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

Derrick Davis
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.

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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).

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The Root’s 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.

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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.

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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.

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Chef Roblé Ali and the Infiniti Q60

Chef Roblé Ali and the Infiniti Q60
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Chef Roblé Ali and the Infiniti Q60
Derrick Davis
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The sleek Infiniti Q60

The sleek Infiniti Q60
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The sleek Infiniti Q60
Derrick Davis
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The Root 100 Honoree and Host Bomani Jones

The Root 100 honoree and host Bomani Jones
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The Root 100 honoree and host Bomani Jones
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The Root 100 Honoree Darnell L. Moore

The Root 100 honoree Darnell L. Moore
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The Root 100 honoree Darnell L. Moore
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The Root 100 Honoree Charlene Carruthers

The Root 100 honoree Charlene Carruthers
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The Root 100 honoree Charlene Carruthers
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The Root Managing Editor Danielle Belton, The Root 100 Host and Honoree Bomani Jones and The Root Publisher Donna Byrd

The Root Managing Editor Danielle Belton, The Root 100 host and honoree Bomani Jones, and The Root Publisher Donna Byrd
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The Root Managing Editor Danielle Belton, The Root 100 host and honoree Bomani Jones, and The Root Publisher Donna Byrd
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Chef Roblé Ali and Adam Banks

Chef Roblé Ali and Adam Banks
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Chef Roblé Ali and Adam Banks
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The Root 100 Performers Apt 33

The Root 100 performers Apt 33
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The Root 100 performers Apt 33
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The Root Chairman Henry Louis Gates Jr.

The Root Chairman Henry Louis Gates Jr.
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The Root Chairman Henry Louis Gates Jr.
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The Root 100 Honoree Evita Robinson

The Root 100 honoree Evita Robinson
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The Root 100 honoree Evita Robinson
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The Root Publisher Donna Byrd and The Root Chairman Henry Louis Gates Jr.

The Root Publisher Donna Byrd and The Root Chairman Henry Louis Gates Jr.
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The Root Publisher Donna Byrd and The Root Chairman Henry Louis Gates Jr.
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Infiniti Rep Danielle Austen, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Donna Byrd, Chef Roblé Ali, Danielle Belton

Infiniti Rep Danielle Austen, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Donna Byrd, Chef Roblé Ali and Danielle Belton
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Infiniti Rep Danielle Austen, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Donna Byrd, Chef Roblé Ali and Danielle Belton
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The Root 100 honoree and host Bomani Jones with The Root Publisher Donna Byrd

The Root 100 honoree and host Bomani Jones with The Root Publisher Donna Byrd
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The Root 100 honoree and host Bomani Jones with The Root Publisher Donna Byrd
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The Root 100 Honoree Adam Foss

The Root 100 honoree Adam Foss
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The Root 100 honoree Adam Foss
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The Root 100 Performer Maude Arnold

The Root 100 performer Maude Arnold
The Root 100 performer Maude Arnold
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Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Allison Keyes

Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Allison Keyes
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Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Allison Keyes
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The Root Young, Fabulous and Female Panelist Jovian Zayne and Wondaland DJ George Two Point Oh

The Root Young, Fabulous and Female panelist Jovian Zayne and Wondaland DJ George Two Point Oh
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The Root Young, Fabulous and Female panelist Jovian Zayne and Wondaland DJ George Two Point Oh
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The Root 100 Honoree Haben Girma and Henry Louis Gates Jr.

The Root 100 honoree Haben Girma and Henry Louis Gates Jr.
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The Root 100 honoree Haben Girma and Henry Louis Gates Jr.
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The Root 100 Honorees Wesley Lowery and Damon Young

The Root 100 honorees Wesley Lowery and Damon Young
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The Root 100 honorees Wesley Lowery and Damon Young
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The Root 100 Honoree Rue Mapp and Guest

The Root 100 honoree Rue Mapp and guest
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The Root 100 honoree Rue Mapp and guest
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The Root 100 2015 Honoree Jamil Smith and Guest

The Root 100 2015 honoree Jamil Smith and guest
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The Root 100 2015 honoree Jamil Smith and guest
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Sway in the Morning Co-Host Tracy G

Sway in the Morning co-host Tracy G
Sway in the Morning co-host Tracy G
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The Root 100 Honoree Elaine Welteroth

