In honor of African-American History Month, Ill. Sec. of State Jesse White awarded six-time Grammy award winner Buddy White with a lifetime achievement award.
Hundreds of people gathered for ceremonies at noon Thursday in the James M. Thompson Center that included awards to legendary Chicago bluesman Buddy Guy and former Bears linebacker Otis Wilson. Illinois Sec. of State Jesse White gave the awards at the annual African-American Heritage Month celebration.
Among the well-dressed spectators were politicians Walter Burnett Jr. and Toni Preckwinkle. Office workers also stopped by to catch the event that included music and the Jesse White Tumblers. Marion Brooks, reporter and anchor with WMAQ-TV, and Ramonski Luv, a V103-FM radio show host, were the masters of ceremony.
White spoke about the importance of recognizing black entrepreneurship during this year’s African-American Heritage Month celebration.
"I've always encourage people during this month to reflect on the contributions African-Americans have made locally, nationally and globally," White said. "This year we have the honor of presenting awards to those who have influenced the history of African-Americans themselves."
Wilson won the event’s annual humanitarian award for work with children done through his Otis Wilson Foundation.
In his remarks, Wilson praised notable African-Americans of an earlier generation without directly referring to White and Guy, both contemporaries of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
“I stand on the shoulders of a lot of people,” said Wilson, a linebacker for the Bears team that won the 1985 Super Bowl. “You think of the people that went before us, the sacrifices they made and the things they’ve done in life. You really don’t think about it, but I do.”
The enthusiastic crowd roared even louder when Guy, who won his sixth Grammy Award on Sunday, took the podium.
One spectator was happy to see Guy honored for more than his music.
“He’s one of those artists in Chicago that you don’t hear about being honored,” said Uche Omoniyi, 56, a performance artist at Chicago’s Muntu Dance Theatre.
Guy, who also runs a popular Chicago blues club, won the event’s lifetime achievement award.
“I'm not much of a speaker,” he said, all smiles as he accepted his award. “But Otis--I don't need to say any more. He did enough."
“I think it was really great of Jesse White to give [Guy], one of the greatest blues musicians in the world, this honor,” Omoniyi said.
Guy’s newest Grammy was for “Living Proof,” which won Best Contemporary Blues Album.