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The sold-out Afropolitan Ball, in support of the Mu­seum of the African Diaspora (MoAD), took place on the evening of Oct. 27 at the Fair­mont Hotel in San Francisco, and honored Elizabeth Alex­ander, President of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and long-standing African-Ameri­can gallery owner Karen Jen­kins-Johnson.

 

It was recognized by guests as being one of the most mem­orable in its 13-year history— a night to celebrate the ac­complishments and leadership of four extraordinary Black women, according to a press release from Nina Sazevich.

 

San Francisco’s Mayor London Breed was welcomed to the stage to thunderous ap­plause as the first female Afri­can-American Mayor.

 

MoAD Director and CEO Linda Harrison received a warm send off, as she has just been appointed the Director and CEO of the Newark Mu­seum in New Jersey, making her the first African-American woman ever to be the direc­tor of a major, non-ethnically specific museum in the United States. Harrison, who worked for over five years at MoAD will be missed by the San Francisco Bay Area cultural com­munity.

 

Alexander delivered her speech, following her intro­duction and tribute by Stanford University Professor Harry Elam, a scholar of African American drama. Framed in light of the synagogue shoot­ing in Pittsburgh earlier that day and the pipe bombs that had been received by national leaders, Alexander began by acknowledging that we live in violent times in need of heal­ing and talked about the power of art to have a profound influ­ence. “People are ennobled by encountering art,” she said. “It’s not hard to live with gen­erosity,” Dr. Alexander added, inspiring the room to think deeply about Black culture and investing in art.

 

Jenkins speech also was re­ceived with enthusiastic ap­plause, as a call to action to col­lect and support Black art.

 

A $250,000 gift from Dig­nity Health by Board Chair L. Wade Rose on behalf of its CEO Lloyd Dean, one of the event’s honorary co-chairs, was announced. The gift es­tablishes the Cultural Educa­tion and Artist Development Fund. The Fund will support the Museum’s dedication to emerging young artists so that engaging in art—whether it be fine arts, dance, writing, or performance—is seen and un­derstood as a viable and attrac­tive endeavor.

 

With 500 guests, the Afro­politan Ball was MoAD’s most successful fundraising event to date, as it broke last year’s record and raised over $1.3 million toward the Museum’s mission to celebrate Black cul­tures, ignite challenging con­versations, and inspire learn­ing through the global lens of the African Diaspora.

 

Entertainment for the night included spoken word artist Marvin K. White, live saxo­phone by Charles McNeal, and the Medea Sirkas dance troupe with the Bay Area’s Lady Ryan.

 

This year’s theme, Color of Time, was designed by event designer Riccardo Benivades.

 

MoAD, a contemporary art museum, opened in 2005 in San Francisco’s Yerba Buena arts district, and celebrates Black cultures, ignites chal­lenging conversations, and inspires learning through the global lens of the African Di­aspora.