By TONIA HILL
The DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Place, hosted their annual black-tie gala “A Night of 100 Stars,” Saturday, June 24, to honor African-Americans in Chicago who have made contributions to society through their work and engagement with the community.
This year, the gala took place at Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, 2233 S. Martin King Drive.
Chance the Rapper (Chancelor Bennett), hip-hop artist and Chicago native, was one of three community leaders who were honored at the gala and received the Trailblazer award.
Chance the Rapper, who was named to the Board of Trustees at DuSable in January, made history this year by receiving seven 2016 Grammy Award nominations including, “Best New Artist” and “Best Rap Album” for his album “Coloring Book” a first for a “streaming-only” album.
Chicago Magazine named him “Chicagoan of the Year,” and he has also promoted racial justice and equality for the city of Chicago and the country.
“I see the DuSable Museum as a young growing, moving thing,” Chance said. “We want to build it out we want to make it a staple of African-American history.”
Chance announced on Saturday that he would be donating his hip-hop album of the year award to the DuSable Museum.
Founding Director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) Lonnie Bunch III and Stanford University Distinguished Lecturer and Visiting Fellow Ertharin Cousin, former executive director of the World Food Programme, were also honored at the gala.
Bunch received the President’s Award. He is a historian, author, curator, and educator.
“The DuSable Museum is the mother museum,” Bunch said. “All other African American Museums were shaped, touched, and made better by the DuSable. For us, the African-American story is the best lens to understand what it means to be an American.”
Before serving as director at the NMAAHC, he served as the president of the Chicago Historical Society. He has authored several books on topics such as slavery, black military experience, the American presidency, and all-black towns in the American west and diversity in museum management and the impact of funding and politics on American museums.
Cousin, a native of the west side of Chicago received the humanitarian award. Her work addresses world hunger. She graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of Georgia Law School and the University of Chicago Executive Management Finance for Non-Financial Executive program.
From 2009 to 2017, Cousin led the United Nations World Food Programme. In 2009, she was nominated by former President Barack Obama as the U.S. Ambassador to the UN Agencies for Food and Agriculture in Rome.
“In the United States 50 million people will use a food bank sometime during 2017,” Cousin said. “One in four people in a food line in this country is a child. Universally ending hunger requires also ending it here at home. It requires ensuring every child has access to nutritious food.”
Additionally, two high school seniors were recognized as rising stars, Eva Maria Lewis and Adonis Perryman. Lewis, 18, is a graduate of the Kenwood Academic Center, 5015 S. Blackstone Ave., and Walter Payton College Prep.
Lewis is an activist and launched her own non-profit called the I-Project which combines art and activism. She and three other girls also founded Youth For Black Lives.
Lewis was honored to receive the award.
“The first time I heard of Emmett Till was at the DuSable,” Lewis said. “It’s incredible to receive an award from a place that is so prestigious. It also encourages me to want to work with them more.”
Youth For Black Lives led a massive peaceful protest in downtown Chicago last summer in response to the killings of Philando Castile in St. Paul, Minn., and Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La., by police officers. 500 people participated in the sit-in protest in Millennium Park, followed by a march that shut down Michigan Avenue and State Street with over 1,000 peaceful protestors.
In January, Youth For Black Lives met publicly with Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson and discussed police shootings, reform, and officer accountability.
Lewis will attend the University of Pennsylvania on a full ride with the Questbridge College Match Scholarship. She plans to study economics and film.
Perryman is a graduate of Phillips High School and one of 11 siblings. He participates in social justice events at his church, Turner Memorial AME Church, 3610 S. Giles, where he serves as a Junior Member of the Board of Trustees.
He was accepted to Northeastern University, Indiana State University, National Lewis University and Kennedy King College. He plans to major in criminal justice and then law school to become a lawyer.