Singing, dancing, awards and speeches marked the Sixth Annual Victory Luncheon of the United Black Fund at the Capitol Hilton this week. The non-profit social service organization and the United Way together raised more than $19 million last year, more than ever before.
Education was the theme of the celebration, as an audience of more than 700 people heard UBF President Calvin Rolark review the achievements of the agency in helping the blind, the sick and those seeking education.
A $175,000 medical van was purchased with UBF funds. It canvasses the metropolitan area with a staff that tests residents for sickle cell anemia, a blood disease that primarily affects black people.
The Howard University Cancer Research Center will now receive UBF support, and UBF money was used to establish a media awards program and a Black Film Institute at the University of the District of Columbia.
Rolark praised the UBF staff for recognizing the creativity of Jackie Boston, a District public school teacher who developed a children's coloring book and crayons for the blind. Colors on the crayons and figures in the coloring book are written in braille. Thick black lines, which are raised, aid the sightless artists in staying within the boundaries of the figures.
"This is what your dollars have done," Rolark said. "We have created a flickering hope for blind people to the extent they can now enjoy colors."
Service awards were presented to local and federal government agencies, community groups and business executives from the metropolitan area who helped in the fund-raising.
Clifford Alexander, secretary of the Army, was credited with raising more funds than ever before from members of that service.
Also attending the luncheon were representatives from the U.S. Treasury Department, the C & P Telephone Co., the D.C. Department of Recreation, the IBM Corporation and numerous other private and public agencies.
Sixteen community leadership awards were presented, including awards to the superintendents of public schools in the District, Alexandria and prime George's, Fairfax, Arlington and Montgomery Counties. Seventy-nine awards were presented to executives from public and private agencies who directed fund-raising in their organizations, and 11 awards were presented to media organizations, including an ward to The Washington Post, for its recruitment of minority news people.
Speakers included Dr. Lisle C. Carter Jr., President of the University of the District of Columbia; Dr. Vincent Reed, superintendent of D.C. public schools; and City Council member Wilhelmina Rolark.
At one point, the luncheon nearly became a revival as the audience rocked and clapped to the spiritual singing of the Sousa Junior High School Gospel Chorus, directed by Gloria Clanton. Later an international note was added when senior citizens from the Education Organization for United Latin America performed South American folk dances. Throughout the afternoon the hall resounded with jazz played by nine people from RAP Inc., a local drug rehabilitation group. The name of the group, "Mtundu," represented what UBF supporters had been celebrating all day long: The name, which is a word from an East African language, means "Community People."