The Caribbean Research Center (CRC) at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College, City University of New York (CUNY), on March 10 bestowed special honor on three distinguished academic, civic and labor union personalities during the center’s 9th Annual Shirley Chisholm Conference.
The ceremony, held virtually this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, honored Dr. Una S.T. Clarke, the trail-blazing, former New York City Council Member and CUNY trustee; Dr. Zinga Fraser, Assistant Professor, Africana Studies Department, Brooklyn College, CUNY, and director of the Shirley Chisholm Project on Brooklyn Women’s Activism at Brooklyn College; and Earl Phillips, secretary treasurer, Transport Workers Union, Local 100.
Jamaican-born Dr. Clarke, the first Caribbean-born woman to be elected to the City Council, received the Shirley Chisholm Award.
Dr. Fraser — an award-winning interdisciplinary scholar, author, lecturer, historical consultant and philanthropist — received the J. A. George Irish Scholar-Activist Award in honor of the late Montserratian-born Dr. Irish, a former CRC executive director and erstwhile dean at Medgar Evers College.
Dr. Fraser was presented with the award by Dr. Irish’s son, Dr. Kenneth Irish-Bramble, assistant professor, Department of Social & Behavioral Sciences, Medgar Evers College.
Phillips, considered the highest-ranking Barbadian in a trade union outside of his native country, received CRC’s Community Engagement Award from CRC’s Jamaican-born Dr. Michael Flanigan.
According to CRC, the Shirley Chisolm Award recognizes the achievement of women from the African Diaspora, “who have labored unstintingly for the progress of their communities, locally, nationally, and/or globally, through their contributions in the areas of politics, education and community empowerment.”
CRC also said the J. A. George Irish Scholar-Activist Award “recognizes an individual whose contributions in the areas of culture, scholarship, social activism and education upholds the legacy of Dr. George A. G. Irish.”
CRC said its Community Engagement Award “recognizes an individual whose actions influences the implementation of projects that benefit individuals and communities, through advocacy and partnerships to provide opportunities for education, employment and empowerment.”
Dr. Maria DeLongoria, CRC’s executive director and chair of the Department of Social and Behavioral Science at Medgar Evers College, told Caribbean Life over the weekend that “every year we build on the foundation and successes of previous conferences.
“As a result, we think that this year’s Shirley Chisholm conference was the best yet, especially considering the impact of the pandemic and moving to a virtual modality,” she said. “We are excited about our honorees every year; however, this year was extra special for us.”
Dr. Clarke told Caribbean Life that she was “honored to receive the Hon. Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm legacy Award,” stating that Chisholm was “a friend, who encouraged my aspirations and endorsed my aspirations for public office.
“Her husband Conrad Chisholm was also a family friend,” Dr. Clarke added. “Shirley Chisholm had paved the way for all Black Americans to set their sights high and to achieve their dreams.”
Coming from a parentage of African American and Afro-Caribbean educators, Dr. Fraser also told Caribbean Life that she was “honored to receive this award as a testament to their legacy.
“The Scholar Activism Award recognizes my intentional career choice as scholar and director of the Shirley Chisholm Project to operate as a bridge between the academy and the community, while ensuring that social and political justice is maintained within educational and political institutions,” she said.