Launched in 1984, the AAI Awards Gala is the most anticipated African-centered event convened in New York City. Held during the week of the United Nations General Assembly, the Gala brings together a host of distinguished notables including heads of state, diplomats, government officials, business and civil society leaders, scholars, journalists, and other leading figures for an unforgettable evening. AAI is already looking ahead to next year’s Gala which will celebrate the organization’s 70th Anniversary and is scheduled for September 26, 2023.
AAI strives to enrich the social fabric of humanity by connecting students and leaders across sectors, facilitating access to reliable information about Africa, and transforming the way we understand Africa and its worldwide diaspora. For the past six decades, AAI has provided over 23,000 scholarships and fellowships to African students. The Annual Awards Gala raises funds to support AAI programs and initiatives, such as its work to assist K-12 districts and schools in the United States that want to expose students to scholarly, unbiased knowledge about Africa, and advanced education and training scholarship programs for professionals across the African continent.
Founded by Dr. Horace Mann Bond, the first Black president of Lincoln University, and William Leo Hansberry, a professor at Howard University, AAI promotes engagement between Africa and America through education, training and dialogue.
Some of the organization’s programs include a STEM scholarship program, partnerships with the NAACP, a school service program providing a robust K-12 curriculum on Africa and its global diaspora and an annual awards gala celebrating the vast contributions of Africa and its global diaspora.
This year, AAI’s 38th annual awards gala made its in-person return during United Nations General Assembly week in New York City. The gala brings together many notable guests, including heads of state, diplomats, government officials, business and civil society leaders and scholars.
“When the world gathers at the UNGA, sometimes the only news that breaks through about Africa and its worldwide diaspora is negative,” AAI President and CEO Kofi Appenteng told ESSENCE in a statement. “We established the gala so the world might recognize and celebrate the achievements of Africa and its worldwide diaspora as a way of balancing the picture and encouraging the leaders who are accomplishing so much to serve as examples for others,” he said.
Hosted by New York Times bestselling author, speaker and podcast host Luvvie Ajayi Jones and marketing executive, entrepreneur and author Bozoma Saint John, this year’s awards program was held on September 20 under the theme “Africa in the World.”
ABOUT THE AAI AWARDS GALA
Held annually during the United Nations General Assembly, the Annual Awards Gala is held to support AAI as it strives to enrich the social fabric of humanity by connecting students and leaders across sectors, facilitating access to reliable information about Africa, and transforming the way we understand Africa and its worldwide diaspora. For the past six decades, AAI has provided over 23,000 scholarships and fellowships to African Students. Proceeds from the Annual Awards Gala will fund AAI’s programs and initiatives including AAI Scholarships, its School Services Program, and the State of Education on Africa Conference.