- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 17, 2005

The color purple reigned supreme Wednesday night at the Whitney M. Young Jr. Memorial Gala, hosted by the Greater Washington Urban League. As befitting the league’s theme, “God Smiles on the Color Purple” (an acknowledgement of the regal shade that often denotes wealth, authority and spirituality), the event’s decor — to say nothing of many guests’ attire — was a many-hued celebratory statement that ranged from a whisper of mauve to vibrant plum. And, yes, there was even a performance of Prince’s 1984 hit “Purple Rain,” by harmonicist Frederic Yonnet and his quartet.

Celebrity sightings in the ballroom of the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel included co-hosts Clifton Powell, a native Washingtonian featured in the Oscar-winning film “Ray,” and actress Victoria Rowell — known to daytime drama fans as the seductive Drucilla Winters on the long-running CBS soap “The Young and the Restless.”

Tony-winning actress Melba Moore also graced the event with a performance of her 1976 R&B; hit “Lean on Me.”

The festive atmosphere was further heightened by the flair of Cirque du Jour, a talented group of acrobats who dazzled the crowd with their nimble wizardry.

The league’s long-standing service to the District through social and educational programs was not forgotten. College scholarships valued at $3,000 apiece were presented to six graduating high school students, courtesy of Safeway and Western Union. Thursday Network, an auxiliary of the Greater Washington Urban League, also gave $2,500 grants to four high school seniors from the District and Prince George’s and Montgomery counties.

Among the VIP guests were Dorothy Height, president emeritus of the National Council of Negro Women, and WAMU-FM talk-show host Kojo Nnamdi.

R. Denise Yourse

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