Several of the most recognizable names in popular culture history -- encompassing both sports and entertainment -- will soon gather in Chicago for a landmark event that has become a Major League Baseball staple.
The 2013 MLB Beacon Awards Luncheon, celebrating individuals whose lives have been emblematic of the spirit of the civil rights movement, is set to take place on Aug. 24. It will serve as a poignant beginning of an activity-filled weekend surrounding the 2013 Civil Rights Game, which will be played at U.S. Cellular Field later that evening between the White Sox and Rangers.
The dignitaries on the guest list to attend the luncheon are impressive. MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, along with co-host of "Pardon The Interruption" and columnist for ESPN.com and ESPN Chicago Michael Wilbon, Chicago White Sox legend Frank Thomas and Detroit Tigers legend Willie Horton will be on hand to honor this year's Beacon Award winners: former MLB All-Star Bo Jackson and music legend Aretha Franklin.
Others scheduled to attend the MLB Beacon Awards Luncheon include Hall of Famers Hank Aaron and Ferguson Jenkins, White Sox legend and seven-time MLB All-Star Minnie Miñoso and MLB educational programming consultant and daughter of Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson, Sharon Robinson.
Franklin will not be able to attend the luncheon due to health reasons. Plans to present to her the MLB Beacon of Change will be announced at a later date.
Commissioner Selig, who was the keynote speaker at last year's Luncheon, will address the audience, as he has done during each previous Beacon Awards event. Wilbon will serve as the keynote speaker, and Thomas will present Jackson with the MLB Beacon of Life.
What's more, platinum-selling international recording sensation Charice, who appeared in a recurring role on FOX's "Glee," and who Oprah Winfrey once dubbed "the most talented girl in the world," will also perform.
The Civil Rights Game events were developed to pay tribute to all of those who fought on and off the field for equal rights for all Americans. The 2013 Civil Rights Game will air nationally on MLB Network and locally on Comcast Sportsnet in Chicago and FOX Sports Southwest in Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas. Information for the Civil Rights Game and the MLB Beacon Awards Luncheon can be found at mlb.com/civilrightsgame or WhiteSox.com/civilrightsgame.
Proceeds from the MLB Beacon Awards Luncheon will go toward benefiting the Chicago Urban League and La Rabida Children's Hospital in Chicago. Founded in 1916, Chicago Urban League is committed to empowering African-Americans with the skills and resources needed to enter the economic and social mainstream, including helping Chicagoans find jobs, affordable housing, educational opportunities and grow businesses.
La Rabida is a private nonprofit hospital that serves approximately 7,500 children annually who require primary and specialty care to address complex and challenging medical conditions. Services and programs include treatment for chronic illnesses such as asthma, diabetes, sickle cell disease and developmental disabilities.
In addition, La Rabida specializes in the treatment of children who have been abused, neglected or experienced trauma. As a specialty hospital for extended acute care, it serves patients who need hospitalization for weeks, months, and in some cases even longer. La Rabida is a grant recipient of the White Sox Community Fund.
The 2013 Civil Rights Game is the seventh installation of an annual event that began in Memphis, Tenn., in '07, centering on an exhibition game between the St. Louis Cardinals and Cleveland Indians. After another exhibition game in Memphis in '08, the Civil Rights Game moved to Cincinnati in '09 and '10 and then Atlanta for the next two seasons.
In 2012, the Beacon Awards Luncheon honored Don Newcombe, Congressman John Lewis and recording group Earth, Wind & Fire. Newcombe was the first African-American pitcher to win 20 games and to start a World Series game.
As the site of the Chicago Freedom Movement, which some consider to be the most ambitious civil rights activity in the North, the city of Chicago played a crucial role in the civil rights movement. Additional ancillary activities surrounding the Civil Rights Game will include the Baseball & the Civil Rights Movement Roundtable Discussion on Aug. 23 and a youth baseball and softball clinic on Aug. 24.
Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.