On Saturday night, nearly 1,600 supporters gathered at the Chicago Urban League’s 56th Annual Golden Fellowship Dinner to usher in the organization’s 101st year of service to Chicago’s African-American community. Hosted by comedian Damon Williams, the event raised $2 million and culminated with an unforgettable performance by Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds.
Emphasizing the theme “Beyond 100: Together We Matter,” Chicago Urban League President and CEO Shari Runner reminded the crowd of business leaders, clergy, human rights advocates, philanthropists and elected officials to play an active role in preventing social injustices from “occurring – and reoccurring — with frightening frequency.”
“Each of us in this room can be a leader,” said Runner. “You don’t have to be President, or Governor, or Mayor, or CEO to do what’s right and improve lives in our city. You just need to remain committed and focused. We just need to stay woke.”
The night was filled with historic moments including the presentation of the Edwin C. “Bill” Berry Civil Rights Award to James D. Montgomery, Sr., noted civil rights attorney and community activist. The Lester H. McKeever, Jr. Individual Service Award was presented to retired State Senator Emil Jones, Jr., progressive legislator, and long-time proponent of social justice and fair funding of public education.
As chronicled in videos featuring impacted clients, funds raised from the dinner will support the Chicago Urban League’s programs, which serve more than 15,000 Chicago residents annually, including the Youth Development Center, Workforce Development, Housing and Financial Empowerment, Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and the IMPACT Leadership Development.
This year’s Dinner Co-Chairs were James P. Kolar, Central Market Managing Partner, PwC and Stephen W. Beard, General Counsel and Chief Administrative Officer, Heidrick & Struggles, Inc.
“The League’s outspokenness and advocacy over the years has drawn praise and applause from some but has also drawn the ire of others,” said Runner. “My team and I continue the League’s legacy. We remain driven by our mission to pursue socioeconomic justice for those who do not have it, and we are willing to put everything we have into the effort.”