The Root 100 honoree Elaine Welteroth
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The Root 100 honoree Elaine Welteroth
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Bree Newsome

Bree Newsome
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Bree Newsome
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The Root writer Demetria Lucas D’Oyley

The Root writer Demetria Lucas D’Oyley
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The Root writer Demetria Lucas D’Oyley
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The Root 100 Honoree Luke Lawal Jr. and guest

The Root 100 honoree Luke Lawal Jr. and guest
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The Root 100 honoree Luke Lawal Jr. and guest
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Inside the Room

Inside the room
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Inside the room
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The Root 100 Performers Apt 33

The Root 100 performers Apt 33
The Root 100 performers Apt 33
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The Root 100 Honoree and Host Bomani Jones

The Root 100 honoree and host Bomani Jones
The Root 100 honoree and host Bomani Jones
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The Root Publisher Donna Byrd

The Root Publisher Donna Byrd
The Root Publisher Donna Byrd
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The Table Setting

The table setting
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The table setting
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First Course by Chef Roblé

First course by Chef Roblé
First course by Chef Roblé
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Second Course by Chef Roblé

Second course by Chef Roblé
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Second course by Chef Roblé
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Desserts, Thanks Infiniti!

Desserts. Thanks, Infiniti!
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Desserts. Thanks, Infiniti!
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Party Time!

Party time!
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Party time!
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Bomani Jones and Luvvie Ajayi

The Root 100 honorees Bomani Jones and Luvvie Ajayi
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The Root 100 honorees Bomani Jones and Luvvie Ajayi
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The Root 100 Honorees Selfie

The Root 100 honorees’ selfie
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The Root 100 honorees’ selfie
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Infiniti’s Danielle Austen

Infiniti’s Danielle Austen
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Infiniti’s Danielle Austen
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The Root 100 Honoree Symone Sanders

The Root 100 honoree Symone Sanders
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The Root 100 honoree Symone Sanders
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The Root 100 Honoree Adam Foss

The Root 100 honoree Adam Foss
The Root 100 honoree Adam Foss
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The Honorees

The honorees
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The honorees
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The Awards

The awards
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The awards
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Honorees and Their Awards

Honorees and their awards
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Honorees and their awards
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DJ Jon Blak

DJ Jon Blak
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DJ Jon Blak
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Swag Bags

Swag bags
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Swag bags
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The Root 100 Honoree Kassandra Frederique

The Root 100 honoree Kassandra Frederique
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The Root 100 honoree Kassandra Frederique
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Face Painting

Face painting
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Face painting
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The Crowd Getting Down

The crowd getting down
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The crowd getting down
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Thanks, Infiniti

Thanks, Infiniti
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Thanks, Infiniti
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Guests

Guests
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Guests
Derrick Davis
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The Root Staffer P.J. Rickards and Guest

The Root staffer P.J. Rickards and guest
The Root staffer P.J. Rickards and guest
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Glowmaven Latham Thomas and Guests

Glowmaven Latham Thomas and guests
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Glowmaven Latham Thomas and guests
Derrick Davis
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The Root 100 Performers Apt 33

The Root 100 performers Apt 33
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The Root 100 performers Apt 33
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The Root Staffer Danielle Young and Guests

The Root staffer Danielle Young (second from right) and guests
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The Root staffer Danielle Young (second from right) and guests
Derrick Davis
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Infiniti Q60: Empower the Drive

Infiniti Q60: Empower the Drive
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Infiniti Q60: Empower the Drive
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The Root Writers Michael Arceneaux and Maiysha Kai

The Root writers Michael Arceneaux and Maiysha Kai
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The Root writers Michael Arceneaux and Maiysha Kai
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The Root Staff Breanna Edwards, Danielle Belton and Yesha Callahan

Members of The Root staff Breanna Edwards, Danielle Belton and Yesha Callahan
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Members of The Root staff Breanna Edwards, Danielle Belton and Yesha Callahan
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The Root Managing Editor Danielle Belton

The Root Managing Editor Danielle Belton
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The Root Managing Editor Danielle Belton
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ABC News’ Joi-Marie McKenzie

ABC News’ Joi-Marie McKenzie
ABC News' Joi Marie-McKenzie
ABC News’ Joi-Marie McKenzie
ABC News' Joi Marie-McKenzie

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