- The Washington Times - Friday, March 15, 2002

Politicians, businessmen and longtime friends gathered Wednesday night to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Greater Washington Urban League's Whitney M. Young Jr. Memorial Gala by saluting those doing good work to help others along.

About half the crowd of 1,250 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel missed a rousing concert, though, when they departed as Motown's legendary Four Tops hit the stage about 10 p.m. to give a passionate performance of such hits as "Standing in the Shadows of Love," "Reach Out, I'll Be There," "It's the Same Old Song," and "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)." Not a few nostalgic guests danced and sang along.

There were a few sober moments as well, of course, especially when Mayor Anthony A. Williams reminded the crowd that Washington and the nation have been through a tremendous ordeal since the September 11 terrorist attacks.

"We've learned a lot about emergency preparedness, and I'm proud of what the city has done. We've learned a lot about getting our city back on its feet. What we've learned most is what we're made of," Mr. Williams said in his welcoming remarks.

Mario Morino, chairman of Venture Philanthropy Partners and honorary chairman of this year's event, also touched on the terrorist attacks and the current economic downturn. Like other civic-minded businessmen in the room, Mr. Morino said his company will continue to support the Urban League's mission, especially its children's programs.

Among the many Urban League boosters in the ballroom, two were singled out: James W. Cicconi, general counsel and executive vice president of AT&T, and Daniel W. Smith, director of government affairs outreach for Philip Morris Co. Inc. Both received Meritorious Service Awards for helping the Urban League serve more than 60,000 people in the D.C. metropolitan area each year.

Two of the District's three former mayors Sharon Pratt Kelly and Marion Barry got a round of applause as the latter wrapped the former in a bear hug.


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