Vanessa Williams and Jessye Norman shine at Chicago Urban League Dinner

The Chicago Urban League (CUL) hosted its 53rd Annual Golden Fellowship Dinner themed, Opportunity, Community, Impact: A Movement that Matters at the Hilton Chicago recently.  Andrea L. Zopp, CUL President/CEO, highlighted some of the organization’s success stories over the past year but challenged the crowd of more than 1,700 guests to do more to improve the lives of African Americans and all who are underserved.  “At the Chicago Urban League we have been taking on the tough fights and building a movement for change for close to one hundred years,” said Zopp. “We see the potential in people that they do not see in themselves. We understand the power of opportunity and know that one opportunity can have a profound impact across generations.”

Jessye Norman, one of the world’s most celebrated performing artists, opera legend and humanitarian, accepted the Edwin C. “Bill” Berry Civil Rights Award at the dinner along with North Lawndale resident Clyde Ross, a civil rights and fair housing advocate and a founding member of the Contract Buyers League.  (The award is named for Edwin C. “Bill” Berry, who led the Chicago Urban League from 1956-1969 and was a key leader in the civil rights movement in Chicago).  Both Norman and Ross were presented with the honor for "making a mark on the nation through their hard work, perseverance and creativity."

This year’s gala was co-chaired by Cheryl Pearson-McNeil (senior VP of U.S. strategic community alliances and consumer engagement for Nielsen), and Stephen E. Thomas (area VP of field operations for Comcast). Among the evening’s special guests were former Governor Pat Quinn, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and National Urban League president and CEO Marc H. Morial.

The 53rd Annual Golden Fellowship Dinner was hosted by comedian/actor Damon Williams and culminated with a show stopping performance by multi-talented performer Vanessa Williams

Committed to the success of Chicago’s African American communities, the Urban League hosts the Golden Fellowship Dinner to provide financial support for its programs, collaborations and advocacy work in the areas of education, entrepreneurship, housing, human capital, and workforce development.  (Photos by Powell Photography, Inc.)

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