’Twas the week before Christmas, it was cold with some snow. But it wasn’t as if there was no place to go. All around town were parties galore, and just when you thought, “Who could ask for more?,” the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce had barbecue delight, while 100 Black Men met at Mist for the night.
The very best party that made you want to shout was the best of the season, without a doubt. Hosted by the talented and smart Elinor Tatum, this gala was to benefit the New York Amsterdam News Educational Foundation. Revelers arrived at the event, held in midtown at the Edison Ballroom, in droves in limos and taxis. Dresses ranged in lengths from minis to maxis. The men were also dressed, looking sharp for the occasion, and no one there needed much persuasion to join in the spirit and give cheers, as it was the AmNews birthday of 105 years.
It was a festive evening where guests were transported back in time to the Harlem Renaissance and Roaring ’20s. The food and libations were plentiful, there were gift bags, desserts and bowls of candies.
The Minton orchestra played with much delight and zing, reminding everyone, “It Don’t Mean a Thing, If It Ain’t Got That Swing.” And swing they did to the tap dancer’s beat, a fast-moving dancer with fast-moving feet.
The evening’s program began with the cutest touch, as little Willa Tatum thanked everyone for coming. She spoke into the mic like a real pro, while Grandmother Susan stood close by, all aglow. Beaming and honored were the honorees, accepting accolades and awards as the community was pleased. With a longstanding commitment, dedication and sweat, Hazel Dukes reminded us that it’s not over yet. We’ve come a long way, yet we’ve only just begun, as David Dinkins reminded us, when Hazel calls, you come.
Receiving an award was chef Alexander Smalls, who took the stage, beaming and tall. The executive chef at Minton’s and Cecil’s, two hip places to go for a fun night out, “I see great things for Harlem,” said Smalls, and that is no doubt. Entertainment lawyer Douglas Davis, the son of Clive, looked like a young buck, maybe all of 35. Yet as he spoke, like a very old soul, he pledged his support to the AmNews, where the true stories are told.
The City University of New York, also known as CUNY, had to be honored, as its place in the city’s history isn’t puny. It’s the place where students learn and have fun, so this award was accepted by Jay Hershenson. Our students receive the tools needed to overcome, the blights of the world this, and then some.
Gracing the stage last but not least was the ultimate entertainer, who praised the AmNews for its depiction of Black culture. It was a feast for the eyes to see, one who has endured fighting for civil rights, justice and liberty. It was none other than Harry Belafonte, looking as suave and cool as he ever could be. It was his honor and pleasure to present the AmNews award to a founder and president. Ken Sunshine of Sunshine Sachs is a man with whom Belafonte goes way back, they shared a concern for equal justice, their friendship showed no lack. Together they fought both in their own way, when the struggle was hard and dark was the day. Ken and Harry together, they supported Dr. Martin Luther King in the quest for freedom for African-Americans. Human rights and justice, an opportunity to be the very best a human can be. We need to continue to fight a good fight and with that sage
wisdom, the program ended for the night.
The party was not over as the real fun began. With a donation to the Amsterdam News Educational Foundation in exchange for poker chips, the casino action took over as the slot machines rang. Everyone was a winner and what a beautiful sight. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
Until next week … kisses