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Chicago Urban League’s 54th Annual Golden Fellowship Dinner Raises More than $1.7 Million

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Chicago Urban League’s 54th Annual Golden Fellowship Dinner Raises More than $1.7 Million 

Brandy Headlines; Pulitzer Prize Winner Isabel Wilkerson and Chicago Historian Timuel Black Receive Edwin C. “Bill” Berry Civil Rights Award

CHICAGO (Nov. 9, 2015) – Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Reverend Jesse Jackson were among the more than 1,500 business, civic and elected leaders who attended the Chicago Urban League’s 54th Annual Golden Fellowship Dinner (GFD) Nov. 7 at the Hilton Chicago.

The gala raised more than $1.7 million dollars to support the CUL’s education, economic empowerment, and social justice programs.

Inspiration for the Next Generation was the theme of this year’s dinner, emphasizing CUL’s goal to strengthen its connection with Chicago youth.  Among other moments that highlighted the organization’s agenda for the future, Mayor Emanuel interacted with two youth bloggers from Brooks College Prep and Lindblom High School. The CUL’s focus on young people is featured in a compelling video that debuted at the gala. (To view video, click here.)

“Chicago Urban League celebrates its 100th birthday next year, and our focus on the next generation is more important than ever,” said Shari Runner, Interim President and CEO of the Chicago Urban League.  “We will be implementing an entire campaign complete with events and programs focused on the active, empowered, and intentional partnership with youth as stakeholders, problem solvers, and change agents in their communities.”

The black-tie affair was hosted by Chicago comedian Damon Williams and included a rousing performance by Grammy® Award-winning entertainer and actress Brandy.

This year’s Edwin C. “Bill” Berry award was awarded to two recipients; historian, activist, philanthropist and philosopher Timuel Black and Pulitzer Prize winning author of Warmth of Other Suns, Isabel Wilkerson.  The award is named after Berry, who was the Chicago Urban League’s President from 1956-1969 and a key leader in the civil rights movement. It is given annually to individuals who have made a mark locally and/or nationally through hard work, perseverance and creativity.

Melvin D. Williams, president of Nicor Gas, served as chairman for this year’s Golden Fellowship Dinner, considered one of Chicago’s signature fundraising galas and premiere social events.

“It was truly a night to remember. I thank the Chicago Urban League for their unwavering commitment to strengthening our communities, and look forward to supporting their efforts to engage Chicago’s young people.”

“We are deeply grateful to everyone whose support and participation helped make this year’s Golden Fellowship awards a success,” said Runner.  “Chicago Urban League has uplifted and inspired generations of people since 1916, and just as we were there for the children who arrived in Chicago from the Jim Crow South during the great migration, we will be here for young people who need us in 2016 and beyond.”

Lead sponsors for the 54th Annual Golden Fellowship Dinner included Nicor Gas, BMO Harris Bank, Boeing, GCM GROSVENOR, ITW, Loop Capital, McDonald’s, and Wintrust. For more information about GFD or the Chicago Urban League, call 773-285-5800 or visit

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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 advocacy, collaboration and innovation.