Atlanta, GA

Annual Beloved Benefit Raises $6M to support underserved communities in the city of Atlanta - Recap from June 7, 2022

Tiana Allen

Recapping Atlanta's 2022 Beloved Benefit

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R&B Megastar Usher Performing Live at The Beloved Benefit in Atlanta June 7th 2022Beloved Benefit

With musical headliners such as Usher Raymond and Maroon 5, on Thursday June 7th, 2022, The Beloved Benefit held at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, brought out multiple philanthropic celebrities and influencers to the city of Atlanta. This year, The Beloved Benefit aimed to raise funds for economic mobility in what they call, the beloved city.

In defining what the term “Beloved” meant to him, Musician Donnell Jones replies “Beloved means trust, giving yourself and giving to those who may be less fortunate. Life might seem as if it is all about receiving but when you give, it comes back in a whole other way…” The Certified Platinum and Grammy nominated R & B Singer went on to state that for Atlanta to increase economic development it is equally as critical for African Americans to create real estate firms. Jones further explains this by saying, “I think it is important that we (African Americans) begin opening up real estate companies to fulfill the diverse need in that industry where black people can benefit from.”

The 61st Mayor of the City of Atlanta, Andre Dickens also walked the red carpet exemplifying the term “Beloved” by taking a quote from an interview done by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1966 where King stated “I don’t think of political nor economic power as the end. They are ingredients in the objective that we seek in life. And I think the end of that objective is a truly brotherly society, the creation of the Beloved Community.” Mayor Dickens expounds by stating that he thinks the term “Beloved” is “exactly as Dr. King meant it in that quote.” The Atlanta Mayor further states “I want to make sure that the city is inclusive, fair, just and that it was a model community. I also want to preserve the culture of the people that labor in this community. That is what the Beloved Community means.”

According to a statistical analysis by The World Bank, “the state of Georgia’s economy expanded by 10.4 percent in 2021; and this economic recovery supported a reduction in poverty.” But contrarily, an article by The Atlanta Mission who services the underserved and homeless population, mentions that “more than a half a million people currently meet the definition of homeless in our country.” In that “over 200,000 are families and children, and the statistics show only a part of the problem.” When asked what the city of Atlanta can do to increase economic understanding and mobility in this sense, Sportscaster for ESPN, SEC Network and NBC Sports Maria Taylor, responded “It’s about bringing two disparate portions of the city together so that there isn’t such a separation between cities like Buckhead and Bankhead. There are a lot of resources that are available in North Atlanta that might be used in South Atlanta. I think it would be helpful if the cities could just get a little closer together.”

Grammy Award winning Music Producer Jon Jon Traxx added that he makes every effort to participate in being the change by providing scholarships and funding for underprivileged children. Traxx states that he and his wife singer, songwriter and musical performer at the 2022 Beloved Benefit, Andrea Fisher “help less fortunate children in Atlanta with tuition, clothes and any other essential things they need through their philanthropic efforts.” To piggyback on this statement, Andrea Fisher mentions that through their creative space “Seasons Collective” she and JonJon Traxx offer a place for music literacy within the community and shares that “with Seasons Collective, we provide a space for creatives to grow and connect. We provide writing camps to assist song writers to write songs that chart, in order to help them make money from their natural talents and gifts.” Fisher also stated, “as gentrification is happening in certain communities, the homeless population increases, hopefully with a benefit like this, we can help to provide better opportunities for the population of people who want to stay in this area, live in the community and live there peacefully.”

Comedian Jeff Foxworthy chimed in sharing in a very comical yet thought provoking statement “I was just dwelling on this thought this morning. You know, about changing the world. I thought, the world is so big, if you’ve been out there, you’d realize that you can’t change everything, however you can change your block, street, or community. It’s not just about one person, because if you can help one, then, (inadvertently), you are helping their families too.”

