Fashion and Style

Jay-Z and Mother Gloria Carter Honored at Brooklyn Public Library Gala

On Monday night, at the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, adults in tieless suits and flowing dresses populated the Youth Wing, sitting near stacks of children’s books, some on children’s chairs, with drinks in hand for the library’s 24th annual gala.

The benefit, which raised $1.5 million, honored Jay-Z and his mother, Gloria Carter, the co-founder and chief executive of the Shawn Carter Foundation. (She did not attend.)

Nearby were pieces from “The Book of Hov” exhibit — like encased CDs, magazine covers, Grammy and Emmy Award statues, and a full-scale replica of a studio — which features artifacts tracing the artist’s decades-long career. The exhibit opened in July and was extended through Dec. 4, Jay-Z’s birthday.

Above a scribbled chalkboard, a large rendering of a green dragon hovered over stacked glasses on a bar that served Ace of Spades champagne and D’Ussé cognac, the rapper’s brands.

“You have experienced the multiple open bars inside of the public library. That’s how you get literacy done,” joked Baratunde Thurston, the writer and cultural critic, while hosting the event.

Hundreds of guests spread onto the main floor for cocktails and a buffet of short ribs, roasted salmon and chicken with preserved lemon. The building’s information area was transformed into a cafeteria-like seating area.

For the evening remarks, guests moved outside to a covered structure along the library’s entrance as Questlove served as the D.J.

In the front row of nearly 500 white folding chairs, Desiree Perez, the chief executive of Roc Nation, sat across from Linda E. Johnson, the president and chief executive of the library, and her husband, Bruce Ratner, the real estate developer. Clara Wu Tsai, the philanthropist and co-owner of the Brooklyn Nets, and Antonio Delgado, the lieutenant governor of New York, were also seated there.

Waiting in an undisclosed location nearby, Jay-Z walked quietly from behind the stage into his seat.

“She’d want to say she would have loved to be here with you guys. And she is incredibly honored. And it is overwhelming that her son is so incredible,” he continued, crediting his mother for telling him as a young child that he could be anything.

As he spoke, police officers in uniform held up phones to record the speech.

“I love you!” someone shouted from a crowd of about a dozen onlookers lining the police barricades along Flatbush Avenue.

“And we love you,” he said, in response. “This is definitely Brooklyn.”

Jay-Z reflected on the exhibit at the library, which was kept a secret from him.

“I thought maybe it was like a small room, and it was more than what I deserved,” he said. “I walked in, and I saw this incredible display.”

“And my grandma Hattie White got to see it,” he continued. “She just turned 98-years-old, and she’s seen a lot of things.”

“That experience was just overwhelming,” he said.

As the speeches ended, Jay-Z slipped upstairs as guests strolled back to the main floor of the library for passed plates of doughnuts where Questlove continued to D.J. As a parting gift, guests were given a copy of “Decoded,” Jay-Z’s 2010 memoir.

“That was so much fun,” one attendee said as she walked inside. “That was Monday night. What am I supposed to do on Tuesday?”

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