Maimonides hosts annual Black History Month celebration

On Mon., Feb. 11, Maimonides Medical Center (MMC), 4802 10th Avenue, saluted “Influential Male Leaders in Black History” as it hosted its annual Black History Month celebration.

Held in the facility’s Schreiber Auditorium, the event featured six employees from the hospital acting the parts of significant African American leaders, including George Washington Carver, Jackie Robinson, Martin Luther King, Jr., Guion Stewart Bluford, Jr., and Barack Obama.

Students from St. Mark’s Day School sang the national anthem while MMC staffer Kelly Lekule performed the black national anthem. The Bloodline Dance Theatre of Medgar Evers College also performed.

President and CEO of Maimonides Kenneth Gibbs discussed the importance of such an event.

“We are celebrating individuals who represent values that we want to live by,” he said. “There is something powerful about having role models. I think it’s incredible that we are celebrating these influential leaders who really embody incredibly important values for us.”

“We first started this out about 25 years ago,” Executive Vice President and Special Assistant to the President Douglas Jablon told the packed house. In the beginning, he recalled, “We held it at Maimonides Hall and about seven people showed up. Today, this really is such a pleasure to see.”

Gibbs emphasized the increased diversity of MMC, both with patients and employees. While the hospital originated, he said, “as a Jewish institution,” today, “it has evolved to fulfill its promise, deliver on a culture of openness and serve who is here. Our role in greater Brooklyn is growing and, in growing that role, we have to successfully reach everybody. We stand for excellence but we do not get it right if we are not a culture of inclusion for employees.”

MMC Employee Jack Edme, who delivered a speech by Jackie Robinson dressed in Brooklyn Dodgers attire, said it was an honor to act out the iconic part.

“It was great to be Jackie. It means a lot to me,” he said. “I was able to do something similar in high school and college, but to do it here in front of all my peers, feels good.”

“It’s all about speaking up and mutual respect,” Gibbs added. “That’s what America needs. That is also the promise of America that frankly hasn’t always been delivered on. As we celebrate Black History Month, we’re going to celebrate great individuals that stand for values that are really important to us. But we have to be honest that we have a lot more to accomplish. It’s true in America and it’s true in Maimonides.”

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