Among the string of glitzy galas and balls to kick off the Inaugural festivities will be one held by the National Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation and the National Black Chamber of Commerce–with two big goals in mind.
Other than to of course celebrate the nation's first Black President Barack Obama, under the theme of ''A Salute to Change," the Monday, Jan. 19 gala has an educational focus. It is a benefit for an NNPA News Service wing of the new Howard University John H. Johnson School of Communications, slated for construction on the Washington, D.C. campus.
"What better way to celebrate this historic occasion than to assure that those great institutions that helped pave the way for President-elect Obama maintain rich legacies for the future," says Dorothy R. Leavell, chair of the NNPA Foundation. "This is what we hope to accomplish by investing in our educational program to develop outstanding journalism students at Howard University. We are excited about this inauguration and all the other future strides to be documented by those whom we have helped to train."
Entertainment will be by Phredley; the Howard University Dance Troupe; and The Stylistics, with their 18-piece band.
International cigars will be available for purchase; a full bar hosted by Hennessy; a buffet of fine cuisine; and the Ted Ellis Silent Auction on his portrait of Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States.
Howard University launched the aggressive $75 million fund-raising campaign last August in Chicago at the late Ebony/Jet publisher's Chicago headquarters during the largest gathering of racial minority journalists at the quadrennial Unity: Journalists of Color convention.
The School of Communications is currently housed in a converted hospital built after the Civil War. Currently the NNPA News Service runs a Microsoft-sponsored internship program through the school's Converged Media Lab.
"This is just an exciting time for everybody," says Jannette L. Dates, dean of Howard's School of communications. "And it's just so wonderful that we're bringing our ideas and our drive and energy together as we move forward toward reaching a goal and realizing a dream for NNPA and for Howard."
University officials are aiming for a five-story state of the art building that will give students a competitive edge in today's technically-savvy ever-changing media market.
The black-tie optional event will be held from 8 p.m. to midnight at the elegant La Maison Francaise Embassy of France, 4101 Reservoir Road, across from Georgetown University. Among the string of sponsors are Vox Global Mandate, Hennessy, ISRI, Sa-Tech., Inc., Areva and EGM Services Inc., Christine's Coffee and Talkhouse Magazine.
The $250 per ticket event must be purchased in advance at www.nationalbcc.org.
Permeating the atmosphere will be the historicity of the occasion–the swearing in, parade and all the celebratory events slated to be viewed by millions the next day. And then there's the depth of issues faced by the U. S. and the world beyond all the celebrations.
"It is so important to assess the current state of affairs such as the economy, two wars, the Palestinian situation and an overall negativism. We must change our direction and President Elect Obama has convinced us that he will lead that change and do it successfully," says Harry Alford, president and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce and member of NNPA Foundation board. "Every generation of America has produced a great leader who changes our course for the better and now there is an aura that says "He is the one. I am so grateful for this destiny. God is great!"