Urban League Guild Celebrates 50 Years of Philanthropy and Friendship

Jenell Walton
The Urban League Guild marks its Golden Anniversary and decades of service.
Cincinnati - It was circa 1950s, and a group of notable community leaders, including civil rights activist Marian Spencer and civic-minded business owner Irma Lazarus, who owned Lazarus Department Stores with her husband, Fred, began meeting to organize a local chapter of the Urban League Guild. The Guild was started in New York City in 1942 by Mrs. Mollie Moon with a mission to help improve the lives of Black people. The Greater Cincinnati Urban League Guild was officially chartered August 1, 1968 with the signatures of National Urban League Executive Director Whitney M. Young and Cincinnati Urban League Executive Director Joe Hall.

Over the years, Guild members have included high-profile men and women, as well as everyday citizens who wanted to give back and support the Urban League through fundraising and volunteer activities. With that adage as its guide, the next 50 years saw the Guild blossom into an auxiliary group that has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to support Urban League programming.

The Guild celebrated its 50th Anniversary on July 21 with a luncheon at the Marriott North Hotel in West Chester. The Guild recognized several influential African-American leaders during the luncheon. The Clarise White Award was presented to the Honorable Alicia Reece, Ohio State House Representative and the Juanita M. Adams Award was presented to Women’s Alliance, Inc.

“What a wonderful coming together to celebrate this important milestone in the history of the Urban League Guild journey. I was thrilled that the organization chose to honor the legacies of my mother, Clarise White, and her dear friend and fellow leader in the Guild, Juanita M. Adams. To think that their children -- I and Juanita's son, Anthony Adams, were there to salute and recognize the dedication of Representative Alicia Reece and the Women's Alliance,” said Guild Luncheon Chair Deborah White Richardson.

The Miami Valley Urban League Community Volunteer Award went to Sharon Spencer Williams for her dedication to the Dayton Urban League prior to its merger with the Greater Cincinnati Urban League in 2013. One of the reasons Williams was chosen for the award was for her commitment to making the transition as seamless as possible with the merger of the two affiliates into one new organization under the name Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio.

“She has been so instrumental in not only the Dayton Guild, but the Urban League itself and also in the community. She was involved in providing assistance to re-opening the doors of the Miami Valley Urban League. She is very supportive and believes in the mission and the charge and gets other people involved too. Sharon was also extremely successful as a Dayton Guild President and in fundraising for the Urban League,” said Urban League Guild Liaison Aurelia “Candie” Simmons.

The occasion also recognized the family of the late Otis W. Pickard for their longtime funding of an Urban League scholarship program for students with Special Recognition to Judson and Donna Pickard, William Pickard, and Inez Clayton.

There were over 200 guests in attendance during the luncheon which was hosted by Master of Ceremonies Courtis Fuller of WLWT-News 5. Guild President Carol Patton thanked all of the guests for their support of the Guild and the Urban League.

“I would like to express my sincere gratitude for all of the time and effort extended toward making the Guild’s 50th Anniversary Celebration a remarkable success. Having more than 200 people in attendance is just more proof of the great appreciation of the work the Urban League Guild is doing in the community,” said Patton.