Black excellence filled the room as United Airlines treated their guests to a star-studded red carpet experience through its inaugural BEACON Excellence Awards at the DuSable Museum of African American History. This event was created to shine a light on African American employees at United who educate, elevate and empower the company’s brand through community service, mentorship, leadership.
As guests arrived they toured the several exhibits on display at DuSable Museum. The most popular exhibit curated by TIME Magazine, THE MARCH made possible by American Family Insurance captivated many attendees as it inspired all guests to simply, Dare To Dream. Before the event was set to start guests were urged to walk down the winding staircase which on the walls read, “Step Into History, Dare To Dream, Walk In Their Footsteps”. To the left of the exhibit was a superbly executed exhibit of Mayor Harold Washington. It was the perfect exhibit to tour before the start of the awards ceremony.
Rhonda Robinson (BEACON Vice-President) stated when she hit the stage for opening remarks that it was essential to create an event that not only recognized the contributions of their African American employees but embodied the “sensory of the black cultural experience. It was important that we painted a full picture for our guests tonight. Black Culture is soul food, happiness, hard work, community, and many hidden gems.”.
As the event continued, Perri Irmen (President of DuSable Museum) encouraged guests on recognizing the importance of black history stating, “…we’re in a challenge. Education is our primary. It is our job to educate culture and educate our people. Our story begins in freedom not in slavery.” as she transitioned into the recognition of their film and latest exhibit Equiano.
As if guests weren’t captivated enough by being in the presence of black and brown excellence – Dyanna Knight Lewis (Publisher of The Chicago Defender & Regional Vice President of Real Times Media Inc.) delivered a powerful keynote encouraging the community to keep black media alive through amplifying the narratives of black culture “…telling stories like only we can. Excellence is all around us. Black excellence never goes out of style. Black excellence is a movement and is what we strive for each and every day…”
While many awards were given to such deserving people it was the Lifetime Achievement Award presented to Theresa Claiborne that prompted all audience members to salute the trailblazing female pilot. She’s the first Black woman pilot in the U.S. Air Force, first Black woman air commander, and first Black woman instructor pilot of the KC-135. As she graciously accepted her award, tears began to overtake her because of the long-overdue recognition as a Black female pilot.