The year was 1979, and the Houston Area Urban League (HAUL), only 11 years an organization was preparing for its signature event. Famous faces were assembled in the room to raise funds and awareness of the works of the National Urban League (NUL) and its still young Affiliate in Houston. People like Georgia Legislator and Civil Rights leader Julian Bond shared stories with the hundreds assembled in the Imperial Ballroom at the Hyatt Regency while the newly elected and charismatic Congress Member from the 18th Congressional District, Mickey Leland, made the rounds in the room. The man who authored House Bill 1016, making June 19th (Juneteenth) a state-paid holiday, was also in attendance, the recently elected Representative Al Edwards. Many did not know the giants with whom they celebrated that evening, this first Equal Opportunity Day Dinner (the EOD).
We continue to celebrate this important occasion 53 years later. The EOD is the kind of event that we should all attend if committed to progress in justice, equity, and equality for all people. We should support the dinner with our attendance and financial support, knowing that our investment in the Urban League is an investment in our community. The funds raised will go directly into the organization’s operational budget allowing HAUL to maintain its life-changing programs in small business, education, housing consultation, disaster emergency assistance, and a myriad of other services that communities of color need. Our work is focused on reducing the equality gap and creating equal opportunities for those in search of a hand-up and not just a handout. When you support this dinner, you support the overall wellbeing of our work and thus those whom we help on a daily basis.
People whose legacies are written into the annals of American and in particular Black American history understand that key organizations like the Houston Area Urban are missioned to help create a stronger community. On an annual basis, HAUL assists more than 10,000 people impacting the local economy by helping to ensure a trained and employed labor force, successful small business startups, children graduating high school, and then offered scholarships for college. We also groom future young leaders and assist the current ones to ensure this city is better because of the Urban League’s focus on the individual and the family.
If you scan the archives of the 1979 EOD, you will see pictures of founding Board Members like Edwina Higgins and Aloysius Wickliff. You will see current NUL President Marc Moral’s father, the first Black Mayor of New Orleans, Ernest “Dutch” Morial, as the EOD’s Guest Speaker. Look closely, and you will even see your humble Houston Area Urban League President’s father in attendance. He was so honored and felt it important to bring an official Welcome from the City of Houston, for he too made history as Houston’s first Black City Councilmember since Reconstruction. It was the Urban League EOD, and it was important he and other history makers support it. So, let’s keep the process of progress moving. it’s imperative that you are a part of “the movement.” This historic and important occasion will be held once again at this year’s Equal Opportunity Day Dinner on December 17th, 2021, at the Hilton Americas Hotel. Join us as we celebrate another year of our work Empowering Communities and Changing Lives!