Oyley Derrick Davis
  • The Root 100 honoree Luke Lawal Jr. and guest Derrick Davis
  • Inside the room Derrick Davis
  • The Root 100 performers Apt 33
  • The Root 100 honoree and host Bomani Jones
  • The Root Publisher Donna Byrd
  • The table setting Derrick Davis
  • First course by Chef Roblé
  • Second course by Chef Roblé Derrick Davis
  • Desserts. Thanks, Infiniti! Derrick Davis
  • The Root 100 honorees Bomani Jones and Luvvie Ajayi Derrick Davis
  • The Root 100 honorees’ selfie Derrick Davis
  • Infiniti’s Danielle Austen Derrick Davis
  • The Root 100 honoree Symone Sanders Derrick Davis
  • The Root 100 honoree Adam Foss
  • The honorees Derrick Davis
  • The awards Derrick Davis
  • Honorees and their awards Derrick Davis
  • DJ Jon Blak Derrick Davis
  • Swag bags Derrick Davis
  • Face painting Derrick Davis
  • The crowd getting down Derrick Davis
  • Thanks, Infiniti Derrick Davis
  • Guests Derrick Davis
  • The Root staffer P.J. Rickards and guest
  • Glowmaven Latham Thomas and guests Derrick Davis
  • The Root 100 performers Apt 33 Derrick Davis
  • The Root staffer Danielle Young (second from right) and guests Derrick Davis
  • Infiniti Q60: Empower the Drive Derrick Davis

Danielle Young, The Root’s social-content producer, is pretty, witty, girly and worldly. One who likes to party but comes home early. Boldly telling stories with heart, sass and humor. Prince once called her “excellence.” Follow her on Twitter.

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