Standing taller and prouder than ever, and dressed to impress, the African Leadership Group family celebrated the successes of a challenging year during the annual Afrik Impact Gala Aug. 13 at the Denver Botanic Gardens.
The star-studded event featured a video appearance by Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, as well as short speeches from Botanic Gardens CEO Brian Vogt and U.S. Representative Joe Neguse, and a keynote address by esteemed Senegalese Professor Moussa Seydi.
The evening was capped by yet another rousing performance by Carlou D, which got the crowd of 200 off their feet and dancing.
And a paddle-raise fundraiser overseen by Darryl Collier raised $17,000 to support ALG’s work.
Governor Polis lauded ALG for its “energy and positive impact.” He acknowledged “ the vital role the African Leadership Group plays in our community and Colorado, and how the organization pivoted to address multiple crises created by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a great example of ALG’s effectiveness.”
“With political division, xenophobia, and racial injustice threatening to tear apart communities, we should never forget to celebrate the diversity of our state,” Polis said. “And we’re so fortunate that Colorado has such a strong and diverse community. Simply put, we’re better together than we are alone.”
Polis also read a proclamation making August “African Immigrant Month” in Colorado.
ALG Founder and Executive Director Papa Dia said that, like many immigrants, when he arrived in this country as a young man he expected “the day, the minute I landed here, to be picking up dollars from the street.” reality proved more challenging than that vision. But generally, as a land composed of immigrants, the U.S. in general and Colorado in particular proved a welcoming place.
Congressman Neguse, the son of Eritrean immigrants, said he proved a case in point. “While I am proud and so grateful to every one of you for helping elect me as the first member of Congress in Colorado of African descent, it is important that I not be the last. And as I think about the work that so many folks in this room have done, I am just humbled to be in your company.”
Moussa Seydi, professor and teacher-researcher at the Faculty of Medicine, Pharmacy and Odontology of Dakar, Senegal, described in detail Senegal’s highly effective early response to the pandemic. A ban on mass gatherings, a mak mandate, the declaration of a state of emergency, and closure of borders helped keep case numbers low in the pandemic’s early months, he said.
Seydi also urged wealthy countries like the U.S. not to pull up the drawbridge and neglect the rest of the world in its pandemic response. “I call on you for unity and generosity; unity that results in active solidarity,” he said. “We must all work together in unison as our organs work together to keep our body healthy and alive.”