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College's Biggest Scholarship Fund-Raiser Thrives Despite Nation's Economic Woes

By ADD SEYMOUR JR.

Henry Goodgame ’84 and his team have worked hard to put the shine on the glitz and glamour of the College’s 21st Annual “A Candle in the Dark” gala that takes place Feb. 14 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Atlanta.

While the black-tie event/scholarship fund-raiser will be as elegant as ever, the quiet cloud of a darkening economy has loomed over the festivities, making the job of Goodgame, director of Alumni Affairs and Special Events, a little different than it has been in other years.

“The needs of our students still compel us to invest in their future,” he said. “It’s not about the party. It’s about the purpose. So even during difficult times, we’ve never had to wonder how Morehouse supporters feel about these students.”

Like all colleges and universities nationwide, the College has been affected by the economic downturn, which has caused a dip in enrollment, corporate giving and endowment values.

But the gala, which is the biggest fund-raiser for scholarships at Morehouse each year, will go on as the highlight of the 142nd Founder’s Day Observance, Feb. 8-15. The event celebrates the College’s founding in the church basement of Augusta’s Springfield Baptist Church by William J. White.

A slew of activities will take place during the week, including the Rev. C.T. Vivian’s Founder’s Day Convocation speech; a concert featuring Grammy-nominated singer Fantasia and the “A Candle in the Dark” gala and awards ceremony where eight men will be honored as this year’s Bennie and Candle award winners.

The gala has traditionally been filled to capacity as the College has honored such legends as Muhammad Ali, Oprah Winfrey, Ossie Davis, Harry Belafonte and Gordon Parks.

This year, an estimated 1,300 people will be in attendance at the gala -- down from 1,700 last year as corporations have felt the pinch of the economy.

But attendees will be treated to a night of style, fine dining, jazz music and an awards ceremony hosted by television and film actress Lorraine Toussaint. The entire evening raises an estimated $500,000 each year for scholarships

“Everyone will see the same type of quality,” said Robert Bolton ’86, the gala’s co-founder. “But there are things we did not do this year. All of our partners are working together to make sure we have a great event, but at the same time at the most economic cost possible.”


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