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Stars and community leaders alike dominated the first day of the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans yesterday [Friday, July 1].

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The 13th annual McDonald’s 365Black Awards, taped in New Orleans, honored celebrities including Grammy Award-winning artist Toni Braxton, NFL corner back Charles “Peanut” Tillman and award-winning actress Wendy Raquel Robinson.

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Singing siblings and reality television co-stars The Braxton Sisters performed a show-stopping surprise tribute to their “Unbreak My Heart” sister Toni before she received the Lifetime Achievement honor.

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Other award winners included educator and historian Lonnie Bunch, teen philanthropist Lauren Seroyer and teen social-entrepreneur, Donovan Smith. Presenters included actors Sheryl Lee Ralph (Moesha), Cornelius Smith Jr. (Scandal), Erica Ash (Survivor’s Remorse), Ta’Rhonda Jones (Empire), and Ronreaco Lee (Survivor’s Remorse), among others.

In addition, singers Chrisette Michele, Kelly Price, Kenny Lattimore, Eric Benet and V. Bozeman were among the artists who delivered must-see performances.

The 365Black Awards will premiere on BET Networks later this summer.

Photo credit: Peter G. Forest