To celebrate the organization’s third anniversary, Moms Of Black Boys United, Inc. (M.O.B.B United) and sister organization, M.O.B.B. United for Social Change, elevated the
conversation surrounding the treatment of Black boys and men in society during the 2019 ESSENCE Festival.
Vanessa McCullers, the organization's executive director, who led a discussion on center stage with members of the Exonerated Five stated, "It was important to us that the world continues to see and hear these courageous brothers and know that their experience as innocent, incarcerated youth was very real. MOBB United invited The Exonerated Five to join us in New Orleans so that thousands of attendees could have an in-person opportunity to hear directly from them—and be encouraged by their stories of resilience and victory against all odds."
M.O.B.B. United hosted its 2nd Annual “Champions of Change” Breakfast at the JW Marriott honoring Phaedra Parks, Mayor Sharon Weston Broome, Monteria Robinson; and surprised everyone in New Orleans with special “Badge of Courage” honorees The Exonerated Five, represented by Korey Wise, Dr. Yusef Salaam, and Raymond Santana.
"Being a Mom and having a passion for representing African-American men are the most important things I've done in my life,” said Parks during a rousing acceptance speech. The attorney and reality star challenged attendees to "Focus not on obstacles, but focus on the opportunities we have as a community to stand for something and to make our voices known."
The sold-out awards breakfast and fundraiser, presented in partnership with “BeWoke.Vote,” a 2019 Webby Awards nominated short-form social series campaign, was emceed by Nicki Micheaux, notable actress of “Good Trouble” and M.O.B.B. United Ambassador. Journalist Roland Martin spoke on behalf of “BeWoke.Vote” and presented a pre-taped award acceptance message from Mayor Broome. Guests enjoyed a live performance from the Royal Boys Choir of New Orleans.
The breakfast featured a live auction of an “Exonerated Five” painting by Tyler Gordon, a 13 year old artist from San Jose, California, which alone contributed $5,000 to the cause. Founder Depelsha McGruder said, “There is no better platform than the Essence Festival for reaching moms of Black boys and men. This weekend, we honored some social justice warriors and connected with thousands of moms who share our concerns for our sons’ future and well-being. We left New Orleans energized to continue this critical work.”