A Fine Time For Peace and Understanding
Can't we all just get along? Apparently not enough of the time.
Which is why the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding came to Washington last week for some high-profile camaraderie. The New York-based group opened its Congressional Interethnic Caucus Office last October to promote better relations among black, Hispanic, Asian and Jewish lawmakers, and threw a day-long bash Thursday to hand out awards and highlight its work.
"If it was up to me, I'd burn all flags," said Russell Simmons, the organization's chairman. "And all things that let people separate themselves from each other."
The hip-hop impresario teamed up with founder Rabbi Marc Schneier on Capitol Hill before heading to the Northwest home of BET President Debra Lee for the foundation's first Washington fundraiser. More than 120 guests -- including Reverend Run (formerly of Run-DMC) and Reps. Charlie Rangel, Albert Wynn, Jerrold Nadler, Carolyn Kilpatrick and Diane Watson -- admired Lee's fabulous collection of glass artwork before heading outside for the awards ceremony.
"Our mission is unprecedented," said Schneier. "People have embraced it even with what people see as an odd couple -- a rabbi and a rap mogul."
Before guests dove into the summer buffet dinner, Fannie Mae CEO Franklin Raines and the Stern Group's Paula Stern were presented awards for promoting racial harmony, and Amtrak was honored for its corporate diversity programs.
"This is the tolerance force," Stern said, holding up the award: a black and white crystal bridge. "Politically correct terms go in and out of fashion, but my parents taught me that morally correct practices never go out of style."
An Athletic Show of Support
Golf you can play anywhere. The reason Hall of Fame athletes came to the 14th Bobby Mitchell/Toyota Hall of Fame Classic is . . . Bobby Mitchell. Former football and basketball stars gathered over the weekend at the Lansdowne Resort to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society -- and to tease their buddy Mitchell, the first African American to join the Redskins. "They're classy guys," Mitchell said. "When they say they're coming, they're coming."
More than 35 former pros -- including Redskins Hall of Famers Mitchell, Sonny Jurgensen, Sam Huff, Ken Houston, Charley Taylor and Bill Dudley -- spent Friday catching up, then hit the links and raised $500,000 for research. Saturday's gala dinner included a silent auction, where bidders could nab a box of Jurgensen's SJ-9 cigars (created, designed and puffed by the former quarterback and cigar lover). A football autographed by all the stars was sold by emcee Paul Berry in the live auction for $3,000 -- and immediately donated to the family of teenage brothers Jabari and Maani Stewart, who are battling two kinds of leukemia. (The entire Stewart family attended the dinner; needless to say, grateful hugs all around.) Last but not least, a standing ovation and chocolate cake for Mitchell, who recently turned 70.
"You go to a lot of things -- there are people you don't like," said Jurgensen. "This group I like."
Reston and Its Founder, Aging Well
He's tan, he's rested, he's 90! Reston founder Robert E. Simon cut the cake Saturday to celebrate the Virginia community's 40th birthday -- and his own 90th. The annual celebration at Reston Town Center was especially lively this year, marking four decades of suburban bliss with music, food and cake for everyone clever enough to hover near the stage. "The thing I love is that this is a gathering place," said Simon, sporting a white beret and a "Happy Birthday, Reston" T-shirt.
With Laura Thomas