Activists and institutions were at the forefront as Borough President Eric Adams marked Black History Month with a celebration at the Brooklyn Historical Society on Monday, February 24.
Those honored at the standing-room-only event included Weeksville Heritage Center, the Brooklyn Historical Society and the Irondale Ensemble Project, the three partners in mounting the current BHS exhibition, “In Pursuit of Freedom,” that highlights the abolitionist movement in the borough.
“Black history is American history and American history is Black history. We don’t ever want to forget that,” stressed Assemblymember Walter Mosley.
The borough president also paid tribute to 33 notable individuals, including community activists, members of the NYPD and educators, who exemplify energetic dedication to improving the community and the world.
“This is our way of pausing a moment to say thank you,” Adams told the crowd, noting that all of the borough’s residents belong to “the greatest race alive, the human race.”
And, recounting the struggles faced by many of the ethnic groups that now call Brooklyn home, he emphasized, “Under the fingernails of every ethnic group, you see the dirt and grime of climbing up the mountain of hope. We’re all in this together.”
Groundbreaking change was also celebrated. “We now have a borough president who once walked the beat as a police officer, a DA who hailed from public housing and a New York City public advocate whose mother once scrubbed floors,” said that same public advocate, Letitia James, to loud applause. “We have made history in the city of New York.
“Success to me is measured not so much by the office I hold but by how much I had to overcome,” James added.
The evening’s honorees were Jean Alerte, Tywan Anthony, Beatriz Beckford, Sharonda Bossier, Brandon Buskey, Dr. Rudolph Crew, Kerlyne Deriscar-Hinds, Yonette Fleming, Reg Flowers, Renee Flowers, Cheryl Hall, Marvin Holland, Stephen Johnson, Lois Lock, Willie Mae Maxwell, Rashad Meade, Curtis Nelson, Chief Gerald Nelson, Tracy Cook-Person, Darrin Person, Milton Puryear, Nathene Riley-Cruz, Alan Rosen, Norma n Seabrook, Reginald Shell, Zakrea Simmons, June Solomon, Waldaba Stewart, Dr. Monica Sweeney, Judith Villaroel, LaTonya Williams, Dr. Lester Young and Chief Douglas Ziegler.
Performances by the Christian Cultural Center Performing Arts Ministry bookended the program, which included remarks by sponsor representatives Rachel Wilson for Diageo and Gail Smith, for MetroPlus Health Plan, who took the opportunity to pay tribute to her grandmother, who was her inspiration.