In the words of the famous jazz musician, Louis Armstrong "We all do 'do, re, mi,' but you have got to find the other notes yourself."
In the spirit of finding the "other notes", five years ago there was a desire, a dream, a vision, by one man in this community to create an experience that focuses attention on the contributions that are uniquely African or of African origin to the formation, growth, and prosperity of the American society.
To be here, at this, the fifth Annual Black History Month Celebration is inspiring and encouraging. Thank you Aubrey, you continue to inspire and motivate us.
You, our audience, were open to a different point of view and embraced this celebration as a community. Please give yourselves a round of applause, because together, I believe we are finding the other notes.
It is my privilege to chair the 2008 Black History Month Committee. From this vantage point, I know first hand the hard work, the countless phone calls, the last minute OOPS, and so on.
Our time today is limited, and I am anxiously awaiting the performances of Sewanhaka and Elmont High Schools, of Terrence Lewis, Gabriella Sam, and St. Johns University, but I will take a short moment to thank a few of our good friends:
- Past and current Black History Month Planning Committee members
- Assemblyman Tom Alfano for his continuing focus on empowering our community through his sponsorships of today's program
- The Elmont Elementary Teachers Association, President Elaine Mitchell.
- The Elmont and Sewanhaka School District administrators, teachers, and other staff. I want to make particular mention of Pat Vultaggio who, due to illness, could not be here today, but took the time to ensure that those aspects of our program for which he has taken responsibility were in order. We wish you Pat a speedy recovery.
- What would all of this be without our students, from elementary to post secondary? Their outstanding performances and artistic contributions continue to make this program a destination for many.
- Parents and extended families, for coming out and supporting your sons and daughters.
- Our local churches for their participation in our celebrations.
- HAFALI - Haitian American Families of Long Island
And many others. A special thank you to Frank Marino who accommodated every request the Black History Month Committee made. Thank you.
Many of you were moved and inspired by last years' Round Table Discussion on "Empowerment, Opportunity, and Social Justice" and requested a follow-up. We were thrilled that most of our panelists schedules allowed them to come back and continue the discussion. Today's Round Table focusing on Hope, Growth, Opportunity, and Social Justice was once again expertly moderated by Mr. Aubrey Phillips. As before, we hope you were engaged, and you left the discussion with a new perspective and some food for thought.
This is our 5th year of celebration and recognition of outstanding residents in our very own community. From the very first Carter G. Woodson Award recipient, Mr. Livingston Crichlow to today's Dr. Sydney McCalla, they continue to inspire and make us proud. I know some of our past recipients are here. Please stand as your name is called:
- Ms. Pamela Byer
- Ms. Sandra Ifill
- Ms. Carol Parker-Duncanson
The artwork decorating the round table conference room and on stage today is contributed by Mr. Yee, Art Director and his art students at Elmont Memorial High School.
As we celebrate the "contributions that are uniquely African or of African origin to the formation, growth, and prosperity of the American society", I close my remarks with the words of Carter G Woodson on the founding of Negro History Week, in 1926, "We should emphasize not Negro History, but the Negro in history"
It is my privilege at this time to introduce my good friend, our Mistress of Ceremony, Ms. Sherian Brown. Who will guide us through this discovery of the other notes. Ms Brown
"I enjoyed the entire program. Mr Hamilton's presentation of "Deconstructing the Arithmetic of Racial Authenticity" was gripping and informative. I want more of this type of programming in Elmont." Joyce Stowe, President, Tudor Manor Civic.
"It's incredible to work in a community with residents who embrace these programs. I was thrilled to be invited by the Black History Month Committee to participate in the round table and look forward to participating again. Just a great afternoon for Elmont." Al Harper, Superintendent Elmont Union Free School District.
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