Borough President Scott Stringer presented awards recently at the seventh annual Trailblazers Program and Award Ceremony of Manhattan that recognizes members of the community that have blazed a trail for others to follow.
This year’s recipients reflect civil rights activism and two very different areas in criminal justice. One of the youngest female champions of the civil rights movement, Tamika Mallory of the National Action Network (NAN), founded by the Rev.Al Sharpton, received the first award. Introduced to the world of advocacy through rallies, marches, vigils and protests by her parents, founding members of NAN, Mallory rose through the ranks of responsible positions in the organization.
At the age of 30, she is the national executive director and Rev. Sharpton’s second in command. She has worked closely with the Obama Administration as a civil rights advocate in areas of education, women’s rights, health care reform, gun violence and police misconduct.
Thirty-year veteran New York Times journalist (now retired) Shelia Rule’s volunteer work with Riverside Churches Prison Ministry led to correspondences with people in prison, which eventually led to her founding Think Outside the Cell Foundation and its publishing arm, Resilience Multimedia.
“Spotlighting on their humanity can make a difference,” Rule said at the ceremony after receiving the award. The foundation, co-founded with her husband Joseph Robinson, seeks to end the stigma of incarceration and help those who’ve been in prison and their families.
“Trailblazer, no!” said third recipient Norman Seabrook, labor activist and president of the New York City Corrections Officers Benevolent Association since 1995.
“I stand on the shoulders of those before me. We have to continue to make strides for those who follow.” He pointed out the eradication of representation with the Wisconsin unions and how the South is working to take away voting rights. “It’s coming, a tsunami that will affect all of us,” he said as he spoke of the importance of staying vigilant and being awake and aware.
Seabrook said of Rev. Sharpton, “We don’t agree on everything, but we agree that the struggle continues.”