A Philanthropic Parade of Stars
Celebrities have been a large part of UNCF fund-raising efforts from its beginnings. Leontyne Price debuted at the Metropolitan Opera at a UNCF event in 1955. In 1974, Nancy Wilson and Clifton Davis hosted “Something Special,” the first UNCF telethon, which raised $300,000. Singer Lou Rawls expanded the concept in 1979 with the launch of “The Lou Rawls Parade of Stars,” which has raised more than $165 million for the UNCF in its 17 years. In 1998, the “Parade of Stars” was revamped after a decline in revenues to become “An Evening of Stars,” melding the old format with new concert performances and more special appearances. The revamped show — airing in major television markets and reaching an estimated 64 million households — raised 12.3 million and increased viewership by 31 percent over the previous year.
While the “Evening of Stars” has been the only national fund-raising event for the UNCF, local offices host their own events such as dinners, walk-a-thons, and golf tournaments. Celebrities themselves often raise funds on behalf of the UNCF. Each year Bryant Gumble hosts a celebrity golf tournament with proceeds going to The College Fund scholarships. The UNCF even is expanding its fund-raising efforts by adding an annual gospel extravaganza. The First Annual Gospel Festival brings the UNCF together with the National Urban League and the National Congress of Black Churches to raise money for scholarships. The show, airing on BET Sunday Sept. 26, 1999, features student profiles and gospel acts such as Shirley Cesar, Kirk Franklin, Dottie Peoples and Fred Hammond.
The following is a list of some of the celebrities who recently have lent their talent and support to the UNCF’s “Evening of Stars” telecasts.
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