With economic growth and mobility, there is also a need for improving conversations surrounding the state of healthcare and mental health in Georgia. According to Mental Health America of Georgia, “The State of Georgia ranks 48 out of the 50 U.S. states for access to mental health care, resources and insurance.” The Georgia Department of Public Health additionally writes that “Georgia has well documented health disparities in cultural competence, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, kidney disease, cancer, strokes, and STD’s such as HIV/AIDS.” With that, the question of what the term "wellness" meant was asked

Jon Jon Traxx shared that “wellness” means “love, comradery, & togetherness” while Andrea Fisher defines it as “who are you connected to and what you are connecting yourself with.” Maria Taylor mentions her take on “wellness” as not just one thing and it might be different on various days. It’s not only listening to your mind, body, and spirit but taking care of yourself and apologizing for it. Overall, only you can define “wellness” and only you can define how to be a well person. Sports is the common denominator in economic development as in it brings people together in a world that’s so divided.”

In speaking more about mental health, and with laughter being a form of therapy, Jeff Foxworthy shares his take on “wellness” through his passion for comedy. “Comedy is a truth teller” Foxworthy says. “You touch on things that some people might not have thought was funny before. They might have even thought they were the only ones that were quirky. But by making people laugh at these truths, you are making people apart of a group.” Speaking more on the therapeutic qualities of laughter, Foxworthy mentions that “In today’s sensitive climate, I am unsure if there can ever be another show like the Blue-Collar Comedy Series, but If we don’t take the time to laugh at ourselves, then you are saying that you got everything figured out, and I don’t think there is anybody who has everything figured out. I hope that we are all growing and evolving, but I don’t want to talk to someone who has it all figured out because that eliminates the conversation.” The noted and Beloved comedian and actor also explained more about his speech at the 2019 Beloved Benefit where is shared that one must “hold their nose and dive into their passions.” Foxworthy states “My passion is doing comedy, it’s a gift from God. We all have gifts and if we use them together then that’s like being one body.”

Participants of the Beloved Benefit and the owners of ZuCot Art Gallery & The Art Brothers Foundation, Omari Henderson along with one of his managing partners and brother Onaje Henderson shared insight from an entrepreneurial perspective. Omari Henderson quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stating that for black businesses in Atlanta, “Beloved” means that "it’s about us. If we can have a community where we take care of and provide for each other, we can have economic growth in our community." Henderson also includes that Atlanta can improve economic mobility by providing more access to funding for black owned businesses. Business partner Onaje Henderson added, “I think the city itself needs to recognize that small businesses help to protect the city and there should be more recognition of the businesses that do so much for the community alone.” Closing out this conversation, Onaje Henderson shared that this was their first time coming to The Beloved Benefit, but their team hopes to get more involved next year. Zucot Art Gallery is located 100 Centennial Olympic Drive in Historic Castleberry Hill.

Tillman Ward, a Beloved Atlanta historian nicknamed “Vine City’s Modern Day Historian.” is a lifelong resident and advocate for Vine City. Tillman shared stories about his famous neighbors of the past dropping names such as Oprah and “one of the Jacksons.” Tillman also voiced his concern about his neighborhood and if it would reach its full potential with the new buildouts and development happening in the area. He mentioned that education and literacy is important to learn the history of each neighborhood. Tillman reiterated by saying “we can think of education as the 3 R’s (R)eading, w(R)ighting, & a(R)hythmatic; but we left two important things out (R)easoning and mutual (R)espect.”

Overall, The Beloved Benefit was an evening of hope for collective unity. “You don’t really see a benefit like this that directly serves the community” says Musician Andrea Fisher. The Beloved Benefit raised $6,269,978.00 in their 2022 fundraising efforts to increase Economic Mobility in the Beloved city of Atlanta. The hosts also shared with the audience that they promise to make this an annual endeavor.

In the words of Sportscaster Maria Taylor, “To be Beloved is the most genuine form of love to have. It’s one that doesn’t ask for anything to pay it back, and it just loves you for who you are. It’s something that can’t be taken away from you because it is given so religiously.”

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Tiana is a Journalist & Educator covering stories about Wellness & Politics

Atlanta, GA
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