Opening Acts: October 2, 2017

2017 Acting for Justice Awards Event Honors, Entertains, and Inspires

FHJC Celebrates 12 Years of Struggle and Progress for Fair Housing

On September 25, 2017, the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC) held its 12th Anniversary Acting for Justice Awards benefit at the NYU Kimmel Center. It was an evening infused with inspiration, entertainment and a celebration of FHJC’s twelve years of accomplishments.

The evening began with a VIP Cocktail Hour, in which sponsors, honorees, and major supporters had an opportunity to enjoy good food, listen to jazz performed by the Billy Kaye Trio, and learn more about each other and our shared commitment to fair housing. The celebration then moved to the beautiful Rosenthal Pavilion, where awards were presented.

The evening’s host and Master of Ceremonies, Broadway actor and concert/recording artist Darius de Haas, opened the awards program by offering thanks to the event’s sponsors, board, staff, and supporters. FHJC President Gene Capello welcomed FHJC supporters to the event and pointed out that we are living in times when, “we need to demonstrate by our actions that civil rights still matter; that we are not prepared to tolerate discrimination of any kind; and we do not accept the premise that segregation must be the norm for our communities.”  Gene urged supporters to continue to, “work together to transform the promise of fair housing into a living reality.”

Our featured presenter for the evening, legal scholar and acclaimed author, most recently of Loving: Interracial Intimacy and the Threat to White Supremacy, Sheryll Cashin, offered a message of hope and called on the audience to renew their commitment to fair housing and to creating inclusive communities. Sheryll Cashin was then honored with the award for Outstanding National Contributions to Civil Rights.

Three-time Grammy nominated R&B singer Ryan Shaw dazzled the audience with an amazing musical performance. Ryan Shaw was accompanied by Grammy nominated songwriter and producer Tor Hyams.

Awards were then presented to three of the FHJC’s long-standing partners – The Actors Fund, Eisenberg & Baum LLP, and Darius de Hass – and three of the FHJC’s most skilled cooperating attorneys – Kevin M. Cremin of Mobilization for Justice, Diane Houk of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP, and Mariann Meier Wang of Cuti Hecker Wang LLP. The awards ceremony then turned to honoring the production team of the housing episode in the EPIX Original docu-series America Divided. Awards for Outstanding National Contributions to Fair Housing Education were given to Abby Ellis, Solly Granatstein, Karim Hajj, and legendary TV writer/producer Norman Lear. Although unable to attend, Norman Lear offered a video message graciously accepting the award and paying tribute to actor and seasoned FHJC tester, the late L.B. Williams.

The inaugural Kathy Schrier Award for Outstanding Fair Housing Tester was then awarded posthumously to L.B. Williams. The FHJC Executive Director Fred Freiberg and actor Marjorie Johnson offered a few words in honor of L.B.

Finally, the last award for Outstanding Leadership for Fair Housing was presented to FHJC President Gene A. Capello, in recognition of his years of service to the FHJC and for his work to promote fair housing in the region.

The evening concluded with a raffle drawing for two tickets to the smash Broadway Musical “Hamilton” and a final call to action by Darius de Hass. “Today we see a resurgence in white supremacy, hatred and divisiveness in words and actions, and a desire by some to ‘wall out’ or exclude people who are considered ‘less than’. It is more important than ever to engage in a struggle for fairness and equality,” Darius said. “Please take a moment to consider the role that you play or could play in the fight for fair housing and how you can continue to support the FHJC in this work.”

Congratulations to award recipients and thanks to all of the sponsors and supporters of the FHJC who attended the 12th Anniversary Acting for Justice Awards.