BHM 2009 Event

Ms Stowe listens during the round table discussionElmont Online—Highlighting Success thanks the many residents and friends of the Elmont community who participated in this year’s Black History Month Celebration. The sixth annual “Collaboration of Song and Spoken Word” once again fittingly took place at the Elmont Memorial Library, an outstanding public building and community center which, itself, is a shining example of what a forward-looking community can accomplish.

Mindful of the life and work of Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the Father of Black History, the event marked an occasion to reflect on the past, chronicle the present, and project to the future. As Dr. Woodson said, “Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.” Echoing that notion of a continuing history, Sophia Vilceus, one of this year’s Round Table panelists and a sophomore at City College, remarked that from childhood, young blacks are “fed with this master narrative about what we’ve gone through as people in this country; the same story over and over again.” However, in expressing her thoughts on the night Barack Obama was elected President, she added, “…finally we have a new narrative to tell. We’re not taking away what happened, but we’re now moving forward without dwelling on the past…It’s an amazing feeling."

EoL’s Black History Month Committee, chaired by Allyson Phillips, put together a program that not only emphasized the black community’s shared history and rich culture, but also allowed for presenters and residents to touch upon the nuances of “being black,” as demonstrated by an audience member’s commented on the black clairvoyant experience and a poignant reading by Gotham Avenue teacher Terrence Lewis of Langston Hughes’s essay, “Last Whipping.”

Committee member Aubrey Phillips led a lively panel in a discussion of current topics, including the effects of the nation’s economic crisis on education and healthcare, the meaning derived from connecting to one’s heritage, and the election of President Barack Obama—does it “tip the balance” … are we in an era of post-racism? (See below for excerpts from the panel discussion.)

The 2009 Dr. Carter G. Woodson Award was presented to Joyce Stowe (pictured above) , an Elmont resident, community leader and mother of four. Through her 40 years of community activism, Ms. Stowe has become a role model for others. Following Dr. Woodson’s belief about the pathway to conquering racism, EoL presents this prestigious annual award to focus on and educate the public about black contributions.

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