MIAMI – The life and legacy of M. Athalie Range, affectionately known as “Ma Range” and widely considered the matriarch of black Miami, continues to touch lives six years after her death.
There was yet further proof when more than 300 of Miami’s crème de la crème gathered recently at downtown Miami’s Gusman Center for the 15th Annual M. Athalie Range Cultural Arts Foundation Gala: A Musical Celebration of Life.
Hosted by award-winning NBC 6 Anchor, Trina Robinson, the night included a VIP reception, invocation, live performance from the critically acclaimed Dillard Center for the Arts (DCA) Jazz Ensemble and tributes to four individuals honored for their “exemplary contributions to our past, our present and our future.”
Those notables were Thelma Gibson as “The Ground Breaker,” H.T. Smith as “The Change Agent,” Bill Diggs as “The Maverick” and Marlon Hill as “The Bridge Builder.”
In the spirit of the holiday season and befitting Range’s lifelong commitment to public service, rather than only a hats-off to Range and the four honorees, the gala also was a fundraiser, whose proceeds will provide college scholarships to local students pursuing careers in the arts.
Patrick Range II, grandson of M. Athalie Range, said he and his family were thrilled to be celebrating the 15th anniversary of the event and continuing to impact the lives of students through the donation of scholarships.
“We’re very pleased and very excited that for 15 years going, we’ve been able to impact this community by increasing awareness of the fine arts, performing arts and cultural arts. More importantly, we’re thankful to have been able to donate over $100,000 in scholarships to students and young people who are interested in careers in the cultural arts,” he said.
He added that the gala initially came to fruition after the Range family decided to honor his grandmother with a grand celebration for her 80th birthday in 1996. It was such a success that they decided to make it an annual event; but true to form, M. Athalie Range did not want the spotlight to center on her only.
“Particularly with my grandmother at the helm, she was always looking to do things for others. So she thought it not robbery to select persons from the community who’ve made lasting contributions and to ensure they are recognized for their work,” Patrick said.
The Nov. 4 gala’s impact on youth was noted by Timothy Hill, a sophomore at Hallandale High School who belongs to the 100 Black Men of South Florida’s Leadership Academy.
Hill, an aspiring journalist, said he was inspired and honored to be there because it encouraged youth to be good people and persevere.
“The foundation's commitment to serve youth shows there’s still good left in the world. I believe if pure-hearted individuals plant seeds into someone, it will encourage that person to have a pure heart as well. Ms. Range's legacy has paved the way for future generations, helping kids remain confident in themselves no matter what their situation is,” Hill said.
Over the years the gala has drawn world-class talent including such legends as Oleta Adams, Peabo Bryson and Ashford and Simpson to name a few. It has also drawn loyal sponsors such as Bacardi USA and supporters like Miami Dade County.
YEARS TO COME
Patrick said he and his family are grateful for the support and honored to continue carrying forth his grandmother’s vision.
“We’re very pleased that we’ve been able to continue the legacy and are very thankful to all of our supporters because each year the support has been outstanding,” he said.
“We’re excited to continue our efforts supporting youth in the arts, particularly supporting talented youth right here from the local community, and it’s our hope to be able to continue on for another 15 years and beyond.”