It was a wonderful evening celebrating the Black excellence of Howard University and the Congressional Black Caucus as the University hosted a special reception to honor alumni who are now serving in Congress at the Embassy of Canada on September 21.
More than 250 people gathered for the event – located at 501 Pennsylvania Avenue, a short walk from the U.S. Capitol Building. Part of the Annual Legislative Conference of the Congressional Black Caucus, the event was one of the many highly-anticipated events in a jam-packed agenda of workshops and receptions engaging many of the nation’s political activists and business leaders to the District of Columbia on how to best shape the future of African Americans and the global Black community.
The Howard University event, one of the first major activities for President Ben Vinson III, PhD, who started his tenure as the 18th president on September 1, was developed to highlight Howard alumni who now serve in Congress, but also stress the important leadership role the University has in society.
The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the “Bison Breaking Barriers” Award to U.S. Rep. Summer Lee (PA-12, Law ’15), U.S. Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (FL-20, B.A.’01) U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (NY-5, Law ’78). A fourth award was presented to Nicole Austin-Hillery (Law ’00), who serves as president and CEO of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.
The award, presented by the Howard University Department of Alumni Relations, honors exceptional alumni who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership, innovation, and resilience in overcoming obstacles, while making significant contributions to their professions, communities, and society at large.
“I am honored to join in the celebration of these esteemed alumni and acknowledge their remarkable achievements,” President Vinson said. “It is no secret that Howard University has consistently produced leaders in a variety of disciplines since its inception 156 years ago. These honorees have not only excelled personally and professionally, but have also blazed new trails and challenged conventions as they work to represent their constituents and serve our nation at large. They are effectively breaking down barriers today and laying a more firm and fruitful foundation for future generations.”
The reception was held in partnership with the Embassy of Canada and Ambassador Kirsten Hillman, who expressed excitement about continuing the relationship with the University.
“This emerging partnership with Howard University is very important and meaningful for the Embassy and for Canada,” Ambassador Hillman said. “Earlier this year, in May, the Canadian Parliamentary Black Caucus completed a historical first visit to Washington D.C., building ties with the Congressional Black Caucus. The successful visit has started to foster a deep and special relationship that is bringing our nations even closer together, with shared experiences and a commitment to deepening the social and economic ties between communities on both sides of the border.”
Like Ambassador Hillman, President Vinson is excited about the opportunity to work with the University’s friends to the North again to see how the partnership can benefit students, faculty, and staff.
“We’re very grateful for the opportunity to have this special event in such a beautiful and important venue, but we’re even more appreciative of the fact that we’re building alliances that will last well beyond this one event,” President Vinson said. “I look forward to seeing how this relationship continues to grow and support the mission of Howard moving forward.”
During Howard's special reception, President Ben Vinson III, PhD, greets Nicole Austin-Hillery (J.D. '00) her Bison Breaking Barriers Award with her role as the Congressional Black Caucus' CEO. (Photo Credit: Alex Redcross)
During Howard's special reception, President Ben Vinson III, PhD chats with guests of the special guests in the Congressional Black Caucus (Photo Credit: Alex Redcross)
Kirsten Hillman, Ambassador of Canada to the United States, addresses members of the special reception for Howard University Alumni in U.S. Congress during the 52nd Annual Legislative Conference of the Congressional Black Caucus (Photo Credit: Alex Redcross)