ghenete-wright-muir_web.jpgSpecial to South Florida Times

FORT LAUDERDALE — The Urban League of Broward County’s 2011 Carnival Red Gala drew a full house last week when the group held its annual celebration of community leaders and achievers.

The theme, “Carnival,” was highlighted by festive rhythm, colorful attire, food and drink.

The league’s mission is to assist African Americans and other disenfranchised groups to achieve social and economic equality.

“Our strategy is four-pronged. We support housing, education, jobs and health. So investing in the Urban League does have social value,” said Germaine Smith-Baugh, the league’s president and CEO.

Fort Lauderdale attorney and entrepreneur Burnadette-Norris Weeks, who was honored during the gala with the Margaret Roach Humanitarian Award, described the event as “phenomenal.”

Norris-Weeks said that she knew Roach as a “real leader, someone who didn’t just talk about things but got them done. It’s an honor to be mentioned in the same breath.”

The other honoree, Filemon Lopez, regional senior vice president of Comcast’s Florida East Coast region, received the Diversity Champion award.

The Sept. 17 gala was held at the Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, 3030 Holiday Dr., Fort Lauderdale. Sponsors included JM Family Enterprises Inc., Broward College, AutoNation, TD Bank, Wells Fargo and Nova Southeastern University.

Margaret Jackson-Wilkes of Pembroke Pines described the gala as “a wonderful investment in the community and a good time.”

“You can’t get more for your money. The Urban League has programs to help everyone, so to support them, I find, is just the right thing to do. You can actually see your dollars working,” she said.

Ralph Greer of Lauderhill said that he has taken advantage of Urban League programs in the past. Before tonight, he said, the league has been a big help to his family.

“We had problems with handling our mortgage and that was just the beginning. The people really work hard for you but you have to do your part. So when I had the opportunity to come out, I could not turn it down,” he said.

Meanwhile, the league is on schedule for the January 2012 opening of its new empowerment center.

The 25,000-square-foot complex is being constructed on a 2.5-acre parcel on Northwest 27th Avenue just south of the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center near Fort Lauderdale. Smith-Baugh said the idea behind locating the center on that property is to create a campus-like atmosphere for empowerment in the area.

“I look forward to a continued involvement with the Urban League and its efforts to improve the communities within Broward County,” Norris-Weeks said.

Live music for the gala was provided by the Dee Dee Wilde band. The evening also included dinner and an auction.

Cynthia Roby may be reached at


FUN TIME: Ghenete Wright Muir shares some laughs at the Urban League of Broward County’s annual Equal Opportunity Day “Red Gala,” themed “Carnival,” on Saturday at the Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa in Fort Lauderdale.