On December 4th, 2009, UNCF’s annual Black Tie Gala occurred on a beautiful and rare snowy night in downtown Houston. Although the weather was an obstacle for some, there was still an impressively resilient turnout.
The night began with local news reporter, Jerome Gray, acting as the master of ceremony as he welcomed the crowd.
However, a less recognizable figure provided the highlight of the night. Joshua Coney captivated the crowd during his speech that introduced this year’s award recipient Judge Zinetta A. Burney.
Coney’s speech explained his experience at Xavier University in New Orleans and the role that UNCF played in assisting him during his dire financial situation. For four months, he was forced to live out of his car and to sneak in the dorms to shower. After Xavier’s president learned of his situation, UNCF stepped in to assist in finding him suitable housing and financial assistance. Despite his economic struggles, he still managed to maintain a 4.0 GPA. Because of his fortitude and devotion to his education, Coney gained one of the five coveted positions in the prestigious MD/PhD program at UT Houston Health Science Center.
Afterward, Judge Burney commended Coney’s scholastic career and praised him as an excellent example of how UNCF benefits deserving students.
Another highlight of the night was Drayton McLanes’ speech on Jackie Robinson’s role with UNCF in the past.
By all accounts, the night was a lovely event that celebrated the contribution of UNCF to the future of education.