African American Community Leaders and Hundreds of Bronxites Gathered to Celebrate Black History Month

Bronx, NYSenator Jeff Klein, in partnership with Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj and Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, hosted his 22nd annual Black History Month breakfast at Villa Barone Manor on Saturday. Hundreds of Bronxites enjoyed musical performances by The Reverend Nathaniel Tyler Lloyd Legacy Choir of Trinity Baptist Church.

Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark delivered a memorable keynote address, followed by an awards ceremony honoring local African American community leaders.

“Today, and this whole month, we honor the many extraordinary contributions that African Americans have made to our community. The remarkable honorees have enriched the culture and quality-of-life in The Bronx with their dedicated and tireless leadership. Our local heroes have followed in the footsteps of the many incredible African American leaders who helped shape our country into what is it today. I’m thrilled to be able to return the favor, and give back to those who so selflessly improve our lives on a daily basis,” said Senator Klein.

“It was a pleasure to be part of the Black History Month Celebration held by Senator Jeff Klein, Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj and Assemblyman Michael Benedetto. It is important to set aside a month to reflect on the contributions of African Americans, and celebrate pride in our heritage. We must also carry that pride inside us every day, never forgetting those who struggled to make our lives possible and our goals attainable,” said Bronx DA Darcel Clark.

“This is not just a time to honor African Americans, but also to celebrate the contributions that have been made by them to make this country great. Our honorees have shown great leadership, and have given back so much for the betterment of The Bronx. It is truly a pleasure to show them our gratitude and that their hard work has not gone unnoticed,” said Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj.

“Black History is American History, and I am proud to be a part of this event as we celebrate Black History and award community leaders for their unwavering service,” said Assemblyman Michael Benedetto

Senator Klein presented six African American community leaders with awards to recognize their invaluable contributions to our community. The honorees included:

NYPD 43rd Precinct Sgt. William Jean Baptiste: “I feel honored and blessed to be a recipient of this prestigious award. I’m very grateful to the city of New York, which I believe is the greatest city in the world for opening its doors to all humanity and compassion.”

Dolores Biggs, Community Activist at Clason Point Gardens: “I give honor to god and thank him for giving me these years that have made me honoree at this Black History Month program. I appreciate Senator Klein for hosting this celebration, which thanks the people serving our community. I also owe thanks to Geraldine Hopper, who recommended me for the honor. She’s a champion when it comes to helping the seniors in our neighborhood. I am so honored for being chosen for this award,”

NYPD 47th Precinct Lt. Quathisha Epps: “I am extremely blessed to be amongst my fellow honorees, amongst my family, friends and brothers and sisters in blue. Amongst all this Bronx pride that fills this room. And amongst this beautiful black nation, which is very much on the rise.”

Lorna Kirwan, President of Mount Vernon PTA Council: “I would like to thank Senator Klein and the Mount Vernon School District for recognizing my hard work with the School’s PTA and the community. It is very rewarding to give back my time while working tirelessly so that all the children in Mt. Vernon benefit, whether they live in an affluent household or in a shelter. Having said that, I look forward to continue partnering with the administration in making Mt. Vernon School District one of the best in the area.”

Patricia Manning, Former District Manager Bronx Community Board #8: “Senator Klein leads by good example, thereby inspiring others to follow in his footsteps. His strong respected leadership serves well in advancing fruition of community goals many times over. We are very fortunate that Senator Klein has remained committed for 22 years, to celebrating Black History Month by paying tribute to leaders who strive to make a difference in the community. I thank Senator Klein for his support of my role as District Manager of Bronx Community Board #8 and I am proud and extremely gratified to be named by him as an honoree at this year’s Black History Month Breakfast.”

Martin Price, Chairman of Bronx Community Board #11: “When I reflect on the celebration of Black History Month I think of the common thread of well meaning people striving to better their lives and the lives of those around them. It is an honor to be recognized during this month of celebration as someone that strives towards the common thread of making lives better in my community. I thank the Honorable Senator Jeff Klein for the recognition bestowed upon me, as well as his unrelenting commitment to making lives better here in the Bronx and beyond.”

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