City event honors impactful black Evanston residents


Julia Esparza, Assistant City Editor

Evanston residents gathered to celebrate the lives of black “history makers” at a meet and greet event held at the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center on Monday.

The event, hosted by Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre and Shorefront Legacy Center, featured a meet and greet with former mayor Lorraine H. Morton, former 5th Ward alderman Delores Holmes, teenage music conductor Howard Godfrey and award-winning writer Parneshia Jones. The four spoke at the Civic Center in a room of about 40 people.

Shorefront Legacy founder Dino Robinson, who was one of the event’s coordinators, told The Daily that the meet and greet was intended to highlight important figures in Evanston’s history, as well as today’s rising community figures.

He added that coordinators chose to highlight people of various generations in order to bridge the gap between age groups. He said he wanted neighbors to “get to know each other” to foster better communication.

“I’m looking around the room right now and people are talking to each other and sharing ideas and learning about each other,” Robinson said. “That’s what communities are supposed to do.”

During the presentation, the residents discussed their role models’ influences on their lives’ work and the legacies they hope to leave behind. They all said their role models set important examples about devotion to a cause.

For Morton, some of her role models are children within the Evanston community. She said even at the age of 99, she learns from children constantly.

The event was meant to have a very casual feel, Robinson said, as if attendees were “visiting your family member and sitting in their living room.” He added the relaxed atmosphere lended to the event’s impact in building community.

Robinson said he hopes the event was first of many, as the organizations continue to feature black Evanston residents to recognize people who may otherwise get “lost in the mix.”

Godfrey, a freshman at Evanston Township High School, told The Daily he was surprised to be featured at the event. Godfrey wrote and conducted a 21-piece orchestra while in eighth grade at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Literary and Fine Arts School last year. He said he was honored to be noted alongside the other women who had “done so much.”

“For (the event) to be all African Americans, it’s people from the same community of different ages but people who also look just like you,” Godfrey told The Daily. “It’s awesome to see.”

Godfrey’s grandfather, Roosevelt Askew Jr., attended the event and told The Daily he was “very proud” his grandson was featured. He said Godfrey is not only excited about music, but also about life.

“(The celebration) says a lot to folks, especially in the black community, that goals can be achieved even through adversity,” Askew said. “We should never give up.”

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