Wednesday, March 13, 2013

ASALH: 'Over 1000 people gathered to hear Mary Frances Berry' at 87th Annual Luncheon

Daryl Michael Scott writes:

Black History Month this year was special. Besides our normal doings, we participated TWICE in White House events. But first things first: The National Headquarters held the 87th Annual Luncheon on February 23rd. Be sure to let people know that our luncheon - established by Woodson - is the mother of all Black History luncheons. Over 1000 people gathered to hear Mary Frances Berry, our former Executive Council member and University of Pennsylvania endowed-chair professor, give a provocative speech on the annual theme. She challenged us to continue the tradition of making it necessary for American presidents to do the right thing. Professor Berry, we heard you and appreciate your prodding us.

We know that few members and friends can travel to DC for the luncheon, but we always have members who come from across the country. President Anita Shepard and J. Platt-Mims of the James Weldon Johnson Branch came from Jacksonville. A group from Long Island, New York, were favorably impressed and left with information on how to start a branch. 

At the Luncheon, we teamed with our sponsor, Farmers Insurance, to recognize twenty women who are Living Legacies-people renowned for the efforts in their communities. I must say that meeting twenty women who have made a difference provides inspiration to keep our own work moving forward. Special thanks to Louis Hicks, Valerie Maholmes, and the rest of the Luncheon Committee for another great event. 

In the most pleasant surprise of the day, the National President of Omega Phi Psi-Carter G. Woodson's fraternity-presented us with a $10,000 check to carry the work forward. Click here for pictures from the luncheon   

Now, about the White House events: For the first time in our history, ASALH presented a scholarly discussion of the National Annual Theme at the White House. On February 19th, Jelani Cobb of the University of Connecticut, Edna Medford of Howard University, James B. Peterson of Leigh University, and Kaye Whitehead of Loyola University Maryland gave us insight on the Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington under the skillful moderation of Claudrena Harold of the University of Virginia. Additionally, Kenya King did a re-enactment of Lena Horne at the historic event, and James A. Green, Mass Choir Director of the Providence Baptist Church sang, "Lift Every Voice and Sing." I cannot thank our participants enough for raising the bar on Black History programming. Click here for pictures
On February 27th, ASALH co-sponsored a Black History Month reception at the White House at which President Barack Obama made remarks on the annual theme to an audience that included a wide array of Americans from all walks of life, including US Attorney General Eric Holder, sports greats Hank Aaron and Magic Johnson, civil rights leaders Benjamin Jealous and Al Sharpton, public intellectuals Michael Eric Dyson and Charles Ogletree, entertainers Harry Belafonte, Phylicia Rashad, and Viveca Fox, the educator Freeman A. Hrabowski III, educational advocate Arnold Mitchem, and hundreds more.  Our special guests were the editors of ASALH's publications-Dean LaVonne I. Neal and Prof. Alisha Moore of the Black History Bulletin and Prof. Marilyn Thomas-Houston my senior co-editor of Fire!!!: The Multimedia Journal of Black Studies. We sorely missed Prof. V. P. Franklin, editor of the Journal of African American History, who
could not make a second trip from California after attending the luncheon the week before. Our agenda was to allow the editors to network with people who might learn of the importance of our scholarly work.  We'll see. Click here for pictures 
How did we succeed in connecting with the White House? It was through the tireless efforts of two board members recruited to help us with our public relations-Kenya King and Roy Betts. By reaching out to non-academics who believe in our mission, we added to our collective skill set and obtained an elusive goal.

Finally, kudos to Sylvia Y. Cyrus and our headquarters staff for succeeding despite being more overstretched than ever. Thanks to you all, ASALH has started 2013 with a roar!!!


Daryl Michael Scott

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