SF: Inside MoAD’s Haute 10th Anniversary Celebration

Lowell James Gibbs, Jewelle Taylor Gibbs, Peggy Woodford Forbes, CCH Pounder, Gregory Edwards
Lowell James Gibbs, Jewelle Taylor Gibbs, Peggy Woodford Forbes, CCH Pounder, Gregory Edwards

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

An elegant crowd of dignitaries, philanthropists, artists and activists gathered on Oct. 10 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Museum of the African Diaspora. The evening gala, themed Finding the I in Diaspora, took place at both the museum and The St. Regis San Francisco.

Among the many dignitaries were former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, City Administrator Naomi Kelly, Supervisors London Breed, Malia Cohen, Jane Kim and Scott Weiner, as well as Dignity Health President/CEO Lloyd Dean and Chef Bryant Terry. Honorees included actress, activist and artist CCH Pounder, philanthropists Jewelle Taylor Gibbs, Ph.D., James Lowell Gibbs, Ph.D., Peggy Woodford Forbes, Harry Bremond and artist Mickalene Thomas.

The milestone event opened with a lively cocktail reception at the multi-level museum, where attendees had their last chance to view the Portraits and Other Likenesses before the exhibit closed. Guests enjoyed the sounds of The Destiny Muhammad Duo on one level and another combo on another while sipping Moet champagne and cocktails and noshing on delicious bites.

As the reception winded down, guests shimmied as they followed drummers in conga-like form during a ceremonial procession to the St. Regis for the evening’s program and dinner. KTVU anchor Dave Clark and his wife, J. Rosalynn Smith-Clark, the founder and artistic director of Opera Noir, were simply adorable as master and mistress of ceremonies. Their banter exemplified their long marriage.

After opening remarks by L. Wade Rose, chair of MoAD’s Board of Director, Brown appeared in a pre-recorded video, which gave the impression that he would not be attending the gala. However, he suddenly took the stage in person and cleared up any confusion.

“I was not supposed to be here,” Brown said, adding, “but obviously I cannot miss 10 years of cultural achievements in this city of the African-American community as well as for the general San Francisco community. It has been an incredible, wonderful ride and continues to be. MoAD is clearly one of a multiplicity of cultural institutions that makes San Francisco so incredible.”

During her acceptance speech, Pounder said, “I want to extend my surprise at the amount of state supervisors that are here. It is absolutely a reflection of the work the MoAD has been trying to do.”

After thanking MoAD Executive Director Linda Harrison and the museum’s board for honoring her, she added, “I’ve always said, ‘I love being thanked while living.’ ”

Pounder then went on to tell the story of marrying her husband of 25 years, Senegalese anthropologist Boubacar Kone, 17 days after meeting him and soon thereafter moving to his birthplace because her husband said he wanted to build a home then decided that Senegal needs a museum, not a house. They built the Musée Boribana in Dakar for the study of cultures of the African diaspora and opened it with six good pieces.

“I’m saying this because I know that somebody in the audience tonight has a dream that thinks it takes other people to do,” Pounder said. “I’m standing up here tonight to let you know that the insanity that’s in your mind that if you think you can dream it, I tell you, you can do it.”

Other highlights of the evening included:

  • Clark confessed on stage that he took a selfie with Pounder, the award-winning actress, four-time Emmy nominee and advocate for the arts. “I had to,” he said.
  • Dean imitating the late Bernie Mac. It would do a disservice to quote for him for you had to be there to truly appreciate it.
  • During the Gibbs’ acceptance speech, Dr. James Gibbs, a cultural anthropologist,  told the story of when their wedding announcement appeared in the New York Times in 1956, his soon-to-be-wife’s 9th grade sister was asked by her teacher what her future brother-in-law did. “I don’t know. I think he’s a philanthropist.’ Thank you MoAD for certifying me as a philanthropist, although in daily life I remain an anthropologist.”
  • Woodford Forbes pointed out that the Belva Davis, who looked lovely in a gold gown, wore the same frock that the iconic radio and television host donned at the museum’s first anniversary held in the same room. That obviously impressed Smith-Clark, who later said onstage, “We’re lucky if we can fit in the same dress in six months.”

Attendees feasted on lobster with sauteed spinach and seasonal wild mushroom facon thermidor with bearnaise sauce for the first course followed by grass fed beef tenderloin and roasted black cod for the entree. Terrazas malbec and chardonnay wines were poured.

The evening ended with Club MoAD, where desserts, drinks and dancing to the sounds of Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue.

Drew Altizer Photography