Over 2,000 of Atlanta’s most affluent citizens convened for the Beloved Benefit at Mercedez-Benz Statidum on Thursday, March 21. Underwritten by the Chick-fil-A Foundation and Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and hosted by Steve Harvey, the inaugural event raised more than $5 million for Atlanta’s westside.

“Dr. King gave us a powerful idea many years ago when he spoke of the Beloved Community. It is a place that makes the needs of others become our needs, too. It is an idea that love can bring miracles in the hearts of all people,” said Dan Cathy, chairman and CEO, Chick-fil-A.

Inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King’s idea of the “Beloved Community,” the Beloved Benefit aims to support Vine City, English Avenue, and the westside of Atlanta through the At-Promise Youth and Community Center, City of Refuge, the Grove Park Foundation, the Westside Future Fund, and Westside Works.

“We are inspired to see the fulfillment of Dr. King’s vision,” Cathy said. “There is a lot of great work going on in our city, but our passion here is focused on the fulfillment of the Beloved Community and that work begins for me in Atlanta’s historic Westside.”

“This inaugural event is a new Atlanta tradition to celebrate Dr. King’s ideas and ideals.”

With these non-profit organizations serving as beneficiaries, the goal is to revitalize the westside and create sustainable change for residents.

Speakers and presenters included of Dr. King’s daughter Rev. Bernice King and granddaughter Yolanda Renee King; comedians Jeff Foxworthy; elected officials Congressman John Lewis and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms; faith leaders Rabbi Peter Berg and Justin Giboney; athletes Darlington Nagbe and Maya Moore; and gospel singers Casey J and Kierra Sheard.

“On May 19, 2014, a groundbreaking ceremony on this very site, to build the extraordinary stadium we sit in tonight, the Mercedez-Benz Stadium,” King said. “That groundbreaking symbolized to many people that a major shift of the westside was about to occur.”

“For investors, elected officials, and the corporate community it was welcomed the news with the promise that major new development and business opportunities were on the rise. “But for many us who lived, worked, and attended school in these communities it was the signal that corporate interest under the banner of generification was about to take over and major displacement in a historical community of people who’ve for years have been crying out development but not displacement.”

King says her father vision for the “Beloved Community” was one where the people of the community were contributing factors in any overall plan for development. As a person who grew up in Vine City, King says that she believes that her father would applaud this initiative to make an economic investment in the westside.

Throughout the night, the audience was captivated by performances from the Atlanta Music Project, students from Hollis Academy, British singer-songwriter Emeli Sandé, and Grammy-winning recording artist Bruno Mars.

 The Home Depot Foundation, Georgia Power, Peach Bowl, Inc., WestRock Foundation, AT&T Communications, Choate Construction Company, The Coca-Cola Company, Sunkist, Kaiser Permanente, and UPS also participated as sponsors for the Beloved Benefit.

“Across the Blank Family of Businesses, we embody six core values, including putting people first. This benefit has allowed diverse members of our community to come together to support and honor those in Atlanta’s historic Westside,” said Steve Cannon, CEO, AMB Group.

“Our goal is to heighten awareness for the beloved Atlanta community and continue to work together to positively impact their lives.”

(Photo: Itoro Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice)

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