The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission held an awards luncheon, Celebration of Black American History, in partnership with the San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce at the Hotel Whitcomb in San Francisco on Wednesday, Feb. 25.
The 500 community members, leaders and elected officials enjoyed live entertainment by the Jaye and Friends Band, while honoring the 150th year of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th year of the March on Washington.
Bay Area media personality Renel Brooks-Moon was the mistress of ceremonies.
Performers Tricia Hutcherson, Michelle Peters and Lolita Sweet led the opening ceremonies in song as the celebration expressed the richness in cultural heritage of African Americans.
Greetings from Mayor Willie Brown, Jr., and performances by Spoken Word Artist Chas Jackson and Youth Orator Caden Cotton-Blake were highlights of the event.
“Black History Month is a time to remind us to hold in our gratitude and esteem, those men and women that paved the way allowing us to access the possibilities we have today,” said Harlan Kelly Jr.
Mayor Ed Lee reflected on Black History Month discussing the need for communities to build meaningful relationships beyond partnering. He talke about linking children of the underserved African American communities with financial scholarships and relationships within the Chinese community.
“It starts with the youth and we must continue to foster these relationships,” Lee said.
Sonya Merritt of Union Bank was presented with the Alex L. Pitcher, Jr. Award for her outstanding service as a humanitarian and Theo Ellington, president of the Black Young Democrats, was presented with the Rising Star Award for his political and social advocacy. Dr. Arlene Ackerman was honored posthumously with the Lifetime Achievement Award for her exceptional service as a leader and educator.
Seventh-grader Kibwe Diop, winner of the San Francisco Alliance of Black School Educators Oratorical/Musical Contest, performed his “Where Do We Go From Here” speech to a standing ovation and was awarded an Apple ipad.
Fred Jordan, president of the chamber, said he was proud his organization for working on the awards lunchdon.
“Bringing the community together and building partnerships are vital to the progress of the African American community,” said Jordan.
“The partnership with the San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce is great for the community as we strive toward economic empowerment, education and advocacy,” said City Administrator Naomi Kelly.
The awards luncheon was founded by city employees Brenda “B.J.” Jones, Karen Hill, Linda Cole, and Tamara Lowery Jones.
For more information visit www.cbahsf.org.