Black Expo award winners want parents, grandparents to step up

Award winners at the Indiana Black Expo Luncheon.
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More than 200,000 people are expected to attend the 44th Annual Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration this weekend.

The focus is on families this year. Honorees Louis Gossett Jr. and Diahann Carroll took time to set aside their awards talk about reclaiming our communities.

Viewers fell in love with Louis Gossett Jr. as the brass, tough drill sergeant in "An Officer and a Gentleman."

Years before Gossett hit the big screen, a female pioneer changed the complexion and perception of blacks on television. Diahann Carroll starred in the series "Julia" as a single African-American mother working as a nurse and attentive to the needs of her young son.

Friday, the iconic actors, who were awarded for their lifetime and legendary accomplishments at IBE's Summer Celebration, shared a stage and similar thoughts about reclaiming our cities in the face of escalating crime.

They're talking about the impact of grandparents.

"The discovery of what family means becomes really important," said Carroll, the 79-year-old grandmother of two.

"Our kids today aren't being taught anything," said Gossett.

He believes growing one generation at a time is the key and says somewhere along the way families stopped passing down wisdom from one era to the next.

"We kind of stopped paying attention to grandma and our roots. It was that connective tissue that has probably saved my life so many times," he told Eyewitness News.

Both actors also believe in community involvement.

"Every step that I take, I realize how little we really understand each other, and that there are people who are in a position to do incredible things to help those that need help," Diahann Carroll said. "They don't understand that it's needed."

"Maybe we can pass onto them a better way to live, a better way to think about one another. Otherwise, nobody wins anything," said Gossett.

Gossett received the Lifetime Achievement Award for appearing in more than 200 films and for some of the other work he has done. He has a foundation called Erascism, which is aimed at tackling violence, racism and sexism.

"We've got to go in the direction of us compassionate for one another...start a center and get all these children in there to practice how to live without the negative differences, but the positive similarities," Gossett said.

Saturday events at Summer Celebration include The United Way Diversity Breakfast with Louis Gossett Jr., the celebrity "Save Our Youth Basketball Game," and the headline concert with Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds, Anthony Hamilton and Chrisette Michelle at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

See a schedule of events here.