Countdown nine seconds.
Someone was just hit.
Every nine seconds, someone is being abused – mentally, physically, or emotionally.
One in four people are affected by domestic violence.
And on Saturday, October 6, 2018, the Still Standing Alliance fought back and won a battle in the war on domestic violence! Led by its president Tamiko Lowry Pugh, the Still Standing Alliance hosted its annual fundraiser, The Purple Affair (#purpleaffair2018) at the beautiful Atlanta Marriott Century Center.
Honoring survivors and advocates of domestic violence, proceeds from The Purple Affair are used to help victims escape their abusers and stabilize so they may become thriving survivors. “Ninety-nine percent of victims stay with their abusers because of finances. It costs more than $1,000 for us to help survivors escape,” stated Ms. Pugh at the opening of the evening. Resplendent in a purple and gold gown designed by Le’Designer Scarlie, Ms. Pugh courageously shared her story of escape 10 years after her abuser beat her and threw her out of the car and into oncoming traffic on Interstate 85, one of the busiest freeways in the nation. With God’s grace, Ms. Pugh not only survived, but went on to found The Still Standing Alliance, a powerful national advocacy organization based in Atlanta that effectuates legislative change for the protection of victims.
The night was a star-studded affair that included uproarious comedy by Mz Wallstreet, spoken word by Shamara Elle “My True Prince”, dramatic presentation by Natasha Howard “I Got My Flowers Today”, and soulful singer American Idol Kevin “Khule” Harris who had the ladies swooning!
Master and Mistress of Ceremonies Fox 5 Atlanta anchor George Franco and Emmy-Award Winning TV Show Host Aurea McGarry kept the crowd going and giving, culminating in the Last Hero Standing contest for an all-expense paid trip to Costa Rica, donated by sponsor Elite Travel Charity owner Tammy Levent.
Keynote speaker Andrea “Drea” Kelly, former wife of R&B singer R. Kelly, bravely shared her testimony of abuse during their 13 year relationship. Ms. Kelly spoke of her angry conversation with God, demanding to know why her, only to hear Why Not in reply, followed by a gentler statement acknowledging her strength to survive. Her voice was raw as she described the moment she knew she had to leave – when her daughter asked her then-husband, “Why are you so mean to my mom?” Ms. Kelly realized that she had to leave to set an example for her child. If she stayed, in 20 years she would be in the position of begging her daughter to leave an abuser. She ended it with a rallying cry that had the 200+ crowd to its feet: “I’m battered and tattered, but I’m cold blooded to the bone. My abuser WILL hear me!”
Yamma Brown Alexander, author and daughter of legendary artist James Brown, announced the Fruits of the Spirit Survivors Walk featuring nine gorgeous women in exquisite fashions to the audience’s delight. Kimya Motley was all Love, Harralyn Rawls had Joy on lock, Rhonda Thompson danced in Peace, Lorri Simmons shimmied in Patience, Charlisa Herriott did it up in Kindness, Jenni Steele was total Goodness, Latasha Howard was total Faithfulness, Shamara Elle killed it with Gentleness, and Christy Sims made us lose Self-Control. The ladies brought up Ms. Pugh and led the audience dancing to “I’m A Survivor” by Destiny’s Child. Well done ladies!
State Representative Erica Thomas commended Ms. Pugh and the Still Standing Alliance for its work and presented her with a proclamation of honor from the State of George.
The 2018 Award Recipients were all outstanding heroes and heroines for survivors:
- Ann Casas, Founder – Marsy’s Law, Excellence in Advocacy. Casas is on a national quest to change state laws so that victims and their families are notified when their abusers are freed from prison.
- Sherry Boston, District Attorney – DeKalb County, Excellence in Service. Boston prosecutes offenders and assists survivors in getting free of their abusers.
- Courtney Glaude, Filmaker – “Blink”, Excellence in Collaboration. Glaude wrote and directed the movie “Blink” to force people to pay attention to violence in the home as the primary storyline of the movie, not a backdrop.
- Comia Flynn, Stylist – Flynn Style, Excellence in Impact. A professional hair, makeup, and wardrobe stylist, Flynn completes makeovers for women from her own funds to improve their self esteem.
- Genna Sapia Ruffin, Author – “Delivered from Temptation”, Survivor Spotlight. Ruffin was the wife of legendary Temptation David Ruffin, and shared her story of courage in her bestselling book.
- Wardell Richardson, Actor – “The Last Time Movie”. Richard started in the movie as the abuser. He is an passionate domestic violence advocate.
And the night continued to build. Jenni Steele, teen violence film documentarian based in the UK, announced that the Mayor of London, the Honorable Shadiq Khan, has agreed to fund her project educating teens on relationship violence for the next 20 years! And Ms. Pugh presented her mother the first Survivor of the Year Award.
Ms. Pugh graciously thanked her husband, Rev. Kenny Pugh who also doubled as DJ KP for the evening, and the Still Standing board, that included Talk Show Host Chere’ Turner, Duntenia Fitts, Isis Kennedy, Pastor Martin Byrant, Minister Kimberly Michelle Ford, Martina Dorsey, and Pamela Morgan.
Heartfelt praise was shared all evening for the event’s sponsors that included Marsy’s Law for Georgia, Elite Travel, The Daughter of Soul / Yamma Brown Alexander, Sheen Magazine, Red Cloud Productions, CS VISIONAY SERVICES EVENT PLANNING & PRODUCTION, The Freedom Soul Foundation, the Classy Living Society, Destiny Chantell Beauty + Skincare, and of course yours truly, BOLD Favor Media Group.
On a personal note, Tinzley Bradford and I had a wonderful evening interviewing guests and capturing this beautiful event. We appreciate the opportunity to share in the evening, and thank Ms. Pugh for continuing to fight on behalf of victims and survivors everywhere.
To contribute toward the 2018 goal of $50,000, visit www.stillstandingalliance.org. The Still Standing Alliance is at 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
by Lynita Mitchell-Blackwell