Founder's week

A Candle in the Dark Gala 2023

DATE: Saturday, February 18, 2023
LOCATION: Hyatt Regency Atlanta
ADDRESS: 265 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta, GA, 30303

About the Gala

Since its founding in 1989, the “A Candle in the Dark” Gala has become one of the nation’s premier events that to celebrate African American achievement and raise much-needed scholarship funds for deserving students. This exceptional evening of elegance and accomplishment has honored more than 220 luminaries over the past 35 years.  

The black-tie affair highlights our mission of producing leaders, pays tribute to nationally acclaimed Black leaders who are considered giants in their respective fields, and showcases the talents and oratorical skills of Morehouse students. The Gala honors leaders with either a “Candle” or “Bennie” Award in recognition of excellence in a variety of fields, including athletics, business, education, entertainment, government, law, military service, religion, and science and technology.

The “A Candle in the Dark” Gala expands on the concepts presented in Morehouse College’s official history book of the same name, written by Edward A. Jones ’26.

We look forward to reconnecting with the Morehouse philanthropic community for this exciting event on February 18, 2023, when Morehouse adds six outstanding recipients to an influential and iconic list of Bennie and Candle honorees!

The Awards

Our 2023 Honorees 

This year, confirmed honorees include renowned artist and sculptor, Sanford L. Biggers ’92, esteemed civic and business leader James “Jim” W. Compton ’61, successful corporate executive, Terry Woodard 81, two-time Emmy and Tony Award winner, actor and producer, Courtney B. Vance and Investment executive and philanthropist, David Grain.

We look forward to reconnecting with the Morehouse philanthropic community for this exciting event on February 18, 2023, when Morehouse adds six outstanding recipients to an influential and iconic list of Bennie and Candle honorees!

The Awards

Benjamin Elijah Mays “Bennie” Awards

The Benjamin Elijah Mays “Bennie” Award, one of the highest honors that Morehouse bestows on its alumni, is named for one of the College’s most revered Presidents, Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays, who served from 1940 to 1967. His legacy lives on in the College’s international stature and in the success of its alumni.

The Candle Awards

For 154 years, Morehouse College as been a beacon of light and a source of knowledge to the global community. The Candle Award recognizes outstanding non-alumni who are exemplary in their professions and are committed to excellence, community service, and leadership, the values taught at Morehouse College.

Our 2023 Honorees 

This year, confirmed honorees include renowned artist and sculptor, Sanford L. Biggers ’92, esteemed civic and business leader James “Jim” W. Compton ’61, successful corporate executive, Terry Woodard 81, two-time Emmy and Tony Award winner, actor and producer, Courtney B. Vance and Investment executive and philanthropist, David Grain.

Former honorees include philanthropists Oprah Winfrey (Hon. ’89), Robert F. Smith (Hon. ’19), and Verdun Perry ’94; Academy Award-winning filmmaker Spike Lee ’79, as well as actors Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Samuel L. Jackson ’72, Roscoe Lee Browne, and Danny Glover; renowned historian and educator John Hope Franklin; legendary sports figures Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the Late Henry “Hank” Aaron (Hon. ’09), Muhammad Ali, and Arthur Ashe; civil rights leaders Andrew Young, John Lewis, and H. Julian Bond ’71; former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher ’63; noted scholar and professor Cornel West; King Chapel Dean Lawrence E. Carter; and a host of other extraordinary achievers.

We look forward to reconnecting with the Morehouse philanthropic community for this exciting event on February 18, 2023, when Morehouse adds six outstanding recipients to an influential and iconic list of Bennie and Candle honorees!

Previous Honorees

Honorees for 2021 were Senator Raphael Warnock ’91, noted physician Rob Gore ’98, civil rights attorney Gordon Joyner ’72, Merck CEO Ken Frazier, Ford Foundation CEO Darren Walker, and entertainment mogul, Byron Allen. Former honorees include philanthropists Oprah Winfrey (Hon. ’89) and Robert F. Smith (Hon. ’19), Verdun Perry ’94; Academy Award-winning filmmaker Spike Lee ’79, actors Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Samuel L. Jackson ’72, Roscoe Lee Browne and Danny Glover; renowned historian and educator John Hope Franklin; legendary sports figures Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the Late Henry “Hank” Aaron (Hon. ’09), Muhammad Ali and Arthur Ashe; civil rights leaders Andrew Young, John Lewis and H. Julian Bond ’71; former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher ’63; noted scholar and professor Cornel West, King Chapel Dean Lawrence E. Carter and a host of other extraordinary achievers.