At last night's 2015 Salute To Greatness Awards Dinner hosted by The King Center, Ambassador Andrew Young introduced President Bill Clinton as perhaps "the most popular man in the world."
The 42nd president and recipient of the Individual Martin Luther King, Jr. Center's Salute to Greatness Award, was quick to correct Young.
"The most popular man in the world: The Pope!"
Clinton went on to humor the crowd saying that until recently it was a close race until the Roman Pontiff was reported to have declared pets go to heaven.
That was the clincher.
With kidding aside, Clinton delivered an inspiring and timely message as part of his acceptance speech. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution provided an excellent summary and photo gallery online (I sat beside their reporter and stood with their photographer in the photo pit).
"[Youth] need to believe somebody’s got their back and wants them to live up to their God-given capacity,” Clinton said. “We must stop raising them in shame and raise them in pride.”
With regards to Clinton's message and mission fulfilled by the Clinton Foundation, no other 2015 King Center honoree "gets it" more than Harris Rosen, president and COO of Rosen Hotels & Resorts. Though I've stayed in the Rosen Centre Hotel during many trips to Orlando for client IAAPA, last night was the first I learned of Rosen's generosity through the Tangelo Park Program which he created out of appreciation for his God-granted success.
According to the awards event program, TPP "provides free preschool for every two-to-four-year old in the neighborhood" and "full community college, four-year college or vocational school scholarship for every graduating high school senior." Graduation rates went from less than 50 percent to nearly 100 percent, and inspired by The King Center honors, Rosen announced to the gala audience the creation of an urban follow-up program launching soon to serve a downtown Orlando neighborhood.
Rosen said he wishes for and dreams of other successful business women and men to use the TPP model across the U.S. That's a dream I'll support!
It was fun to witness President Clinton joining Secretary Hillary Clinton, Bono of U2, Ambassador Young, Ted Turner, John Portman (architect of the hotel in which the annual dinner takes place), Dr. Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey, Stevie Wonder, Tony Bennett, Hank Aaron, Magic Johnson and Muhammad Ali and many others as Salute to Greatness Honorees.
Some good five-ringed ties in this crowd. More from a brief Olympic conversation with Young to follow in another post.
Photo by Nicholas Wolaver