By Micha Green, AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor, [email protected]

The Multicultural Media Correspondents Association (MMCA) of Washington, D.C. celebrated the grind, truth telling and barrier breaking work performed by journalists daily at their annual awards dinner.

Held at the National Press Club on July 9, the dinner was fun-filled as comedians Sherri Shepherd and Kym Whitley served as the entertaining mistresses of ceremonies for the evening that honored the likes of NBC 4 Washington reporter Eun Yang, Rep. Val Demings, and legendary radio host Tom Joyner, who also participated in a fireside chat with Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX).

Legendary radio host Tom Joyner was honored at the Multicultural Media Correspondents Association Dinner, which was emceed by his co-hosts Kym Whitley and Sherri Shepherd. (Courtesy Photo)

“I am truly grateful for this honor and your support over the years,” Joyner said in a statement.  “As the hardest working man in radio, I’ve tried to do my best to party with a purpose.  Now, more than ever, we need to make sure we tell our stories.”

Yang was honored before the program fully kicked off, as- in true morning broadcaster fashion- she had to be up at 2:00 a.m. to begin her process for getting ready to relay the news.

Despite her parents’ encouragement to pursue a more stable career, Yang decided to fervently study broadcast journalism.

“Be a lawyer, be a pharmacist, be an engineer.  Do what Asians are supposed to do, not broadcast journalism,” Yang said lovingly mocking her parents’ words.

As a Korean-American from the area, Yang shared that Maureen Bunyan was her idol growing up, as she appreciated seeing a woman of color working as a broadcast journalist.  It was when she was applying for a job at Bunyan’s station, that Yang began her career as a journalist of color, hoping to make a difference.

“I realized as I was sizing up the competition, that I was the only Asian American student applying for the news internship that year and so when my name was called, when I was all ready to talk about the First Amendment, about speaking truth to power, telling stories, about giving voice to the voiceless, but I wanted to make sure I mentioned that I wanted the station to accept an intern who could help create a diverse newsroom, so that they could tell more diverse stories.”

Yang got the job and that was the beginning of her 20-year-career in media.

“I was able to do what I’m doing now when I applied to be an intern at Maureen’s station. I mean, what a coup,” she joked.

Joyner, the self-proclaimed hardest-working man in radio, is soon slowing down, as he is set to retire this year from the famed Tom Joyner Morning Show.

As the “Fly Jock” says farewell to morning radio, his morning show cohosts Shepherd and Whitley and Congresswoman Jackson Lee shared beautiful sentiments about the legendary host.

“Tom we love you and it’s not that you’re about to leave the industry, we know that you’re about to start a new chapter in your life.  And we know that everything you do from HBCUs, from the foundation, the Fly Jock, the family reunion, to the cruise, you always party with purpose, and we thank you so much and we look forward to seeing what your next chapter is in your life,” Whitley said.

“And, Tom, will you marry me,” Shepherd jokingly asked.

Jackson Lee talked about Joyner’s roots, which led him to the successful man he is today.

“I am delighted, Tom to be able to say, leaving my humorous jokes aside that I had planned, to really talk about you as a great American.  For sometimes we do not pause, and recognize that Americans and America, is made of people of many walks of life,” Jackson Lee said.  “This is a son of a Tuskegee, Alabama, this is a grandson of a Tuskegee Airman… Graduate of Tuskegee University, and that means he was embedded with the seeds of liberation, but also embedded with the knowledge that there was nothing that he could not do.”