Born and raised in Washington DC, Laz always knew he wanted to be an actor. He graduated from the prestigious Howard University School of Business, earning a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in marketing. After college, he worked on Wall Street as an investment banker. He now splits his time between New York City and Los Angeles.
Chosen as one of Variety’s “Top Ten Actors to Watch in 2009” and part of the new breed of emerging leading men in Hollywood, Laz Alonso is currently shooting the lead in NBC’s pilot MYSTERIES OF LAURA alongside Debra Messing and Josh Lucas. Laz’s television credits also include the lead roles in NBC’s DECEPTION and A & E’s BREAKOUT KINGS.
Laz recently played the lead in Sony Screen Gems’ BATTLE OF THE YEAR opposite Josh Holloway, Josh Peck and Chris Brown. Inspired by the award-winning documentary, PLANET B BOY, the film is about an all-star American b-boy crew training to compete in France at the “Battle of the Year (BOTY) International Championship.”
In 2011, Alonso starred in the hit romantic comedy JUMPING THE BROOM for Columbia Pictures’ for which he received a 2012 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor In A Motion Picture . He was also nominated for a BET Best Actor Award. Prior to JUMPING THE BROOM, he played the heroic role of “Tsu’Tey” in the highest grossing film of all time, James Cameron’s AVATAR. Laz played the lead villain role of “Fenix” in Universal’s FAST AND FURIOUS, which reunited the original cast.
His past movie credits include lead roles in the Sony/Screen Gems’ hits STOMP THE YARD and THIS CHRISTMAS, a co-starring role in Sam Mendes’ hit JARHEAD, for Universal opposite Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx, Jake Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard, and a supporting role in Rod Lurie’s remake of the Sam Peckinpah classic STRAW DOGS for Sony Screen Gems. Laz also starred in Spike Lee’s MIRACLE AT ST. ANNA, in which he played one of four main leads opposite Derek Luke, Michael Ealy and Omar Benson.
Laz executive produced and starred opposite Danny Glover in Alan Jacobs’ DOWN FOR LIFE (aka POR VIDA), which ended up with a much-coveted position in the Toronto Film Festival where it received critical acclaim.
See Laz Alonso in his latest movie "Traffik" with fellow co-stars Paula Patton, Omar Epps, and, Roselyn Sanchez.
The Rev. Wheeler Parker Jr. is Pastor of the Argo Temple Church of God in Christ in Summit, Illinois. He also is the cousin of Emmett Till and the last living witness of the infamous kidnapping and brutal murder of his cousin and best friend in 1955. This lynching is said to have sparked the modern Civil Rights Movement, and has been a cause of Rev. Parker’s mission for years. Rev Wheeler Parker Jr. will give the Opening Prayer and sign copies of his new book.
Dr. Jesse J. Holland is an award-winning journalist and the author of “Black Panther: Who Is the Black Panther?” In this novel, Holland retells the origin story of the original Black Panther updated for the new century. Holland is also the author of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Finn’s Story” and “The Invisibles: The Untold Story of African American Slaves in the White House”; the latter was honored at the Independent Publisher Book Awards and by Smithsonian.com.
Anthony Ray Hinton was released from prison in April 2015 after spending 30 years on Alabama’s death row for a crime he did not commit. He was released with the help of the Equal Justice Initiative, of which he is now an employee. He now serves as EJI's Community Educator and travels both nationally and internationally to speak about his experience. His new book "The Sun Does Shine," was selected by Oprah for her annual Book Club.
Author and journalist Dr. A’Lelia Bundles writes biographies about the amazing women in her family: as the great-granddaughter of entrepreneur Madam C. J. Walker and Harlem Renaissance icon A’Lelia Walker. After a 30-year career as an executive and Emmy award winning producer with ABC News and NBC News, she now is historical advisor with Madam C. J. Walker Beauty Culture, a trustee of Columbia University and an advisor and ambassador with Walker’s Legacy.
During her reign as Miss Black Virginia USA, she plans to use her time to bring awareness to the impact of domestic violence and sexual assault victims must face every day of their lives. She plans to help young women through her nonprofit organization, “GrowAndGlo.” As the President and Founder, her mission is to help young women to “Grow” out of toxic situations and “GLO,” which stands for (G)enuinely (L)oving (O)urselves) after the impact of domestic violence and/or sexual assault.
Ms. Andolyn Medina will sing the National Anthem at the 19th Annual Virginia Black History Month Gala. The 23 year-old doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology Program at The George Washington University. She is the reigning Miss Piedmont Region 2018 and 2016 Cum Laude graduate of Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia where she was on a full tuition scholarship. She was accepted into the three years accelerated program where she graduated a year early with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with a Music Minor.
Ms. Karin Coleman Tucker and her students from the Courthouse School of Ballet will perform the "Opening Act" at the 19th Annual Virginia Black History Month Gala.
Ms. Karin Coleman Tucker is the Executive Director of the Courthouse School of Ballet which is the premier studio for professional dance lessons in Spotsylvania, Virginia.
At 5 years old, Ms Shay Lassiter could be heard singing in the "Sunbeans Children's Choir" at the historic Shiloh Baptist Church (Old Site) in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Growing up in the church, singing in the choir and performing in front of a large audience was a natural occurrence for Ms Shay Lassiter. So it was of no surprise when in 2000 Ms. Lassiter traveled to Brooklyn, New York to enter into the long standing singing competition known as, "Showtime at the Apollo!" The televised competition is located in the famous Apollo Theater where she was victorious in her first competition and won first place
Morgan is an award-winning actress, commissioned artist, author, keynote speaker, minister, and Chief Executive Officer of M.A.M. Inc. As the CEO of M.A.M. her mission is to empower, educate and entertain her audiences on the many contributions of African American women within the fabric of American History. She is also the founder of A.C.T 4 Life Inc., a nonprofit organization committed to offering youth mentorship programs, workshops, cultural activities, training, and other empowering events, where she currently serves as the Executive Director.
One of the most endearing segments of the entertainment is the (surprise) Broom Jumping Ceremony. A local pastor is selected to read the story of how a couple met that is either facing some difficult family challenge or has shown enormous courage through a unique set of circumstances. After the story is told the couple (guests) realizes we are talking about them and is asked to come forward. After some brief counsel from the pastor their marriage vows are renewed and they "Jump the Broom" which is an African American tradition that dates back to the time of slavery.