ETA Honors Four Giants in the community with the Giving Award

By Chinta Strausberg

ETA officials late Saturday night, bestowed the “Giving Honor To Those Who Give” award to three prominent activists and the historic WVON radio during a ceremony held at the ETA Creative Arts Foundation, 7558 S. South Chicago Avenue.

Saying “those who give are the lifeblood of a community,” the ETA board presented the awards to Lupe Fiasco, a Grammy Award winning artist who was represented by his mother, Shirley, Edward G. Gardner, humanitarian and a giant in the business community who is dedicated to service and who in 2012 came out of retirement to fight for economic justice in the black community, Spencer Leak, Sr., president/CEO of the Leak and Sons Funeral Homes who years ago led the fight to integrate the Oak Woods Cemetery, Dee Robinson Reid, president/founder of Robinson Hill Hospitality group, and WVON radio.

The MC was CBS weatherman Steve Baskerville who called Gardner a giant in the business who founded the Soft Sheen Company, spearheaded the successful campaign for Harold Washington and the Black-on-Black Love program to combat black crime. Receiving a standing ovation, Gardner credited God with his successful and that he is proud to give back to the community.

Armed with an umbrella, Baskerville and Iris Dunmore auctioned off a black diamond hat that was purchased by Reid for $450; however, she gave it back to the Theater.

Shirley, the mother of Lupe Fiasco, accepted the award on behalf of her son who is performing in Toronto.

In introducing Mr. Leak, Baskerville said he made it possible for hundreds of people to bury their love ones with dignity and who led the fight to integrate Oak Woods Cemetery.

In accepting the award, Leak said, “I’m just not content to sit in my house by the side of the road because those who sit by the houses by the side of the road are bystanders and I do not want to ever want to be defined as a bystander.” “I’d like for my life to exemplify the fact that I tried to serve my fellow man.”

In accepting the award, Mrs. Reid, president and founder of Robinson Hill Hospitality Group, said, “I am richly blessed…” and urged others to give back to the community.

WVON was represented by talk show hosts Cliff Kelley, Perri Small and Matt McGill who each about their radio station and the pride they have for its role in helping to educate its listeners every day.

Gwendolyn Armour and Lisa Marie James, the coordinating chairpersons of the event, thanked the sponsors and those who attended the event.

The Muntu Dance Theater of Chicago performed, and hundreds ate under a white tent adjacent to the ETA Theater that had a red carpet rolled out the honorees.

Chinta Strausberg is a Journalist of more than 33-years, a former political reporter and a current PCC Network talk show host. You can e-mail Strausberg at: