Lowe’s Pride Awards Gala

“Inspiring Innovations with STEAM” was the theme of the 26th annual Lowe’s Pride Awards on Saturday. Hundreds of guests – including “American Idol” and Grammy winner Fantasia – filled the ballroom of the Westin for the futuristic-looking event, designed as a tribute to African-American achievement in science, technology, engineering, arts and math in our area.

It’s not easy to keep an annual gala going strong for more than two decades. But Pride Magazine, which covers Charlotte’s African-American community, has done it. I’m amazed at how Pride Communications president and CEO Dee Dixon and her team keep things relevant, fresh and fun – and look stylish in the process.

Highlights included the Charlotte debut of OSHbot, Lowe’s new retail service robot, and Charlotte Ballet dancers posing in dance positions during the cocktail hour. Two, Josh Hall and Sarah Hayes Harkins, then performed a dance aimed at demonstrating the physics of ballet.

The evening’s award winners were Sharrell Howard (Innovative Teacher), Patrick Hill (Small Business Owner), North Carolina Research Campus (Institution) and Jordan Eggleston (Youth).

Exemplifying the evening’s theme was former NASA astronaut Joan Higginbotham, who moved to Charlotte from Houston several years ago when she married former City Councilman James Mitchell. She now works for Lowe’s, and presented several of the awards with Dixon and emcee Sonja Gantt.

For the second year, I was asked to pick out the best-dressed couple among the guests. It is not easy in this group, but I chose Priscilla and Herb Wallace. I thought her gown from Belk had a 1930s-era glamour, while the silver material gave it a futuristic edge. And I loved the way Herb accessorized his custom-made tuxedo from Italy with a silver and black bow tie and a formal shirt with silver and white stripes. They each looked great on their own, and together.

Afterward, guests gathered in the lobby for what they jokingly called Dee-sserts (in honor of Dixon) and dancing to EDM (electronic dance music). And in a glimpse of the diversity of the future, even OSHbot got in on the fun.