The second annual Philadelphia Tribune’s Christopher J. Perry/Carter G. Woodson Black History Awards Luncheon served as both a notable learning experience and networking opportunity for the 400 guests this week at the venerable Union League. Daniel J. Hilferty Jr., President/CEO, Independence Blue Cross and Michael A. Rashid, president/CEO, AmeriHealth Mercy Family of Companies co-hosted 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. Since 1976, the week has expanded to Black History Month.
“We celebrate the 103rd anniversary of the NAACP, the 107th anniversary of Bright Hope Baptist Church, the 100th anniversary of the Seventh Day Adventists at 15th and Christian Streets and the 128th anniversary of The Philadelphia Tribune,” said Robert W. Bogle, president and CEO of The Philadelphia Tribune.
“Black History Month, which started out as a week, and is now a month and I'd like to suggest that every day is a Black history day in Philadelphia and in the United States of America,” remarked Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “Let us never forget our past, nor the expectation of a glorious future ahead of us for African Americans.”
Founded during the Civil War in 1862, the Union League's mission was to highlight the policies of Abraham Lincoln. During the latter decades of the 20th century, the League resolved its issues with minorities and women, and now boasts a diverse membership. It was a matter that keynote speaker speaker, H. Patrick Swygert, President Emeritus Howard University, recalled from his boyhood days in the city. “Kater Street was not six and a half blocks from Lincoln Hall here in the Union League, it was a universe away, because the idea and the notion that we might have the opportunity to meet today to enjoy each other's company and celebrate what is good about this great nation was unthinkable when I was a youngster in South Philadelphia,” said Swygert.
“The honorees today have made significant history, not only in our city, but in the nation,” said Rashid as Bogle presented History Makers Awards Episcopal Reverend Canon Thomas W. S. Logan, Pulitzer prize winning newspaper columnist Acel Moore and Radio One co-founder Cathy Hughes.
Father Logan, who is just weeks away from his 100th birthday, demonstrated his longevity when he spoke of horse drawn buggies circling City Hall. Moore reflected his longtime news roots: “Being able to live some of the history that has been announced today is significant. In the past few weeks, though, there have been some history makers that have gone too soon, from Fatimah Ali, to Whitney Houston, to others not as well know but to many of us as equally precious.” A visibly touched Hughes credited the Delaware Valley region as an important start to her career. “I'm grateful,” said Hughes as she held her award. “I'm honored. I live in DC, but I'm a Philadelphia girl.”