Former CNN Anchor Don Lemon hosts the 7th Annual Native Son Awards in NYC

Don Lemon returned in front of the microphone to host Emil Wilbekin’s 7th annual Native Son Awards at Barry Diller’s IAC building in New York.

Lemon himself, as a high-profile journalist, was among the first people to be honored by the organization at their first awards ceremony back in 2016. Native Son founder Emil Wilbekin told NYC VIBE that inviting Lemon to host this year’s event “feels like a full circle moment for Native Son.”

Lemon used his speech at the Native Son Awards to warn the audience of the wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation sweeping the US.

“These bills range from banning gender-affirming care for transgender youth to banning drag performances,” Lemon said.

“There’s also been an avalanche of book bans attempting to censor stories that center us. And let’s be real: these book bans are rooted in anti-blackness, transphobia, and queerphobia.”

Native Son Honorees included:
Jordan E Cooper, a 2023 Tony Award nominee for his play Ain’t No Mo and the creator of the Emmy-nominated series, The Ms. Pat Show.
James Cole Jr. – Chairman and CEO of the Jasco Group, AIG Board member and Obama administration appointee
Nicco Annan – An actor, dancer, choreographer and cast member of TV show P-Valley.
Patrik-Ian Polk – Creator of the show, Noah’s Arc.

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