Award-winning actress, singer/songwriter Naturi Naughton, received one of New York’s highest honors, when Mayor Bill deBlasio proclaimed Friday, June 18, 2021 her day, in the City of New York, during a Juneteenth celebration in St. Nicholas Park, Harlem.
While saying he appreciates actresses, actors, and performers, who have a choice to go off into the life of fame’ and fortune, but instead, stay connected to the people, the politician praised Naughton for her benevolent endeavors.
“We take the occasion of Juneteenth to honor someone who remembers where she came from and cares about doing something for the community. She is an actor, singer, songwriter, from New Jersey, but now she calls Brooklyn home. She won two NAACP Images Awards for playing the character in the STARZ series, ‘Power.’ She was on Broadway in ‘Hairspray’ for three years, and no matter how busy she is, she always gives back to her community.”
“Her foundation, Naturi’s Dreamers Foundation, fed over 10,000 families in New York and New Jersey during this pandemic,” shared deBlasio to loud applause.
“She wants to create generational wealth, so she is teaching financial literacy to young people so they can be ready to create and keep that generational wealth. It is my pleasure to call to the stage, a great acto. and humanitarian, and now a great New Yorker, Naturi Naughton,” declared deBlasio, before presenting a Proclamation to the East Orange-born R&B singer and TV personality.
“Thank you so much, Mayor Bill deBlasio. This is a great honor on Juneteenth, such an amazing day, and speaking of the power of choice, and not forgetting where I came from, that is who I am,” said Naughton.
The superstar described herself as a young black girl who grew up in the inner city of New Jersey, and explained how she had gotten to this point in her life.
“Juneteenth is a reminder for me and for all of us,” said the Hip-Hop recording artist. “My ancestors are whispering in the background, saying let’s not forget how this country got here, and I think of my vow as an entertainer. I am more than that. I am a living example of my ancestor’s wildest dreams. I am the example of hope, endurance, and inspiration, a girl who rarely takes no for an answer, and even through the coronavirus, we remain strong people. New York City we did it, we are survivors, and that means so much to me,” said Naughton, the daughter of St. Croix-born father, Ezra Naughton.
She is proud that her young daughter, Zuri will grow up in a world that celebrates a part of history that she didn’t. “Juneteenth was not in the history books for me, and I didn’t get a day off from work,” she said, before thanking, President Joe Biden for making the day a federal holiday.
Naughton spoke of her mother who came from Raleigh North Carolina, and her grandfather who came to New Jersey, bought a house in the 1950s, and opened the first black tailoring shop in North New Jersey.
She also praised her West Indian grandfather, who educated himself, to the doctorate level and became a professor at Howard University.
“In a country where higher education was often reserved for the elite, my grandmother, Maria Naughton, moved from the tiny island of St. Croix, to the mean streets of Brooklyn, became a registered nurse, and worked for 40 years at Kings County Hospital,” reminisced Naughton, who applauded healthcare workers on the frontlines, saving lives like her grandmother did, many years ago.
There is a common bond in her family tree, she said. Hope, joyfulness, and a legacy to never forget where you come from.
The actress who has thrilled audiences with her portrayal of Lil Kim in Fox Searchlight’s film “Notorious,” in movies, “Fame,” “The Lottery Ticket,” “The Playboy Club,” “”Mad Men and “The Client List,” among others — reminded celebrants that the monumental occasion of Juneteenth is the beginning, and implored them to never forget.