Today, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx), Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, along with special guests Rep. Marcia Fudge (OH-11) and City Council Member Julissa Ferreras, celebrated Black History Month at Queens Theatre in the Park in Corona. Congresswoman Fudge, who serves as Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, delivered the keynote address and Crowley and Ferreras honored several local leaders for their contributions to the community. The annual event brings the community together to celebrate the achievements of African Americans throughout our history and celebrate New York's rich diversity.
"Black History Month is a time to pay tribute to the struggles of those who came before us and the subsequent achievements that have helped to transform our nation. While it's important we stop to celebrate the progress our nation has made, we must also not lose sight of what lies before us and the need to make further advancements in building a better, stronger nation for every American," said Rep. Crowley. "I share Congresswoman Fudge's commitment to the issues that will keep the nation moving forward -- strengthening America's middle class, increasing access to an affordable college education and improving voting rights protections. Marcia is a tireless fighter and it is a great honor to have her here in Queens for our 14th Annual Black History Event."
"It is an honor to join Congressman Crowley in hosting the annual Black History Month celebration," said Council Member Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst). "Any opportunity that allows us to come together and reflect upon the achievements of the African-American members of our community not only enriches our heritage and diversity within New York City, but it also reminds of us of how vital it is to reflect on each milestone our country has made in recognizing equality for people from all walks of life. I am proud that we are able to recognize some of the amazing work that has been accomplished by the African-American pioneers and leaders who are here with us tonight."
Congresswoman Marcia Fudge of Ohio served as this year's keynote speaker and honored guest. A dedicated public servant, Congresswoman Fudge has focused her efforts on giving a voice to those who need it and championing the causes that make our nation stronger. In 2000, she became the first African-American female mayor of Warrensville Heights, OH and in 2008, she was elected to the House of Representatives. In January, Congresswoman Fudge was sworn in as the 23rd Chair of the 43-member strong Congressional Black Caucus. Established in 1971, Congressional Black Caucus has consistently been the voice in Congress for people of color and vulnerable communities. Known collectively as the "conscience of the Congress" and for more than 40 years, Members of the Congressional Black Caucus have joined together to empower America's neglected citizens and to address their legislative concerns.
"I am honored to join Rep. Crowley and members of his community to celebrate Black History Month and to recognize the local leaders who are continuing the rich legacy of African American leadership in this country," Congresswoman Fudge said. "The civil rights movement of today may not look the same as it did decades ago, but communities of color are still facing basic threats to our rights as we did before. It is critical for us to pay attention to the issues that are currently being threatened like voting rights and the economic and social injustices that continue to undermine every individual's right to pursue their version of the American dream in this country. I'm proud to celebrate the work of African American leaders here in New York and to share what Members of the Congressional Black Caucus and our colleagues like Rep. Crowley are doing to support their efforts and to be their voice in Congress back in Washington, D.C."
During the event, Crowley and Ferreras honored several local leaders for their contributions to the community. This year's honorees include George R. Dixon, District Leader, 35th Assembly District; George Gibson, President, Corona/East Elmhurst NAACP; Barbara Jackson, District Leader, 35th Assembly District; Anne Cotton Morris, President, Woodside Houses; and Aleatha Williams, President, Youth Leaders on the Move.
"Tonight, we honor five outstanding New Yorkers who, among countless other forms of community service, have dedicated themselves to teaching our young people about our nation's history, the importance of self-respect and self-improvement, and the need to stay focused in the classroom and off the street," said Crowley. "Their work is not only making a difference in our community today, but it's making an investment in a brighter future for the next generation of New Yorkers."
Attendees of the event were treated to musical performances by the Antioch Baptist Church Choir and a dance performance by Titilayo Derricotte. The invocation was led by Pastor Gilbert Pickett, Sr., Mount Horeb Baptist Church, and the benediction was delivered by Minister Sharon Bierria, Eternal Love Baptist Church.