When the Westside NAACP held its annual Freedom Fund Reception and Dinner, May 12, at the Hillside Holiday Inn, President Karl A. Brinson welcomed everyone, saying, “Our branch is proud of the role we play as we continue to work toward the elimination of social injustice.”
Master of Ceremonies was Art Porter, executive producer of WGCI radio. Porter was the producer of the Crazy Howard McGee morning show and in 1998 Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton invited Art and the afternoon drive show team known as the “The Mond Squad” to join her and President Clinton for the holiday Christmas Party on the South Lawn of the White House. His identical twin, Oscar, who was also present at the banquet, is likewise well known in the community and active in many organizations.
Porter opened the program by acknowledging the recent death of the young Blair Holt who had been shot on a city bus while protecting one of his classmates.
Lift Every Voice and Sing was performed by Mittie Cowan, who was also an ACT-SO competition winner last year.
Honorees were introduced by Cook County Circuit Court Judge Carol Howard, political advocate Richard Barnett, Austin Chamber of Commerce President Camille Lilly, Malcolm Crawford, Water Reclamation Commissioner Barbara McGowan and former Cook County Board President Bobbie Steele.
A fashion show by respected fashion designer and Westsider, Barbara Bates, who has designed clothes for celebrities such as Sinbad, Michael Jordan and Whitney Houston, was part of the program.
Honorees included: Rufus Williams, Chicago Board of Education, Outstanding Public Servant Award; Mary Moore, owner, Flip Jeans & Accessories, Outstanding Entrepreneur Award; Donald Dew, executive director, Habilitative Systems, Inc., Nola Bright Community Service Award; Linton Johnson, NBA player, Hornets, Humanitarian Award; Dr. Joyce Kenner, principal, Whitney Young High School, Outstanding Educator Award; and Delores McCain, reporter, Austin Weekly News, Outstanding Journalism Award.
Bobbie Steele said of Dr. Joyce Kenner: “There isn’t a book that exists that could give a road map to her extraordinary life. An author has yet to write about a little girl who never had to spend time alone because she was born with two lifetime companions, her twin sister and their paternal brother.”
Richard Barnett said of Donald Dew: “He was a man who used his knowledge to impact the lives of others. Mr. Dew lectures extensively on social issues, a visiting lecturer at Lewis University.”
Camille Lilly said of Linton Johnson: “Mr. Johnson is a living example of what a person can achieve if they capture a vision, develop a plan and commit to hard work and perseverance.” (Linton is the nephew of former Chicago Bull Mickey Johnson.)
Malcolm Crawford said of Mary Moore: “She has taken her passion for clothing and accessories and quietly built them into a growing business.”
Barbara McGowan said of CPS President Rufus Williams: “Yes, he is a accomplished man. You will read he had a close relationship with Oprah [he worked at Harpo Studio for 10 years]. His life story embodies the spirit of all of us who are graduates of Chicago public schools.”
Judge Carol Howard introduced Delores McCain: “Pick up any Austin Weekly and you probably have read her articles or perhaps her features in Street Beat. Her stories allow the readers to get a full understanding of the issues at hand, while also presenting in a professional manner. She is writing the history of our neighborhood one story at a time.”
Austin Weekly News congratulates Delores McCain on her award and heartily concurs with Judge Howard’s assessment.