Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Feted in New York
Joe and I were feted in great style this weekend by John Rivers, the entrepreneur and Gavin Morrow, the scientist, and John's au courant business partner, Genita Ingram, of JDR Consulting, at the annual Human Rights Campaign benefit dinner at the Hilton in Manhattan, of which his company is a major local sponsor. At their table, I was able to catchup with Veronica Jones, the legendary retailer, who shares a long history with me, as well as many, many friends. Seated with us and inspiring as always were the ever elegant and devoted couple, Walter Allen, of IBM and Brian Leister, who never fails to give a positive lift to our lives. The great works of HRC was applauded by every major New York politician, that evening, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Senator Charles Schumer, new Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and the new president of NY Senate, Malcolm Smith. After a rousing rendition of the hit song, "We Break the Dawn", by Michele Williams, we were brought to our feet by a throbbing speech about everyone's inadvertent sour taste of discrimination by the MSNBC anchor, Keith Olberman. His point was that whether or not one fits into a discriminated group, they will some day be a victim of it by the tentacles of misguided hate that touches everyone. We all left feeling empowered by the commitment to go forward in our mission for self determination.
Yesterday, I watched the sunrise from possibly one the most beautiful vistas in Manhattan, the Rainbow Room at Rockefelller Center, with one of my dearest friends, Dwight Johnson, who had coordinated a breakfast benefit there for the New York Urban League. As the morning sun filtered into that gem of Art Deco design, I watched Dwight perform as a maestro, orchestrating every detail of the colorful enhancement of the space - right down to the hint of spring in the tiny daffodils at each seat. The "Champions of Diversity" breakfast honored General Electric, Goldman Sachs and The New York Times for their outstanding efforts in the need for diversity in the job market. I was fortunately seated next to Elinor Tatum, the publisher and editor -in-Chief of the Amsterdam News. The venerable publication has a great new energy with her at the helm and we look forward to the expanding directions she has in mind for it.
Lastly, we are saddened by the sudden transition of our friend, Hakim Maurice Wyche, whom we had shared many wonderful times together on Martha's Vineyard. He was the loving patriarch of one of the most beautiful families we know from Cambridge. His wonderful daughter, Shahara, whom I met on the Vineyard Town beach is the inspiration for my painting entitled, "Lady in Blue", which he was very pleased with. Our sincerest regrets and condolences go out to the entire family.