Several renowned African Americans got their due as Youth Pride Center (YPC) —an organization geared towards helping LGBTQ Black youth—held its 2009 Living Legends Black History Gala February 26 at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, 5480 S. Kenwood.
This year, the group’s six honorees included DJ Frankie Knuckles and Affinity Community Services. YPC Founder Frank Walker was unable to attend because of recent heart surgery. Walker is on the mend, but his illness meant that youth members of the organization had to put the program together on their own. Interspersed with dedications to honorees were performances by several youth and a soul-food dinner. Tony Taylor read poetry; Randall Walker and Dejon Smith entertained with a Billie Holliday medley and Anshae Lorenzen performed a dance number.
Knuckles, an internationally known and openly gay DJ, was clearly impressed with YPC. He said that the youth reminded him of what it was like to grow up in New York, in the arts: “I don’t think I turned out badly,” he said with a smile, “But I wonder what it would have been like to have something like this when I was their age.” He commented on “how focused and how clear-minded they are about what they have and what they try to do. In this day and age, when there’s so much ugliness, it’s a small oasis but it’s a great one.”
Kelly Saulsberry, a board member of Affinity, was also there to receive the award, along with fellow board member Linda Doss. She said that besides being “honored to be honored,” she was also impressed by the “incredible talent they exhibited, as well as their passion. The fact that they pulled off the event by themselves speaks to their leadership skills and how they take ownership of the organization.”