The Red Pump Project turned one on March 10, 2010. What started as a small idea between friends with similar interests has turned into a movement. Karyn and I’s passion for social justice and love of shoes brought forth the idea of The Red Pump Project a year ago. To commemorate this occasion as well as National Women & Girls’ HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, we decided to have our inaugural “Rock the Red” fashion show. We also decided to honor Rae Lewis-Thornton with the first Red Pump Living Legacy Award!
The night was an overwhelming success! We had over 200 people come join us, most of them were Rocked the RED. The ladies were in red pumps and the gentlemen donned red ties!
So on Thursday, March 25, 2010, The Red Pump Project invited people to the Bottom Lounge (1375 W. Lake) in Chicago, IL to come celebrate with us. Team Red Pump prepped for months leading up to this event, and it was amazing to see our hard work pay off. The event started when doors opened at 5:45pm. People were already lined up to enter. At that point, the incredible DJ Bonsu already had the music spinning. We were getting ready backstage and JAMMING!!! By 6:15, Bottom Lounge (our venue) was already filling up. Our VIPs were in their designated lounge sipping on drinks provided by Dragon Bleu Vodka.
As the show began an hour later, our host, Danielle Noel Riley (Miss Black Illinois 2010) came out to greet the audience and kick it off. She introduced the “Bold Fashion” Scene, featuring the designs of Melanie Lyke of Rockett Mansion, Kortnee Quiza of Verse Boutique, Amber Johnson, Kahindo Mateene and New’d Chicago.
After seeing some fabulous designs from these five, we took a 20-minute intermission to allow people to bid on Eidia Lush‘ custom red pump that launched at our show. The FIERCE shoes were handmade, with buckles that were made with Swarovski Crystals.
Next was the presentation of The Red Pump Project’s Year in Impact. It was played to Kanye West’s “I Wonder.”
One of the highlights of the night had to be:
After the presentation ended, Karyn and I came up to speak about the past year. The Red Pump Project has definitely grown beyond our wildest expectations. We also announced that earlier in the week, we were invited to come to Washington DC for a “Red Pump Day on Capitol Hill.” (WOO HOO!!!) Right after that, Thyatiria Towns, from Congressman Bobby Rush’s office came up to the mic with a surprise for us. She was holding two plaques in her hands and proceeded to say they were Congressional Records, recognizing The Red Pump Project’s work in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Pic credit: Bryan Thompson (Graffiti Photography)
Ms. Towns read the plaque to the audience and Karyn and I
may have DEFINITELY started to cry. It was a HUGE shock to us! We’re so thankful to for this honor and feel so privileged.
We had our moment to shine. Now we had to step aside for night’s honoree: Rae Lewis-Thornton. We decided to honor Rae with the first Red Pump Living Legacy Award for so many reasons. She’s been infected with HIV since before it was truly understood. Since the mid-80s, when people thought it was an automatic death sentence. However, she has never allowed HIV/AIDS to break her or her spirit. She’s lived with the disease with such undeniable class and courage. We gave the award to Rae Lewis-Thornton because there is no one more deserving of the honor. To our now-adopted Auntie Rae… we love you dearly, and your life continues to affirm our work.
Rae’s first words when she got to the mic was “I just told Luvvie a couple of days ago that y’all better not get me no ugly ass plaque!” The room erupted in laughter. Well Rae, you know that isn’t our style. We had to give you a DIVA award for a TRUE Diva. Rae’s speech and candor on her life and her struggles with HIV/AIDS touched so many people in the room. Thank God for waterproof makeup!
Then, we debuted the Red Pump Awareness Tshirt Line.
Show Styled by: DeeDee Esubi (The Sassy Peach)
Coordinator: Shanna S.