Governor Bruce Rauner, in partnership with the Illinois Department of Human Rights, the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce, and the Chicago Defender, today celebrated Black History Month at an event honoring the contributions of African Americans to Illinois history.
“Today we celebrate the incredible accomplishments and the inspirational achievements of members of the Illinois African-American community, who continue to make our world a better place,” said Governor Rauner. “This celebration gives us the opportunity to learn from history and look towards a better future for those who come after us.”
The event, titled “Building for the Future,” featured the Honorable Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman of the U.S. District Court as a keynote speaker and included five awards presented to individuals and organizations who have contributed to opportunities in their communities.
“While Black History Month is often a celebration of the past, we’re honored to recognize several forward-thinking individuals and organizations who are working tirelessly to create wide-reaching and sustainable opportunities for the African American community,” said Illinois Department of Human Rights Acting Director Janice Glenn. “Those recognized here today are truly setting an example for all of Illinois with their leadership and dedication.”
The Legacy Award was presented to Jory Luster Sr., President of Luster Products, Inc., the leading African American-owned manufacturer of premium personal care products, who has remained a lifelong supporter of organizations committed to the economic and educational advancement of African Americans.
The Young Achievement Award was presented to Dorothy Jean “DJ” Tillman, an accomplished theater and performance artist who has performed as an ensemble member at the Harold Washington Cultural Center, written children’s books for The Young Authors of Illinois, and has participated in the Jump the Education Barrier Program for gifted and talented children.
The Service Award was presented to Craig Gilmore of 100 Black Men, Inc., which was established in 1994 with the mission of closing the achievement gap between African American youth and their peers through mentoring, education, health and wellness, and economic empowerment.
The Educator Award was presented to Eugene Dumas, Executive Director of the Center for MultiCultural Communities, a non-profit organization in Chicago’s South Suburbs that promotes racial and cultural harmony through interactive workshops, open forums, and advocacy for community development.
The Leadership Award was presented to Diane Latiker, Founder of the award-winning and internationally recognized organization Kids Off the Block, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering youth through health workshops, cultural events, educational tutoring, and celebrations in honor of their achievements.
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