It was meant to be a memorable night, and indeed, it was.
From government to private sector and non-profit, professionals gathered to celebrate 25 years of success for Maryland’s Associated Black Charities (ABC), and to also honor those African Americans who are making a big impact in the field of education.
The black tie event was held on June 12 at the Hyatt Regency in Baltimore.
ABC is dedicated to creating strong, healthy, and economically viable communities in order to create a better life, especially for African American children and families. The event also served as a premise to reflect on how this worthy initiative started more than two decades ago.
“The most important thing that happened in 1985 was when a group of visionaries and courageous pioneers saw a growing need. They saw a shrinking middle class and growing poverty, and a movement was born,” said Dr. Walter G. Amprey, Chairman of the ABC Board of Directors.
Amprey said the gala night was not only to recognize African American innovators and role models in higher education, “but it is also an opportunity for us to thank the courageous group of visionaries who are the reason for our birth.”
Amprey said thanks to resilience and perseverance, ABC continues to improve and grow through strategic planning. He attributed the success of his organization to people—staff, volunteers, sponsors, and supporters—as well as the leadership of Diane Bell-McKoy, president/CEO of ABC.
During his remarks, Martin O’Malley, Governor of Maryland, commended Bell-McKoy, saying, “She is the most capable and effective person I have ever worked with in government, private sector, and non-profit.”
O’Malley spoke about workforce development, career training and advancement, higher education, college residence and access to college.
“We have greatly increased our investments in Historically Black Colleges and Universities here in Maryland,” O’Malley said.
O’Malley presented ABC’s 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award to Morgan State University President Dr. Earl Richardson.
“He has worked tirelessly for decades to improve higher education and to strengthen our Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” O’Malley said.
O’Malley said Dr. Richardson is truly a giant in his field and through his determination, perseverance and actions, he has transformed Morgan State University from a small and struggling Liberal Arts College with too many outdated facilities to a 7,000-student doctoral research university with a shining and beautiful campus.
O’Malley told Ib’s Blog in an exclusive interview that, “It’s a great event and there were so many giants that were honored tonight who have done so much for our state and city. It was my great pleasure to be able to present the Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. Earl Richardson.”
In an exclusive interview with Ib’s Blog, Dr. Richardson said for an organization like ABC that is completely community-oriented to recognize the 25 to 26 years that he has spent at Morgan State University is hopefully a realization of the goals for which they serve at Morgan.
“It’s really not about me so much as it is about the causes for which we have tried to champion over the last 26 years,” Dr. Richardson said.
Diane Bell-McKoy, while reflecting on the success of her organization in the last 25 years, projected what a promising 2020 vision would look like — then ABC will be celebrating a monumental 35-year anniversary.
“It is a different celebration,” Bell-McKoy said, adding that, “it is one where you and I together have been successful in assuring that every black and brown child has both an aspiration and the skills to go and earn a higher education.”
Bell-McKoy said by 2020, collectively, individuals, organizations, and institutions will come together to ensure that those young men and women graduate from college.
She said in 2020, we will have a wealthier and healthier state, an economic and viable city for all its citizens because we all would have made a difference.
“Today, I can tell you what 2020 would look like,” Bell-McKoy said.
“But it just means that we have to invest in that future we want to see. And so I ask you to go on and invest in change so we’ll have a different state, city and region, healthier and wealthier in 2020.”
“It’s about closing the wealth gap, and one of the surest pathways for African Americans is actually additional education — both higher education and post secondary education,” Bell-McKoy told Ib’s Blog in an interview.
“That’s what we want to lift up and celebrate because we know that’s one of the tools that makes a difference in terms of wealth for our community.”
She said the gala night was about celebrating people who are in the field of education and making that difference.
“And so we want to encourage more people to help other young people to move through their pathways,” Bell-McKoy said.
Bernard Wynder, assistant vice president for student affairs at Frostburg State University received the Living Legends award.
“To be recognized by the Associated Black Charities is probably one of the greatest thrills in my life,” Wynder said told Ib’s Blog in an interview.
“To know what they are trying to do and to uplift the African American community, and for them to recognize me for the small part that I have played in being of assistance to students and working in the community for good 30 years in my life just energizes you to want to continue to do that work, and to continue to touch those lives,” Wynder said.
“I want to thank Associated Black Charities and I wish that we can garner more support for their development of the middle class. I think it is important but I also think they hit on the right note when they testified tonight that education is the way to get there.”
“I am truly honored to be associated with such great individuals in higher education,” said Anita Thomas, vice president, Office of Government & Community Relations at the University of Baltimore, who received the Emerging Leaders award.
“I think that’s one of the really significant things about tonight for me – to be recognized by the Associated Black Charities and to be associated with so many great people in higher education.”
Taylor Walls, senior director of administration at East Baltimore Development, Inc., told Ib’s Blog that she attended the gala “to support what I think is a valuable cause.”
“ABC has been an organization around for 25 years and they stand on the foundation of propelling our youth forward in education, wealth and health,” Walls added.
“I am very interested in the mission and goals of this organization and the philanthropic work that they do throughout the community,” Faenita Dilworth, a community advocate, told Ib’s Blog.
The founding members of ABC gathered around the organization’s anniversary cake – a light confection with raspberry amaretto filling – in celebration.
A networking session sealed the memorable night with Baltimore’s own Panama Band on hand to provide the awesome sounds that left guests rocking on the dance floor in a very jubilant atmosphere.
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|Associated Black Charities 25th Anniversary Gala|
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