As Elmont Online and Highlighting Success, Inc. prepared for this landmark Black History Month Celebration, the event’s co-sponsors recalled the celebration’s beginnings. Inspired by New York State’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ceremony in 2003, then Elmont School Board Trustee Aubrey Phillips envisioned a recognition ceremony in his hometown that would establish a vehicle to celebrate and perpetuate Black history and honor local people who not only embody the spirit of Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the Father of Black History, but also contribute to the wellbeing and advancement of the broader community. The new celebration began in 2004 with spoken words and musical selections performed by students in the auditorium of The Clara H. Carlson School, and the origination of the Dr. Carter G. Woodson Award. The tenth anniversary celebration encompassed its now traditional “Collaboration of Song and Spoken Word” and Awards Ceremony, as well as a buffet dinner, held in the Ruth S. Harley Center at Adelphi University.

In her welcoming remarks, 2013 Black History Month Committee Chairperson Allyson Phillips bonded with the audience, saying, “Today we celebrate a milestone: 10 years of coming together on this occasion of the Elmont Black History Month Celebration; 10 years of bearing witness to the contributions of our honorees and celebrating their achievements; 10 years of highlighting our elementary, high school and college students; 10 years of community collaboration; 10 years of telling our own story; 10 years with you, our life blood, our oxygen.”

Quoting Dr. Woodson, Phillips said: “If a race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thoughts of the world, and it stands in danger of being eliminated.” Designed to continue to tell the story of African and Caribbean-native Americans, the Black History Month Celebration includes the annual presentation of the prestigious Dr. Carter G. Woodson Award.

The 2013 Dr. Woodson Award went to Amy Buchanan, principal of Alden Terrace School, who exemplifies Dr. Woodson’s values of education and recorded history. A former broadcast journalist and seasoned educator with roots in teaching young student, Ms. Buchanan is known to “guide with her heart,” said Elmont Schools Superintendent Al Harper.

Upon accepting the award, Ms. Buchanan recalled that as a girl, her parents were careful to help her make connections with history, and careful to emphasize the sacrifices of her ancestors who helped to open doors for her.

“Today, our goal must be to help our children learn about the struggles and the triumphs that came before them, appreciate them and never forget them,” said Ms. Buchanan. She added that children must “understand that compassion for others is a world imperative and that the time for unity and collective work is now.” She thanked Elmont Online-Highlighting Success, Mr. Harper, her colleagues and the supportive parents of the Alden Terrace School. Lastly, Buchanan said, “Thank you to my children for being my joy, for giving me an incredible sense of purpose, for teaching me something new every single day, and for helping me remain young at heart.”

Ms. Buchanan received citations from Nassau County Legislator Carrié Solages and New York State Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages.

Ms. Phillips introduced Highlighting Success’s new quarterly endeavor, “Profiles in Success,” which will highlight African Americans for their personal accomplishments and their contributions to the betterment of the African and Caribbean diaspora. The first two profiles feature Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist Dr. Dwayne Rollins and former Verve Music Group Vice President and Creative Director Hollis King. Their profiles are posted on highlightingsuccess.org., under the “Feature” tab.

Ms. Phillips thanked Adelphi University for its warm welcome, the Elmont Fire Department for opening the ceremony, Sewanhaka and Elmont students for their artwork, and the round table panelists for their insightful and thought-provoking discussion. She thanked event sponsors and volunteers, and the 2013 Special Commemorative BHM Planning Committee (Carl Achille, Dr. Marsha J. Darling, Elsy Mecklembourg-Guibert, Magaly Polo and Aubrey Phillips). To the Highlighting Success Board of Directors, she said, “Thank you for their guidance, encouragement and support.” She recognized past Carter G. Woodson award recipients—Livingston Chrichlow, Pamela Byer, Sandra Ifill, Carol Parker-Duncanson, Dr. Sydney G. McCalla, Joyce Stowe, Elsy Guibert, Dr. Darling and Magaly Polo—for being role models and “continuing to inspire, motivate and challenge us to dream more, to be more, and to do more.”

Please visit Elmont.org to view the video documentary, “From Slavery to President: On Woodson’s Journey,” that was produced in conjunction with the Tenth Anniversary Celebration.

Additional presentations
Invest in Elmont founders Carl Achille and Muzzio Tallini awarded Future Business Leaders Awards of $5,000 to two young men who happen to be twins: Bradley and Brandon Atkins. These scholarships are presented to students who develop business plans describing how they would reinvest in their communities and become entrepreneurs. Both seniors lead active lives in their school and community and are planning careers in physical therapy.

Lizette Terry received the Mary McLeod Bethune Award for her academic achievements and participation in extra-curricular activities, for her volunteer efforts as a Reading Partner in P.S. 33, and for her participation in fundraising events for AIDS and breast cancer research. The award is sponsored by Adelphi University’s Center for African, Black and Caribbean Studies.

On behalf of the Town of Hempstead, Council members Dorothy L. Goosby and Edward A. Ambrosino presented Citations to Elmont Online and Highlighting Success, Inc. on the occasion of the tenth anniversary Black History Month Celebration. The citations read in part: The Town of Hempstead is proud to be part of this “Collaboration of Song and Spoken Word,” an event that focuses on the Black experience from tradition and culture to challenge and accomplishment.

Elmont Online-Highlighting Success Inc. presented plaques to the Elmont Union Free School District and the Sewanhaka Central High School District for their work with children and contributions to the community. The plaques were accepted by Elmont Schools Superintendent Al Harper and Sewanhaka Central High School District Superintendent Dr. Ralph Ferrie.

The Celebration’s “Collaboration of Song and Spoken Word” was interspersed with music, dance and spoken word that demonstrated the diverse interests and talents of the Elmont community, including performances by the Elmont Jazz Masters, the Sewanhaka District Choir, the Truth Urban Theater Group, and Brothers of Sound.

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