Bonnie and Cornell West

National Urban League Celebrates 100 Years








By Bonnie McDaniel  (Photos by Brian Larson)

The following photos were taken at the at the final event of the National Urban League’s Centennial Conference – the Whitney M. Young Gala.  NBA Legend Magic Johnson and award-winning actors Alfre Woodard and LeVar Burton were honored with Legend Awards.  Congressman James E. Clyburn (D-SC) received the President’s Honoree award.  (Photos by Brian Larson)

Last week the National Urban League Centennial Conference took place at the Washington Convention Center.  The big takeaway for me was the young professionals who were represented from different areas around the country. Their overall message to those of us who are seasoned was to not give up on them and to offer our support. They seemed to feel that there are not enough mentors or seasoned professionals who are willing to give their time in order to insure the success of the next generation.

Notable messages came from Bishop Paul Morton who encouraged the young people to fly above the fray like eagles and to stay focused and committed until they reach their goals. The Special Town Hall Meeting entitled Listen Up was moderated by TV’s Judge Hatchett. Other panelists included poet Sonia Sanchez, singer Michelle Williams and author/actor Jordan Coleman. This session was powerful and most seemed to leave the session energized.

The Women of Power luncheon was phenomenal, with a moving speech delivered by Secretary of Labor. She encouraged the young women not to settle and to encourage the sisters who are traveling alongside you. Recipients of awards included, boxer, Laila Ali, actress Angela Bassett and was hosted by CBS’ Michelle Miller.

Bonnie McDaniel & Dr. Cornell West at NULC ribbon cutting ceremony.

The entire week of events was executed remarkably well, minus a few oversights, a major one being the lack of focus on the centennial exhibit which chronicled the history of the Urban League. This exhibit created by Julian Kiganda, who is also the creator of Freedom House located in Alexandria Virginia, was a brilliant display of the history of the last 100 years of the Urban League. Because of the location of the exhibit and the seemingly lack of promotion of the work, many left the convention without understanding the impact the league has had on the African American national community.

The final closing event, The Whitney M. Young Awards Gala was indeed very fitting for a week of major accomplishments. The elegant evening was further enhanced by a wonderful musical tribute by singer Ledisi who offered her rendition of What a Wonderful World. Her performance was offered without musical accompaniment, demonstrating her incredible talent very much reminiscent of the legendary jazz singer, the late Sarah Vaughn.

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