Luminaries Celebrate 25th Anniversary Of Billion Dollar Black-Owned Company

Source: Audrey J. Bernard / New York Beacon 

On Friday, November 30, 2012, luminaries representing the economic and political arenas —from Washington to Wall Street — attended a very exclusive dining experience to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the birth of the billion-dollar business empire founded by beloved Black business icon Reginald F. Lewis at The Harvard Club of New York City where he was a member. The event was oversubscribed to and organizers had to set up an overflow room equipped with large screen TVs on another floor of the pristine club. Net proceeds raised during the evening will go to the Reginald F. Lewis Maryland Museum of African American History & Culture in Baltimore.

The elegant evening hosted by Lewis’ widow Loida Nicolas Lewis began with a convivial VIP cocktail reception followed by a stellar program, dinner and live auction. As guests took their seats in the handsome Harvard Hall with its splendid three-story, floor-to ceiling windows and rich, dark Mahogany paneling, opulent chandeliers, bigger than life fireplaces and even an elephant tusk their eyes focused on a breathtaking Christmas tree that could rival the one in Rockefeller Center. The formal table settings included tall silver candelabras and gorgeous floral arrangements.

Festively dressed guests were greeted by CNN commentator and host of TV One’s Washington Watch, Roland S. Martin, who served as Master of Ceremonies and welcomed Lewis’mother Carolyn E. Fugett to bless the food. Fugett invited her family to join her on stage for the invocation saying,  Grace is about family so I’m going to call my family to remember Reg.” Then the posh noshed Scottish Smoked Salmon, Crème Fraiche, Caviar & Cucumber (first course); Grilled Filet Mignon & Shrimp, Béarnaise Sauce & Truffle Sauce (entrée); followed by Chocolate Dipped Strawberries and Assorted Macaroons (desserts).

After a remembrance video entitled “Reginald Lewis – Keep Going, No Matter What,” cochairs Shannon Hales, Dale LeFebvre and Philip W. McNeal delivered poignant remarks about their mentor Lewis. Then Ted Virtue of MidOcean Partners introduced keynote speaker and one of Esquire magazine’s “75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century,” Michael Milken, chair, Milken Institute, who said that Lewis was the embodiment of the American Dream. The legendary capitalist and philanthropist recalled how Lewis came to him some 25 years ago for a loan after having been rejected by so many other financiers and how he was so impressed with him that he lent him the capital to buy Beatrice Foods. That was the start of Lewis’ American Dream.

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