Mayor-elect Vincent Gray, surrounded by members of his family got a special treat for his Nov. 8 birthday by being inducted during an historic ceremony as an honorary board member of the Washington, D.C., chapter of the Continentals Society.
Gray, who takes office Jan. 2, told the beaming crowd that gathered for the lavish induction reception this week at the National Council of Negro Women headquarters in downtown Washington that he couldn’t think of a better day for the prestigious recognition. “Today’s my 68th birthday, so it’s a wonderful honor,” Gray told the AFRO. “The Continentals have a very long history in my life, all the way back to my professional life as the executive director of the ARC. They’ve done great work here in the District of Columbia, so to be selected for an honor by them is truly outstanding. I’m also just honored to be here in the house that Dr. Height built.”
Washington-area philanthropist Jeffrey Thompson, an official with the Chartered Health organization, was also inducted. Both he and Gray were sworn in by Judge Susan Winfield, of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.
Continental member Alexis Herman, former U. S. Secretary of Labor and close friend of Height, said the late NCNW president would have been proud of the two latest board inductees. Referring to the divisiveness that has enveloped the District over the past few years, Herman added that Gray, as new mayor, has already brought to the District a special message of hope and redemption. “Dorothy Height loved and respected you so much,” Herman told Gray. “You will have our support, 100 percent.”
Thompson said he wholeheartedly embraced the mission of the Continentals – a 55-year-old public service organization – which is devoted to serving and providing programs to underprivileged children in D.C. The Continentals’ five-point program also offers them information on health, employment and recreation as well as on the arts and humanities. “They too should have a way to succeed, like we have succeeded,” Thompson said. “I certainly take this pledge today in all seriousness in terms of my work in the community, and rest assured I will do everything in my power to make sure the work of the Continentals is uplifted in the nation’s capital.”