EXCLUSIVE, 43rd Annual Whitney M. Young, Jr. Memorial Gala

The Greater Washington Urban League (GWUL) celebrated 75 years of service in the Washington metropolitan area at its annual Whitney M. Young Jr. Memorial Gala which was held at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC. and it was a night to remember.  This year’s theme was very unique and featured Black Tie & Sneakers.  The Master of Ceremonies for the evening was the very witty and entertaining NBC4-TV news anchor, Jim Vance.

The life and work of Whitney Moore Young, Jr. are symbols of the value of a truly Open Society.Â  Mr. Young recognized that black American’s history of disadvantaged critically hindered their ability to profit from any opportunities that might be won.  Thus, he informed the nation that efforts to secure equality of opportunity would not succeed without deliberate efforts to compensate for the years of injustices of the past.  Securing that compensation was the thrust of his 10-year leadership of the National Urban League (NUL).  Mr. Young became the successor to former Executive Secretary Lester B. Granger by vote of the NUL Board.  Assuming the position as Executive Director on October 1, 1961, he proposed radical changes for the NUL, which heightened visibility and the public’s perception of the League as a national movement.

The Greater Washington Urban League, founded in 1938, once known as the Washington Urban League, the GWUL initially sought, through community activism and education, to increase employment opportunities and improve the living conditions of blacks who moved to the District of Columbia during the Great Migration.

Today, the GWUL steadfastly continues its mission to increase the economic and political empowerment of African Americans, but the organization has evolved. Programs and services now embrace the needs of all minorities, as well as individuals who are economically disadvantaged.  The Greater Washington Urban League is a major interracial, nonpartisan, nonprofit social services and civil rights organization with headquarters in the District of Columbia and offices in the District and Prince George’s County, Maryland  They empower communities and change lives using the approaches of social work, advocacy, law and other disciplines. The League with a staff of 60 individuals from various disciplines provides direct services and advocacy to more than 65,000 individuals annually. The League manages and administers some 30 programs in the areas of Education, Employment and Training, and Housing and Community Development. They are a membership organization governed by a 40-member Board of Directors and an advisory board that provides expertise and guidance to support our programs.

The 2015 honorees included the following:

The Honorable Rushern L. Baker III (County Executive, Prince George’s County) received Humanitarian Award

Chief Cathy L. Lanier (Metropolitan Police Department District of Columbia) received the Leadership Award

Walter M. Oliver (Senior Vice President, Human Resources and Administration General Dynamics and GWUL Board Member) received the Community Service Award.

The program included entertainment by the great pianist, Elaine Kwon and the phenomenal violinist, Kendall Isadore who amazed everyone with her explosive performance!

There were also special performances by the Honorable Kenyan McDuffie (Ward 5), the Honorable Anita Bonds (At-Large), and the Honorable Yvette Alexander (Ward 7) as well as spoken word by Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Television Political Analyst, and Invocation by Rev. Dr. George E. Holmes, President Barack Obama National Clergy Leadership Group Chaplain and Chair.

DC Nitelife was honored to be a part of this monumental event and look forward to being a part of next year’s gala.

For more information or to donate to this great organization, please go to: www.gwul.org.

By J.V. Jones

Photographs by Darryle A. Carter

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