Three Brooklyn citizens and one organization were honored and called “Trailblazers” on Thursday, Feb. 25 in the Dining Hall at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn.
NYC Comptroller Scott M. Stringer hosted the award ceremony celebrating African-American History Month, in collaboration with Congressmember Yvette D. Clarke, State Senator Jesse Hamilton, Assemblymember Walter T. Mosley and Councilmember Laurie Cumbo.
The distinguished honorees presented with commendations included: Mike Muse, co-founder of Muse Recordings, political expert and commentator on XM Radio, and pop culture expert on VH1, BET NBC and ARISE; Faith Williams, student body president and a member of the Youth Leadership Council; Coney Island Generation Gap, a Future Focus Project / Arts and education program for low-income youth with a 100 percent graduation rate; and Jamilah Lemieux, senior editor at Ebony Magazine and champion of Black women and girls, and a fierce advocate for racial, social justice and LGBT rights.
President of Medgar Evers College, Dr. Rudolph F. “Rudy” Crew in his introduction, thanked Comptroller Stringer for his contribution to African-American Heritage month and for honoring trailblazers in the community.
In his address to the audience, Stringer said, “It is great being at Medgar Evers celebrating our trailblazers. I want to welcome you to this campus with amazing history,” adding that the college was named for the great Twentieth Century Civil Rights Leader Medgar Evers, who was fearless in his fight for equality, and left an inspiring legacy for everyone, especially the youths who attend the college.
Naming Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American elected to Congress, Dr. Una Clarke, the first Caribbean-American elected to the New York City Council and Lena Horne, who was born in Bedford Stuyvesant, Stringer said he honors people in the community who work everyday to lift everybody up.
“We respect the trailblazers,” adding, “It is time to recognize the new frontier of the Civil Rights Movement, a true struggle for economic justice. Here in New York City we are using the fiscal power in the Comptroller’s office for opportunity for all New Yorkers. We don’t only talk diversity, we are taking action,” he said.
Stringer praised his office for electing Carra Wallace, the first chief diversity officer, and Deputy Wendy Garcia, as he continues his fight to end inequality practices in services where only just five percent of contracts go towards women and minority business.
The politician spoke passionately about creating jobs for the millions of New Yorkers and empowering neighborhoods to be competitive to drive down prices and save taxpayers dollars.
The NY City agency report card on minority / women-owned businesses failed with a grade D, said Stringer who argued that the agency must do better. “I am also holding Wall Street accountable because billions of our pension money are invested in these firms but the firms do not look like our city,” he said. He quipped they are pale, male and stale, adding that 97 percent of hedge fund managers are white males.
As such, the Comptroller’s office has launched a new initiative to make diversity a factor when choosing investment manger firms. “This should be the national model,” said Stringer, calling for boardrooms to be opened to minority so that the young African American males who work hard at Medgar Evers College to complete a degree in business, have a great chance to work on Wall Street.
“We have to make sure that everyone rise through the ranks and sit on corporate boards that manage the largest companies in he United States of America, and when it comes to diversity, we have to change America’s corporate landscape, one board at a time. It is not just about dollars and cents, it’s the human part, of what we do.”
Stringer blasted NYCHA for the 50,000 people he said are in shelters, 3000 of whom are children who sleep in rat-infested, un-protected environment and called on the agency to protect the city’s children.
“It is time to honor our great African-American leaders in our communities who are working everyday to make our city better,” he told the audience which included Dr. Una Clarke, newly elected Assemblywoman Pamela Harris, founder of the popular youth organization Coney Island Generation GAP, and Daniel Abrahamson of the Mayor’s Office.
Stringer also praised the inspiring musical rendition by 13-year-old Adisa Swaby, who, learned to play the saxophone at PS 11, and entertained the audience at Medgar Evers College.