Monday, December 5, 2011

Chicago Urban League Honors its Past, Sets the Course For An Empowered Future at 50th Annual Gala

Andrea L. Zopp, president and CEO, Chicago Urban League; Grammy ® Award Winning Songstress Patti LaBelle; and Steve Harvey, author, comedian and radio personality attend the Chicago Urban League's 50th Annual Golden Fellowship Dinner.

Steve Harvey and Patti LaBelle Headline Annual Celebration of Urban League’s Community Leadership; James W. Compton Awarded Edwin C. “Bill” Berry Civil Rights Award

Submitted by Sandra Davis
Chicago Contributor

CHICAGO, IL - The Chicago Urban League reaffirmed its role as a community leader in educational, economic and social empowerment for African Americans at its 50th annual Golden Fellowship Dinner on Saturday, November 12, 2011 at the Hilton Chicago. Hosted by radio personality, comedian and New York Times best-selling author Steve Harvey and featuring a show stopping performance from Grammy Award winning entertainer Patti LaBelle, the fundraiser drew a sellout crowd of more than 1,600 of Chicago’s top business, civic, religious and political leaders who support the Chicago Urban League’s efforts to build strong stable communities.

Established in 1961 by a multiracial group of local leaders led by then Chicago Urban League chief Edwin C. “Bill” Berry, the Golden Fellowship Dinner remains one of the city’s most diverse and well-attended fundraisers. The theme of the 50th anniversary gala was, “Honoring Our Past, Empowering Our Future.” Co-chairs of the dinner were Mellody Hobson, president, Ariel Investments; James J. O’Connor, Jr., managing director, Chicago, MVC Capital; Anne Pramaggiore, president and COO, ComEd; and Frederick H. Waddell, president and CEO, Northern Trust. The gala host committee was led by Ralph Hughes of Macy’s and Joe Moore of Shell Oil.

In her remarks, Chicago Urban League president and CEO Andrea L. Zopp stressed that the Urban League’s 95 year history and half century tradition of the Golden Fellowship Dinner is a legacy that must be built upon and expanded to address current challenges that negatively impact African Americans. “The promises of the Civil Rights Movement have not yet been truly realized, and it is clear that the Chicago Urban League’s work to ensure that African Americans can fully access the opportunities that our country and city have to offer and can fully contribute to growing and building stronger communities, is as important now as it was at our founding 95 years ago or when this dinner was started 50 years ago,” said Zopp. “Our history, our longevity is not a weakness or a liability. It is a strength. It is the foundation on which we will ground our efforts as we refuse to go backward and we most decidedly and assuredly step forward.”

Andrea L. Zopp and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, City of Chicago; Jamell Meeks, Rev. James Meeks, First Lady and Pastor, Salem Baptist Church of Chicago, and Mellody Hobson, president, Ariel Investments

Tom Cole, partner, Sidley Austin; Andrea L. Zopp; Kimberly McCullough, director of external affairs, AT&T

James W. Compton, who served as president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League for more than 30 years, was presented the 2011 Edwin C. “Bill” Berry Civil Rights Award. Named for Bill Berry, who led the Chicago Urban League from 1956-1969 and was a key leader in the civil rights movement in Chicago, the honor is awarded to community and civic leaders who have left a mark on the nation through hard work, perseverance and creativity. During his tenure at the Chicago Urban League, Compton refocused the organizations’ interest in education and economic development and developed a new emphasis on community empowerment.

Rev. Marshall Hatch, Dr. Leon D. Finney, Jr., and honoree James W. Compton, 2011 Chicago Urban League Edwin C. “Bill” Berry Civil Rights Award recipient

Patti LaBelle, The Legendary and Grammy ® Award Winning Songstress

Proceeds from the Golden Fellowship Dinner provide financial support for the programs, collaboration and advocacy work of the Chicago Urban League with key focus areas that include: education, human capital development, workforce development, entrepreneurship and housing. Legacy Sponsors for the 50th Annual Golden Fellowship Dinner were Ariel Investments, ComEd, Ernst & Young, Loop Capital and Northern Trust.

About the Chicago Urban League
Established in 1916, the Chicago Urban League works for economic, educational and social progress for African Americans and promotes strong sustainable communities through progressive advocacy, effective collaboration and innovative programming. For more information, visit

Source: Press release/Photo credit: Powell Photography