Singer Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds (left)
and  Arista boss Antonio "L.A." Reid
at Mona Ackerman's soiree.

Rabbi Marc Schneier’s Group
Fights For Everybody’s Rights

t was a night of healing for a gathering of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding at the stupendous Fifth Ave. home of Dr. Mona Ackerman. As founding president Rabbi Marc Schneier pointed out, “All our three honorees for the Joseph Papp Racial Harmony Awards are healers.”

The honorees were Martin Payson, a former chairman and general counsel at Time Warner and presently co-chairman of the NAACP legal defense and educational fund; Antonio “L.A.” Reid, an African-American who succeeded Clive Davis as president of Arista Records, and Anthony Wilson, chairman of HIP Health Plan of New York.

In praise of Payson, Schneier said that “he has embraced a principle of Martin Luther King Jr.” by fighting for the rights of Jews and Afro-Americans.

Schneier quoted King Jr., who said that a people who fight for their own rights are only as honorable as they fight for the rights of others.

Payson said that when he was at Time Warner until1992, he changed the culture of the company with affirmative action.

“I used to go to Tower Records to find our future managers,” he said. “It was a conversion of myself which has enriched my life. That’s how I got involved with Howard University” where he is the chair of the medical affairs committee.

Martin and Dottie Payson with
Rabbi Marc Schneier

In introducing Arista Records president Antonio “L.A.” Reid, rap artist Kenneth Babyface Edmonds said that the struggle for racial harmony never ends.

To underscore that “we have to fight for respect,” Babyface mentioned his
four-year-old son Brandon who came home from pre-school quite agitated. The teacher had told the class that man came from animals.

Little Brandon got up and insisted, “We are not animals. We are human beings.”

In accepting his award, Reid acknowledged, “Yes, there is racism in the world. But things are changing in the music world. We’re making progress in our business.”


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