Frederick Douglass Dinner Awards Gala
More than five decades, the New York Urban League (NYUL) created the Frederick Douglass Dinner awards gala to boldly pay homage to individuals and organizations that courageously reflect the mission of our organization. The Frederick Douglass Medallion is bestowed upon an individual or organization that embodies the character of its namesake. Previous honorees include: Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee (1970), Romare Bearden (1978); Harry Belafonte (1988), George Steinbrenner (1998), Bethann Hardison (2013); and Tracy Reese, CEO of T.R. Designs, Inc. (2017). Pictured: Arva Rice, President & CEO, New York Urban League (left), Dan Dapper, Harlem-based designer (right)
Ann S. Kheel was a valued member of the New York Urban League Board of Directors. Mrs. Kheel was the founder of the Frederick Douglass Dinner and in 2010 the Ann S. Kheel Award was inaugurated. The award is presented at the Frederick Douglass to a philanthropist on an annual basis. Her husband Theodore Kheel was also an Urban Leaguer and served on the National Urban League Board.
Cicely L. Tyson, the iconic actress and former fashion model’s career has spanned more than six decades. Tyson is the recipient of three Primetime Emmy Awards, four Black Reel Awards, one Screen Actor Guild Award, and one Tony Award. And in 1997, Cicely Tyson, iconic actress and civil rights activist received the Frederick Douglass Medallion.
Betty Shabazz, wife of Malcom X and educator and activist received the Frederick Douglass Medallion in 1990. Following her husband’s death Betty Shabazz became active in a number of civil rights organizations including the National Urban League and the NAACP.
Harry Belafonte, iconic actor, singer, songwriter and community activist was dubbed the "King of Calypso" for popularizing the Caribbean musical style (originating in Trinidad & Tobago) with an international audience in the 1950s. Belafonte was an early supporter of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s. Belafonte has won three Grammy Awards, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, an Emmy Award, and a Tony Award. And in 1988 the New York Urban League recognized him with its highest honor, the Frederick Douglass Award.
Dennis Walcott and Harriet Michel served as President and CEOs of the New York Urban League. Harriet Michel served as President of the New York Urban League from 1983 to 1988. A resident fellow at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics in 1988, Michel later joined the National Minority Suppliers Development Council (NMSDC), eventually becoming its president and chief executive officer. Dennis served as CEO from 1999-2001 and went on to serve as NYC Deputy Mayor and Schools Chancellor.
American entrepreneur, publisher, businessman, philanthropist, and advocate of African-American businesses Earl Graves, Sr. received the Frederick Douglass Medallion in 1999. A graduate of Morgan State University, he is the founder of Black Enterprise magazine and chairman of the media company Earl G. Graves, Ltd. Graves was a regular attendee of the Whitney M. Young, Jr. Football Classic where his beloved Morgan State battled Grambling State University.
George M. Steinbrenner III, principal owner and managing partner of Major League Baseball's New York Yankees was a long term partner of the New York Urban League. Steinbrenner’s relationship with NYUL began with a friendship that he struck with Grambling State Football Coach Eddie Robinson. Steinbrenner went on to host the Whitney M. Young. Jr. Football Class at Yankee Stadium where Grambling State played Morgan State. In keeping with the Yankees long-term relationships with NYUL, the Yankees will serve as Chairs of the 2019 Centennial.
Elected officials, community and religious leaders through the decades have served as partners with the New York Urban League. Former Manhattan Borough Presidents Ruth Messinger and C. Virgina Fields, community and business leader Larry Dais and Reverend Calvin Butts, Sr attend Frederick Douglass Dinner.
New York Urban League Football Classic
The New York Urban League Classic began in New York City as a series between Morgan State University and Grambling State University at Yankee Stadium. In 1971, the Classic- renamed the Whitney M. Young Jr. Memorial Football Classic (named after the National Urban League’s Executive Director), saw more than 64,000 fans crammed into Yankee Stadium. New York City also got its first taste of the Black College Battle of the Bands as Grambling State and Morgan State’s marching bands electrified the crowd. It was the first Black College Football game to be aired on national television. The last game at Yankee Stadium was played in 1987 before the venue was moved to Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands in New Jersey.
Key to the success of the New York Urban League Football Classic was partnerships that it fostered and grew over time. The New York Daily News was a long-term partner of NYUL provided millions of dollars in advertising as well as WBLS, WLIB, Hot 97, The Amsterdam News, Positive Community, Harlem News and the Caribbean News. NYUL also partnered with a number of corporations including Anheiser Busch, Enterprise, UPS, MCU, Walgreens, and Home Depot to name a few.
The defining moment of any HBCU football game is the Half-Time Show. Every New York Urban League Football Classic featured the battle of two competing team’s marching bands. Whether in the parking lot, the Fan Pavilion or at the concession stand, fans make sure they are in they are in the seats for the half time show and Battle of the Bands.
Since the inception of the New York Urban League Football Classic, proceeds from the game have helped to leveraged over $20 million in Whitney M. Young, Jr. Scholarships awarded to nearly 4,000 college-bound students.
New York Urban League 90th Anniversary Celebration
The New York Urban League celebrated 90 years of service helping disadvantaged New Yorkers find humanity in the big city, find ways to connect and help each other, and together gain access to equal opportunity in employment, education, financial and technological literacy, and more.