Tarver, Former Miss America Highlight ONYX Awards Participants

By Jerome James Jr.
Updated: March 11, 2006

CALIFORNIA—Light heavyweight boxing champion Antonio Tarver and 2004 Miss America Ericka Dunlap are among the participants in the 4th Annual Blue Cross/Blue Shield Onyx Awards, which will be held March 25 at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando.

Tarver, who defeated Roy Jones Jr. for the IBC, IBO and WBC titles in 2004, will present the Sports Award. Dunlap, an Orlando native, will be presented a Distinguished Citizen Award. She is now pursuing a career as a country singer.

Nominees from 12 categories were announced in January. Three people chosen from previously held award ceremonies are competing in each category. A winner from each will be chosen to receive the awards. Categories range from business to spiritual leadership. The awards are the only awards to recognize the achievements of African Americans in Florida. Lillian and Lester Seays, who founded Onyx Magazine, created the awards. Proceeds from the event will enable sickle cell anemia patients to attend Boggy Creek Camp. The camp is a retreat for children with debilitating diseases.

“We want to tell the story of positive community experiences through our awards,” Lillian Seays said. “It is vitally important that we provide people with an opportunity to appreciate the fact that our stories can be told through writing, verbally or demonstrated through achievement. This is just another way to document our history of success.”

An example is the Lifetime Achievement Award that will be given to Jacksonville’s Gertrude Peele and the distinguished Citizen’s Award they will present to Dorian Boyd. Peele founded the Child Watch Partnership of Jacksonville in 1980. She also started the Center of Achievement. Both programs have aided youth providing goods, services and a means to live.

“This is our chance to showoff the best we have and contribute to a positive cause,” Lester Seay said. “Our mission was to create something that celebrates Florida, but would have an appeal beyond Florida. We are definitely moving in the right direction with this year’s group of honorees.”Tarver, Former Miss America Highlight ONYX Awards Participants