McDonald’s To Honor Ava DuVernay, Marvin Sapp, Cousin Jeff And More At 12th Annual 365Black Awards

June 24, 2015  |  

For the past 12 years McDonald’s has honored Black excellence during the Essence Festival in New Orleans with its annual 365Black Awards and this year the fast food chain has chosen to break the news of its impressive 2015 honorees exclusively on MadameNoire.

Recognizing celebrities and exceptional everyday leaders who make positive contributions within the African-American community, this year the 365Black Awards will pay homage to screenwriter and director Ava Duvernay, gospel recording artist Marvin Sapp, award-winning journalist Jeff Johnson (formerly known as cousin Jeff), and National Urban League President and CEO Mark Morial.

Though you should already know the remarkable achievements of these notable individuals, the honorees whose equally exceptional work you’re probably less familiar with comes by way of the McDonald’s Owner/Operator Award and Community Choice Youth Award recipients.

Carolyn Hunter, who began her McDonald’s career as a crewperson in Virginia and later purchased her first McDonald’s restaurant in 1989 in Moncks Corner, South Carolina, has been selected for the 2015 365Black McDonald’s Owner/Operator Award. Today, Hunter owns and operates three restaurants in the Goose Creek area of South Carolina and employs more than 200 people. Notably, in 2011, Hunter donated $1 million to the Trident Technical College Foundation and established the Rachel Hunter Thompson Scholarship Fund to provide five $1,000 student scholarships annually.


Tori Turner, a 16-year-old New Orleans native, is a philanthropist, entrepreneur, author, actress and motivational speaker selected as one of the youth award recipients. As the 2012 Miss Black Louisiana USA Talented Teen, Tori was awarded the service award for completing the most community service in her community and beyond. At the age of 12, she founded the D.R.E.A.M. BIG Foundation with the mission of supporting the dreams of youth around the state of Louisiana. In 2011, she issued more than $11,000 in scholarships to deserving youths in the region. Her message is simple: to D.R.E.A.M. BIG and believe in God in everything you do!


Fourteen-year-old Aaron Johnson, an award-winning filmmaker, author, entrepreneur, motivational speaker and talk show host will be the second youth award recipient. At 12, his parents were compelled to help him begin his own production company, Aaron Johnson Productions. His mission is to encourage teens and young adults to fulfill their dreams and live in purpose, no matter their age. In his web series, “A Few Moments with Aaron,” he addresses common issues that young adults face today and offers practical advice on solving them. Most recently, Aaron won the Widescreen Film & Music Festival Award for his short film, “Lost.” He has also authored two books: “You Are Never Too Young” and “Winning Mind Battles.”

This year’s McDonald’s 365Black Awards will be held July 3 in the New Orleans theater inside the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and will be  hosted by Terrence J and Keke Palmer for the second year in a row. The show will also feature musical performances by Sevyn Streeter, Amber Riley, B.o.B, Shanice Wilson and more, and MadameNoire will be on site on the gold carpet to catch all the festivities.

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