Presenters Don Thomas, entertainment editor, New York Beacon, and EUR/Radioscope’s contributing scribe Audrey J. Bernard, lifestyles & society editor and fashion & beauty editor, New York Beacon, and McDonald’s owner/operator Nellie Thomas with Ronald McDonald and honoree Miatta Haj Smith, co-publisher New York Beacon and Philadelphia Observer (Photo by Ronnie Wright)

*McDonald’s has been a long-time supporter of the Black community and for the past 10 years, the McDonald’s Faces of Black History campaign has become a signature event of Black History Month.

The pride-filled campaign presented by Irving Street was created to salute and honor Black History makers throughout our community and our country, from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks to present day heroes.

On Wednesday, February 1, 2012, McDonald’s owners/operators from New York Tri-State area restaurants were joined by top executives and friends and families of the 15 Black Media Legends and Trailblazers at an annual luncheon ceremony celebrating their achievements and talent at The Plaza Hotel on Fifth Avenue.

A highlight of the luncheon was the unveiling of the 2012 McDonald’s Faces of Black History poster that will be given away during Black History Month – with no purchase necessary – at the more than 600 McDonald’s restaurants throughout the Tri-State area.

The 2012 honorees of Black Media Legends and Trailblazers who have “impacted the Black community through their achievements and positive examples” included Jeff Burns Jr., vice chairman, John H. Johnson School of Communications, Howard University; Alkelee Daughtry, FOX 5; Preston Davis, ABC Television Network; Elise Finch, CBS 2; Nicole Johnson, FOX 5;  Jennifer Jordan, WPIX 11; Tom Joyner, ABC Radio Networks; Stephen G. Lucas, NBC News; Dean Meminger, NY1; Gil Noble, ABC 7; Carole Owens, NBC 4; Miatta Haj Smith, New York Beacon/Philadelphia Observer; Elinor Tatum, New York Amsterdam News; Ann Tripp, WBLS/WLIB; and William J. Wright, NBC News.


McDonald's Salutes Faces of Black History collector’s poster (Photo courtesy Irving Street)

The Black Media Legends & Trailblazers luncheon and ceremony began with empowering welcoming remarks from A. Curtis Farrow, Irving Street’s president & chief executive officer, who introduced hosts Brenda Blackmon co-anchor, My9, WWOR-TV, and David Ushery, news anchor, WNBC-TV.

Following delightful remarks from Ken Ebo, director, US Marketing New York, and Tony Scari, president, McDonald’s New York Tri-State Owner/Operator Association, eleven-year old Xavier Wise sang a joyful rendition of Lift Every Voice & Sing.

Prior to lunch, Linda H. Dunham, chairman, Ronald McDonald House Charities Global & McDonald’s Owner/Operator, presented a video that addressed the important work of RMHC.

After lunch, Pete Samaha, chairman, McDonald’s New York, Tri-State PR Committee, introduced the past honorees.  In addition to McDonald’s owners/operators other presenters included past honorees Fred “Bugsy” Buggs, Lewis Dodley, Marion Etoile Watson, Janice Huff, Bob Slade, Scott Pierce, Don Thomas, Charles Simmons, Brian Custer, Bill McCreary and Kathy Dow.  The program concluded with final accolades for the host from McDonald’s owner/operator Cortesia Norman.

McDonald’s is the world’s best-known brand and is the global leader in food service. There are more than 600 McDonald’s restaurants, owned by 100 franchisees, located throughout the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut tri-state area.  For more information, please visit

Audrey J. Bernard is an established chronicler of Black society and Urban happenings based in the New York City area.

audrey j. bernard