The third annual Philadelphia Tribune Christopher J. Perry/Carter G. Woodson Black History Awards Luncheon served as both a notable learning experience and networking opportunity for more than 350 guests on Thursday at the Sheraton Philadelphia Downtown Hotel. FOX29’s Joyce Evans emceed the informative program covering key points in Philadelphia's African-American history.
The Philadelphia Tribune was established in 1884 by Christopher J. Perry (1854-1920), a pioneering Black businessman who championed racial equality. The Tribune is recognized as the oldest continuously published African American newspaper in the nation.
Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson (1875–1950) launched Negro History Week in 1926 as an initiative to bring national attention to the contributions of Black people throughout American history.
“The luncheon is named after the founder of the Philadelphia Tribune, Christopher James Perry and Carter G. Woodson, who is the founder and father of Black History Week,” explained Robert W. Bogle, president and CEO of The Philadelphia Tribune. “As you know, from 1926 until 1976 this was a commemoration of one week. The idea of one month is that if you are going to deny equal access and opportunity in our history books, then we need a greater length of time to be acknowledged for these contributions.”
The Valentine’s Day gathering brought together a number of the region’s movers and shakers, and provided a sense of history as the three African American Philadelphia Mayors – the Rev. W. Wilson Goode (1984-1992), John Street (2000-2008) and Michael A. Nutter (current) - stood alongside fellow former mayor and governor Edward G. Rendell. Another ovation was given when Rev. Goode recognized Velma, his wife of 52 years.
Education was the continued theme of each speaker. “Our history must be driven by a focus in a variety of critical areas, and there is no more critical an area, especially for the African-American community, and certainly for the city and for this nation, and especially for us, than the issue of education,” said Nutter. “This is the great civil rights challenge of our time, and we have many challenges in front of us, and certainly controversies - and this city wouldn't be itself if we weren't having a controversy about something at any moment in time. Let's have a serious and real conversation about this critical issue of education. And let's make sure that as adults we do what is ultimately in the best interest of our children and not be focused on our adult issues, because from time to time they get in the way of what our children need in terms of a great education, and so that they can make great history here in the city and in this country.”
In a 30-plus-minute keynote address, Pastor Floyd H. Flake, senior pastor of the 23,000 member Greater Allen African Methodist Episcopal Cathedral in New York implored the audience to stand up for the community. “There is a value that has been put on our childrens’ head,” said Flake. “They have been counting down from the time they get to the third grade, and they are determining who will go to prison — and who won't. They are making money in jail on the backs of our children. We must do something about it. I cannot tell you that I have come with an answer, but I can tell you one thing: if we are going to survive as a people in the world — not just in America, and not just in our little city — we're going to have to make some changes to the degree that it is no longer about race; it is about understanding how we are able to fulfill the promise that is within us. All of us have the capability to do it, but the only way that we can get it done is we do it together. We cannot do it as one; but we can do it as a collective.”