"We were determined to have an impact," said Dolly Assevero, as she surveyed the two tiers of guests that had descended on the Mazza Gallerie at the call of her organization, the Links. African drummers and Scottish bagpipes led models down the escalators and around the tables, announcing not only their designer sheaths but heralding the re-emergence of the Links as a social force.
"We decided why not give a big benefit for local groups. We had been concentrating on national projects. And it looks like we have some pull," explained Assevero. More than 600 people, the majority from upper 16th Street, still the choice address of Washington's black community, donated $25 for three projects, a fashion show, buffet, dance concert and dancing.
Like any benefit, prestigious names provided some of the drawing power. Marjorie Lawson, one of Washington's most influential attorney's, sent out a letter urging attendance. "The Links had a lot of good will that hadn't been tapped lately," said Lawson, a former president of the social and humanitarian group. "This gathering might represent calling in the chips."
In addition, the party represented a melting of old social diehards and new explorers into this usually low-keyed social whirl. Old line benefit-goers and organizers, like Dorothy Shed-Proctor, ViCurtis Hinton and Jackie Robinson attended. "This is a different approach," said Robinson, the executive vice president of radio station WYCB**. "BUT THE LINKS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN COMMITTED TO RAISING MONEY AND GIVING SERVICE."
YOUNGER DOERS, LIKE ALMA BROWN, SHARON WILKINSON AND MARY BRAXTON, TABLE-HOPPED ENTHUSIASTICALLY. "THIS IS ONE WORLD I USUALLY DON'T SEE. BUT IT'S FUN," SAID BARBARA VANCE, A REAL ESTATE SALESWOMAN. BROWN, WHO DIRECTS A LABOR PROJECT FOR THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF NEGRO WOMEN, OBSERVED, "THE MIXING IS FAIRLY TYPICAL OF A WASHINGTON BENEFIT GIVEN BY A BLACK GROUP, THE PEOPLE FROM THE HILL, THE EMBASSIES, AND THE UNIVERSITIES."
WATCHING THE CAPITAL BALLET COMPANY AND THE MODELS, WHO WERE WEARING DESIGNER CLOTHES FROM NEIMAN-MARCUS, WERE FORMER D. C. MAYOR WALTER WASHINGTON, REPS. RONALD DELLUMS (D-CALIF.), AND CARDISS COLLINS (D-ILL.); ERSA POSTON, A CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSIONER; A FORMER HOWARD UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT JAMES NABRIT; HELEN BROOKE, MOTHER OF THE FORMER MASSACHUSETTS SENATOR, AND CITY COUNCILWOMEN BETTY ANN KANE AND HILDA MASON.
IN OCTOBER THE LINKS ARE BRINGING AN EXHIBITION OF AFRO-AMERICAN DECORATIVE ARTS TO THE SMITHSONIAN. PART OF LAST NIGHT'S ESTIMATED $14,000 GROSS WENT TO THAT PROJECT. THE OTHER BENEFACTORS WERE DEAF PRIDE ORGANIZATION AT GALLAUDET COLLEGE AND THE HOWARD UNIVERSITY CANCER RESEARCH CENTER. "THE DONATIONS OF THE SOCIAL AND FRATERNAL GROUPS GIVE ME FLEXIBILITY," SAID JACK WHITE, THE CENTER'S DIRECTOR.