Jonathan L. Walton shared a stage in Atlanta Saturday with musician Usher Raymond, actor/director Tyler Perry and music industry executive Jon Platt at Morehouse College's 29th Annual “A Candle in the Dark” Gala, honoring the achievements of men in business, entertainment and religion.
Walton, the Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church, received the Bennie Service Award in Religion at the event in the ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Atlanta attended by more than 1,500 people. He is a 1996 Morehouse College graduate.
Walton's acceptance Speech:
To President John Wilson, Henry Goodgame, Director of Alumni Affairs, members of the Board, Faculty, staff and students. Thank you.
I want to dedicate this award to my father and my eldest son. My father John Henry Walton modeled the power and Herculean determination that his name signifies. He taught me that power is not about the size of your neck or biceps, but about your level of responsibility to your family, community, and even lineage. He represents power.
In addition, my thirteen year old son, Elijah Mays Walton, is a sensitive artist, actor, and poet. He has taught me that masculinity should never be confused with integrity. He represents self-love, care toward others and sincere compassion.
So I dedicate this award to them because they represent the best of Morehouse College. They typify both the reputation and aspirations of Morehouse College. Why? Because 150 years ago someone dared to conceive of a radical idea that not just black lives matter, but Black Minds Matter. We could not be reduced to our physicality or our labor. But rather our purpose on this planet would emerge from our intellectual contributions and cultural creativity. This was the focus of our past. This must remain the focus of our future. This is Morehouse College. Thank you.
The annual event not only honors work of alumni and industry leaders, but is also a fund raising event for the college's scholarship program. More than $1 million was raised in this year's campiagn. Theodore Colbert III, Waltons classmate and Bennie Service Award for Excellence in Business, said he hopes the event provides an example to young men.
“This recognition, I hope, will inspire our young men, when they are in their dorm rooms at 2 a.m. trying to solve some complex differential equation, or trying to solve some hard program… to press on and fight their way through," said Colbert, Boeing Company Chief Information Officer/Senior Vice President of Information and Analytics, "We have got to participate in the changes that are being driven by technology. I am an example, the product of a village, a product of a school that builds leadership. And now I am in this field and I hope to inspire many others to do the same.”