HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (WSAV) — While many Martin Luther King Jr. Day observances have been canceled due to COVID concerns, the fourth annual Black Excellence Masquerade Ball went on as planned. 

Members of the Bluffton MLK Day Observance Committee say they took extra precautions to make sure event guests were safe when they attended the event held Friday night on Hilton Head Island.

News 3’s Tina Tyus-Shaw had the pleasure of serving as the emcee of the event that honored African Americans from our region whose work has improved their culture and their communities; much like the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior. 

“I felt it was important to be able to honor them through this type of event, but also give those that are under them, younger people even, the inspirations to know that their people who look like them, who are doing great things in the community, and we want to see that continue,” said Bridgette Frazier, Bluffton MLK Committee Board Chair.

The chairperson of the event says highlighting the accomplishments of notable African Americans in our community is important to our nation’s history and its something she remains passionate about:

In addition to recognizing the accomplishments of various people of color in various walks of life, special honors were presented to three local individuals for the legacies they’ve built. Laura Bush received the lifetime achievement award; Michael Lewis, the social justice award; and chef BJ Dennis will accept the Gullah-Geechee gatekeeper award.

“I am truly honored. It’s a great pleasure to be here. I have been working on voter registration area since 2016, since I came to South Carolina,” said Michael Lewis, who won the Social Justice Award. “I’ve been in South Carolina since 2012. I’ve been in Bluffton since 2016, and that is my mission.”

“I’m just very grateful for the honor especially on a weekend like this honoring one of the biggest Civil Rights Pioneers ever Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and it’s a blessing. It truly is a blessing,”{BJ Dennis said, who took home the Gullah Geechee Gatekeeper Award.

The event was held at the Northridge event venue where guests wore mask and ticket sales were limited to 50% capacity to prevent the possible spread of COVID-19.