National Urban League Honors Stevie Wonder, Ruth Simmons and John Jacob at 42nd Annual Equal Opportunity Day Dinner
On Tuesday, November 10, the National Urban League will host more than 1,000 guests at its 42nd Annual Equal Opportunity Day Dinner. The audience will include nationally prominent business leaders, politicians and entertainers who will gather to honor singer/song writer and social activist Stevie Wonder; Smith College President Ruth Simmons; and Anheuser Busch Executive Vice President John Jacob. Jonathan M. Tisch, president and CEO of Loews Hotel, is the chairman of the event, and CBS Morning News Anchor, Mark McEwen, will serve as master of ceremonies.
The black-tie evening will begin at 6 p.m. with a cocktail reception, followed by a sit-down dinner at 7 p.m. For the first time in its history, the League will honor corporations that have contributed $1 million or more to its programs. Notable guests expected to attend include Gerald Levin, president and CEO of Time-Warner, Eugene Renna, president and CEO of Mobil, Arthur Martinez, chairman and CEO of Sears, Roebuck and Company, and Clarence Avant, president of Motown. Quincy Jones, a past honoree, will participate as a presenter. Attendance by all honorees has been confirmed.
"We are honoring these individuals for their contributions to the cause of equal opportunity," said Hugh B. Price, President of the National Urban League. "Through their work, they have demonstrated meaningful efforts toward assisting African-Americans in the achievement of social and economic equality."
For nearly 30 years, Dr. Ruth J. Simmons has held numerous faculty and administrative positions at some of America's most prestigious colleges and universities. Her career has culminated in her current position as president of Smith College--a position she assumed in July 1995.
A native of Texas and a 1967 graduate of Dillard University in New Orleans, Dr. Simmons received the Ph.D. in Romance Languages and Literature from Harvard University. She has been a member of the faculties of the University of New Orleans, California State University Northridge, Spelman College and Princeton University. Her teaching and research interests have centered primarily on literature of francophone Africa and the Caribbean.
She is the recipient of a number of prizes and fellowships including the German DAAD and the Fulbright Fellowship to France. In 1996 she was named a CBS Woman of the Year, NBC Nightly News Most Inspiring Woman and a Glamour Magazine Woman of the Year.
She serves on numerous boards, including The Clarke School for the Deaf, the Institute for Advanced Study, Pfizer, Inc. and Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. She holds honorary degrees from a number of colleges and universities including Amherst, Dillard, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth and Princeton. In 1997 she was awarded the Centennial Medal from Harvard University.
"We are truly excited about this year's event," added Price. "Already it is attracting an impressive list of corporate supporters and well-recognized individuals."
Established in 1956, Equal Opportunity Day serves as a reminder of Abraham Lincoln's immortal words: "All men are created equal," and that the greatness of American rests on the principal of equal opportunity for all. In 1956 the National Urban League gave its first Equal Opportunity Day awards to James P. Mitchell, Secretary, U.S. Department of Labor, and Jacob S. Potofsky, President, Amalgamated Clothing Workers of American. Since 1957 the League has honored many other distinguished individuals including Muhammad Ali, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Quincy Jones and Edgar Bronfman.
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