Particiapants in the 3rd Mayor Harold Washington Legacy Brunch, April 2024

Roosevelt University and the Mayor Harold Washington Legacy Committee (MHWLC) were thrilled to present the 3rd Mayor Harold Washington Legacy Brunch on Saturday, April 20th. Hosted in the historic Murray-Green Library, attendees were treated to student performances, an award presentation and the rousing remarks of featured guest Julieanna L. Richardson. All of the proceeds from the event went to support the Mayor Harold Washington Legacy Scholarship at Roosevelt University. This year’s scholarship recipient is current student Christopher Ellison.

The event began with performances of the national anthem and “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by Roosevelt students Hillary Watkins and Andrei de Abreu. Watkins is receiving her master’s degree in vocal performance, while de Abreu is receiving his graduate degree from the piano program. President Dr. Ali Malekzadeh then addressed the room by welcoming the members of the Mayor Harold Washington Legacy Committee, as well as keynote speaker Richardson and College of Science, Health & Pharmacy faculty member Professor Marlita Sanders

Scholarship recipient Christopher Ellison was introduced by the faculty member who nominated him, Professor Sanders. Professor Sanders spoke highly of the biology major’s “work ethic, persistence and intellectual integrity.” She also noted Ellison’s ambition to pursue a career in healthcare, as he has an interest in working with Chicago’s underserved communities. As Ellison took the stage to accept his award, he spoke about how his upbringing and education have impacted his journey. Born and raised on Chicago’s west side, Ellison attributes his awareness of social justice issues to his parents, who founded multiple community programs throughout his life. Before and during his time at Roosevelt, Ellison has worked as an ER technician, always showing an interest in medicine. He expressed his gratitude to Professor Sanders and the entire University environment for critically challenging him academically. According to Ellison, his Roosevelt education affirmed his desire to create “equitable opportunities for everyone.” Upon graduation, Christopher Ellison will pursue a career as physician’s assistant.

The keynote address was delivered by Julieanna L. Richardson, founder of The HistoryMakers. This research and educational institution was founded to preserve and make accessible the “untold stories of both well-known and unsung African Americans.” Richardson shared her personal experience with conducting anecdotal research and its importance to telling a more robust story of American history. Richardson also acknowledged the various anti-Critical Race Theory and anti-DEI legislative bills that challenge this work. Undaunted, Richardson and The HistoryMakers are determined to document the history of Black America, one story at a time. Mayor Harold Washington is one such figure whose legacy Richardson seeks to preserve through recorded interviews. According to Richardson, Mayor Washington understood that “often fair and equitable treatment is based on perception of one’s value to society.” The HistoryMakers archive contains the largest collection of African Americans’ oral histories, numbering over 3,500 interviews to date. She continued, “You preserve what has value.” Inspired by the legacy of Mayor Washington and the tenacity of students like Christopher Ellison, The HistoryMakers will continue their tireless effort to document the valuable stories of African Americans.

The brunch was also supported through sponsorships: Haymarket Brewing Company, who debuted a new in ale inspired by Mayor Washington; Vrakas CPAs + Advisors; and Tri-Vin Wines & Spirits

To date, generous donors have contributed nearly $80,000 to the scholarship fund. Roosevelt and MWLC hope to exceed $100,000 before calendar year-end. 

The Mayor Harold Washington Legacy Committee is an organization committed to the preservation of Chicago’s first Black Mayor and Roosevelt alumni Harold Washington “through a variety of educational and civic activities.” One of those endeavors include the Mayor Harold Washington Legacy Scholarship, which recognizes “outstanding Roosevelt students who are dedicated to leadership, service, transformative justice and academic excellence.” 

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