“A Candle In The Dark” Gala
"A Candle in the Dark" was named after the title of Morehouse's official history book written by Edward A. Jones, Class of 1926. The gala has become one of the nation's premier events that celebrates African American achievements. The event has honored more than 135 individuals over the past 30 years.
Past Honorees include Dr. Peter Chatard Jr. '56; actors Denzel Washington, Samuel L. Jackson '72 and Danny Glover; renowned historian and educator John Hope Franklin; legendary sports figures Henry "Hank" Aaron, Muhammad Ali and Arthur Ashe; retired New York Transit Authority worker Clarence "Kappa" Brown '40; civil rights leaders Andrew Young and H. Julian Bond '71; former Postal Rate Commission Chairman George Haley '49; former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher '63; noted scholar and professor Cornel West and philanthropist and entertainer Oprah Winfrey.
The 2021 Bennie and Candle Award Honorees are:
Master of Ceremonies Chris Tucker
Christopher Tucker, popularly known as Chris Tucker, is an American actor, stand-up comedian, and humanist. Tucker would perform in front of his friends, family members, and he even took part in talent competitions while in school. His classmates gave him the Most Humorous Prize for his performances. Being inspired by Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor, and Robin Harris in movies and television, he decided to take up comedy as his career. Tucker moved to Los Angeles at the age of 19 to establish himself as a comedian and stayed on his friend's living room floor. After performing locally, he got the opportunity to showcase his talent as a stand-up comedian in the Def Comedy Jam HBO television series. He was appreciated for not using any swear words or talking about race or sex explicitly while entertaining. Tucker has acted in films like "House Party 3," "Friday," "Dead Presidents," "The Fifth Element," and "Money Talks" and is predominantly famous for his role as Detective James Carter in the box office smash hits like "Rush Hour," "Rush Hour 2" and "Rush Hour 3."
Childhood and Early Life
Chris Tucker was born on Aug. 31, 1971, in Atlanta, Georgia, to Norris Tucker Sr. and Mary Louis (née Bryant). He was raised in Decatur, Georgia, along with his five siblings. Tucker is the youngest son of his parents, and he has native American ancestry.
Chris' father Norris was a business owner who ran a janitorial service. Tucker was very close to his father, who was more his best friend. Tucker's father passed away on Jan. 14, 2016, in his home in Lithonia, Georgia.
Chris decided to become a comedian at a very young age. He even snuck into a popular comedy club in Atlanta and received a standing ovation for his stand-up comedy, becoming a local celebrity instantly.
Tucker studied at Columbia High school. To earn money while in high school, he started to work at a local Burger King, mopping bathroom floors. After his graduation, he shifted to Los Angeles, California, to pursue his career in show business.
Tucker started to perform stand-up comedy in "Def Comedy Jam" followed by several appearances as a rapper on the American sitcom Television series "Hangin' with Mr. Cooper" in 1992.
He made his film debut with the 1994 movie "House Party 3," where he performed for 90 seconds as the outrageous party promoter "Johnny Booze." Tucker was highly praised by critics for the role and also received a standing ovation at press screenings in the film's public promotions.
Tucker gained recognition for his role as "Smokey" in the comedy film "Friday," starring Ice Cube. The film was about a day in the life of a misbehaving and carefree drug dealer named Smokey, who is a habitual marijuana smoker.
Tucker received a positive response from critics for this role as they agreed that Tucker had given a very natural, honest, and uncanny performance in the movie.
In 1995, Chris was offered the role of "Skip" a heroin addict, a college drop-out, and an ex-US Marine Corps in the Albert and Allen Hughes directed crime thriller film "Dead Presidents." He added humor to the film, and the critics found his dialogue delivery to be similar to Richard Pryoresque style. The film was well-received by audiences and critics, and it was a moderate hit.
In 1995, he appeared as a bodyguard in the political drama film "Panther" which portrayed the rise and fall of a 1960's black radical movement.
Chris appeared as the funny cross-dressed Disc Jockey "Ruby Rhod" who shows-off about hosting an endless TV show in the 1997 science-fiction film "The Fifth Element," co-starring Bruce Willis. This film received a positive response from critics and became a financial success. Tucker wearing a yellow wig and leopard print gowns made the audience laugh out loud, enacting a character that was hilarious, sexually promiscuous, and really loud.
Tucker next got signed in the action comedy film "Money Talks" along with Charlie Sheen. In this film, he played the role of Franklin Maurice Hatchett, a small-time car wash hustler who gets locked up in a jail cell.
In 1997, Tucker appeared as Beaumont Livingstone, a fast-talking hustler who had violated his parole, in the Quentin Tarantino crime thriller film "Jackie Brown." In the movie, he shared screen space with veteran actors like Samuel L. Jackson and Robert De Niro. This film was appreciated by critics for its wit and charm.
The Rush Hour Series
Tucker earned immense admiration and A-list celebrity status for his acting as the loud and brash Detective James Carter, the main protagonist in the "Rush Hour" series of films (1998, 2001, and 2007) co-starring Jackie Chan. Tucker got an astounding $25 million remuneration for "Rush Hour 3," making him the highest-paid actor in Hollywood in 2007. He won several awards for the movie series, like "MTV Movie Award for Best On-Screen Duo" (1999) and "Kid's Choice Awards - Favourite Male Movie Star" (2002).
Return to Films
Tucker took a break from films for five years, rejecting several offers. He, however, returned to stand-up comedy in 2011 and acting in 2012 with the film "Silver Linings Playbook" in the role of Danny McDaniels, an easy-going man involved in a legal dispute with the mental hospital where he is admitted.
Tucker was immensely praised for his acting and was one of the winners of the "Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast." He was one of the recipients of the "Best Cast Ensemble," "Capri Ensemble Cast" Awards in 2012, and "Gold Derby Award- Ensemble Cast" in 2013 for this film.
Chris performed as himself in the Netflix Stand-up Special "Chris Tucker-Live" in 2015, showcasing his comedic talents while sharing his experiences from childhood to the big times.
In 2016, he acted as Albert, a producer in the war drama film "Billy Lynn's Halftime Walk." This film was a box office hit and got mixed reviews from critics.
There are talks about a fourth "Rush Hour" movie with Tucker to be titled "Grumpy Old Rush Hour." However, he is currently more indulged in stand-up comedy.
Tucker has supported many charitable organizations like American Foundation for AIDS Research, US Doctors for Africa, and Britticares International. He is the founder of a nonprofit organization called The Chris Tucker Foundation, which provides funds for youth development and welfare globally.
Personal Life and Legacy
Tucker has a son, Destin Tucker, now a senior at Morehouse College.