Photo: Susan Watts/NYC Comptroller’s office.
[Black History Month]
Four leading New Yorkers in their communities and in the City were recognized with awards by New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer who hosted his annual Trailblazers event in honor of African-American History Month.
The event took place Feb. 6 at the Performing Arts Center, Queens. Nearly 400 people attended.
Black History Month celebrates the great leaders who broke through the barriers of the past and started a new course –– the trailblazers. Whether it’s the monumental figures from our past like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Shirley Chisholm or modern icons like David Dinkins, Colin Kaepernick, and Andrea Stewart Cousins or local leaders like Archie Spigner, we all look to them this month.
Comptroller Stringer’s event emphasized that Black History Month isn’t just about looking back, but is also about looking forward and following the lead.
“This year we honor some extraordinary New Yorkers who are writing the next chapter for our city –– and for Southeast Queens. They aren’t just the best at what they do – these New Yorkers truly make a difference for our city,” Stringer said. “These are the people who built their communities up, who were here when times were difficult before anyone else wanted to be. They put their roots down, raised families, opened small businesses and non-profits; and they took it to the next level by lifting others up as they climbed. But really, I’m not just talking about the four wonderful trailblazers on the stage with me. I’m talking about the heart and soul of Southeast Queens. That’s what we’re here to celebrate tonight.”
The evening kicked off with musical performance by Joe’s Academy of Music, and introductory remarks from former Councilmember Archie Spigner. It ended with a performance by The DeVore, Dance Center. Among the Queens elected leaders in attendance: Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Senator Leroy Comrie, Council Member Adrienne E. Adams, Assembly Member Clyde Vanel and Assembly Member David Weprin.
“Uncle” Ralph McDaniels, Queens’ own Uncle Ralph was the first to put hip hop on television with “Video Music Box.” He isn’t just an originator of hip hop as a genre –– he helped craft the soundtrack and look of New York City. “Video Music Box” was what 80’s kids were watching, it was accessible to everyone because it was not on cable. And it wasn’t just kids: the show was number 2 in its time slot, second to Oprah.Without Uncle Ralph… Run D.M.C., B.I.G, Nas, and so many others would not have gotten the platform and boost they needed.
Reverend Elaine M. Flake, is a champion for women and children in New York and across the world. She is the co-pastor with her husband Floyd, at the Great Allen AME Cathedral, one of the largest churches in New York. She established the Allen Women’s Resource Center which supports and houses women and children who are survivors of domestic violence. Each year over 1,000 women from across the country and the Caribbean attend her retreat & raise tens of thousands for human rights causes.
Shaun D. Francois I, is the newly elected President of DC 37 & President of Local 372, with over 24,000 New Yorkers. He represents the school crossing guards who keep our kids safe, counselors and lunch helpers, teachers and bus drivers. Our kids’safety in his hands.
Timyiaka R. Noel, works to keep us safe as NY State Senior Parole Officer at the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. But she’s best known as a mentor who goes above and beyond for her community… As a professor and alum of John Jay College; as a Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. sister; as an active member of The Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral.