*The exceptional drum major for civil rights, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who preached nonviolence as a means to solve injustices everywhere was memorialized with a federal holiday that takes place the third Monday in January, around the time of his actual birth date, January 15.
The nationwide holiday made him the first African American honored with a memorial on or near the National Mall and only the fourth non-president to be memorialized in such a way.
This year’s nationwide celebrations took place on Monday, January 20, 2014 in recognition of the civil rights leader’s national and international contributions and vision for all to enjoy a life of freedom and opportunity.
One such stellar celebration took place on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at the Hilton New York Hotel in New York City hosted by the Black Agency Executives (BAE). The 37th Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Luncheon presented by BAE marked the beloved leader’s 85th birthday.
BAE is a membership organization comprised of executives of major human service agencies in New York City. Since its inaugural event in 1977, the organization has continued to grow steadily and continues to honor the life and achievements of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Bringing together thought leaders for an afternoon of thought-provoking discussion, the event is designed to inspire social change and make a difference within the black community.
David Ushery, the popular and sought after news anchor for NBC 4 New York and host of “The Debrief With David Ushery,” returned as Master of Ceremonies and introduced the distinguished members of the dais followed by an inspiring invocation by Rev. Lisa D. Jenkins which was laced with profound thoughts uttered by Dr. King. Then “The Trio” from Broadway’s After Midnight — Then Carmen Ruby Floyd, Rosen M. Hill Jackson and Bryonha Marie Parham — performed the Black National anthem in beautiful harmony.
This year’s theme – Voting Rights Suppression: The widespread effects of Millennium Jim Crow — is relatable to the current status of voting rights. To that end, the recent “set us back years” disappointing actions by the Supreme Court and some red states were echoed by each of the speakers — luncheon chairperson Carla D. Brown, co-chairperson Maria C. Willis, and Maurice Lacey, vice president, BAE – in their powerful remarks which warmed the hearts of guests on a very cold afternoon.
The thought-provoking keynote speech meticulously delivered by Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad, director, Schomburg Center for research in Black Culture, garnered a rousing standing ovation. The eloquently worded speech about our young people referred to them as the “guardians of our future.”
After a luscious lunch and while indulging in delicious desserts guests were introduced to the event honorees. Each year BAE recognizes individuals and organizations with an outstanding track record for serving the community.
“Our annual luncheon not only supports our ongoing work toward supporting the growing needs of Black leaders in the human service profession, it’s also a premier networking event for people who engaged in the social sector as professionals and supporters,” stated Danielle Moss Lee, president, BAE.
This year’s exceptional honorees included: Community Service Society accepted by David R. Jones, president & CEO, Community Service Society; Esmeralda Simmons, Esq., executive director, Center of Law & Social Justice, Medgar Evers College, CUNY; Vivian Manning Fox, president, Childcare Corp., and executive director, 1199 Childcare Funds; Bill Lynch III, vice president, Bill Lynch Associates, LLC; and EmblemHealth, accepted by David Flemister, director, Brand Strategy & Community Marketing, EmblemHealth.
On the success of the luncheon which proudly raised $90,000 luncheon chairperson Brown said, “We aim to educate, inspire and motivate the human service sector and our corporate partners. Mission accomplished!”
The event was supported by a number of partners and sponsors including GenNx 360, Harlem Children’s Zone and EmblemHealth. Entertainment was provided by Comedian Chuck Nice and “The Trio.” The event was productively produced by Bee Season Consulting. (Photos by Margot Jordan)
Black Agency Executives (BAE) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the support and professional development of its membership, which represents Black human services executives who promote the interests and values of the Black Community. Founded in 1976, BAE is dedicated to the support and professional development of Black human service, non- profit executives which in turn positively impact their staff, customers, organizations and communities they serve. These executives promote the interest, values, welfare and empowerment of the Black community.
Audrey J. Bernard is an established chronicler
of Black society and Urban happenings based in the New York City area.Contact
her via: [email protected]