Former Green Bay Packer player LeRoy Butler and Fred Hampton, Jr., son of slain Black Panther Party member Fred Hampton, Sr., of Chicago, will be guests tonight at the inaugural African American Club gala on the rooftop of the Apis Hotel.
The AAC is a newly formed organization, will be both a social club similar to the Italian-American and Swedish-Amercian clubs in Kenosha and a business incubator, Alvin D. Owens, community engagement director for the club said.
The gala, to be held at 7 p.m., will serve as a fundraiser for AAC, which plans to build a center to preserve African American culture and help build promise within the community, Owens said.
Spectators are invited to the Red Carpet presentation beginning at 6:30 p.m. Chauntel McKenzie, a national motivational speaker, will serve as the celebrity emcee.
Butler, a Super Bowl champion who wore leg braces as a child, will speak about overcoming physical challenges and the Butler vs. Bullying campaign he has launched.
Windy Indie, a well-known violinist who hails from the west side of Chicago who has made appearances on FOX TV’s show Empire, will provide music.
Owens said the gala will be an annual event.
“Every year, the Gala will bring together community leaders from small businesses to corporate roles, and the community at large for a night of fun and philanthropy,” Owens said.
The goal of the AAC is to provide a place where members of the African American community can go “to feel connected to one another, to a culture, an identity and to foster a sense of community.”
“Unfortunately, there are few places for African Americans to do this in Kenosha,” Kendal West, the AAC founder who aims to change that, said.
“The need for a sense of community can no longer be overlooked or its benefits understated,” West said. “Social clubs help people to remember their shared experiences, traditions, identities, struggles and aspirations.
West draws on the experience of Greenwood, Tulsa, OK, in the early 1900s for his vision of the social club he is creating. Known as "Black Wall Street," Greenwood was one of the most affluent majority African American communities in the United States at the time.
“African Americans developed an insular economy based on black owned businesses including a grocery store, barbershop, doctor's office, real estate agents, newspapers, schools, a funeral home, churches and other religious organizations,” West said. “Despite Jim Crow segregation, the Greenwood district proved the resilience of these black entrepreneurs and their ability to create a booming commercial district despite great odds.”
To learn more about AAC Gala, or to register for the event, please visit: theafricanamericanclub.com and/or 1-866-BLK-1865.