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Candle In The Dark Gala Comes To The Light

Amietee Foundjing, Staff Writer 

Of all the “can’t miss” events that take place during Morehouse College’s annual Founder’s Day Week the one event that seems to steal the spotlight every year is the Candle in the Dark Gala. Now, 30 years since its inception in 1989, current Gala executive chair Mr. Henry Goodgame promises “another wonderful Gala experience” with appearances from one alumnus who is currently the COO of Parkwood Entertainment (Beyonce’s company) and two-time NBA All-Star and Los Angeles Lakers legend Norm Nixon who will be accompanied by his longtime wife and famous actress, Debbie Allen.

The Candle in the Dark Gala first started in 1989 under Morehouse College’s eighth president Dr. Leroy Keith Jr. in attempt to raise much-needed dollars for student scholarships. The Founder’s Day Banquet was formerly held on the campus in the college’s cafeteria and cost $10 per person. Two years later, the event was moved to the Westin Peachtree Plaza at a cost of $75 per person.

“In the early years, the event broke and raised nominal dollars for scholarships,” Goodgame said.

Finally, in 1996, the event was moved to the Hyatt Regency Hotel and remains there to this day.

The Gala’s focus is still to raise scholarship dollars, however, with a twist in form of a student showcase where students can display their talents in front of a generous audience. If you plan on attending the Gala you can expect to see alumni, friends and corporate friends of the college and masterful performances by student presenters, student musicians, and student hosts.

With an event as grand as it sounds, a lot of time and effort has to be put forth to pull it off.

“It takes about six to seven months of planning and detailed work for the entire Founder’s Week experience,” Goodgame said. “When you add an inauguration, that becomes an extra special opportunity for the college to showcase its history and plans for the future”

As executive chair much of the responsibility in making sure everything runs well falls on him, when asked if the job ever gets stressful Goodgames said, “Yes, every year, but our students deserve our very best effort every year.” For him, what makes it all worth it is “the people, history, and culture of a place I love dearly.”

In the past, the Gala raked in a $5 million gift from Oprah Winfrey and a $1 million dollar gift Ray Charles. Last year, the gala raised over $3.0 million with the $1.5 million gift from Robert Smith.

“The success of the Gala each year means that hundreds of student seeking to have a first-rate education at the nation’s premier College for men can depend on our alumni, friends and corporate supporters once again,” Goodgame said. “The Gala, in its 31st year, is a testament to what can happen when you plan well and dream big.”

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