Campus & Community

Black Students Association honors pair for activism, service

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Civic leader, actress win prestigious award for ‘leadership in service’

The Harvard Black Students Association honored Robert Lewis Jr., vice president for program at the Boston Foundation, and critically acclaimed actress Gabrielle Union with its Crimson and Black Leadership awards on Feb. 29.

Crimson and Black is an annual event at the University designed to showcase the achievements of Harvard’s past black students while addressing the current black community on opportunities for improvement. This year’s affair, titled “A Banquet and Celebration of Activism and Service: Honoring Leaders at Harvard and Beyond,” aimed to continue the tradition as an event that inspires leadership and refocuses the black community at large. Partial proceeds from the banquet will be given to United Youth and Youth Workers of Boston.

The Crimson and Black Leadership in Service Award was given to Lewis for his commitment to Boston and its youth.

A seasoned civic, community, and nonprofit leader, Lewis most recently served as executive director of the Boston Centers for Youth and Families, the city of Boston’s largest youth and human service agency. He is a former president and executive director of the National Conference for Community and Justice in Boston, which runs LeadBoston, one of the city’s premier executive leadership programs. Lewis previously served as senior vice president of City Year’s national operation and executive director of City Year Boston.

The Crimson and Black Leadership in the Arts Award was given to Union for her achievements in the dramatic arts and advocacy for issues affecting women. Having starred in successful films like “Daddy’s Little Girls,” “10 Things I Hate About You,” and “Bad Boys II,” Union has won numerous awards including a 2001 Black Reel Award and a best actress award from the Palm Beach Film Festival in 2006. Her leadership in issues revolving around women’s rights and health has garnered the actress accolades and admirers, including Oprah Winfrey. A graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles, Union is a passionate public speaker on the topic of violence against women, as well as large proponent of breast cancer awareness and research.

Crimson and Black 2008 commenced with a reception held in Winthrop House followed by dinner in Leverett House. The evening also featured special presentations highlighting Boston activism and service and special musical performances, including the Boston Children’s Choir young men’s ensemble.