By Audrey J. Bernard
What has become synonymous with Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday celebration is the annual MLK luncheon hosted by the Black Agency Executives (BAE) on Thursday, January 18, 2018 at the Hilton Hotel New York and attended by African American leaders in the human services community and their colleagues. Comedian and TV personality Chuck Nice served as Master of Ceremonies for the 41st Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Luncheon which honored Ana L. Oliveira, president & CEO, The New York Women’s Foundation; Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space; and Valerie Rainford, Head of Advancing Black Leaders and Diversity Advancement Strategies, JP Morgan Chase. This year’s esteemed honorees were recognized for their outstanding track record for serving the community. Guests were thrilled with the attendance of Hon. David N. Dinkins, New York City’s first, and to date, only African American to serve as Mayor — from 1990to 1993.
The elephant in the room was social media and the role it plays in the way we communicate and obtain information. “Social Media for Social Justice” was this year’s relatable theme and BAE launched a monthly social media campaign in which the organization will share issues of concern regarding policy and information affecting the communities they serve, on the 18th of every month. You can support this project by using the hashtag #BAEActivate.
“`Social Media for Social Justice’ is relevant today, as current leaders are using social media platforms in a way that divides this country,” says BAE President, Carla D. Brown. “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” A letter from Birmingham City Jail, 1963, “Understand that we must utilize social media to stress that Americans must stand together in our commonalities; provide practical and truthful information to educate people about how they can advocate for themselves and each other; and to empower those persons who believe that injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.”
Another highlight of the stellar program included Paula T. Edgar, founder & CEO, PGE LLC, and president, Metropolitan Black Bar Association, who delivered a rousing keynote address. The event was supported by a number of partners and sponsors including; JP Morgan Chase & Co., New York Women’s Foundation, Harlem Children’s Zone, Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Futures, IBM and WABC-TV. Maria C. Willis, served as chair and Ingrid Floyd, co-chair of the event which was produced by Bee Season Consulting. (Photos courtesy BAE)
Black Agency Executives (BAE) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the support and professional development of its membership, which represents Black Human Services Executives who promote the interests and values of the Black Community. Founded in 1976, BAE is dedicated to the support and professional development of Black human service, non-profit executives, which in turn positively impact their staff, customers, organizations and communities they serve. These executives promote the interest, values, welfare and empowerment of the Black community. For more information about BAE, click here.