Medgar Evers College (MEC) of the City University of New York recently celebrated its ninth Legacy Awards Gala and Dinner. Held at the Marriott Hotel at the Brooklyn Bridge. This annual black-tie affair serves as the principal fundraising event for the MEC Educational Foundation, over the years raising millions of dollars from corporate gifts, community supporters and individual pledges.
The Gala began with a silent auction, featuring artworks contributed by Johnathan Culpepper, Donovan Nelson, Leroy Campbell, and Willie Torbert. Among the other 23 items up for auction were wearing apparel, gift bags, premium seats to the 2010 US Tennis Open, a miniature Mercedes-Benz car, and two round-trip tickets on Air Jamaica.
Soon guests were ushered into the dining area where Maurice DuBois, the award-winning anchor of CBS 2 News This Morning, and Angela McGlowan, best-selling author and political news analyst, got the ball rolling as master and mistress of ceremonies for the evening’s festivities.
Dr. William Pollard, the newly installed Medgar Evers College president, gave a very warm welcome to the guests. He stated that the occasion had a very special resonance for him because it was the 40th anniversary of the founding of MEC as well as his first gala as president of the college.
Pollard went on to speak of the legacy of excellence MEC has achieved over its last four decades and pledged his commitment to student success through “providing a diverse curriculum with the real-world relevance to ensure that our graduates are among the best, the brightest and the most productive in the nation.”
Also conveying his greetings was Council Member Charles Barron, chair of the council’s Higher Education Committee. He energized the audience with his remarks covering a wide variety of topics, including his view that because 62 percent of New Yorkers are people of color, it’s time for a Black school chancellor. “We are the new majority so it is all right for us to get the majority of the budget and the majority of the seats of power,” Barron declared. “It really is all about power,” he concluded. “Power to all people and Black power to Black people.”
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz was also on hand to deliver his remarks and present a proclamation to Dr. Pollard.
A main purpose of the gala was to recognize several “Living Legends” – community leaders, entrepreneurs, educators and other pioneers who have made enormous contributions to society in their fields of endeavor. The award was a small sculpture cast in the likeness of Medgar Evers, symbolizing the strength, dedication and leadership of this great man for whom the college was named.
This year’s Living Legends were:
- Basil Paterson, Esq., the New York political leader and labor attorney who has served as New York’s secretary of state, a state senator and chairperson of the Democratic National Committee. Currently a partner in the law firm Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, P.C., Paterson represents, among other unions, 1199/SEIU, the 300,000 member Hospital Workers Union.
- Jim Clifton, chairman and CEO of Gallup, Inc., whose most recent innovation, Gallup World Poll, is designed to give the world’s six billion citizens a voice in key global issues.
- William Snipes, Esq., a partner in Sullivan & Cromwell, LLP, who has been named to The Lawdragon 500: The Leading Lawyers in America. Snipes’ practice is focused on representing clients in complex commercial, securities, banking and products liability litigation and in investigations and proceedings before federal and state regulatory authorities.
- Bishop Hezekiah Walker, the world-renowned Grammy award-winning gospel artist and founder of the Love Fellowship Tabernacle that shepherds a multicultural flock varying in age, race and socio-economic backgrounds.
- Valerie Oliver Durrah, president and CEO of the Neighborhood Technical Assistance Clinic, with which she utilizes her executive skills to support organizations and leaders who seek to address the needs of underserved communities.
A special presentation was also made to Dr. Edward Catapane in recognition of the fact that as a physiologist and professor of biology at MEC, he has greatly enhanced science education and research experiences for underrepresented and underserved students. Dr. Marcella Maxwell, treasurer of the MEC Educational Foundation, presented, too, an award to Richard Anderson, the organization’s president, for his outstanding leadership over the past five years.
The evening, which was co-sponsored by Moet Hennessy USA, Con Edison, Macy’s, and National Grid, also featured engaging performances by the MEC Choir, the MEC Jazz Ensemble, and by the noted jazz and blues vocalist Alyson Williams.