Africare, the oldest and largest African-American led non-profit committed to advancing development in Africa, hosted more than 500 global leaders including South African Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool, Civil Rights Activist Andrew Young and President Emertia of Bennett College for Women Julianne Malveaux, on April 5 at its annual Bishop John T. Walker Memorial Dinner and fundraiser at the Hilton Washington Hotel in the District.
The event honored Africare’s pioneering Co-Founders C. Payne Lucas and Dr. Joseph C. Kennedy with Lifetime Achievement Awards for the contributions they have each made to Africare over more than four decades.
Africare also paid tribute to its Honorary Chairman, the late Nelson Mandela, through a special video and musical presentation by trumpeter Thaddeus Wilson of the band DC Fusion.
Actress Daphne Maxwell Reid, best known for her role as Aunt Viv on the hit-series “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” served as the Mistress of Ceremonies.
“C. Payne and Dr. Kennedy focused on educating Americans about the challenges Africans face and the tremendous opportunities we have to help,” said Darius Mans, president, Africare. “Their tireless efforts to educate Americans led community, religious and fraternal organizations, as well as government and business entities, to discover Africare and contribute directly to Africa’s regeneration.”
Africare was founded in 1970 in response to the devastation wrought in the Sahel by one of the worst droughts the Niger Delta had ever faced. In 1971, as founding board members, Mr. Lucas and Dr. Kennedy reincorporated Africare in the District of Columbia. Under their visionary leadership, Africare matured from working in one region of Niger with a budget of roughly $39,000, to engaging in hundreds of projects spanning 36 African countries over the past 44 years. Today, Africare’s portfolio is valued at more than $200 million, spanning 17 countries.
“As Africare continues to grow and serve larger numbers of Africans in need, we always remember our inspirational and dedicated founders, their humble beginnings and their vision that takes us to communities that exist where the road ends,” Mans said.
The Africare Bishop John T. Walker Memorial Dinner is held each year in memory of Bishop John T. Walker, the first African-American Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, DC and Africare's longtime Board Chair. Bishop Walker, who passed away 25 years ago this year, distinguished himself as an exemplar of peace, justice and interracial harmony. The dinner plays an important role in enabling Africare to both broaden awareness about its work in Africa and to raise critically needed funds to deliver lifesaving services. This year's dinner was made possible through the generosity of ExxonMobil, Chevron, The African Development Bank and The Coca-Cola Company, as well as many others from the business community.