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UBF Salutes Gwendolyn Boyd, Marion Barry

James Wright | 6/12/2013, 3 p.m.
The Rev. Dr. Lewis Anthony, served as the keynote speaker for the United Black Fund's 44th annual Calvin & Wilhelmina Rolark Scholarship Luncheon on Saturday, June 8 at Howard University's Blackburn Center in Northwest. Photo by Roy Lewis

One of the city's leading philanthropic organizations honored the work of a former mayor of the District, a leading African-American female engineer and a group of outstanding students at its annual luncheon.

D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) and the Rev. Gwendolyn Boyd were honored at the United Black Fund’s 44th Annual Calvin and Wilhelmina Rolark Scholarship Luncheon at the Howard University Blackburn Center in Northwest before hundreds on Saturday, June 8. D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray also stopped by to applaud the UBF and its work.

"I am always happy to be associated with the United Black Fund," said Gray, 70.

The United Black Fund, located in Southeast, was founded in 1969 by the Rolarks as a means of providing funds and support to non-profits who work on behalf of low-income District residents in the same manner in which the United Way operates. The president of UBF is Barry LeNoir and the chairman of the board is Samuel Cornelius.

Gray cited UBF's programs that help young people prepare for the upcoming school year and its nationally-renowned Black History Swim Meet. He said that UBF and its 103-member agencies will now be able to benefit from the new "One City Fund", which will provide city-funded grants to non-profits up to $100,000, noting that the program will be administered outside of the government.

Four senior high school students received scholarships: Nicholas Delano Oden of Ballou in Southeast, Shalynn Hill of Dunbar in Northwest, A'Mara Gibbons of Anacostia in Southeast and Donald Duvall II of Spingarn in Northeast. A number of students in elementary and middle schools received recognition for their "I Love Life & I Want to Life" forms of artistic expression through songs, essays, oratory and posters.

Boyd, a former president of Delta Sigma Theta, a mechanical engineer and a high-level administrator at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, said that the work of the young people should be an inspiration to all adults who attended the luncheon.

"Our hands are reaching back to these young people today," she said. "We should hold our heads high so that young people can see us as role models."

She said that the only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary and that the young generation has been blessed by God.

Barry, 76, was unable to attend the event, however, his spokesperson LaToya Foster attended on his behalf. She said that the council member was there in spirit.

"He deeply regrets he cannot make it because of a family emergency," said Foster. "Mr. Barry and the Rolarks have known each other for decades. Councilman Barry believes that the UBF is a beacon of life and hope in our community."

The Rev. Lewis Anthony of the St. Lucille AME Zion Church in Southeast gave a stirring message to the audience. He said that the Rolarks should be celebrated for what they have done but there’s more work to do.

"We are living in a city with income inequality," Lewis said. "A single white male median income is $92,000 while the median income of a black male in the city is $30,000. Racism is still alive, ugly and too busy and we are dealing with the crippling experience of gentrification."

Philip Pannell, the executive director of the Anacostia Coordinating Council in Southeast, said that members of the audience should become "evangelists" for the UBF.

"Calvin and Wilhelmina Rolark worked to meet those unmet needs of people," Pannell, 62, told the audience. "We need to keep the word out there about UBF. It is better to have it and not need it instead of needing it and it not be there."