The leaders of the New York Urban League Young Professionals know how to organize a winning fundraiser. The annual event to benefit NYULYP’s Annual Backpack Drive and the Whitney M. Young Scholarship is popularly known as Rebirth! 2012: Harlem Renaissance Meets the Digital Renaissance. The event was held at New York City’s swanky Taj II lounge and restaurant in the Flatiron District. In its seventh year, the fundraiser is also designed to honor the cultural contributions of African Americans and commemorate Harlem’s most celebrated legacy — the Harlem Renaissance.

“Tonight, we are partying with a purpose. I am a heavy believer in paying it forward,” offers Jemar T. Ward, president of the New York Urban League Young Professionals. “We are connecting the past with the present [and] future, [hence] the Harlem Renaissance meets the Digital Renaissance. In the past, we relied on paper. Today, we have our smartphones and tablets. We are getting information at a faster rate. Tonight, we want to honor those who have made the transition and celebrate the people who have made wonderful contributions to the digital era — Issa Rae, Awkward Black Girl; Cheryl Contee; Jack and Jill Politics; Gladymir Leveille, Crème magazine and Kyle Donovan, NV magazine. They’ve kept up with the times of offering information digitally.”

This year’s 2012 Renaissance Award winner is Kristal High, editor in chief of Politic365. During her award acceptance, she stated, “I want to thank the New York Urban League Young Professionals for this tremendous honor. It is a privilege to be in New York tonight from Washington, D.C. It’s a really exciting time to be a young black person in this country, particularly to be a young black person using technology to uplift our community, to empower ourselves. Politic365 set out a goal to create a space for African Americans and Hispanics to talk about politics and policies. We’re often underrepresented. We are excited to use the platform to talk about us.”

Live performances included Imani Clark and Keith Jacobs. The evening’s sponsors included Hennessy, Jessy Cupcake Company, and rolling out, NV and Créme magazines.

The organization’s annual backpack drive is for low-income families and the Whitney M. Young Scholarship benefits high school seniors who excel academically and demonstrate a commitment to community service.


For more information, visit or find them on Facebook at NYULP.

Yvette Caslin

I'm a writer, image architect & significance marketer. Love photojournalism, creative expression & originality.