Monday, June 24, 2019 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Featured image: Honorees stand for a photo during Eureka Lodge’s first annual Juneteenth commemoration on June 19. | Submitted photo
On June 19, members of Eureka Lodge #64, an Illinois affiliate of the Prince Hall Masons — the world’s oldest and largest group of masons of African origin — held their first annual Juneteenth commemoration at the Best Western Plus Chicago hotel in Hillside.
Tyreese Stafford, who heads up the lodge (his formal title is Worshipful Master), took the lead in organizing the event.
During the Wednesday evening ceremony, Eureka Lodge members honored nine African American political luminaries.
They included Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough, Broadview Mayor Katrina Thompson, Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins, Illinois Supreme Court Justice P. Scott Nevelle, Illinois State Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford, Forest Park Mayor Rory Hoskins, Bellwood Mayor Andre Harvey, and former U.S. senators Roland Burris and Carol Moseley-Braun.
For many of the honorees, the night was an opportunity to lavish praise on Moseley-Braun while she was within hearing distance. Moseley-Braun is the first female African American U.S. senator, the first African American U.S. senator elected from the Democratic Party and the first female U.S. senator elected from Illinois.
“I watched her from afar and have a tremendous amount of respect for you, Carol, and your journey,” said Yarbrough, who called Braun her big sister.
“When I asked her, ‘Why are you in the business of politics? This is terrible,’ she told me, ‘Karen, listen, it’s the only game in town and either you’re at the table or you’re on the menu. So, I don’t want to be on the menu.”
“When I first ran for office, I was running with Carol Moseley-Braun,” said Lightford. “She was running for re-election to the U.S. Senate and it was the best teaching I had.”
Members of the Eureka Lodge #64 during Wednesday’s Juneteenth commemoration. | Submitted photo
“It’s because of the honorees in this room that I’m standing here as mayor,” said Harvey. “I never thought about being mayor and never thought politics would be in my life.”
Harvey said that Yarbrough was his first insurance agent, who sold him insurance at 16 years old.
“If it weren’t for me watching her, and traveling in her footsteps, I wouldn’t be here today,” Harvey said. “Carol Moseley-Braun — gosh, the icon. And when I was a firefighter, Kimberly was always there leading our community and making us proud as a young, African American woman.”
Hoskins said that he watched Moseley-Braun from afar as a young man growing up in Texas — the state where Juneteenth originated. The holiday commemorates the day, June 19, 1865, when news of President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation filtered into Texas and throughout the most remote slave states of the Confederacy.
“I’m just overwhelmed and overcome,” said Moseley-Braun. “It’s so important that this lodge is recognizing Juneteenth.” VFP
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