Meet the guests of the 2021 Arizona Black Rodeo! Each year, we invite community members to participate in the event and to help us celebrate. We honor our Grand Marshals for their leadership, as they kick off the event in a ceremonial parade.
Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.
President and CEO, National Newspaper Publishers Association
Lifelong activist Dr. Chavis overcame racial injustice and wrongful imprisonment to become a vocal leader in the civil rights movement. Dr. Chavis began his career in 1963, as a statewide youth coordinator in North Carolina for Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Dr. Chavis was born in 1948 in Oxford, N.C., into a long and distinguished line of preachers. He received a bachelor’s in chemistry from University of North Carolina. He earned his master’s in divinity, magna cum laude, from Duke University, while serving an unjust 34-year prison sentence as a member of the Wilmington 10 (Amnesty International declared political prisoners, a case that garnered international attention and was pardoned 40 years later). The 2010 film Blood Done Sign My Name depicts a true story from his early Civil Rights Movement days.
Dr. Chavis served as executive director and CEO of the NAACP (1993, 1994) and remains an active supporter. In 1995, Dr. Chavis was national director and organizer of the Million Man March. In 2001, he co-founded Hip-Hop Summit Action Network.
An ordained minister in United Church of Christ and author, Dr. Chavis was named the executive director and CEO of UCC Commission for Racial Justice (1985) and elected vice president of National Council of Churches of the USA (1988). He also received doctorates of ministry (Howard University) and philosophy in systematic theology (Union Theological Seminary, New York).
Dr. Chavis serves on the board of National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, and is host of The Chavis Chronicles (American Public Television). Dr. Chavis has authored books and other publications including: An American Political Prisoner Appeals for Human Rights ; and Psalms from Prison.
Councilmember, City of Chandler
The Hon. OD Harris – who proudly serves as an elected official for City of Chandler – is an entrepreneur, United States Army veteran, financial accountant, business consultant, Amazon best-selling author of Quantum Leap Theory of Leadership, national speaker, media mogul, and founder of the award-winning national Ready Set Go Foundation (RSG).
RSG is established in five states including the grounds of the original Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Okla. Ready Set Go has helped more than 2,200 individual entrepreneurs establish and/or execute ownership of business, and have given $1.5 million in financial service scholarships and more than 11,000 mentorship hours – all for free.
Councilman Harris has served on the board of: 100 Black Men of Phoenix, National Black MBA Association (Phoenix, Chicago and Los Angeles chapters), Black Philanthropy Initiative (Arizona Community Foundation); Maricopa NAACP (Economic and Entrepreneur Development chair). He also served as a mentor with Obama Foundation.
His awards and recognition include: Phoenix Business Journal 40 under 40 for progressive work as an executive leader in the business community; Daily Point of Light Award for individual work in volunteerism and leadership; and National Black Wall Street Entrepreneur of the Year Award.