The AAABNA (Austin African American Business Networking Association) held it’s fourth annual Kwanzaa celebration at the Austin Town Hall (5610 W. Lake St.) on Dec. 29, highlighting Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics). The celebration included shopping, business networking, food and entertainment. Aldermen Isaac Carothers (29th), Ed Smith (28th) as well as other Chicago politicians were also present.

Mayoral candidate Dorothy Brown was on hand and spoke briefly about having a small business administration office at the city level-“An office that can be supportive of you, not only to help you create businesses, but be able to sustain your business. It’s not enough for us to just have a day here and there to teach you how to write proposals, to teach you things about business. I think we should have an office that is an integral part of the City of Chicago that you can come to any day of the year, any time and get the kind of support you need. You can be assured as the next mayor of the City of Chicago, I will give you that support.”

Cong. Danny K. Davis (D-7th) complimented the look of the celebration. “The red, black and green-when you come in my office in Washington, right up over the door there are two black flags and the colors are red, black and green. People often ask me what they mean. I just tell them it means red, black and green. Brother Malcolm, I’m delighted to be here with all of your guests, and it’s such a warm and tremendous evening of activities. It’s always a pleasure to be with not only the smartest woman to ever hold the job as clerk of the circuit court of Cook County, the honorable Dorothy Brown, but also the prettiest, and I know she is also running for mayor of the City of Chicago. State Representative Deborah Graham [78th Dist.] and my wife [are friends] because my wife [Vera Davis] was her school teacher when she was a student at Collins High School, and she always tells me: ‘Don’t say nothing to me, because I taught Deborah Graham and you can’t say that when you taught school.'” [Note: Mrs. Davis also taught Commander Al Wysinger of the 15th Police District].

The entertainment consisted of traditional African drummers, a poetry reading by Cong. Davis and this year’s Grammy Award-winning gospel artist Smokie Norful. Norful, a pastor in his own right, is the son of an African Methodist Episcopal minister, and he pastors at Victory Cathedral Worship Center in Bolingbrook. He and his wife, Carla, have two sons, Trey and Ashton.

AAABNA President Malcolm Crawford and his wife, Stacia, welcomed everyone and Malcolm stressed how happy he was to have his own father, Rev. John Crawford, founder/president of FAITH Inc. present. Malcolm always acknowledges his father’s contributions to the civil rights movement and how grateful he and Stacia are that their three sons get to enjoy their grandfather after surviving a heart attack two years ago. Crawford also had all the AAABNA members who were present come to the stage to be acknowledged.

Members present were Phyllis Logan, Logan Realty; Rennie Smith, Western Skins & Boots; Rickey Sanders, Rick’s Devine Sanders Catering; Louis W. Powell III, attorney; Chris Prayer, Active Auto Parts; Ade Onayemi, architect; Allison Porter Bell, Harris Bank president; and Shalita Pendleton, Allstate manager.