Sometimes, the giants in our lives are the ones we know through stories, laughter, and the legacy they leave behind. My interactions with Mr. Clarence Avant have been many, albeit mainly through the lenses of my dear mentors and friends, the legendary Quincy Jones and the inimitable Ambassador Andrew Young. They introduced me to the man behind the myth, a gentleman who was as endearing in his lighthearted humor as he was formidable in business.

There’s a story I’ll never forget. One day, out of the blue, Mr. Avant picked up the phone to call Ambassador Young during his run for Congress. The audacity of the question still makes me chuckle, “Are you the man who’s running for Congress in the Georgia?” And when Ambassador Young confirmed, Mr. Avant, in his inimitable style, remarked, “If you’re crazy enough to run, I’m crazy enough to back you.” With just that affirmation, he threw his weight behind the campaign, pulling together a stellar fundraising concert in Atlanta that played a part in the victory.

While many remember Clarence Avant as the Godfather of Black Music, I think of him as the Grandfather of Community. He wasn’t just about the tunes and the rhythms; he was about the heartbeat of a community, its aspirations, its struggles, and its victories. He was a champion for community progress, a pillar in the Civil Rights movement, and an unsung hero in our modern-day Silver Rights movement.

In many ways, he embodied the ethos of Operation HOPE—tenacity, commitment, and a deep-seated love for community. His work wasn’t just in the recording studios or behind concert stages; it was in the hearts and lives of countless individuals he impacted, directly and indirectly.

Today, as we remember Mr. Avant, let’s not just recall his incredible contributions to music but also honor his enduring legacy of community building. His spirit, his dedication, and his laughter have left an indelible mark on many of us. And as we continue the work of Operation HOPE, it’s in the spirit of pioneers like Clarence Avant that we move forward.

May his soul rest in peace, and may we, in our daily endeavors, keep the flame of his legacy burning bright.

Pin It on Pinterest