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“A New Era” is the theme for the seventh annual Best In Black Awards, which will salute black business excellence at historic Clayborn Temple on Oct. 20.

Now a much-anticipated event among black-owned businesses in the Mid-South, the Best in Black Awards event was established in 2012 by the late publisher of The New Tri-State Defender, Bernal E. Smith II.

Smith, who passed away Oct. 22, 2017, envisioned a vehicle for hundreds of individuals and businesses to receive recognition for their hard work while advertising their products, services and talents before thousands at no cost. It is hosted by Best Media Properties, the newspapers’ parent company.

For Smith, the Best in Black Awards were interwoven with two of his passions –black economic empowerment and cooperative economics.

“Hosting the 2018 Best In Black Awards is a bittersweet task for Best Media as we push forward without the guidance of our beloved Bernal Smith II at the helm,” said Calvin Anderson, chair of the Best Media Properties Board of Directors.

“The board of directors and the staff know Bernal would have wanted the Best In Black Awards to continue, and we have done our best to make it so. We miss him very much. We invite everyone to come help us celebrate Bernal and excellence in black business.”

There will be special tribute to Smith during the presentations.

The finalists in each category have been selected and the winners will be announced during the black carpet, Best In Black Awards Presentation, which begins at 7 p.m. The V.I.P.  Pre-Show Reception is set for 5 p.m. Clayborn Temple is located at 294 Hernando St.

Memphis comedian Lester Bibbs will be the celebrity host for a second straight year. The annual music tribute, performed by various local artists, is a special part of the show and this year will feature legendary STAX recording artists.

The mission of the Best In Black Awards is four-fold:

1) To celebrate African-American owned and operated businesses and professionals in the Mid-South

2) To identify those businesses most supported by the African-American community

3) To serve as a marketing and recognition platform, and

4) Encourage aspiring business leaders.

Following nominations, voting was done online Sept 25-Oct. 10. To see the complete list of finalists, view past winners and/or gain more information about the awards ceremony and Pre-Show V.I.P. Reception, visit www.bestinblackawards.com. Information also is available at www.facebook.com/BestinBlackAwards.

General Admission tickets are $35 and V.I.P. tickets are $50 and can be purchased online.

(Visit The New Tri-State Defender online at www.tsdmemphis.com.)