A very good looking crowd of beautiful Black people filled the room of the upscale Montgomery Club last Saturday evening as one of the oldest and most distinguished private African American men’s social clubs celebrated its 100th anniversary.
Over the years, The Original 40 Club has boasted members such as Democratic Congressman Bobby Rush, Illinois Senate Democratic Leader Emil Jones Jr., real-estate giant and author Dempsey Travis, Cook County Board President John H. Stroger, Ebony magazine founder and publisher John H. Johnson, Chief Cook County Circuit Judge Timothy C. Evans and Chicago Defender founder and original founding club member, Robert S. Abbott.
The club’s membership continues in its tradition with a group of successful judges, doctors, attorneys, corporate executives, business owners and a former U.S. Senator as the club still maintains exclusive membership to an intimate group of men. They meet once a month as a group consistently to discuss various concerns and organizing ways of contributing to the community to assist great causes. The members’ wives play a major role as they support their husbands’ endeavors as well as networking and strengthening relationships with each other. Without the formalities, sometimes it’s as simple as coming together to play cards, share a drink, play golf or have dinner parties.
President of The Original 40 Club, Todd Brown, explains, “The Original 40 Club gives me the opportunity to fellowship with a group of very successful men whom I might otherwise have never gotten to know. It is truly special to have frank, stimulating conversations with guys who are movers and shakers in politics, law, business, medicine and education. Importantly they also happen to be a fun group who will always keep you honest and humble.” Each person must be invited by a current member and have similar common interests to be considered to join the club.
The theme of this year’s centennial celebration, “40 Rocks 100,” was a defining moment as the club presented an elegant dinner program, acknowledging the organization’s history and newly elected members. There wasn’t a dull moment as the talented Gentlemen of Leisure Band provided the soundtrack for the gala, followed by a fun and festive masquerade after- party as members and their guests danced the night away.
In a city where society clubs have become a mainstay among many people from various backgrounds, businessman David A. LeRoy, one of the younger club members, explains why the 40 Club is special to him.
“The 40 Club allows me to fellowship with other African American men. We have all been through trials and victories. We can come together and share those experiences. There is a unique mix of men between the ages of 38 to 82 where we meet once a month. The camaraderie is priceless and the opportunities to network with men who share similar values and goals cannot be matched.”