On February 24, 2010, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation commemorated Black History Month by hosting the Avoice Heritage Celebration at the Hyatt Regency Washington in Washington, D.C. The event recognized and honored individuals and organizations that exemplify the spirit of the Foundation’s Avoice Virtual Library Project. Dr. John Hope Franklin (posthumously), the Shomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, McDonald’s USA, Ms. Joellen Elbashir of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, and former Representatives William L. Clay, Sr. of Missouri and Louis Stokes of Ohio were honored with Avoice Heritage Awards for their outstanding commitment to the importance of African-American history in public life.
“As we selected the individuals and companies that are receiving this prestigious award, we took into consideration what their impact has been on preservation of African-American history,” said Elsie L. Scott, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer for CBCF. “Dr. Franklin was known for his critical analysis on African-American life, the Schomburg Center is one of the premier residences for academia, McDonald’s has brought the past to light with its Black History 365 Days a Year campaign and Reps. Stokes and Clay are founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus. We wanted to show the synergy between the work that all have done and how we can capture it for future generations through Avoice.”
The Avoice Heritage Celebration began with an opening reception sponsored by CTIA-The Wireless Association and was followed by an awards dinner program. Ms. Andrea Roane of 9 NEWS NOW on WUSA TV served as the host for the celebration. Representative Donald M. Payne, the newly-elected chair of the CBCF Board of Directors, brought greetings and the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, Ms. Lorraine C. Miller, gave the statement of occasion. For many, one of the highlights of the evening was Representative Danny K. Davi’’ (IL) performance of “A Reason to Celebrate,” a spoken word piece written by Adrena Ifill.
In addition to honoring the exemplary work of the awardees, the evening also showcased Avoice: African-American Voices in Congress (www.avoiceonline.org), CBCF’s virtual online library project. Now in its fifth year, Avoice remains the premier source of information about historical and contemporary African-American policy issues important to researchers, academics, educators, students, and the general public. Currently, the site features six comprehensive exhibits on significant legislative accomplishments of the CBC – the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday bill, the Origins of the CBC, the Voting Rights Act, the Anti-Apartheid Movement, the Women of the CBC and the Environmental Justice Movement. The site also offers a For Educators section with primary document sources, worksheets, vocabulary lists and bibliographies to guide educators in using online resources to supplement classroom instruction in U.S. history, government, civic and environmental science classes.
The Avoice Virtual Library Project continues to expand its programming and partnerships through events such as the Heritage Celebration and its newly-launched Avoice in Action series which features CBC members discussing issues important to the founding CBC members and issues that remain so today. CBCF is also proud to announce a new partnership with the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital (GSCNC). Together, Avoice and GSCNC are creating an African Americans in Congress Patch Program to encourage young girls learn about and honor contributions made to American history by African Americans in Congress.
Footage of the Avoice Heritage Celebration and Avoice in Action series will soon be available on the CBCF YouTube Channel (www.youtube.com/cbcfinc) and the Avoice Website (www.avoiceonline.org).