The evening of October 17th marked another outstanding and inspirational “Celebratory Dinner Honoring the Legacy of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall,” which raised funds to support the St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church’s southwest neighborhood outreach programs. The reception held outside in a tent included over 125 community neighbors, friends, St. Augustine’s parishioners, event sponsors, and other supporters. Every two years the church hosts a dinner in honor of Marshall, who was a former parishioner and whose wife, Cecilia Marshall, remains active today on the Altar Guild and serves in other volunteer activities.

Honorary Chair Mrs. Cecilia Suyat Marshall, Rev. Martha Clark, priest-in-charge, and Keynote Speaker Sherrilyn Ifill, seventh president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.(LDF), greeted attendees at the reception. Thurgood Marshall Dinner Volunteers escorted the guests through the Narthex decorated with photos of Thurgood Marshall and fall flower arrangements. The sanctuary was filled with tables covered by gold tablecloths and floral centerpieces of yellow roses and blue hydrangeas, which highlighted a delicious dinner of Coq au Vin, garden greens salad, and white chocolate pumpkin cheese cake.

Maureen Bunyan of ABC7/WJLA-TV, an elegant and gracious Mistress of Ceremonies, welcomed everyone. Josephus Nelson, St. A’s parishioner, read the Invocation, and Rev. Martha thanked the attendees for their support of St. A’s outreach programs.

Reverb, an award-winning male a cappella group, sang a rousing program of civil rights anthems.

“We celebrate the life and work of Thurgood Marshall and his beloved wife, Cecilia Suyat Marshall, who embody love of country, respect for the rights of others, freedom and equality for all, and racial harmony,” said Rev. Martha. “Our parish strives to emulate them in its efforts to address pressing social issues here in our southwest neighborhood. Our parish hosts a weekly breakfast program, Bread for Life, now in its twentieth year.”

She added,”We sponsor summer reading and recreation camps for young people, provide family support programs, offer scholarships for teenagers, and direct community members to appropriate social services agencies.”

Keynote Speaker Sherrilyn Ifill mesmerized and inspired the audience with her remarks on the legacy of Thurgood Marshall who previously led the LDF, and assured the audience that the vision and strategy of Thurgood Marshall to bring justice, equality, and opportunity to all in America, especially “those on the bottom and on the fringes,” is still emphasized and practiced by the staff and 22 lawyers of the NAACP’s LDF.

“We are hard at work to live up to the amazing example set by Thurgood Marshall,” said Ifill, “and we have every intention of winning!”

The 2013 dinner sponsors included Betsy Karmin/DLA Piper, LLP at the gold level; and The Thurgood Marshall Center Trust, Inc., Attorney James Benny Jones Jr. and Mrs. Terry Duncombe-Jones, Josephus Nelson, Thelma D. Jones Breast Cancer Fund, and Kinshasha Holman Conwill at the silver levels.

Kinshasha Holman Conwill, working with event coordinators Gabrielle Malman and Derek Friday, coordinated a team of volunteers whose efforts produced a beautiful, successful evening. Special thanks to: Evelyn Anderson, Anonymous, Candice Bryant, Bruce Crane, Monica Evans, Abby Fenton, Elaine Graves, Hoffman Madison Waterfront LLP, Laura Hutson and Corey Katz, Carol Itskowitz, Cecilia Suyat Marshall, Marie Nahikian, Floyd Nelson, David Todd and St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church Congregation. Adding to the flawless production were GDM Event Productions LLC; Grand Cuisine, Catering; Laura Heffelfinger, Graphic Design and Gediyon Kifle, photographer.

By: Elaine F. Graves

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