WASHINGTON, D.C. — The leaders of African American churches will, once again, convene in Washington, D.C. on Inauguration Weekend to commemorate one of the most extraordinary events in American history – the second term and inauguration of President Obama, America’s first president of African descent.

In an inaugural ball to be held Jan. 20, the gala celebration will mark the historic event and honor the Keepers of the Flame recipients, individuals whose lifetime achievements and contributions to society and culture have contributed to the realization of this moment in time.

“For certain, the African American Church must mark this moment with great pride, honor and power. For today, we stand on the shoulders of so many who bled and died for this moment of witness, of which we consecrate with our joy and commitment to continue to fight for equality and justice for all,” according to the organizers’ mission statement on the African American Church Inaugural Ball website.

The ball, to be held at the Grand Hyatt Washington, is a sequel to the premiere event in 2009 and will feature leaders from the religious, civic, business, arts, and entertainment communities.

Themed, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the ball will honor those leaders with the “2013 Keepers of the Flame” Award. The recipients are individuals who have sustained an unshakable commitment to our future and who have earned an undeniable place in the African American book of history. Confirmed honorees include: Muhammad Ali; Bishop George E. Battle, Jr.; Bishop Philip R. Cousin, Sr.; Andraé Crouch; Ed Dwight; Joycelyn Elders, MD; Bishop William H. Graves, Sr.; Rev. Dr. Cynthia Hale; Hugh Masekela; Rev. Dr. Otis J. Moss, Jr.; Jessye Norman; Beny Primm, MD, and Cicely Tyson.

Other honorees to be confirmed include: The Honorable Andrew Young, Hon. William J. Clinton, Ruby Dee, Aretha Franklin, Rev. Dr. Cain Hope Felder, Rev. Dr. Katie Cannon, and Dr. Vernon J. Jordan, Sr.

In 2009, distinguished honorees included: Dr. Maya Angelou, Donna Brazile, Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, Dr. Marian Wright Edelman, Dr. John Hope Franklin, Earl Graves, Sr., Rev. Dr. William H. Gray, III, Bishop Barbara Harris, Dr. Dorothy I. Height, The Honorable Alexis Herman, Rev. Dr. Benjamin Hooks, Congressman John Lewis, Rev. Joseph Lowery, Marc Morial, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Gardner Taylor, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Rev. Wyatt Tee Walker Sr.

“This inauguration is an extraordinary mark in American history, punctuated by those who so gallantly served so we could see such a time,” said Rev. Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson, II, Inaugural Ball Chair and pastor of Grace Baptist Church, Mt. Vernon, NY. “This is certainly a time when the African American church community can be proud of its contributions to this great country and honor the work that has been done and those who have made an indelible footprint in the sands of history.”

The executive producer is Pernessa Seele, founder and CEO of The Balm In Gilead, Inc., the gala’s fundraising beneficiary. The Balm In Gilead, a nonprofit, international organization, is committed to a dynamic, community-driven approach, contributing a lasting response to health disparities and ensuring that African Americans will become fully knowledgeable about the Affordable Care Act.

“This African American Church Inaugural Ball not only celebrates history and President Obama’s second term, it also honors the work that he has enacted, such as The Affordable Care Act, an essential tool for decreasing the rates of preventable diseases in African American communities,” Seele said in a statement.

For more information on the African American Church Inaugural Ball, visit www.AACIB.org. For more information on Pernessa Seele and The Balm In Gilead, visit www.balmingilead.org. The Media should contact UniWorld Group, Inc. – Teresa Lyles Holmes, (212) 219-7239, teresa.holmes@uwgny.com; or Camille Gray, (212) 219-7121, Camille.Gray@uwgny.com.